Riverview Baptist in Savannah reaches community with ‘Loving God, Loving Others’ event
By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
SAVANNAH — Allen Guyer, pastor of Riverview Baptist Church, Savannah, believes that a church should be more than just a “holy huddle” that gathers on Sundays.
The Riverview members obviously support that notion wholeheartedly.
The church recently hosted its second annual “Loving God, Loving Others Day” — a ministry in which church members perform a series of service projects and other acts of kindness throughout the community.
The Riverview congregation fully embraced the project, with 140 people — from the church’s roughly 200 regular Sunday attendees — participating in the ministry. The event took place on the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday.
“For us to have an event where about 70 percent of the church participates is really exciting,” said Guyer. “We are not a large church, necessarily, but our folks have really bought into the idea that if we love God, then it’s going to flow out in expressions of love for others.”
Sharing the gospel is at the heart of each project, and the ministry resulted in six professions of faith this year.
“To God be the glory,” said Guyer. “That’s what we want this (ministry) to be about. We believe that this was our chance to get outside the walls of the church and let people know that we love them and that God loves them.”
Guyer noted that the idea for the “Loving God, Loving Others” ministry started to take shape about three years ago when the church hosted an Emergency Personnel Appreciation Day to honor police, firemen, EMTs, dispatchers, and others. The church provided a meal for the emergency personnel and gave them a gift bag.
“Our people really got behind it, so we decided we wanted to springboard off that,” said Guyer. “We started thinking about ways we could impact even more people, and we had the vision to expand on what we’d done with that.”
Guyer said that around that same time, he heard a message from Steve Gaines, who was preaching from Jeremiah 29:7 about seeking “the peace and prosperity of the city.” Guyer said he took the message to heart, and soon put together a leadership team — chaired by Riverview member Jeanie Majors — to coordinate the first “Loving God, Loving Others Day” in 2018. Associate pastor Brent Colley has played a key role in spearheading the project.
The church completed 12 service projects in the inaugural year of the ministry, and this year, the list increased to 14.
“One of the things that makes this so successful is that we try to provide a wide range of projects so that everyone can find something that suits their strengths,” said Guyer. “It was wonderful to see our children, teenagers, young adults and senior adults participate in this. It was the whole gamut.”
This year’s list of projects included a partnership with the women’s prison in the area. The church held a worship service for the inmates’ children and caregivers, and provided a meal for them. The youth choir sang and Guyer presented the gospel during the service — and four people were saved. Also, the church provided Easter baskets for the inmates’ children.
Other projects that were performed by the Riverview teams included:
- Visiting nursing homes;
- Prayerwalking the local schools, courthouse and city hall;
- “Adopting” one of the elementary schools, where the team gave away gift bags to students and did landscaping;
- Building a handicapped ramp at a senior adult home;
- Passing out Bibles (the Gideons supplied New Testaments in support of the ministry);
- Going door to door to distribute gift bags that included candy, a New Testament and an invitation to the Easter service at church;
- Providing breakfast for students who were taking the ACT;
- Providing blankets and snacks for patients at the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center;
Guyer noted that the weather wasn’t especially cooperative for this year’s event but said that the members did not let the rain prevent them from working.
“We had a group that went to the senior adult home to build a handicap ramp, and it was just pouring rain,” he said. “But that team stayed out there, in the rain and the mud, for seven or eight hours and did a terrific job.”
Guyer also noted one of the teams went inside the retirement center and hosted games and provided lunch. Guyer came over during the visit and shared the gospel, and two senior adults made professions of faith.
Guyer said the event enabled the church to connect to the community — and vice versa — in a unique way.
“We really try to approach this as a ‘Super Bowl’ event,” he said. “We know that not everyone we minister to that day is going to come to Riverview Baptist Church, but we want them to know that God loves them.”