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SEU’s Missions Department, otherwise known as SEU Missions, has launched an outreach program called Love LKLD — a practical and relational opportunity for  students to serve in local ministry.

Serving on a City Team

SEU Missions has taken the initiative to serve our community here in Lakeland, Florida. This is in addition to the 48 mission trips SEU Missions is sending both domestically and overseas. Stephanie Bernotas, Director of Missions at SEU, said, “We don’t want to drive past the people in our own city on the way to the airport for our mission trips.”

The Love LKLD program was heavily influenced by Julie Nash, the previous SEU Missions Graduate Assistant. Bernotas said that Nash helped pioneer Love LKLD and it was a part of her legacy with SEU Missions.

Love LKLD is a student-led ministry that partners with local organizations to best minister to the people of Lakeland. In the past, Love LKLD was limited to one service day per semester. What makes Love LKLD different this year is the new implementation of regular service teams called “City Teams.” Students can join a City Team and serve consistently throughout the school year.

These City Teams are student-led and partner with local organizations like Anchor House, the Dream Center, and Hope House to serve the community effectively and relationally. “Our vision behind it is that we wanted there to be a more consistent presence with these ministries because we know what they are doing is so valuable,” said Tim Hoover, SEU Missions local outreach coordinator.

Partnerships with each organization will look different depending on the need and opportunity. Specifically, ministry types can include anything from sports ministry with foster kids, to remodeling housing for impoverished families, to relational evangelism on the streets of Lakeland.

Community Building

Love LKLD is building community between the organizations, the volunteers, and the locals being served. Hoover said that this is an opportunity for volunteers to connect with the people they are serving regularly. He said, “There is something special about consistent commitment and seeing the same face every week.” 

Abigail Williams, a student volunteer with Love LKLD, served on a City Team to Anchor House in the fall of 2023. Their City Team’s focus was on remodeling a home that would help house children transitioning out of foster care. Abigail said, “I’ve never left something feeling more satisfied for doing something that was so menial work.” She said, “It was a gift to be able to serve.”

Abigail said serving on a City Team included team devotionals and fellowship alongside the service project. Abigail said, “Love LKLD is opening so many doors for you to grow…I know serving has helped me grow in my relationship with the Lord a lot.”

Benjamin Williams, Facility Coordinator at Anchor House Ministries, hosted a City Team in the fall of 2023. He said, “You think you don’t matter, but you really do and organizations like Anchor House really do need the help…We’re not just going on a Saturday to check off the box, you are making an impact, and every person that is there is bringing a change.”

Getting Involved

The SEU Missions team and staff encourage students to take the opportunity to join a City Team and help serve the kingdom of God right here in Lakeland. Bernotoas said, “We believe that the kingdom of God is all week long and not just on Sundays…so we don’t want our involvement in Lakeland to be only on Sundays, we want it to be all week long.”

City Teams with Love LKLD are readily available for students to join at any point in the semester. Students interested in serving on a City Team can reach out to the SEU Missions local outreach coordinators Isabel Hertz ( and Barrett Colerick (

Written by Isabel Hertz, SEU Student 

Edited by Mia Golding, Student Writer

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About SEU Missions

Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff travel the globe each year through SEU Missions. Each student-led mission trip has a specific purpose with one overall goal — to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth.

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