Dear Thankful People,
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Corinthians 1:4
What more can be said about this year? If I were to go through the list of all we have been through in 2020, you would be A) so over the litany of bad things you are ready to skip ahead or B) tired, sad, and ready to go back to bed.
Instead, I’ll give you the many reasons we as a staff thank God for all of you:
- In a global pandemic you have consistently been giving faithfully to St. Luke’s Operating Budget, helping us to have a giving rate higher than last year.
- You have helped us raise funds above and beyond our operating expenses to help assist people through our COVID-19 Assistance Fund ($113,000) and our weekly meal distribution to help feed our local arts community ($26,000).
- Your work helping us make community partners for the last few years through our Restoring Hope Initiative has helped us leverage partnerships with Society of St. Andrew, UP Orlando, and local businesses to receive tons of free food to distribute weekly to over 93,035 people at 16 churches, mosques, and food banks.
- You have worked with our Restoring Hope families who were precariously housed in our IMPACT schools, and because of your hours of support and care we have kept 20 families housed and moved 11 to more permanent housing.
- You have delivered and distributed more than 5,100 meals on a weekly basis to help end hunger.
- You have donated computers and laptops to bridge the technology gap during this pandemic so 27 families can have a virtual presence in school, meetings, and work.
- You have supported the Grow It Forward micro farm, which is a pilot for a community-based food production in low-income neighborhoods so residents can be food secure while making an income through food sales.
- You have helped student farmers learn to farm and sell the fruits of their labor with over 160 volunteer hours – volunteers ages 4 to 75!
- You continue to support our Circles families, who have been meeting virtually without missing a weekly gathering, with 6 Circle Leaders who graduated from the 18-month program in September.
- You helped a ZOE Rwanda children-led empowerment group of 120 children in 34 families graduate from a 3-year program, which helped them get out of extreme poverty and begin a thriving life.
- You have helped raise $41,500 for a new non-profit we are creating alongside the local theaters in Central Florida to provide resources to those in the entertainment and arts community.
- You have called everyone in our congregation over the age of 75 on a regular basis for the last nine months and reached out to those who have not been regularly attending to check in and connect.
- We have continued support groups like GriefShare, helping 15 grieving individuals move through this important ministry with people attending from as far away as California, Texas, and Ghana in western Africa.
- You have kept our online worship attendance consistent and helped us host on-campus worship in a safe, healthy, and sacred environment.
And the list of reasons to thank God for you go on and on. The hours of devotions, songs, and liturgy videos you have created, the hours in meetings pouring over data, details, and decisions. You have been with us through it all, proving that WE ARE St. Luke’s, and we are hope, healing, resilience, and unity.
It is a privilege to lead and serve alongside you. We pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving week and give thanks for the ways you have shown up to help God show out for our community. On Sunday, November 29, we will begin a new Christian year with the season of Advent. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a year where the old song from the musical Mame rings more true… ”We need a little Christmas!” This is our Advent theme. As we recognize the need we have for Christmas, we will see that need is answered in the promise, healing, comfort, and presence offered to us as Jesus, God incarnate among us. This Sunday, we will kick off our new sermon series and Family Outdoor Advent Worship services on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. Families will need to register just like for on-campus worship (click here), but for these services you can also bring blankets or lawn chairs as we join in some relaxed carols, a message, and meet some new friends along the way.
May your homes and hearts be full of gratitude,
Your St. Luke’s Staff