Love Our Cities (www.LoveOurCities.org) is a national organization that grew out of the concern of one church—Big Valley Grace Community Church—for one city—Modesto, California. It started with outreach pastor Jeff Pishney asking himself: “Why is our city on lists of the worst cities in America? If our churches were to suddenly disappear from the Modesto area, would anyone even care or notice?
“Love Our Cities came into existence to demonstrate kindness, meet needs and impact lives in our city,” Pinnacle Forum Partner, Jeff Pishney explains. “We had our first event on March 7, 2009. More than 1,200 people participated and we’ve done this a dozen more times since then. At these community-wide service days, volunteers are involved in feeding the hungry, visiting convalescent homes, donating blood, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, working in city parks and schools, among other activities.
“Big events are great,” Jeff says, “but we focus on projects that are sustainable year-round. The really important work is what goes on daily. So many amazing stories have emerged from Love Our Cities and the greatest ones are of the thousands who continue to volunteer regularly with organizations and in areas they served.”
The outreach of a single church has sparked a citywide movement that’s grown into a national ministry that may soon be international. “More than 50 cities have followed Modesto’s example,” Jeff reports. “Over 56,500 people have been involved. More than 200,000 volunteer hours have been donated. At minimum wage, this is around $1.8 million dollars in service freely given to our communities.”
Love Our Cities has also drilled down in specific ways with Love Our Neighborhoods (www.LoveOurNeighborhoods.com), Love Our Schools (www.LoveOurSchools.com) and Love Our Kids (www.LoveALLOurKids.com).
“None of what we’ve accomplished would have been possible without the help of marketplace leaders,” Jeff adds, “specifically Pinnacle Forum Partners. Pinnacle Forum has a large presence in Modesto. Men like Chuck Bryant, Glen Villanova, Mark Vasche and others have done a wonderful job caring for our city and connecting influential people to community needs and opportunities.
“Pinnacle Forum has had a powerful impact on my own life,” Jeff goes on to say. “I attend a Forum, and I love being with men from other churches and backgrounds. It’s very enlightening and helpful; it challenges my faith in a good way. I have lots to learn from these wise, godly men.
“People sometimes tell me they’re too busy to plug into something like a Forum group but we all need to be connected to others. We need input but we also need outlets for service and PinnacleForum is great at building two-way relationships.”
Jeff has gone from being a pastor to leading a national outreach organization but the church is still very much at the heart of his work. “Love Our Cities is an intentional strategy to help make the church relevant in our cities again.”
Jeff sees Pinnacle Forum and Love Our Cities as obvious Partners in transforming culture in cities. Jeff and Love our Cities would love to be of service to you and your community, or even have you come visit the next Love Modesto event.
“This is a real value-add for Pinnacle Forum. “ said Chuck Bryant (Chairman of National Board). “Jeff is eager to help anywhere in the country and has the skill set and experience to be a real asset to our chapters as they work in their own communities.”