Vital in Vancouver: Church Proves Essential to Community in Crisis
By Stephanie Collins
Vancouver Church in Vancouver, Washington, takes their mission to “reach out to our churchless neighbors” very seriously. Larry Whittlesey, community pastor at Vancouver Church, described that reaching out to their churchless neighbors is woven into the very DNA of who they have always been as a church. Connecting with their eight different community partners has been vitally important, even more so during the pandemic known as COVID-19.
Vancouver Church has strategically created teams of people to speak into the process of how they reach their neighbors. Ideas have been abundant during the pandemic, as Pastor Larry and Vancouver Church lead the way in creating unique opportunities to show their neighbors the love Jesus.
One of the most creative ways that they have reached their community with the gospel has been in partnering with a local assisted living facility. Vancouver Church made sure that every resident in the facility received a handwritten card and gift during the pandemic, along with a plethora of snacks and supplies for both residents and staff. Because of the widely recognized challenges faced by assisted living facilities since the pandemic began, it has been especially hard on the residents—residents who have little to no contact with the outside world. Vancouver Church has shown up with their support, solidarity, and monetary donations. Whittlesey even stated that the church bought a huge banner to place in front of the facility, which reads, “Heroes Work Here.”
With Vancouver Church being in the Pacific Northwest and in the middle of a post-Christian society, reaching out to their churchless neighbors and showing the love of Jesus through their actions, especially during COVID-19, has been crucial to reaching unbelievers in their community. Pastor Larry stated that, in the Pacific Northwest, the great outdoors is most people’s version of God. He stated, “We’re in a season of trying to prove ourselves to our community.”
Vancouver Church wants their community to know that they are present and that they sincerely love them with no strings attached. It has made all the difference. At first, the executive director of the assisted living facility was skeptical of the church’s interest in their work. Larry says, “Now we’ve built a relationship with her. She sees that we are committed to the facility. She has come full-circle into our corner.”
And that is just one example of many, each showing how Vancouver Church is doing incredible kingdom work within the Church of God movement. They are certainly fulfilling their mission to reach out to their churchless neighbors!
Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of COVID-19:
Stephanie Collins is the NextGen and online campus pastor of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. She loves helping people realize that they are loved no matter what.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.
*Feature (top) photo: Vancouver Church volunteers collecting supplies for a local charity early in the pandemic.