‘I Love My Church’ campaign inspires in Williamsburg, Virginia
By: Brad Rowland
In early 2022, The Salvation Army of Williamsburg, Virginia, led by Captains Julio and Luci Da Silva, launched the “I Love My Church” campaign. The 40-day campaign aimed to embrace the love of God and to deepen the love for God within the corps and the local community through a sermon series, Bible study, appreciation events, community projects, and an outdoor celebration.
“We wanted to reach out to the community as a church family with small groups as a catalyst,” said Captain Julio Da Silva, corps officer. “Jesus said that love will be the church’s identifying mark. It’s how people will know we are Christians. Jesus’ followers should be unmistakable. Our love for each is evidence of Jesus’ action in our lives. Our love for each other should portray the way He loves us. It should be sacrificial, servant-focused, compassionate, and unconditional.”
The campaign began with a six-part sermon series, focusing on building a stronger church through community, service, giving, and sharing. Captain Da Silva adapted the series to the reality of the local corps in Williamsburg, and the Sunday messages interacted with a weekly Bible study.
Corps members gathered on Thursday evenings for dinner and study, focusing on a book titled “Embracing the Love of God” by James Bryan Smith. The devotional time brought attendees closer to together and strengthened their resolve.
“In this Bible study, we learned that God’s love came down to us, fills our hearts, and is then extended to our neighbors,” Captain Da Silva said. “When we know and feel and experience God’s love, we cannot but love ourselves and love others. It is a genuine, comprehensive kind of love that is based not on what we do but on who we are.”
During the campaign, Captains Da Silva challenged corps members to plan and execute a service project and the result was “baskets of love.” The Salvation Army distributed baskets featuring personal hygiene items and other products to two different senior villages in the community. This led to the start of the “Lunch Bunch Seniors Club,” a bi-weekly ministry to low-income seniors featuring lunch, fellowship, education, worship, and service.
Captains Da Silva and the congregation clearly inspired beyond their walls, with others taking notice across The Salvation Army’s Potomac Division.
“Their love for their church and the Lord is easy to see, and they took action in showing that love,” said David Delaney, divisional music director. “It starts with leading by example. They are a beautiful example of God’s sacrificial love.”
The campaign also featured a dedicated appreciation day for individual groups including The Salvation Army’s Advisory Board, Women’s Auxiliary, youth, solders, adherents, staff, and volunteers. Captains Da Silva sought “to show love and deep appreciation” to each collective, meeting with every group and enjoying a party with them featuring a meal, discussions about the future, and the potential growth of The Salvation Army.
At the conclusion of 40 days, the campaign formally culminated in an outdoor celebration at Kidsburg Park in Williamsburg, joining together with the entire corps to testify on the love of God. The event was designed as an outreach to the community, encouraging soldiers to be the face of Christ to others.
“Lucy and I know that the ‘I Love My Church’ campaign was helpful to deepen our understanding of how God uses community for our own good and growth. It also helps us cultivate deeper relationships with those in our church and the community where we live,” Captain Da Silva said. “It’s all about others here at The Salvation Army in Williamsburg, so we want to encourage, empower, and equip our soldiers to live out the heart of the matter. We love God, we love people, and we love our church.”