In the name of Love

County Christian churches band together to form Love INC
by Jeff Pederson of The Review staff


LOVE INC OF SHEBOYGAN COUNTY Vice Chair Linda Cates (left), Executive Director Katie Popp (middle) and Chair Rev. Mark Janzen (right) of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sheboygan Falls are preparing to launch a new Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ) chapter in Sheboygan County later this year. — Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson LOVE INC OF SHEBOYGAN COUNTY Vice Chair Linda Cates (left), Executive Director Katie Popp (middle) and Chair Rev. Mark Janzen (right) of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sheboygan Falls are preparing to launch a new Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ) chapter in Sheboygan County later this year. — Falls News photo by Jeff Pederson Assisting people in times of need is a regular part of what Christian churches do to spread unconditional support throughout the community.

While Christian churches throughout Sheboygan County are highly driven to meet the basic needs of those that are struggling, a new organization called Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of Sheboygan County is aiming to upgrade and streamline the manner in which assistance is distributed.

Led by a leadership team representing several Christian-based denominations in Sheboygan County, Love INC is poised to formally launch is efforts in the coming months.

“All churches help people in need in many different way, whether it is helping people cover their rent, utilities, gas, security deposits, as well as other basic needs like food or items like furniture,” St. Paul Lutheran Church Pastor and Love INC Board of Directors Chair Mark Janzen said. “Church have a calling to assist in the way of the Good Samaritan and most importantly in the name and image of Jesus Christ, which is unconditional.

“One of the biggest limitations of going about it this way has been that the churches are separated from each other and do not work together to help people in a focused or comprehensive way,” he said. “In seeing how the pattern of assistance has taken shape over the years, it occurred to me and a number of other people that we have not been changing lives with what we have been doing. We should not just give a handout, we should be helping people truly change their lives and break out of the cycle of assistance.”

With the goal of bringing Sheboygan County churches and service organizations together to assist those in need in a better way, Love INC was recently formed as a branch of the national Love in the Name of Christ organization.

“For the past year or so, I have met with other pastors and church leaders, as well as people from organizations like the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul and the United Way to see if there was a better way to help people in a way that would benefit all involved,” Janzen said. “As I met with these people, I found out that I was not alone in my thinking. They had the very same thoughts, but just didn’t know how to go about changing the approach.”

Love INC Board of Directors Vice Chair Linda Cates says the program strives to provide a personal connection.

“Love INC is about building relationships,” Cates said. “We see people come back month and month with the same needs. They are seeking as gas cards or financial or material assistance.

“We are aiming to give them our time to form a relationship filled with love and care,” she said. “The social services efforts of churches have been focus mainly on hand outs, but our real mission should be to hand up. The goal is to put our faith into action and to mobilize churches to transform the lives of others in the name of Christ.”

According to Janzen, Love Inc. will serve as a clearinghouse, positioned at the center of a large network of churches and social service agencies.

“One of the key words I have heard with Love INC is ‘operationalize,’ which I think really describes the program,” Janzen said. “We are trying to make our efforts to help others truly productive by putting them into action.”

The mission of Love INC will be carried out largely through the efforts of volunteers, who will assist with clearinghouse, mentoring and financial counseling duties.

“Volunteers will be a big key to this,” Janzen said. “We are seeking volunteers that believe in our mission and are interested in connecting those in need with resources in the community that can assist them with their immediate needs and hopefully steer them in the right direction toward a prosperous future.”

Love INC volunteer opportunities promise to be diverse and rewarding for those who choose to donate their time to the cause.

Clearinghouse volunteers will be called upon to answer phones and be the voice of Christ to those in the general public and to those in need. Their kind words will can alleviate a desperate situation and bring resources together to connect client with appropriate support.

Church liaisons serve as the primary contact and referral individual, making and accepting referrals from the clearinghouse and developing a strong partnership with Love Inc.

Volunteer mentors are church volunteers that are matched with people in need to form Christ-like relationships that foster transformation and sustainable life change. This involves mentoring, goal-setting, spiritual and emotional support to achieve a specific desired result.

Financial counselors are volunteers who complete special training to encourage people to learn basic skills in budgeting, banking and advocating for themselves.

Future ministries may also develop as the needs of the community and the opportunity for church servants grows. This may include services, training and products.

The Love INC network will be equipped to connect clients with child care, budget counseling, automotive repair, food pantry, transportation, affordable housing, homeless shelter, substance abuse counseling, crisis counseling, job placement, clothing and legal services.

All volunteers will receive specialized training to prepare them for the services they will provide.

“Our volunteers will take the time to hear a person’s story and connect with them and their needs,” Cates said. “The mentors will help with specific needs as directed, as our partnership with other churches, service organizations and even some area businesses points people in need to where they will best receive help.

“Our partnership with other churches and social organizations is important to provide a comprehensive network of support,” she said. “Because churches are working independently the system of assistance is disjointed right now. We want to eliminate those gaps and hopeful lead people to living fully independent lives.”

Love INC recently set its first-year budget and thanks to a $50,000 donation from the Brotz Family Foundation, it is well on its way to opening for business later this year.

Recently named Love INC Executive Director Katie Popp is excited about what the organization will offer to the community.

“I have been meeting a lot of people and talking about what we are going to be doing with Love Inc. and it has been so very well received by everyone,” Popp said. “I am eager to get volunteers in place and to finalize the partnerships with other churches and service organizations and get things going later this year. I am excited to see how this will grow in the future.”

Janzen says Love INC will follow the framework put into place by Love in the Name of Christ, which has 157 affiliates in 30 states, representing a network of more than 8,600 churches, 9,200 community-based service organizations and 100,000 volunteers meeting more than 1,680,000 needs throughout the U.S. last year.

“Love in the Name of Christ is a national organization that has been around for the past 37 years,” Janzen said. “It has been very helpful in providing assistance to us in getting our affiliate off the ground. A lot of what we do will be similar to what the other affiliates do.

“Love INC will follow the Loves in the Name of Christ program framework, but our services will be tailored to fit the needs of the people of Sheboygan County, which differ from the needs of people in other communities.”

Community members will have an opportunity to learn more about Love INC at a special program titled, Christian Churches in Partnership with the Community, Tuesday, June 24, at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls from 4-5:30 p.m.

The event will include music from Morning Star, a welcome and opening remarks from Rev. Dr. Karl C. Schaffenburg of Grace Episcopal Church in Sheboygan, an opening prayer by Paster Brad Veenendaal of First Reformed Church in Sheboygan Falls and a featured presentation from Carl “Spark” Ball, the executive director of Love Inc. in Lake County, Ill.

While Love INC of Sheboygan County is currently set up at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sheboygan Falls, Cates anticipates that a permanent home will be secured soon.

“We are gearing up for our launch and part of that will be setting up our own office, most likely in Sheboygan,” Cates said. “Our hope is to have everything up and running by the end of the year.”

Janzen says interest among area churches and service organizations has been strong.

“We’ve done outreach to all of the Christian Churches in Sheboygan County and we have 30 churches for sure that have expressed interest in joining Love INC,” Janzen said. “We believe that number will jump after the event on June 24 at The Bull. We are very optimistic that once people learn what we are doing, they will be eager to become partners. It is exciting. I can’t wait to get started.”

For more information about Love INC Love in the Name of Christ of Sheboygan County, call Executive Director Katie Popp at 920-226, 1478 or via e-mail at sheboyganloveinc@gmail.com


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