What is a Lighthouse Church?

Simply put, a Lighthouse Church is a light in its community—inspired by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5.

Churches are essential partners when we respond to disasters across Canada. Together, we share Gospel hope with people facing grief and uncertainty.

This fall, from coast to coast, we’re introducing churches and people like you to the world of Canadian Disaster Relief.

Do you want to learn more about what it means to be a Canadian Disaster Relief volunteer? Does your church want to be better-equipped to serve in times of need?

If so, you’re invited to join us at a free volunteer training event:

Note: These trainings will take place from 9 am – 4 pm. Lunch will be provided. Individuals and church groups are welcome.

Please register to confirm your attendance.

Date: Saturday, Sept. 17
Location: Calgary, AB: Samaritan’s Purse, 20 Hopewell Way NE

Date: Saturday, Sept. 24
Location: Summerside, PEI: Summerside Community Church, 150 Industrial Cres.

Date: Saturday, Oct. 15
Location: Nepean, ON: The Met Church, 2176 Prince of Wales Dr.

Date: Saturday, Oct. 22
Location: Oakville, ON: Hope Bible Church, 500 Great Lakes Blvd.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 12
Location: Fredericton, NB: Journey Church, 131 Duncan Ln.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 5
Location: Surrey/Abbotsford: Location to be confirmed

At each one-day event, we will:
1. Answer the who, what, where, when, and how of volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse
2. Provide resources for interacting with people affected by trauma
3. Discuss ways to be spiritually and emotionally prepared to serve

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”

~ Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

God calls the Church to be the light of the world—to serve and care for the world’s most vulnerable. Disasters, whether natural or manmade, hit hurting people the hardest.

The Bible is clear: God wants to use us, His Church, to help restore hope for the hurting. In times of disaster, we have the opportunity to shine the love of Jesus Christ brighter than ever.

What is the Lighthouse Church Network?

Samaritan’s Purse’s commitment is to serve the Church. To this end, we have established a network of churches across Canada to support one another and serve their communities in Jesus’ Name.

Communities are increasingly aware of their need to be prepared for crisis. Your church, as an integral part of your community, has much to offer. With the support of other congregations across the country and decades of disaster relief experiences from the Samaritan’s Purse team of professionals and volunteers, you can continue to open doors to share the Gospel in word and deed—no matter the circumstances.

A crisis can happen anywhere. When it does, it’s a time for the Church to shine brightly for Christ. By joining the Lighthouse Church network, you connect your church with resources, tools, training, and support to respond and help:

• Building resilience through preparation before a crisis
• Partnering with Samaritan’s Purse Canada in times of disaster
• Accessing like-minded organizations and helping agencies that may already be in your community or are willing to send resources to assist in response and recovery

Benefits for Your Church

Crisis Preparedness

A disaster preparedness plan can mean the difference between a church crippled by crisis and a church poised to support its hurting community.

As a Lighthouse Church, you’ll receive support to:

• Conduct a risks and hazards assessment to help you prepare for the most likely crisis

• Complete a strengths and resources inventory to discover your church’s unique gifts for service

• Prepare a continuity plan so that your church can remain open in times of need

• Learn how to help other disaster-impacted congregations, even if your church hasn’t been affected

Community Resilience

A resilient community will cope better with a crisis and recover from it faster. Many communities focus on building resilience after a disaster, but it’s best to begin that process long before one hits—and your church can play a key role.

As a Lighthouse Church, you’ll receive support to:

• Network and coordinate with other local disaster preparedness groups

• Contribute to community resilience by fostering neighbor-to-neighbor connections

• Be equipped with tools and training to build community

Disaster Response

Immediately following a wildfire, tornado, flood, or other catastrophes, Samaritan’s Purse deploys specially equipped tractor-trailers called Disaster Relief Units, trained staff, and teams of volunteers to help communities clean up.

As a Lighthouse Church, you’ll have the opportunity to:

• Host our Disaster Relief Unit in your church parking lot, providing a home base for volunteers and other disaster responders

• Receive training from Samaritan’s Purse in crisis response skills, including spiritual first aid and site leadership

• Send out teams of volunteers to help neighbors or other impacted churches

Community Recovery

The road to recovery is a long and arduous journey. Your church can help restore a sense of community over time and is uniquely equipped to address the less visible emotional, spiritual, and financial effects of a disaster.

As a Lighthouse Church, you’ll have capacity to:

• Connect with municipal or provincial government bodies

• Join with other Lighthouse Churches to learn together

• Develop a vision for recovery, create a plan, and implement it

• Work alongside our specially trained case managers who provide long-term, in-community support after disasters are over

Empowered in Ministry

With resources, training, and support through the Lighthouse Church network, Summerside Community Church on Prince Edward Island has seen countless open doors to minister following a storm that tore through their community. Long after the initial clean-up, those opportunities have not stopped.

“The hurricane made me recognize our gaps in preparation for anything that is beyond the everyday,” said Tracy Linkletter, executive pastor at Summerside Community Church on Prince Edward Island. In 2019, Hurricane Dorian struck their small community.

In the aftermath, the church hosted a Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief Unit—loaded with specialized equipment—that equipped their congregation and other volunteers to help their community recover.

Since then, Summerside Community Church has continued to be a part of the Samaritan’s Purse Lighthouse Church network. Through the network, they’ve strengthened bonds with other churches and their municipal government to build community resilience in preparation for another crisis.“I didn’t realize just how much we have to offer,” said Tracy. “It’s given the city a much clearer picture of the resources they have in local churches.”

Being a Lighthouse Church has made me think about how we can prepare to be resilient not only physically, but also spiritually,” Tracy said, pointing people to hope in Christ, “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19, ESV).

Join Samaritan’s Purse as a Lighthouse Church

Send volunteers to serve with Samaritan’s Purse

Volunteers are invaluable! And they have a unique ability to minister to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of disaster victims. When your church recruits a team of volunteers to help out, we coordinate all the logistics, provide the supplies, and have staff in place to lead the way.

Let us know you’re interested

Interested in being a Lighthouse Church? We want to get to know you! Simply fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch with more information.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a Lighthouse Sending Church

What are the responsibilities of being a Lighthouse Sending Church?

Lighthouse Sending Churches identify volunteers within their congregation who are willing to serve others in a time of disaster, either in their own community or elsewhere in Canada. When deployed, volunteers assist uninsured or under-insured homeowners with tasks such as possession recovery, mud-outs (after flooding), ash sifting (after fires), debris removal and more. Read this article about a day in the life of a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief volunteer.

Do volunteers need experience or special skills?

No, anyone can volunteer! We provide all the training that you need, then pair you with trained and experienced leaders to facilitate your volunteer experience.

How old do volunteers need to be?

For safety reasons, we recommend that volunteers are over the age of 18. Youth 16-17 require prior permission from us, and must work with a parent or legal guardian.

Will Samaritan’s Purse cover our transportation, accommodation and food costs?

Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the disaster response location, and any incidentals during the stay. We take care of the accommodation, food and safety gear.

Who does Samaritan’s Purse serve during a disaster response?

Our priority is to serve the most vulnerable first, including low-income individuals, the elderly, those without insurance, veterans, and those who serve in public service such as fire, police, and medical response as they often are not able to be home as a result of their duties. Upon completion of all the work at each home, a Bible (signed by every volunteer that worked at the home) is presented to the homeowner.

Does Samaritan’s Purse charge residents for work done in response to a disaster?

No. Because of volunteers and donors like you, Samaritan’s Purse can provide services at no cost to the homeowner, assisting them in their ongoing recovery.

If we want to apply to be a Lighthouse Sending Church, what happens next?

Ensure your church leadership understands and supports our program, then contact us. We will review your request, and if approved, an acceptance letter will be sent out to your church. We will then invite you to participate in future disaster responses as needs arise.

What if the disaster takes place in our own town or city?

We are also interested in recruiting churches to serve as Lighthouse Host Churches. These churches assume additional responsibilities and provide additional support for the local community, as well as hosting equipment and volunteers who may be coming to your area from out of town. Learn more here.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a Lighthouse Host Church

Who does Samaritan’s Purse serve during a disaster response?

Our priority is to serve the most vulnerable first, including low-income individuals, the elderly, those without insurance, veterans, and those who serve in public service such as fire, police, and medical response as they often are not able to be home as a result of their duties. We help with tasks such as possession recovery, mud-outs (after flooding), ash sifting (after fires), debris removal and more. Upon completion of all the work at each home, a Bible (signed by every volunteer that worked at the home) is presented to the homeowner.

Where does Samaritan’s Purse recruit its volunteers?

Volunteers are recruited both from within the affected community and Lighthouse Sending Churches from across the country. Lighthouse Host Churches play a critical role in getting the word out to their congregation as well as other churches in the community that volunteers are needed.

Will it cost my church anything to be a Lighthouse Host Church?

Samaritan’s Purse never wants to be a burden to the Lighthouse Host Church and for that reason, we will provide funds to help supplement the additional costs incurred by the church as a hosting facility.

Does Samaritan’s Purse charge residents for work done in response to a disaster?

No. Because of volunteers and donors like you, Samaritan’s Purse can provide services at no cost to the homeowner, assisting them in their ongoing recovery.

How can Samaritan’s Purse help us be prepared if a disaster should happen in our area?

We can share our experience with disaster responses and help your church develop a proactive emergency plan. This will make your church less vulnerable and better positioned to serve your community when the need arises.

What kind of training and oversight is given to volunteers?

Samaritan’s Purse provides all necessary tools, training and safety equipment to carry out our relief efforts. All volunteer work teams are supervised by a trained Samaritan’s Purse Team Leader.

How long does Samaritan’s Purse stay in an area affected by disaster?

The average duration of deployment is usually three to six weeks, with determinations made at the local level whether or not to stay longer depending on the needs of the community.

If we want to apply to be a Lighthouse Sending Church, what happens next?

Ensure your church leadership understands and supports our program, then contact us. We will review your request, and if approved, an acceptance letter will be sent out to your church. We will then invite you to participate in future disaster responses as needs arise.

What if the disaster takes place in a town or city far away from us?

Even if your church never needs to serve as a Lighthouse Host Church, we are also interested in recruiting churches to serve as Lighthouse Sending Churches. These churches identify volunteers within their congregation who are willing to travel across Canada and serve others in a time of disaster.




Stories about our Canadian Disaster Responses

Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief teams are on the ground in Atlantic Canada in the... Read More

150 families helped in the aftermath of storms and floods. Read More

Canadian donations and volunteers bringing hope to Ottawa storm survivors. Read More

“After partnering with Samaritan’s Purse during the flood clean-up in our community, we were seen as servants to the people in our community. It also empowered the people in our church with the confidence to know that with God’s help, we can make a difference in our community.”

~ Reverend Neville

Other ways you can get involved