Organizers with Love Out Loud Meridian are hoping for a big turnout during the weeklong mission event July 18-23.
Wade Phillips. executive pastor at Northcrest Baptist Church said after having to scale back last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he hopes things will be something close to “back to normal” this year.
Dozens of churches will do numerous acts of service throughout the city from helping schools prepare for the upcoming year, to giving haircuts to homeless and needy people, to cleaning up trash on city streets, to simply doing random acts of kindness throughout the community.
“We have already gotten a great deal of interest from churches about this year’s event, including some churches who have never participated before,” Phillips said. “So, my hope this year is that this year’s event will be different than last year’s, but very similar to years past. A lot of that will depend on what things look like in July, but all signs seem to point toward us being able to go pretty normally.”
Love Out Loud will kick off with a service at the Temple Theatre on Sunday, July 18. Services will also be held at the Temple on Wednesday and Friday. The musical worship will be led by Jordan Grizzard, the worship pastor at Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas. The guest speaker for the week will be Marcus Hayes, pastor at Crossroads Church in Woodlands, Texas, near Houston.
Morning devotional services will be held each morning, led by the same men, before going out to areas of service.
“With everything that has happened over the last year, we believe that many Christians are hungry to get back to really serving their communities the way they did before the pandemic hit,” Phillips said. “It has been a long year, but we hope Love Out Loud will provide us a chance to move back close to normal. We invite any churches or Christians who would like to serve with us to do so this year.”
One of the biggest events this year will be a multi-sport camp with kids from the Boys and Girls Club each morning at Highland Park, Phillips said. Kids will have a choice between several sports, including soccer and baseball. There will also be some tracks for non-sports-minded kids.
“We hope to be back to serving in places that we couldn’t serve last year because of COVID-19, like the Meridian Housing Authority and nursing homes. “Of course one of the largest missions will be the “Random Acts of Kindness.” Another emphasis we hope to make is helping participating churches serve in the neighborhoods around them.
“We hope that those participating churches might have some missions they’d like to do close to home to try to show love to the people closest to them.”
Love Out Loud began nine years ago as a way for Christians in the community to show the love of Jesus to people in the community. It has grown from about 150 participants the first year, primarily from Northcrest Baptist Church, to more than 800 people and more than 30 churches.
“We hope we can expand Love Out Loud outside of Meridian,” Phillips added. “Philadelphia began a Love Out Loud last year, and they are planning year two in June. We have also been talking with the Mississippi Baptist Convention about ways that churches and local Baptist associations across the state can do something similar to Love Out Loud where they are.
“Our hope is that eventually, we see churches and communities all over Mississippi doing something like this.”
Phillips went on to say the city of Meridian has always been incredibly grateful and helpful to Love Out Loud in making things happen.
“We have different churches join in to participate every year, and many of the churches that have participated in some way have seen people come to faith in Jesus, be baptized, and join through what they’ve been able to do. The body of Christ needs to show what we can do when we come together with a common purpose of demonstrating God’s love.
“We all have doctrines and practices and preferences that may keep us separate during other parts of the year, but this is a great way to show that we are still unified around the most important thing – the gospel of Jesus.”