Movement Finds Valentine’s Day a Match Made in Heaven for Fellowship, Outreach

 In All Church of God, CHOG

By Carl Stagner

Maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t quite a match made in heaven for fellowship and outreach, but for many congregations across the Church of God movement, Valentine’s Day is another valuable opportunity to harness culture for spiritual ends! While Jesus Christ remains the ultimate example—the very definition—of love, the love we show one another is naturally the topic of conversation everywhere this time of year. Whether through sermon and song tied to the subject of love, via date night possibilities for busy couples (childcare provided!), in the form of Valentine’s banquets, or by way of flower deliveries to shut-ins and nursing homes, for example—Church of God congregations consistently find a way to redeem the hallmark holiday for heaven’s sake.

Home Avenue Church of God in Trenton, Ohio, got the children involved in the spirit of Valentine’s Day; their Sunday school the week of Valentine’s Day featured a Valentine’s party, complete with crafts, games, and refreshments. The day before Valentine’s Day, several of the ladies of Florida’s South Lake Wales Church of God were treated to a Widows Valentine’s Luncheon; the event was incredibly well-received by so many for whom such holidays can mean resurgence of grief and loneliness. Alton Church of God in Illinois invited adults offsite to a local favorite known as Castelli’s Moonlight Restaurant for a “Grownup Valentine’s Party,” complete with “delicious food, fun games, and great conversations.” A “Couple’s Valentines Dinner” at First Church of God in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, featured a raucous round or two of a “Not-So-Newlywed Game”—sounds intriguing, right? Not only did New Life Church of God in Glencoe, Kentucky, host a Valentine’s dinner, but they also formally announced the launch of a six-week marriage class: Family Life’s The Art of Marriage. Back in Indiana, festive fellowship was on full display, too.

Program for the Widows Valentine Luncheon at South Lake Wales Church of God.

Brooklyn Church of God just outside Mooresville, Indiana, is a modest-size congregation that loves to love each other and their surrounding community. Doing life together is commonplace; the close-knit family of faith can often be found enjoying one another’s company. It should come as no surprise, then that ahead of Valentine’s Day, this group was eager to have a good time. Sally Helton, lay leader in the congregation, explains.

“It is a time of food and fellowship, loosely based on Valentine’s Day,” she reflects. “Though it started as couples, it has evolved into a party for everyone. We play games based on Family Feud and the Newlywed Game. Party favors and prizes are given to game winners. Our associate pastor Jerry Bailey, and his wife, are in charge of the whole evening. They do a fantastic job.”

Another lay leader, Connie Bradberry, had glowing remarks for the occasion. “It is a fun evening!” she exclaims. “We have some older people who have lost their companions. We didn’t want exclude anyone, and we had some families who included their children. So, it’s now a fun evening for all. We had a ‘king’ and ‘queen’ for the evening, as well.”

Brooklyn Church of God couples enjoying their Valentine’s festivities.

Rodney Walker, senior pastor of Brooklyn Church of God, offered some thoughts on the holiday, thoughts that serve as an appropriate conclusion to any discussion of Valentine’s Day and love.

“What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day? Maybe heart-shaped boxes and candy? Maybe ‘Be my Valentine’ cards? Maybe, but most likely—love! A common, basic need of mankind is to love and be loved. Many great movies or plays were written about love—Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare…Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks…just to name a few…. Although the depths of love are difficult to explain, and love is abused, distorted, and misrepresented in our society, love is given and received—it is the act of the will, not just feelings. Feelings and emotions come and go, but true love lasts forever. God’s love for you lasts forever. He loves you even at your worst: ‘God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (you!)’ —Romans 5:8.”

Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.

Feature (top) photo: First Church of God in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, celebrates big for Valentine’s Day 2024.

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