Modesto Church Joins Established Effort to Love their City

 In All Church of God, Change the Story, CHOG, Western

By Emily Kearney

Twenty-twenty has almost come to a close, but our local communities need us now more than ever. Many neighborhoods, local nonprofits, and even our own loved ones have faced unimaginable challenges. As a response to these challenges, neighbors in Modesto, California, came together to compassionately serve those who need it most in a community-wide event called “Love Modesto.”

Love Modesto project (also feature photo above; credit LM).

Love Modesto took place this year on Saturday, October 3. The outreach began from an attempt to live out the scriptures in 2 John 1:6, which says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (NIV). From this verse, the founders of Love Modesto wrote their own foundational statements that are the basis of every service event that they plan: “We exist to spread this idea of living a life of love to everyone in our community. We exist to be bridge-builders between those who want to help and those who need help. We exist because we believe that when our entire community embraces this command, our community will be transformed.” With the goal of loving, serving, and transforming lives in mind, a community of Christ-followers gathered together for the 2020 Love Modesto event.

Some of the participants from this year’s event were a group from the North Modesto Church of God. North Modesto has been a dedicated contributor to the Love Modesto event, which has been organized for over a decade. The event originated through Big Valley Grace Church, another larger, local congregation in Modesto. Love Modesto has gone from a small, local outreach to a large organization with a stand-alone 501c3, “Love Our Cities.” Love Our Cities has further spread the goal of encouraging communities to serve each other by organizing similar outreach events in other cities throughout California and even other states.

North Modesto congregation, pre-pandemic.

According to Mike Bolles, the chair of North Modesto’s outreach committee, the church was seeking opportunities a few years ago to get the congregation more involved in outward-facing ministry efforts. “We had some pastoral and ministry connections with Big Valley Grace Church that had started Love Modesto in 2007. Once we were familiar with the program, it seemed like a good fit for us to join the existing efforts that would help us get better connected to the local community.” North Modesto chose to participate in Love Modesto for the first time in 2018. Many volunteers from their congregation have enjoyed the opportunity to serve and have felt spiritually rewarded from participating. Over the last three years, they have brought small groups to participate in different community projects. Some Love Modesto projects are manual-labor-based, such as cleaning up neighborhoods or painting and repairing things in local schools. Other projects are more focused on encouraging others, like packing chemo care kits for cancer patients or writing thank-you cards for police officers, firefighters, and healthcare workers. The vast range of options to serve allows for community members of all ages and physical conditions a chance to be involved in loving their neighbors.

Mike encourages every church to start or join a similar event like Love Modesto in order to spread hope and encouragement to all our communities. If you or your church feels led to begin a similar type of ministry, he suggests checking out the website for ideas, along with contact information for people who can answer any questions you may have.

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