“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love,” (2 John 6) is the theme verse for Love Ripon, a community-wide event that is based out of Ripon, Calif. Love Ripon is a partnership of “Love Our Cities” and was born out of the success of a project with a similar name from the neighboring town of Modesto. Ripon Grace Church (Rex Rodgers, lead pastor) participates in Love Ripon each year. Love Ripon is based upon the questions of “if our churches disappeared from the community, would anyone care or notice?” and, “what would it look like if we showed love to our communities?”
On the day of Love Ripon, the community comes together to participate in a wide range of projects that are typically organized by churches. Some projects include removing graffiti, refreshing local school properties, and working with the local fire and police departments. The entirety of the projects is not solely based upon physical labor, but there are also encouragement projects which have consisted of a community concert as well as painting inspirational murals in an elementary school’s restrooms.
The Love Ripon volunteer day happened on April 13. Groups of 10-50 volunteers were assigned to a total of 16 projects. The volunteers gather for a rally, which was led by Tina Fikejs (office manager at Ripon Grace Church) this year. The group participated in an event called, “Pass it Forward.” The fire chief, police chief, and the mayor of Ripon threw two footballs into the crowd and whoever caught the ball was given fifty dollars to use to bless someone in the community. Two young men by the names of Seth and Spencer caught the footballs. Seth gave the $50 to the children’s community garden. The garden involves children in the growing of vegetables, that are given to people in need. Spencer purchased new sports equipment for the 7th grade class of his favorite teacher. The class equipment was getting worn, and it was a huge blessing to the teacher and the class.
While Love Ripon is primarily a Christian-based project led by local churches, the entire Ripon community is invited to participate in any service project listed on the Love Ripon website. This year, in lieu of organizing a project, Ripon Grace Church decided to participate by going shoulder-to-shoulder with other churches to show the unity of Christ to the non-Christians working alongside.
“Many members of the community will participate in Love Ripon before they ever come to church,” says Tina, “it’s a great way for us to get out there and shine the light of Christ.”
Love Ripon is just one of the 60 cities that participate in the volunteer days organized by Love Our Cities each year.
[Connect:] Contact Tina Fikejs to find out how your church can help connect with your community through a ministry like Love Ripon.