Archive for category: News & Announcements

LERT Training November 11th Christ the King Largo

Categories: News & Announcements

UPCOMING TRAINING EVENT – Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT).

November 11

Christ the King Lutheran Church

11220 Oakhurst Rd

Largo, FL.

Basic disaster response training.

Registration starts 8:30
Training: 9:00 – 3:00
Lunch provided
Cost: $25
Contact: Rev. Joseph Adams
(727)595-2117
office@ctklc.org

Lutheran Life 2017 v 5

Categories: Lutheran LIFE, News & Announcements

The latest issue of Lutheran Life is in the mail to subscribers and is also available online.

This issues features the following:

  • LIFELINES:  Message from the President
  • Woodlands Camp Founder Pastor Harold Storm
  • Derek Broten Named New National Youth Gathering Director
  • FLGA Leaders Gather to be Re-formed as Living Stones
  • Anniversaries & Pictures from the PEC Conference
  • Synod Leaders Share National Updates with District Board
  • Concordia NY Reports Record Enrollment
  • Valparaiso Honored as a Top University
  • Courage for Today, by Rev. Bruce Lieske
  • The Coaching Leader, by Rev. Scott Gress
  • LCEF Shared Blessings Rebate Program Rewards Active Congregations
  • Hurricane Irma Has District-Wide Effects
  • Birmingham, AL Hosts Black Ministry Family Convocation
  • Saturday Night LiveUCF a Night to Remember
  • District Capsules
  • Regional news
  • and much more

Watch for it in your mailbox, or read it online by using the link below:

Life 2017 v 5

Link to the FLGA District Donation Page

Categories: News & Announcements

To get to our donation page, click here.

Donations Page

Stories from the Storm

Categories: News & Announcements, President's E-news

Dear Friends,

To read stories from your friends and colleagues, go to the FLGA District Facebook page.  We are posting the stories as they arrive.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge penned the words, “Water, water everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” That’s how some people described the conditions after Hurricane Irma barreled through Florida and Georgia on September 10th and 11th wreaking havoc and destruction in many places. As bad as the storm really was, loss of life was minimalized by people who took reports seriously and heeded the warnings to hunker down or evacuate. Some estimate that there were 6 million folks that evacuated from South Florida to avoid the punishing storm. All this while people were still trying to figure out how to help our brothers and sisters in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The news carried stories of power outages, water systems shut down, limited gas, and continuous lines of traffic—first heading north, and then, once the storm passed, heading south again. People were anxious to get to their homes to assess the damages. Many places had to wait over two weeks to get their electricity back as they struggled with stifling heat. It was a scary storm. In spite of all this, God was at work and we have heard some tremendous stories of God’s blessings in the midst of the storm.

In Matthew 8 we have this story of Jesus out on the Sea of Galilee with His disciples. Matthew reports: “And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And He said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

Despite the fact that these were seasoned fisherman well familiar with this lake, they feared for their lives. I can relate, and maybe so can you. Having been on the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose, I can sympathize with their fear. Having heard the howling winds and the driving rains of Irma, I would have to admit that there were very scary moments when I felt like crying out “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” All the time the Lord was with us, and we knew that regardless of whatever might happen, even to losing our very lives, we were secure in a future with Jesus. The disciples would learn that very thing as they grew deeper in their relationship with Jesus.

Can you imagine the stories they told their families after Jesus calmed the storms? “It was crazy. One minute we think the boat will capsize and the next there’s not a cloud in the sky!” “When Jesus spoke, everything listened!” “You should have seen it. When Jesus told the wind to shut up it immediately stopped!” These disciples would have more encounters as they traveled with Jesus and no doubt had many stories to tell.

Hear some of the stories we have heard. Holy Cross, North Miami has a school with over 400 children, most of whom eat both breakfast and lunch there. As a result their freezers were packed with food. When the power went out they had some decisions to make. They could let the food go to waste, or find a creative way to use it. So they began to cook it all up and made signs to hold on the roadside inviting people in for a hot meal. Hundreds of people took advantage of this opportunity, and Holy Cross had dozens of volunteers!

The pastor of one of our churches knew they wouldn’t be able to hold worship on Sunday morning so he prepared a devotion for his members and included an emergency order of baptism just in case. That Sunday morning, as families gathered in the fellowship hall of this congregation a grandfather was able to baptize his teenage granddaughter, giving her the comfort and peace in the midst of a very tense time of life.

One of our staff told of how at her daughter’s home there was an old phone pole in the back yard. It looked out of place. It turns out God had a plan. When the hurricane came through it knocked a tree over that would have crushed the home. That tree had branches that branched off into a Y formation, and wouldn’t you know that the Y landed right against that phone pole so that it couldn’t reach the house. Later, when they went to look at the damage they discovered two additional trees leaning on the tree against this old phone pole. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

Grace Lutheran Church in Naples pulled together some supplies to hand out to the community. When they were well stocked they figured they would need three days to hand it all out. However, when their doors opened it was gone in the afternoon. The pastor put out an appeal to his “northern” friends and people responded.

One of our pastors rode out the storm even though his family had evacuated. He stayed behind to help some who couldn’t leave. As they prepared for the storm there was no plywood to be had, so they improvised and took apart the man’s deck to cover the windows.

I’ve heard stories of volunteers coming from all over the country, bringing generators and water, food and supplies. We have had a great response with flood buckets—so thank you to all who have supplied them. There is much to be done and especially in Southwest Florida and the Keys it will be a long and arduous recovery.

Like many of you, we were very fortunate to have some minor damages. We had lots of branches down, and I’m convinced that my oak tree, which still looks full, shed another oak tree in the process. It took me three hours to clean up the branches. Two significant things happened because of the storm. I travel many weekends and as a result, I don’t get to spend much time with our neighbors. When the storm came I had to change plans and remain at home. In the midst of this, I got to spend time with some neighbors who shared tips with me about being prepared for a hurricane. Afterwards, there was a little block party as we cleaned up, and helped each other out. One man said he had ropes and a truck, another had tools, one said he would be happy just to do grunt work, and then they looked at me and said, “It’s good to know we have a spiritual covering, too.” Just about then I heard in my mind, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” We all worked together to clean up in some of our neighbors yards who evacuated. It felt great!

Stories from the storm are all around us. God presented us with tremendous opportunities to share the love and grace of Jesus. What I discovered is that many of the things that divide our nation, even things that divide our denomination, mean very little in times of crisis. At those times our focus becomes clearer, and what matters most is safety and well-being. We begin to see that despite all the diversity around us, we are all God’s children and that often our actions will speak far louder than our words. When we live in the love of Jesus and actively practice it, not to gain favor with God or man, but simply because of God’s calling on our lives, this has a powerful impact on those who don’t yet believe. It opens doors for conversations as it peaks the curiosity of those who may have a preconceived notion.

A few weeks ago, days after Hurricane Irma, Edith and I were on our way to an appointment when traffic stopped on the highway. As I watched the car ahead of me, I was struck from behind by a car that tried to pass me on the left. The impact left my car damaged, and the young man who hit us flipped his vehicle. It was miraculous that more vehicles were not involved. As I saw the flipped vehicle in that moment of shock, I prayed that nobody was hurt, although it looked bad. I didn’t stop to ask if the man was a Christian, much less a Lutheran; I didn’t check out his color or where he grew up, whether he was gay or straight. What I saw was a man that I believed was hurt. A number of drivers pulled off and rushed to his car. Thankfully, he walked away. Here’s the point, in a crisis we tend to value things differently. But why does it take a crisis to soften our hearts?

There is a crisis all around us. Certainly we face the threats that our world throws at us. However, what looms larger than those things is the crisis of sin and death, and it effects all people. God calls us into the midst of that crisis to connect people to Jesus. We are privileged to share the freedom, love, forgiveness and peace that belongs to all who proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior. God provides the opportunity, even in the midst of the storms, for us to share the hope we have within us through Jesus. Sometimes God has to rock our boat in order for us to pay attention. Yet, He’s always there, even in the midst of the storm, to show us His power and might.

Life is filled with storms—some are weather related; others we create ourselves. We may lose our electricity but no one can take away our power! That power, and its promises, were given to us in baptism, and even when the wind is whipping up, we can be confident of the One who will never leave us nor forsake us. He is Lord of the wind and the waves, and He is the Lord of our lives.

We’re still hearing great stories, and hope you might share yours too. Go to our website and you can share it there!

Showered In His Grace,
Greg

Operation Barnabas – October, 2017

Categories: News & Announcements

Dear Operation Barnabas Congregations/Chapters,

The October Warning Order is now available.  Please CLICK HERE.

First of all, thanks so much for all you great support for all military connected people in your congregations and communities.  As you know, September was Suicide Prevention month and so I am attaching a few links as reminders for resources that are available as we move into October.

RESOURCES

http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/national-strategy-suicide-prevention/index.html

http://www.actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org/NSSP

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

http://www.sprc.org

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

Thank you for your continued support and partnership in the LCMS Operation Barnabas project.  As always, please contact us at Ministry to the Armed Forces if you have any questions or concerns.

In Christ’s Service,

Chaplain Craig G. Muehler
CAPT, CHC, USN (Ret)
Director, Ministry to the Armed Forces
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295
314­-996­-1337
800­-248­-1930 Ext. 1337 (toll-free)
E-mail: craig.muehler@lcms.org
Cell: (571) 234­-0073

Connect and Support:
Donate to Support our Ministry to the Armed Forces

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MinistryArmedForces.LCMS
Web: www.lcms.org/armedforces
Instagram: @LCMSMAF
Twitter: @LCMSMAF

Share your Hurricane Irma God Story!

Categories: News & Announcements

Hurricane Irma arrived in the Florida-Georgia District sometime during the weekend of September 8-12, depending where in the District you live. During Irma’s tumultuous visit, numerous churches, schools, workers and volunteers in our District offered prayers and counted on God’s benevolent mercy to keep us safe, comfort our fears, and get us through the dark night. Stories are being told of unexpected mercies that we experienced, and God’s unfailing grace. Furthermore, so many have jumped in to help their neighbor, friend, or family member at seemingly just the right time to offer comfort, hope, perhaps a meal, a place to stay, or some other gift of grace. This is God working through us to share His love with each other.

So, we really want to hear your stories. How have you seen God through the Eye of The Storm that you experienced?

Share your God Story

District Update — Hurricane Irma 09-13-17

Categories: News & Announcements

As power becomes available, more reports will come in.  For now, there has been no reported loss of life in our congregations and it would appear that the District Congregations and it members weathered Hurricane Irma fairly well.   That is just an overall assessment and certainly not indicative of every situation.  With that being said, there is a lot of work to do.  We do have congregations with damaged facilities and one Pastor has lost his home.  We have reports of several members with trees on their homes.  If you haven’t reported to either the District or your Circuit Visitor the status of your congregation and members, please do so at your earliest convenience.

General conditions throughout the District are a lot of trees down, a loss of power, and it is tough to find gas.  Travel conditions into Florida are being hampered by a bridge detour on I-75 south of I-10.  We expect heavy traffic back into the State through the weekend and a great pressure on gasoline supply for the near future.

Synod Disaster Response is in the Naples/Ft. Myers area today and tomorrow to make assessments and feed information back to the District office.  They will be also surveying Highland County which was hit very hard by the storm.

Joel and Kathy Mathews, from Messiah Lutheran in Tampa, will be helping the District office in the Southwest Florida area by being the onsite liaison for the District office.  Both Joel and Kathy have a great deal of disaster response experience and will provide great information gathering, coaching, and guidance.  They are a tremendous resource and we encourage you to meet them and let them know what your needs are.  Joel and Kathy can be reached at joel@mercydisasterresources.org or at 813-215-8098.  We expect them to be in the Ft. Myers/Naples/Marco Island area by Friday this week.

We are coordinating LERT teams to come help with the cleanup but need congregations with room in their facilities to sleep a crew, make a meal, and provide showers for the volunteers.  If you wish to volunteer your congregation, please contact John Elliott in the District office.

Disasters are a marathon, not a sprint.  Sprinting is fine, but if you sprint too much you will burn out and be of no use to anyone.  Please stop, take a breath or two and exhale.  There will be work for years to help people recover in the District.  Pacing oneself via a weekly schedule is an important tool for responding to situations such as these.  Make time for Bible Study, sermon preparation, counseling, and exercise.  And please, do not forget your families.  They are instrumental to your wellbeing.  Put them on your schedule!

If your congregation weathered the storm well, please consider the following:

  1. Consider holding a LERT training session at your congregation so we can make more volunteer groups that can respond. The response in the Keys alone will likely take years and the more hands we have, the lighter the lifting will be for all of us.
  2. Consider helping to raise funds to help the on-going response efforts. Many of those most affected are those least able to care for their losses.
  3. Be looking for needs that aren’t being covered in your community and think about how your congregation might respond to those needs. Then contact John Elliott in the District office to discuss how we might partner to make it happen.
  4. If the children in your community are particularly stressed, consider holding a VBS called Camp Courage which is tailored to help children cope with disaster.

As always, please report your status to your Circuit Visitor or to John Elliott in the District office at 407-258-5054.  Stay tuned for more updates.

A Day in Dahlonega – Celebrating the Reformation!

Categories: News & Announcements

When:    October 24, 2017

At St. Peter Lutheran Church,
        109 Tipton Drive, Dahlonega, Georgia 30533

9:30 A.M.  Gather for Coffee, Juice, Donuts, Bagels, and Fruit

10:00 A.M.   Welcome and Opening Worship

10:20 A.M.

Presentation:   “Sola Agape Dei: The Way to Reimagine the Reformation 500 Years After”
Dr. Albert Garcia, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin

11:20 A.M.

Adjourn to the Auditorium at the Hoag Student Center at the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega

At the Hoag Student Center,
University of North Georgia, Dahlonega 30597

12:00 – 1:00 P.M.

Presentation:    “Martin Luther: Controversial Reformer and the Reformation after 500 Years” – Dr. Scott Hendrix, Professor Emeritus of Reformation History, Princeton Theological Seminary

1:30 – 3:30 P.M.

Luncheon for Religious Leaders with the opportunity to dialog with Dr. Hendrix, Banquet Room at the UNG Food Service

TBD:

Display of Reformation posters from the German nation

 

Background on our presenters:

Dr. Albert L. Garcia, a native of Cuba, immigrated to the United States in his youth, who became a Lutheran in his teens. Educated at Concordia Theological Seminary, he earned Th. M. and Ph.D. degrees from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He is Professor Emeritus of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin, where he taught for 21 years. The translator of Luther’s Latin commentary on the Minor Prophets into Spanish, he has also written numerous books and articles, his most recent being Wittenberg Meets the World: Reimagining the Reformation at the Margins, which he co-authored with John Nunes. He lives in retirement in Decatur, Georgia with his wife, Mori.

Dr. Scott H. Hendrix is Professor Emeritus of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary. Prior to that,  he taught at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, and the Lutheran Theological Seminaries in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, PA. The author of many articles and books on the Reformation, his most recent is the widely acclaimed biography: Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer. Together with Guenther Gassmann, he wrote the Fortress Introduction to the Lutheran Confessions. A graduate of Duke University; he earned his M.Div. from  Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC; and his Th.D. from Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, Germany. The recipient of significant grants and awards, he now lives in retirement in North Carolina with his wife, Emilee.

Laboring for Jesus!

Categories: News & Announcements, President's E-news

Dear Friends,

In just a few days we will celebrate Labor Day. This was a day originally set aside to recognize and celebrate workers who built this nation. Tracing its origin to the labor movement in the late 19th century, in 1894 Labor Day became a federal holiday. Today it is primarily associated with the end of summer and lots of sales! The Bible has much to say about labor and laborers, beginning in Genesis after the fall, when God made it clear that man would be required to work the soil to get his food (Genesis 3:17-19).

Later God would make clear that despite our labor, we are to set aside a day for Sabbath. In Exodus 5:13-14 we read, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.”  The nation of Israel labored to restore the walls of Jerusalem when they returned from the exile.  The Psalmist also wrote about the fruits of your labors.

Even Jesus spoke about labor, but He put it in context of service. In Luke 10:2 He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” We are the laborers for which Jesus encouraged His disciples to pray. Isn’t it fascinating that all these years after Jesus spoke this to His disciples the words still ring true two thousand years later. The harvest is still plentiful and we are the laborers chosen in this generation to work the fields for the sake of Jesus. And the field is huge and continues to grow!

The Florida-Georgia District is almost 110,000 square miles, providing a home to over 30 million people. Our population continues to increase while many of our congregations experience a decrease. Jesus continues to bring people to our shores and to our doors, but somehow reaching them with His love has proved to be a difficult challenge for us. The fields are white unto harvest, yet fewer seem to be willing to answer the call from Jesus.

As I’ve considered these facts I have thought about reasons why it might be so. Perhaps people lack training? Perhaps they lack time? May it never be that they lack the inclination or desire to engage in the Master’s business to connect people to Jesus! To push this off on another, as if it is the responsibility of someone else, is to ignore the call of Jesus, who has called you and me and promised to give us all we need to carry out the task He calls us to. More than that, He walks beside us every step of the way to empower our witness for Him.

A few weeks ago I was preparing a sermon on Peter’s confession of faith in Matthew. That section of Matthew 16 ends with this line: “Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.” I joked with the congregation that this seems to be the only part of the story that we, as followers, consistently carry out! Imagine if everyone who proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior actually lived out and shared their faith with others. It could change the world as people are connected to Jesus!

This is where our labor really isn’t hard work. Years ago our Synod had an evangelistic push, “Each one reach one!” How the world would be different if we did! Telling people about the One who has transformed your life is a privilege! We get to tell people about how we have a God who provides; a God who heals; a God who forgives sins; a God who loves and cares with a deep compassion; and a God who claims us and will never forsake us. More than that, imagine the joy of adding brothers and sisters to our family as God uses us to rescue those lost in the darkness of sin.

Certainly making time to share our faith in Jesus isn’t always an easy task. It takes a level of commitment that is often reserved for other self-interests. It takes courage and vision, having our eyes open to the opportunities all around us, not to mention inspiration by the Holy Spirit. It also takes coaching and encouragement. Someone has said that the purpose of the church is to bring people in, build them up, and send them out into the world to proclaim Jesus. Looking to the future, we will be providing more intentional training opportunities to equip people for ministry. In fact, there are some great resources online through Lutheran Hour Ministries right now that you can learn from in your own home! The Florida-Georgia District will continually emphasize the need to engage in the Master’s business to connect people to Jesus. This is our calling! Another way of stating this is we have a great opportunity and privilege to multiply ministry and reach more people for Jesus while there is still time. Don’t wait for an invitation; as the old Nike commercial used to say, “Just Do It!” One of our former Synod Presidents used to remark that time is short and hell is hot, so we need to be out there reaching the lost and pointing them to Jesus!

In the midst of this, Jesus promises to be beside us all the way. In fact, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28–12:1). Jesus invites us to come and rest in Him so that we can be strengthened and renewed for service. His yoke really is easy, and His burden is light. He will equip us and empower us to go in His name to connect people to Jesus!

We don’t go it alone—ever! Jesus says He will never leave us nor forsake us. He always walks beside us as He empowers us to tell others about Him. We may not always see the result that we anticipate or want, but Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brothers [and sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I’ve often said that God is less interested in our ability and more interested in our availability.

As we live in a mission opportunity world, my heart’s desire is to see leaders trained in the Florida-Georgia District among our pastors, all professional church workers and laity to reach more people for Jesus while there’s still time. Could there be a more glorious labor for us to be involved with? As you celebrate Labor Day, remember Jesus’ call to be in His harvest field, engaged in the Master’s business, connecting people to Jesus!

Happy autumn!
Peace in Jesus,
Greg

Hurricane Harvey Hits Texas

Categories: News & Announcements

We have fielded several inquiries here in the District office today regarding Hurricane Harvey and the District’s plans to respond.  We are in touch with the Texas District , and even though the situation is still unfolding, it is clear that the need will be great.  But as it is with flooding, it will take quite some time for the extent of the damage and a plan to deal with it to unfold.

The Florida-Georgia District has pledged to work with the Texas District to help in any way that we can.  Most of the need will be financial, but there will most likely be opportunities for congregations to put together their LERT teams for an extended trip to Texas to help.

We ask that you keep an eye on our Facebook page and Web pages for future announcements.  In the meantime, if you or your congregation would like to donate directly to the Texas District, you can do so here. ->  http://txlcms.org/congregations/disaster-relief/

Alternatively, you can also donate to Synod’s Disaster response here. ->  https://www.lcms.org/disaster-response

If you have further questions, please direct them to the District Disaster Response Coordinator, John Elliott at 407-258-5054 or jelliott@flgadistrict.org

John Elliott
Business Manager, DDRC
The Florida-Georgia District, LCMS
5850 T. G. Lee Blvd, Suite 500
Orlando, FL  32822

Direct: 407-258-5054

Fax: 407-857-5665

Email:  jelliott@flgadistrict.org