Love Loud volunteers turn out in force at Wal-Mart recently to buy food for needy families. The food will be given away during a special event at The Arena in Corbin this Saturday.
A massive citywide effort to "show the community the love of Jesus Christ" is set to begin Thursday with scores of green t-shirt clad volunteers out in force performing an laundry list of acts of kindness.
The three-day event, which will take place in Corbin Thursday through Saturday is being called "Love Loud" and is a partnership amongst roughly 30 local churches, with Central Baptist Church and Immanuel Baptist Church in Corbin leading the charge.
"Our churches do a really good job at serving the people who are already here, but we just felt like there’s a whole different world of folks that are living here in our community that we aren’t touching and serving … That we are not showing the love of Christ" said Central Baptist Church Pastor Chad Fugitt.
"We just decided what better way to do that than to go out where they are and meet their needs where they are at."
The event has been building for months.
Committees were formed to start the initial planning. The idea gained momentum. More churches got on board. Three Sundays ago, Fugitt and Immanuel Baptist Church Pastor Allen Bonnell orchestrated a "reverse offering" where churchgoers were each given a single $1 bill to take to Wal-Mart and spend on non-perishable groceries to be given away to those in need.
While likely less than $1,000 was distributed, Wal-Mart estimated in a one-hour span, church members spent nearly $24,000 on the effort.
"It was awesome!" Bonnell said of the manner in which a relatively small amount of money multiplied into so many groceries.
"They said the only thing they could compare it too was Black Friday … We filled up a box truck and eight pick-up trucks full of food. It’s great to see people care that much about their community."
Love Loud begins tomorrow with a shotgun blast of charity across town: 15 free home repair projects, random block parties in neighborhoods, free lunch for local first responders, free Laundromat service, and much more including numerous random acts of kindness all over the city.
There will also be a yard sale at the Central Baptist Church Youth Corner where everything is free.
The event will culminate Saturday at The Arena from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. where a literal extravaganza of Love Loud activities will take place like: all sorts of health screenings (blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, hearing and vision, body fat measurement, etc.) marriage and parenting info, estate planning, free haircuts and some dental care, AA women’s Services and more. There will also be free oil changes and car washes for single mothers and senior adults from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday at the Central Baptist Church Youth Corner.
On Sunday at 6:30 p.m., a special evening church service will be held at The Arena featuring nationally recognized speaker Brent Crowe, and author from Orlando, Fla., and music by the band "Rush of Fools." Everyone is invited to attend.
Bonnell said Immanuel Baptist Church has been holding Love Loud events internally for several years, but noted this is the first time the concept has been tried on such a wide scale. He hopes it accomplishes three main things – encourages area churches to unite and work more closely together, help meet the physical needs of many in the community and, ultimately, lead more people to faith.
"I think this is just an opportunity for us to live out our faith," Bonnell said. "If it just boils down to attending church on Sunday, then not living it out during the week, that’s no good. This is what we are supposed to doing all the time, not just when there is an event or on Sunday."
Fugitt, who has pastored at Central Baptist Church for a little over a year, said he hopes Love Loud helps overcome a negative idea some have of church as only a place where people want something.
"I think there’s this idea out there that churches exist to take something from people," Fugitt said. "Really and truly, churches don’t exist to take. We exist to give away … to show and share the love of Christ."
"We’ve been doing a great job of sharing the gospel inside our own walls, but now I think it’s time to go out and show the gospel to people. That’s what this is really all about."
Anyone wanting to participate in Love Loud activities is encouraged to do so by contacting Central Baptist Church or Immanuel Baptist Church and signing up to volunteer. Also, shirts supporting the effort with the Love Loud logo can be purchased at either church for $10 apiece.