In the summer of 2010 a Parishioner at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sheboygan Falls, Tim Allman initiated a conversation with leadership about how churches might do social ministry better.  In the end, the Associate Pastor Mark Janzen agreed to work with Tim on this issue – researching various models and concept. In the fall of 2010 Pastor Mark mentioned the issue at a Sheboygan Falls Ministerial Association meeting and Pastor Brad Veenendaal suggested they look into Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) model.  He was familiar with the organization from his time in Holland, Michigan – the home of the National Love INC. The model focuses on mobilizing Christian Churches to transform lives and communities through relationship with Jesus Christ. This was exactly what the group was seeking – a way of providing a “hand-up” because the thousands of dollars provided as “hand-outs” through their Church ministries had only perpetuated the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

The Church leadership recognized they had become part of the “problem” in their attempts to provide resources as other avenues were no longer funded, or available. As they reached out to the National Love INC, they realized it was in the midst of a major reorganization, delaying the possibility of an affiliate in Sheboygan County. A local Vision Team was formed in the summer of 2011 and contact with the Love INC headquarters was re-established. Individuals that together, were able to see the possibility of walking with Christ in a different way gathered including:

Vision Team – 2011 [Tim Allman, Gay Borgenhagen, Jerry Doyle, Chris Tempas & Pastor Mark Janzen]

To move the formation process for the Sheboygan County Love INC affiliate, a group of pastors nominated a Development Team in 2012 to address the 501(c)3 status, draft the marketing plan, and select the members of the Founding Board of Directors. The group of pastors from a wide range of denominations and geographic locations within the county included:

Nomination Team – 2012 [Pastor Keith Hunholz, Rev. Father Karl Schaffenburg, Pastor Todd Smith, Pastor Brian Taylor, Pastor David Van Dixhorn & Pastor Brad Veenendaal]

The group that carved the pathway for the affiliate to be born and donated hundreds of hours of time for that purpose – the Development Team – 2012-13 led by Katy Prange, and under the legal consultation of Bill Te Winkle, also included: Dorothy Block, Bill Horsch, Sue Kieffer and Julie Steinert]

Within two years, the affiliate formation in our County was underway following this path:

The Founding Board of Directors was recruited in 2013 and included: Chair-Pastor Mark Janzen, Vice-Chair Linda Cates, Treasurer Ryan TenPas, Secretary Dorothy Block, Jesse Brotz, David Kostichka, Jane Marotz, Pastor Ric Olson and Chris Tempas.

The Board developed a strategic plan in the spring of 2014 with plans to fund the operations for the first year to allow for hiring of an Executive Director and establishing an office.

The Brotz Family Foundation and an Anonymous Donors provided the necessary financial support to accomplish those tasks. In addition, our first “major community partner” was identified in Thrivent Financial services – having a compatible mission with Love INC. Thrivent has brought their financial support, along with other resources to our special events and has a representative on our Board of Directors.

We reached out to other organizations with missions to assist neighbors in need through the Churches including St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Salvation Army and the Sheboygan County Interfaith Organization realizing our mission is unique – to ensure no duplication of focus or services.

The first Executive Director (ED) Katie Popp was hired and established an office operation by late 2014 in downtown Sheboygan. The office address is not published as the heart of the Love INC operation is a Clearinghouse involving telephone contact only with a Clearinghouse Coordinator hired at the time the office was secured.

Since that time over 100 Volunteers have been recruited, 35 Christian churches have officially partnered with Love INC through the outreach efforts of the ED with support from the Board members.

By the second quarter of 2015, the Clearinghouse operation pilot (initiated at the end of 2014) was completed. The Clearinghouse continues to accept referrals, working with Churches, community service organizations and other Volunteers to walk together with our neighbors in need – holding the values of truth, accountability and compassion as our guiding light.

At the end of April 2015, 20 leaders of Love INC – Board, Staff and other key Volunteers met for the second strategic planning retreat hosted by First Reformed Church, Pastor Brad Veenendaal. The Retreat involved much celebration for the blessings bestowed, prayers for wisdom and direction, and identification of the next critical steps in formation. The focus of the plan is the evaluation and refinement of the processes initiated over the last year; development of the mentoring ministry while refining the gap ministry procedure unfolding; and, the engagement of Church Leadership and Volunteers in a more strategic manner – appropriate for the early development stage of Love INC.

The National Love INC was founded in 1977 as a way to encourage churches to become more engaged with people with needs in their communities. It was designed to inspire a greater number of Christians to put their faith into action. Love INC’s founder, Dr. Virgil Bulker, was a social worker and outreach director in Holland, Michigan in the late 1970s. Deeply committed to helping people who found themselves in need and lacking resources or a support network, he was certain God has called Christian churches to the same mission. It was clear to Dr. Gulker that if churches were to better serve their communities, they needed leadership, organization, training, encouragement, and prayer. He developed the Love INC model to fill these critical roles; Love INC taught churches to assess their capabilities. It also unified local congregations so that, working together, they could more effectively help their neighbors.

One man’s idea for an integrated church ministry in his community inspired Christians in other regions. Other communities duplicated the Love INC model – with successes, as they sought to meet the needs of hurting individuals and families in their own areas. By the late 1980’s 50 affiliates were operating in 14 states. As the ministry grew, so did the need for national leadership and support. In 1988, Love INC became an operating department of World Vision U.S., an international Christian relief and development organization, where it remained until 2001 establishing an independent not-for-profit organization.

In early 2011, Love INC began a strategic restructuring of its operations, the goals of which are to significantly reduce its operating costs, become more self-sustaining and provide services to existing and developing affiliates more efficiently and effectively. Currently, 157 Love INC affiliates in 30 states represent a network of more than 8,600 churches, 92,00 community-based organization, and 100,000 volunteers – meeting the needs of neighbors in excess of one million in 2013.