Later this year, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will premiere Lovetown, USA, a show about the search for love, filmed in Kingsland, GA. OWN describes the show as a “one-of-a-kind social experiment” and “the biggest dating challenge in TV history—examining the effects love can have on the DNA of one American community.”
But the producers are getting more than they bargained for; Christ’s Church Camden, also in Kingsland, is using this unusual opportunity to share the impact of Christ’s love.
“Kingsland has the highest percentage in the country of singles who move here and then get married,” says CCC lead pastor Scott Clevenger, noting that the high number of new recruits in this Navy town contributes to the distinction. “But the show will also focus on what happens when a community is captured by love, so they’re also looking for testimonials from families and friends.”
Winfrey kicked off the taping with a “Love Rally,” and Christ’s Church members were there to offer free hugs. The church also created a new sermon series, “Love Redefined,” to share what the Bible says about loving others.
“The producers of the show asked if they could video the entire February 26 service,” Clevenger says. “Of course we said yes—we’re open to any tool that will broadcast the love and grace of Christ.”
He says this includes not only the eventual airing of the episode, but the preparation process itself. “One of the women in charge had no experience with Christianity or the church,” he shares. “So I had the privilege of explaining what we do, and why, and what Communion is.”
The day of the service provided other opportunities to share God’s love with the production crew. Clevenger preached on the Good Samaritan, and the worship team performed a medley of love songs ranging from Elvis and Third Day to “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” During the medley, the entire congregation transformed into a giant flash mob, and, by the end of the song, everyone was hand in hand, swaying back and forth.
“Whether a single second of the service is televised or not, we know God worked in amazing ways,” he says. “The Lovetown crew told us how welcome they felt at the church. One came up to me afterwards in tears. Another said she hasn’t stepped foot in church since she was 7 and the pastor told her mom to ‘get that girl out of this church and don’t bring her back until she’s wearing a dress!’ Another told me he’d go to church every Sunday if he had a church like this at home. These folks were starving for a sense of purpose and belonging in this world . . . and they have failed to find it in the church! I’m overwhelmed and humbled that they found something different with us that day.”