Dear St. Lukers,
It’s great to be back in the swing of things after a powerful, healing and renewing leave. I want to thank you as the congregation, our Staff Parish Committee and the Executive staff for going strong while I was away. St. Luke’s has had an amazing summer and our staff and volunteers have out done themselves yet again. Vacation Bible School was a powerful experience in reaching and teaching children and families. Our camps were well attended and again, were spiritually, physically and emotionally forming for more than 900 children. East Winter Garden has been busy with a beautiful production of “Annie Jr.” by our Arts After 5 young people. The Youth Center and renovations in Building B are almost complete and everything is beautiful. In fact, families of children and youth will have an opportunity to DIVE IN on August 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and get a preview of the upcoming year with Grow Ministry opportunities for children, youth, and adults.
Last Sunday was a perfect kick off to an important time in the life of St. Luke’s. August is considered a time to gather back from vacation, start back in the fall schedule of worship and discipleship, and remind us who we are as St. Lukers. Every year the summer shows and worship always connect with our vision, mission, and core values. This month is all about the Bible and how we as St. Luke’s and United Methodists read, interpret, and use the scripture to form us. Pastor Bill kicked us off in the morning worship time with an overview of the Old Testament (If you missed it, click here to watch). This week in worship, Bill will continue with the New Testament and a complete overview in three words, leading us to our place at God’s holy table.
Sunday night we kicked off a new worship and teaching experience with an overview of biblical authority led by Dr. Waite Willis, Professor and head of the Religion department at Florida Southern College. This experience of worship, teaching and conversation, ending with communion will lead us in the coming weeks to dig into difficult scriptures. This week starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Attic, Bill will walk us through the Acts 8 story of Philip and the Eunuch. Bring your Bibles and questions!
Wednesday night we started a three-week experience created by our Conference known as the POV or Point of View conversations. These conversations are about practicing empathy, holding holy conversations and growing together as a congregation around the inclusion of LGBTQ persons and allies in our UM denomination. The first week, thirty of us gathered to learn a practice of empathy mapping. This week, as we go deeper, we will share some of the information regarding the Way Forward and the Council of Bishops’ recommendation of the One Church Plan. You are welcome to join us from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Attic.
Some of the greatest conflicts in our denomination, church, and larger culture today really do rest in how people interpret the Bible and how their interpretation holds authority in their lives. As we root ourselves as a congregation in our history of using scripture as Wesleyans and St. Lukers, we move forward informed and able to see how our core values and ministry can grow for the mission of reaching people in the name of Christ for the transformation of the world.
This is why we picked Footloose as our summer show. A show about teenagers and the struggles they face in life (not just in the 80’s but today). Struggles with learning to heal, wanting to be loved, and the lengths we go to find those things. It shows teen angst, and as you know from the movie, has some dark moments. This musical which on the surface is about celebration and dance, finding joy in life, digs deep also to show what happens when we don’t heal from grief and loss, and the power of fear to isolate and use even scripture to damage people. But in the end, as we watch these characters begin to loosen their grips and trust, and as the pastor says “lay down their burdens” we see transformation, healing, grace and freedom. All because one young man uses his voice to be authentic and true. Get your tickets now as we open this weekend with another ridiculously talented production. You won’t want to miss it!
Whew! Glad I rested up! Because we are kickin’ off our Sunday shoes and going on a journey together for sure! See you this weekend…