History of the National Love INC Movement
Love INC was founded in 1977 as a way to encourage churches to become more engaged with the poor and to inspire a greater number of Christians to put their faith in action.
Love INC’s founder, Dr. Virgil Gulker, was a social worker and outreach director in Holland, Michigan in the late 1970’s. Deeply committed to helping people trapped in poverty, he was certain God had called others to the same mission. As he talked to church members and pastors, Dr. Gulker came to understand that Christians did indeed want to help the needy, but they had few ideas about how to do so. Many times people did not even recognize they were gifted in ways that could have a positive impact on someone else’s life.
It was clear to Dr. Gulker 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, and it unified local congregations so that, working together, they could more effectively aid their neighbors.
One man’s idea for an integrated church ministry in Holland, Michigan began to inspire Christians in many different regions. Others duplicated the Love INC model with its successes they sought to meet the needs of hurting individuals and families in their own communities. By the late 1980’s, there were 50 Love INC affiliates operating in 14 states across the country.
As the Love INC 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 for the next 15 years. Under World Vision, Love INC continued to grow throughout the 1990’s and in 2001, Robert Odom was appointed president of Love INC. In 2003, Love INC entered into a new relationship with World Vision by forming its own national nonprofit entity, and continuing to partner with World Vision on programs and initiatives that complement each organization’s mission and vision.
Today Love INC has over 160 affiliates in 30 states, representing a network of more than 9,000 churches and 6,000 community agencies, and 300,000 volunteers helping more than 1 million people in need each year. Love INC stands ready to welcome new affiliates in any community that want to participate. As long as there are people in need, Love INC has work to do.