How can churches become involved with already established community events in a way that is meaningful and impactful? One Sunday last summer, Hollywood church participated with CicLAvia, a nonprofit that “catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation, and good health through car-free streets.” Inspired by Bogotá’s weekly ciclovía, CicLAvia temporarily closes streets to car traffic and opens them to Angelenos to use as a public park.
As longtime city bikers who’ve attended CicLAvia events in the past, Kelsy Jarboe and her husband, Alburn, members of Hollywood church, recalled biking past a church where people stood outside to pass out water bottles.
“When I heard the route was coming by our church, I thought we could do something similar,” Kelsy said. “The idea is very simple, but the impact was big—not just for the people we were helping but also for the people who were volunteering.”
The team of two dozen volunteers set up a tent across the corner of the church to hand out free water bottles and stations for cyclists to pump their tires. Church members donated tire pumps, and many had spent the Sabbath before the event creating labels for the water bottles, which highlighted Compassion Connection, Hollywood church’s shower and personal care ministry. Within two hours, they distributed 500 water bottles and pumped two dozen tires.
“I didn’t want them to just see the church building, because the church is more than just the building—it’s the people,” Kelsy added. “I wanted the people involved with CicLAvia to get connected with the members of our church.”
“These events are held multiple times a year and go by a number of different Adventist churches,” said Branden Stoltz, Hollywood church pastor, “which can be a great opportunity for other churches to reach their community. They’re already coming by our churches, so how can we make use of it?”
Kelsy encourages churches to become aware of community events already taking place and to think of ways the local church can add to the experience. “We handed out water and provided air—something they needed,” Kelsy said. “And for those who wanted to know about our church, they had the opportunity to ask.”
“When God places things like this on a church member’s heart, for the whole church to rally around it and encourage that work,” added Stoltz, “that’s how the church is going to advance.” To learn more about CicLAvia and how to get connected, visit ciclavia.org.