Art of Neighboring event to bring churches, government, civic leaders together

by Jeff Pederson
of The Review staff


DAVE RUNYON will be the featured speaker at LOVE INC of Sheboygan County’s Love Where You Live - The Art of Neighboring event Monday, Oct. 3 at City Church in Sheboygan. - Submitted photo DAVE RUNYON will be the featured speaker at LOVE INC of Sheboygan County’s Love Where You Live - The Art of Neighboring event Monday, Oct. 3 at City Church in Sheboygan. - Submitted photo In an increasing fractured and disenfranchised society, the feeling of community and neighborhood unity has become an increasingly rare commodity in towns, villages and cities throughout the United States.

This growing disconnection from those around us has been targeted among the contributing factors in the rise in crime, drug use, homelessness and hopelessness for a substantial portion of the U.S. population.

In an effort to reverse this concerning trend, Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of Sheboygan Falls is sent to hold its first ever Love Where You Live – The Art of Neighboring event Monday, Oct. 3, from 6:30- 8 p.m. at City Church in Sheboygan.

The program will feature noted inspirational speaker Dave Runyon, co-author of the book, “The Art of Neighboring,” who will share his insights from the book, which draws on the themes of bringing churches, government leaders, civic groups, business owners and community members together to foster a restored sense of neighborhood togetherness.

Love INC is now in its third year of bringing community churches together to help those in need throughout Sheboygan County.

Love INC Executive Director Katie Popp says the Love Where You Live-the Art of Neighboring event combines all of the themes that lay at the foundation of Love INC of Sheboygan County and forges a new path toward neighborhood restoration.

“The goal of this event is to help plant the seed of life transformation,” Popp said. “We are very excited to bring our community and church leaders together to work on what we can achieve when we take the step to work together with others.

“We are blessed here in Sheboygan County in that we are so rich in resources,” she said. “We have people that want to help and our goal is to have this Love Where You Live-The Art of Neighboring program serve as a catalyst to make transformations happen in people’s lives.”

Popp says when government officials, civic leaders and community members gather with church groups, they typically have have no trouble finding common ground.

“We are dealing with some major issues in our community right now,” Popp said. “We have sex trafficking, drugs, homelessness and crime that has infested our neighborhoods and led to a general decay in portions of our community.

“In recent years, government officials have become much more open to trusting in God to help make strides for the positive in the community,” she said. “They have begun to embrace the role of churches in helping to produce needed change, which has been a great thing to see.”

According to Popp, something as simply as knowing your neighbors can go a long way in improving the health of the entire community.

“If you just do something as simple as take the time to say ‘hello’ to your neighbor and get to know them, that can be very powerful and do more to strengthen the community bond that you could imagine,” Popp said. “Culturally, we have gotten too far away from that. We just are not there for each other throughout society as much we used to be.”

Popp has been encouraged by how Love INC’s themes of bringing people together for positive change has resonated with a cross section of people.

“Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen and Sheboygan Director of Planning and Development Chad Pelishek are firmly on board with this,” Popp said. “There are also five neighborhood organizations that have formed in Sheboygan to lay out safety plans and pursue different methods to reduce crime.”

Runyon, who launched the CityUnite organization in Arvada, Colo. in 2007, has successfully united church, government and civic leaders in tackling community problems head on in the greater Denver metropolitan area.

“Before I started CityUnite, I was a pastor in the Denver area,” Runyon said. “As a pastor, I saw a need for an organization that would serve to bring Catholic and Protestant churches together to forge pathways to a better society.

“Once people understood the idea behind CityUnite, it really took off,” he said. “Churches in the Denver area have loved the idea of collaborating amongst each other toward a common goal.”

Today, CityUnite includes 140 member churches in the greater Denver area.

Runyon says improvement has been evident in three key areas of the community.

“We have seen positive change throughout our area,” Runyon said. “Specifically we have noted improvement in foster child care, school-church partnerships and neighboring initiatives. It has been wonderful to see the in roads we have made in these important areas.”

In his first ever trip to Sheboygan, Runyon will discuss how CityUnite grew into the positive force it is today in the Denver area.

“I will provide some insight about what has happened in Denver and share how the neighboring movement has truly made an impact in the lives of so many people, who previously felt like they had nowhere to turn, Runyon said.

After Runyon’s presentation, discussion and prayer will follow in the theme of neighboring through trust in God’s love.

Attendance at the event includes a suggested donation of $10.

Those planning to attend are encouraged to register in advance by visiting www.loveincsheboygancounty.org

City Church is located at 2313 North 31st St. in Sheboygan.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, Runyon will take part in the Breakfast with Dave Runyon event at First United Lutheran Church in Sheboygan from 8-9 a.m.

This special breakfast meeting will give Runyon an opportunity to discuss the resources and tools he used to facilitate change through neighboring initiatives in the Denver area, which have now spread to communities throughout the country.

A special meal will be provided by Love INC.

To RSVP for the Breakfast with Dave Runyon event visit www.loveincsheboygancounty.org

First United Lutheran Church is located at 2401 Kohler Memorial Drive in Sheboygan.


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