25 May 2023 | London, UK [Max McKenzie-Cook with tedNEWS]
Saturday 20 May was truly a remarkable day, thanks to all who attended Community Services Reloaded in Balham, South London. The event, organised by Hewitt Grant, Adventist Community Services president for the London region, brought together a diverse group of individuals united by a common passion: serving the community and sharing hope.
The main purpose of the event was combining efforts and outlining strategies for serving the community in a more efficient an integrated way. “Creating a comprehensive disaster relief plan, fostering stronger connections with other entities, exhibiting greater sensitivity to the community’s needs, establishing a task force for a residential care home, and developing a directory of services within the local area,” were some of the priorities highlighted for the next two years, said pastor Max McKenzie-Cook, Community Ministries director for the South England Conference (SEC). “The event shed light on the importance of moving beyond the confines of the church walls and extending a helping hand to those in need,” McKenzie-Cook remarked.
During a heart-warming segment of the programme, long-serving community leaders were recognised. Syvlia Bernard, Mitsy Wallfall, Norma McKenzie, Elizabeth Kavanagh, Elizabeth Simpson, Dorcel Saul and Victor Morrison were honoured with plaques, symbolising that the ambitious plans for the future are built upon the solid foundation they and others have laid. “Their commitment and dedication inspire the current generation to push further and dream bigger,” said McKenzie-Cook.
The combined Area 6B Youth Choir delivered a stunning performance, with uplifting songs including, “Beautiful Feet,” “Called to Be,” and “Bless Somebody Else.” The carefully chosen repertoire resonated with the audience, motivating them to engage in acts of service to ensure a brighter future for their communities.
Pastor Vili Costescu delivered an empowering message challenging attendees to “become agents of change in their communities,” and not simply church consumers. Building upon Costescu’s message, pastor Wentworth Sewell reminded the audience of Christ’s method, urging them to “emulate His example, by showing genuine care and compassion, which leads to impactful transformations in the lives of those they serve.”
“A brilliant idea emerged during the event: tapping into employers’ volunteering policies,” shared McKenzie-Cook. Attendees were encouraged to request time off work to volunteer in their local ministry. “The conference created a template letter that individuals could present to their employers, explaining their desire to contribute to their community. By leveraging these policies, church members can actively engage in service without additional strain on their schedules,” McKenzie-Cook remarked.
The importance of teamwork and unity was clearly emphasised during the programme. Attendees were inspired to support initiatives in their local communities (even if they attended church elsewhere), to foster community and solidarity. The event’s impact was evident as more than thirty individuals expressed their desire to get involved and make a difference.
“A newfound momentum has enveloped this community, propelling members to request time off from their employers, innovative pioneer ministries, and embody the compassionate spirit of Jesus,” McKenzie-Cook concluded.
[Photos: Chadlee Brown]