St. Luke's United Methodist Church


4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32819
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A Note from Pastor Jenn-January 19, 2023

Posted on January 19, 2023 at 12:48 pm in .

Dear St. Lukers,

Yesterday I read a poem I’ve had on my wall for about six years. I don’t know what prompted me, but I turned to my inspiration board behind my office door and there was the inspiration I needed for starting a new series this week. The poem is entitled “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (a Native American Elder):

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for,

And if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.”

On Sunday you filled the crosses with your holy discontents. In reading the responses, the Holy Spirit is stirring the baptism water of St. Lukers in mighty ways. From supporting women and children in poverty, fixing the foster care system, speaking up about inclusion, acceptance and rights, to helping people feel cared for, valued, and not alone, the Holy Spirit is calling forth this congregation to find ways to reveal the Kingdom of God in our city, state, and nation. These are the responses of what you ache for, God’s Declarative, Non-Negotiable Acclamation (DNA) of your life. This is the genetic foundation to help you build your 23 & Me vision.

Which leads us to the big question: What do we do with all of these God-given DNA and spirit-claimed stirrings? How do we answer the writer’s question – do we dare to dream of meeting our heart’s longings?

Welcome to 23 & WE. God has brought us together as the body of Christ at St. Luke’s with different gifts and experiences, but similar stirrings, discontents, and callings. God has work to be done in our community, needs to be met in our neighborhoods, God’s Kingdom to be revealed in our city and state. Those needs, the work, is directly connected to the stirrings, callings, and discontents of our congregation – because God wants us, as St. Luke’s, to work together and make things happen. Your discontents and vision are probably directly connected with the vision God has for how St. Luke’s will live out its mission in the next couple of years. But this means we need to do a little Spirit listening.

Sunday we begin the practice of holy listening. How is the Holy Spirit speaking and shaping us and our ministry for our congregation and community. In 2012 and 2018 we used a vision process known as Appreciative Inquiry. This vision process is not a top down, go up to the mountain and one person brings down the vision from God. This is inviting the Spirit to speak through as many people as possible to help us DISCOVER our giftedness at St. Luke’s, DREAM about the needs and desires of the community and congregation, and then DESIGN a strategic 3-year DESTINY of how we will live out our mission statement and core values of St. Luke’s.

In 2012, the 4D Vision led to the devotion of being a church that reflected our community, creating a theatre ministry, CIRCLES and community development in East Winter Garden, and the building of Founder’s Hall.

In 2018, the 2020+ Vision to help us Reach Beyond with new communities, virtual worship and technology, Awaken Disciples with our connection to Candler, podcasts and a rhythm of Learn, Live, Love, and Lead, Navigate Life together through ramping up Care Ministries, and Restoring Hope which has helped us move families to stable housing, create five micro farms, and create sustainable food offerings for students.

We could not have accomplished the amazing work at the height of the pandemic of weekly food distributions for 18 months, online worship and discipleship, and starting two new non-profits had we not continued the diligent work of matching our strengths to the dreams and needs of our community that began with our first vision process in 2012.

Now, everything has changed. We live in a post-pandemic/church world where innovation is key because frankly, there are only new roads to travel when it comes to being the “church.” It is time to listen again to the Holy Spirit whispering and leading.

Over the next few weeks, we will be asking questions in worship (bring your phone as some of it will be captured virtually), in listening posts (click here to sign up to participate in one of these meetings), and in the community. We will start by spending a couple of weeks discovering who St. Luke’s is and our gifts and graces. The questions this week will be easy: What brought you to St. Luke’s, and what keeps you choosing to follow Jesus with St. Luke’s? We will be hearing the calling story of the first disciples from Matthew 4:12-23. Listen to Pastor Jad’s podcast episode and study the Scripture to prepare your hearts for worship as we start to consider how God is shaping and calling St. Luke’s in 2023!

Looking forward to what 23 & We can do together!


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