The celebration of Love Week has become an annual highlight for Kings Church in the Atlantic Canada region. Every year, the entire congregation across four campuses unites in a concentrated effort to express the love of God in tangible, meaningful ways.
With COVID-19 still being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we had to do things a bit differently this year. And the need to show love was greater than ever before.
This October marked the seventh annual Love Week. As always, the week began with a special offering, then over the next seven days, 100 percent of the funds received were distributed to schools, community organizations and families facing difficult situations. Thousands of dollars have been received and dispersed across the Atlantic Canada region each year, and in 2020, the cumulative total topped $1,000,000 given away since Love Week began in 2014.
A task force from the church selected the recipients from the hundreds of nominations received, then each recipient was presented with a gift as a simple way to say that God loves them and cares about their needs. One school, for example, received funds to help repair their playground and make it wheelchair accessible. A homeless shelter received a donation of 20 new mattresses. And a mother with a terminal diagnosis received a dream vacation to Florida for her and her family.
In addition to giving financially, the congregation was challenged to donate time in serving others. Whether as ministry teams, home churches or individuals, projects ranged from cleaning city streets to partnering with local organizations to providing oil changes for single moms. Together, the church serves thousands of hours during every Love Week, often in personal and creative ways.
“Because God has been so generous toward us, it compels us to be generous toward the world he has put us in,” said Rev. Brent Ingersoll, senior pastor at Kings Church. “We try to live by that all the time, but specifically for this one week of the year, we get super-intentional and see just how much love we can show.”
In previous years, many of the projects have been organized by the church’s various ministry teams. During the pandemic, however, bringing large teams together for service projects was not viable. Instead, the church’s newly launched home church ministry became pivotal to Love Week 2020.
Home churches are small communities of 10-20 people who live out their faith in Christian community. They meet together regularly, encourage one another through prayer and conversations surrounding the weekly teaching and care for one another through the ups and downs of life. These home churches are providing a place of belonging, growth and service even during the pandemic. While regulations regarding physical distancing and masks forced adjustments to the usual Love Week activities that brought together people from different social circles, home churches were able to step in to serve together. This led to an even wider reach across the region and greater engagement than ever before.
The four weeks leading up to Love Week saw the formation of 70 new home churches, representing about 1,500 people. During their initial meetings, the members of these home churches explored ways they could serve together while following all the health recommendations regarding COVID-19. They shared their passions for local charities and initiatives, discussed the needs they could meet within their relational circles, and prayed about how God could use them to safely display His love to their neighbors. Then during Love Week, home churches led the way in serving others to the glory of God.
With locations in Saint John, New Brunswick, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Kings Church promotes radical generosity as a reflection of the generosity of God. For the lay and clergy at Kings Church, Love Week has highlighted a few key lessons.
1. Generosity opens opportunities. In a world unaccustomed to seeing generosity on display, Love Week has captured attention across the region. Defenses come down and bridges are built, creating opportunities to share the message of Jesus.
2. Generosity builds up the church. Every year, Kings Church awaits Love Week with eager anticipation, then discovers what God can do as the body of Christ comes together. The shared experience stimulates great unity and enthusiasm throughout the congregation, while also promoting loving like Jesus all year round. The church has learned that Love Week is as much for them as it is for those they serve.
3. Generosity glorifies God. The primary goal of Love Week is to demonstrate the unparalleled goodness of God. The congregation performs countless acts of love and kindness, while directing the credit and praise toward him. As Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV).
Love Week began as an event, but it has become much more than that over the years. For the people of Kings Church, it has become part of their identity — loving others out of the same love they have received from King Jesus. Out of his unending wealth, they give.
Rev. Greg Hanson serves as assistant pastor at Kings Church.