Willingdon Church’s ‘Love Our City’ day served refugees and many others

Willingdon Love Our City volunteers at Journey Home.

Every week I hear of new and creative ways in which churches and individual Christians are working for the good of the broader community. And I am sure that I don’t hear about most of them, even though I’m always poking around.

Here is an example, from one of the largest churches in Metro Vancouver. I knew nothing about this good work until I ran into one man who had taken part.

George Folz* described his experience:

April 6 was Willingdon Church’s Love Our City day. It gathered some 275 volunteers to go out and love our city through acts of service.

This covered a range of activities, from picking up garbage to visiting shut-ins and seniors to building projects like the one at the Journey Home houses that help refugee families get established in Canada.

The team that went to the Journey Home houses was 30 strong and divided into four groups. Two groups were cleaning and renovating inside the two homes and the other two were laying sod for a small soccer pitch and making a garden area in the back yard.

Getting started on the lawn.

The day actually started at Willlingdon Church the night before, with a time of praise to God and prayer for our city.

On Saturday morning the full group gathered again for prayer, donning Love Our City T-Shirts and deployment to service.

The work at Journey Home started at 7:30 am as trucks of top soil, sod and building materials arrived.

After an important orientation to the homes to understand how they serve our newcomers to Canada it was time to work and soon the 30 people were spread throughout the space leaning into the tasks at hand.

The old adage that ‘many hands make light work’ was so true. The real trick was keeping such a large workforce of keen and eager people moving together to get the tasks done. You could see a lot of prior preparations made that happen.

A good day’s work.

It was like watching a time-lapse as piece by piece the place was being transformed from rough ground and an overgrown yard that was replaced with a beautiful garden for quiet contemplation beside a lovely grass pitch for kids to play in.

Amidst the diligent work there was time to relate to coworkers, and to meet a few of the residents as well as the staff that keep the homes going. We enjoyed lovely baking brought by one of the volunteers and a Middle Eastern lunch provided by a former resident.

It really was love at work, to the glory of God the Creator and a blessing to all involved.

This is the whole Love Our City team.

Here is how Willingdon described Love Our City (Serve Day):

Let’s spend the day together, simply serving our city. We want to be a church family that loves our city well, serving where there is need. This is a simple act of obedience and worship.

Loving our neighbours is one of the clear invitations and commandments that Jesus gives His followers. This day is designed to give you and your family an opportunity to live out Jesus’ teaching, along with others from our church family.

In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked by some religious leaders, “What is the greatest commandment?” His response: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

On April 6, let’s spend the day loving our neighbors intentionally.

Serving Opportunities on April 6th

Blessing Our Neighbours – Let’s love the people who are right around us.
Serving options: Cleaning windows, visiting, prayer walking, writing encouragement cards for first responders, etc.

Stewardship – Let’s care for the environment God created for our enjoyment and sustenance
Serving options: neighbourhood garbage clean up, etc.

Serving People with Significant Need – Let’s serve people who are vulnerable to physical or emotional harm.
Serving options: serving refugees, those living in poverty, safe house, etc.

Volunteers with Ending Homelessness in Burnaby engaged with church members and neighbours at the Willingdon Fall Fair. Photo from EHB site.

I believe we are seeing a new determination to get out into the community, both at Willingdon and in many other churches. However, that does not mean that nothing has happened in the past.

Journey Home itself, for example, grew out of a Willingdon home group. Go here for several stories about their significant work in the city.

Another example is that the non-profit society End Homelessness in Burnaby thanked Willingdon on its website for its help with their PODS storage clean up day last summer (“organizing our storage units full of donated clothes and toiletries”) and for welcoming them to set up a display during the church’s Fall Festival, which hosted neighbours for movies, meals, games and more.

(It is encouraging to see 18 churches, including Willingdon, listed as community partners and supporters of End Homelessness in Burnaby.)

  • I met George Folz at the Business as Mission Conference in downtown Vancouver April 13; he is a Global Development Consultant with Multiply.
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