By Dawn Cornelius
Do you know what love looks like? Not romantic love or self-love, but the kind of selfless and sacrificial love we show to one another as human beings.
New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville, TN, has held its Community Day, an all-day block party-style event, for the past several years with the intent of showing a “crazy” love that is extravagant, selfless, and sacrificial. As any New Covenant member would tell you, “It’s more than just a party, It’s all about changing lives.”
Led by an army of New Covenant members with blocked streets and an event that rivals any city-run festival, the church partners with businesses, community agencies, government leaders and judges, healthcare providers, and other local social activists in the private and public sector to meet the practical, social, emotional, legal, and financial needs of its community in relevant and tangible ways.
This past Community Day welcomed over 500 people, provided free food, social services, information on job opportunities, free hair cuts, health information and health care services such as free mammograms, record expungement, and other relevant programming and free items for adults and children.
Participating corporations, vendors and partners have included Pepsi, National Urban League, Soles for Souls, and others. The year’s Community Day on August 6 is expected to exceed previous years’ attendance and impact.
While it’s easy to understand why a social justice-‐oriented ministry such as New Covenant would lead the way in tackling tough issues in the community around poverty, immigration, affordable housing, racism, education, fair opportunities for former convicts, healthcare access, food insecurity, and other social issues affecting the most underserved in North Nashville, the real story is how individual lives have been transformed as result of New Covenant’s extravagant love for its community.
Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, senior pastor of New Covenant said, “These families came seeking backpacks for their kids, shoes for their family, and record expungement for their dad and ended up with love being poured all over them.”
Cummings added, “It is amazing to watch the lives of men and women changed as they leave our church campus knowing that they will be able to improve their economic status as result of having a clean criminal record. This is what the church is called to do-to be emancipating and transforming agents within our communities.”
“That’s what this initiative is really about”, according to the Community Day chairperson, Brenda McClellan. “It isn’t about us just doing good or trying to be seen as a ‘good church’ or altruism for altruism’s sake, but rather, respect, decency, preserving dignity, and taking care of our neighbors and community which has always been a centerpiece of African-American cultural legacy. It’s also the heart of who we are as a church.” McClellan adds, “When we collectively get together we are a force. The good in the world has to stand up and show that ‘I am here’ so others will be empowered to join in. If I make a difference in one person’s life, it is worth it.”
“Isn’t that the definition of community?” asks Minister Tara Williams, executive assistant to the pastor at New Covenant. “Thinking beyond yourself, doing your part, getting involved and giving to others selflessly. That is the essence of love.”
Maybe that’s the essence of a “crazy” love.