Church-based ministry could help fill gaps from Banks to Gaston soon

The young, low-income caller was 36 weeks pregnant and needed help getting supplies for her baby: clothes, blankets, diapers, wipes — basically, everything, she told a local Love INC representative. Could the social-service ministry help?

Yes, Love INC had everything the struggling mother-to-be needed, remembers Carol Shafer, executive director of Love INC (In the Name of Christ) of Greater Hillsboro.

“All of these are available through one of our Gap Ministries,” Shafer said. But the woman lived in Forest Grove, and Hillsboro’s Love INC services end at the Hillsboro School District boundary in Cornelius. So the young mother was out of luck.

That could change soon. After starting chapters in Beaverton to Hillsboro, Love INC has caught the attention of people in the westernmost cities of Washington County, starting with Banks resident Roxanne Meeuwsen, who volunteers with Hillsboro’s Love INC but wants to start a Greater Forest Grove affiliate.

Shafer would love to encourage that. Two years ago, she says, she had a vision “laid on her heart” and brought six churches together to start Love INC of Greater Hillsboro.

The national organization began in 1977 with a social worker in Michigan who wanted to encourage churches to become more engaged with the poor and inspire Christians to put their faith into action. It currently has more than 150 affiliates in 30 states, with a network of more than 8,600 churches, 9,200 community-based organizations and 100,000 volunteers.

The first Washington County affiliate sprang up in Beaverton, followed by Hillsboro’s two years ago. Love INC is open to all churches, regardless of theological or political persuasion.

“I always thought churches should be Christ’s hands across denominational lines,” Shafer said. 

The goal is to cover gaps in a community’s safety net through organized, loving volunteers and donors.

After starting with six churches, Hillsboro’s Love INC now has 22, allowing it to cover more gaps, Shafer said.

In the first year of operation, the organization met 500 needs, from bed, bath and kitchen products to hats for the homeless to medical equipment to hygeine needs.

That number doubled in the second year. So did volunteer hours. “I wrote a grant recently and I had to figure out the amount of our in-kind donations,” she explained, “I was surprised we had received $200,000 worth!”  

“We have 14 different gap ministries,” noted Mike Kellar, board chairman. Suggestions come from the community and from the interests of individual churches. 

“We recognize there is a real movement to help with foster care,” Kellar said. “We have a church who has stepped up to take care of kids while the foster parent takes a night off. We hope to see more of that kind of ministry developed for kids in the community who have special needs.”

John Eger, associate pastor at Alliance Bible Church in Hillsboro, says that his congregation is involved in the “Furnished with Hope” gap ministry, which provides donated couches, beds and tables to people who need them.

“We think it is incredibly important to connect with other churches, to help as many neighbors in need as we can,” Eger said.  

That’s why Meeuwsen is searching for someone to lead the formation of a Love INC affiliate in Greater Forest Grove, including not only the Forest Grove School District, but the cities of Gaston and Banks as well.

“We are in the planning stages here,” said Meeuwsen, who has already emailed Love INC headquarters about starting the new affiliate. “We are creating a core group and are looking for leaders and churches.”

She doesn’t yet have any Forest Grove-area churches officially on board, but is in touch with people who will probably contact their pastors about the effort.

“I am confident I have three or four churches that will be involved — because of the people we have involved,” Meeuwesen said.

She will soon hold an open meeting to try to organize a Forest Grove contingent. “We want to know who else is interested,” she said.

To attend the meeting, contact Meeuwsen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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