Sunnyside CRC in Sunnyside, WA, discovered a powerful way to demonstrate the love of Christ to neighbors while also building deeper fellowship among believers. Eight years ago the congregation formed the “Loving Sunnyside Initiative.” Loving Sunnyside focuses on cleaning up and painting the homes of elderly, handicapped and low income members of the community. Six homes are selected in the spring and six in the fall. To date, more than 100 homes have been painted.
The supervision and most of the funding for this project comes from Sunnyside CRC but the volunteers also come from the community. An estimated 16,320 volunteer hours have been invested in this project. The number of volunteers continues to increase. When Loving Sunnyside launched 120 volunteers painted each day. Today the number has grown to 350. Seven congregations other than Sunnyside CRC have participated and both the Sunnyside Christian School and Public School provided student volunteers.
Each clean-up and paint day starts with a large breakfast followed by a short devotional highlighting why sharing love with neighbors is so important. Loving Sunnyside’s theme text is 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” The Loving Sunnyside Initiative also provides snacks and a lunch at each site.
After the clean-up and paint days have been completed, each home is visited by the Sunnyside pastor and a member of the congregation. The purpose of these visits is to identify additional ways the church can come alongside. If the home does not have a Bible either in English or Spanish that, too, is provided. Finally, an invitation is extended to attend one of the many churches in the community.
The Loving Sunnyside Initiative has caught the attention of the media. Local newspapers have covered the project each time it takes place. TV stations have picked up the story on several occasions. Additionally, leaders of the Loving Sunnyside initiative have been asked to speak at Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions’ clubs.
For more information about this project contact the Sunnyside Christian Reformed Church.