Nearly 2,000 volunteers from the two-campus 7 Hills Church based in Cincinnati, Ohio, participated in a week of service conducted annually to benefit communities in the greater Cincinnati area and Northern Kentucky called "Heart the City."
From Sunday, June 20 to Saturday, June 26, roughly 1,817 volunteers participated in serving 186 organizations for a total of 11,783 hours, according to the church.
The service projects included landscaping, painting, organizing, cleaning, food distribution and more in various neighborhoods.
Over 15 years ago, when Pastor Marcus Mecum founded his nondenominational church, he said the one word which weighed heavy on his heart was “better.”
He told The Christian Post his primary desires were to ultimately improve marriages, schools and local businesses within Cincinnati to better the whole city.
“Our prayer hasn't been, ‘God give the city to us,’ but rather our prayer has been, ‘God give us to the city.’ And that’s what we’ve been committed to do for over 12 years now through our ‘Heart the City’ initiative,” Mecum, a Florence, Kentucky resident, told The Christian Post.
“What I love about our church is that we don’t just say, ‘I love people,’ but we prove it through our actions. We roll up our sleeves and we serve our city all year-round. … We want to make a difference.”
The pastor said the “Heart the City” week is a time for the congregation to meet the community's needs by first finding out what the needs are and then manifesting the vision to meet the needs. Ultimately, he said, his church takes pride in maintaining lives led by the example of Jesus, who “didn’t come to be served, but to serve.”
Every year, the “Heart the City” week of service occurs around the same time in late June because more volunteers are available in the summer months when most grade schools are not in session.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s 2020 “Heart the City” week was postponed.
However, 7 Hills Church still invested $200,000 in COVID-19 relief response. The funding provided more than 19,000 boxes of food and supplies for the community, 50,000 pounds of food packed and distributed, and 12,000 bottles of hand sanitizer given to frontline workers, first responders and families in need.
In 2021, the city’s need for volunteer services was just as great.
With every passing day of service, Mecum said, hundreds of volunteers started around 8 a.m., and the latest projects ended around 8 p.m. There were 993 more volunteers in 2021 than in 2019, which allowed for an additional 11 organizations to be served.
When Mecum read through the Bible, he said he found it amazing how Jesus seemed to think about other people frequently.
“There were times where Jesus would look over a city and weep. ... Even on the most difficult day of His life on the cross, He was thinking about people when He said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,’ Luke 23:34,” Mecum said. “Jesus constantly thought about people. Our church isn’t perfect, but people are always on our mind.”