“You are the Light of the World”
We heard that loud and clear on Sunday from Bishop Tom Berlin. So I hope you have been dreaming about how we can be salt and light to our congregation and community in our coming vision. There is so much we have already learned from our vision process about our strengths:
You have told us that you have seen Jesus work through every one of our ministry areas, and that what keeps you a part of St. Luke’s is our core values, our worship, our commitment to social justice, our Wesleyan heritage and biblical interpretation, and your relationships with one another.
But we also know there is a great deal of spiritual and physical need in our area:
- 71% of our congregation only represents 31% of our community.
- In our community, 8.5% less people are active in church.
- Faith has no significance in life for 32.3% of people in our community, compared to the national average of 23.5%.
- Church attendance dropped 6% in the U.S. – from 34% in 2019 to 28% in 2021.
- In 2022, 1 in 4 adults caring for children 18 years and younger reported they are food insecure.
- 51% of children in poverty are Black and Hispanic.
- COVID, inflation, and decreasing benefits are making more people food insecure, even compared to pre-COVID.
This week you will have a chance to vote on what ways, as we continue to grow in the ministries we currently have, how we will awaken disciples to build the Kingdom and meet the needs in our congregation and around our community. You will get to vote with your phone or on paper about nine topics: 1) Innovation in worship, 2) Broadening our support for families of children and youth, 3) Helping people find meaning and purpose in their lives, 4) Using our current and new spaces in new ways to reach new people, 5) Strengthening a new understanding of United Methodism in Central Florida, 6) Bridging nutrition and income gaps in our community, 7) Becoming a fresh produce hub for our community, 8) Advocacy for affordable housing and food security, and 9) Strengthening partnerships and advocacy for mental health in our community. Those votes will then be displayed in the Building C Rotunda as the next strands of St. Luke’s DNA comes to life in this new vision.
Remember, this is how amazing ministries like Shepherd’s Hope and East Winter Garden, Circles and the micro-farms, Theatre at St. Luke’s, and our “Your Week with St. Luke’s” podcast found their birth. Through moments of recognizing that God has equipped us with strengths and discontents that can meet the needs of His people spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And, every time we as God’s people step in faith to trust the Holy Spirit’s creation of us and guiding of us, people meet Jesus and find wholeness in ways that we could have never imagined.
23 & We. We as a congregation, in relationship with our neighbors and one another, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can do far more than just 23 & Me. But it takes every ME to make up this WE called St. Luke’s – which means not only U matter, but U are needed to make St. Luke’s what God has created us to be and do.
See you Sunday as we consider how we will be salt and light for Christ.