Archive for category: News & Announcements

St. Michael Lutheran School named Exemplary Lutheran School by NLSA

Categories: News & Announcements

stmikefmflThe National Lutheran Accreditation Commission recently selected five outstanding Lutheran schools in the United States for special recognition as exemplary accredited schools. These schools demonstrated compliance with (NLSA) accreditation criteria that exceeded expectations related to the educational and ministry standards that are required for accredited schools. In addition, each school demonstrated innovative leadership through the implementation of Best Practices related to the academic quality and spiritual development of its students.

The following schools have been selected to receive this prestigious award during the 2015-16 academic year:

Divine Redeemer Lutheran School, Hartland, Wisconsin

Immanuel Lutheran School, Wentzville, Missouri

St. Michaels Lutheran School, Fort Meyers, Florida

St. Paul Lutheran School, Grafton, Wisconsin

St. Peter Lutheran School, Arlington Heights, Illinois

With this honor comes additional responsibility. The leaders of these schools will now be required to intentionally share their “Best Practices” with other Lutheran schools. During the 2015-16 school year, each exemplary school will prepare a print article and present webinars that are open to participation for all Lutheran schools.  The sharing of Best Practices provides opportunities and ideas that have the potential to improve all schools.

Congratulations goes out to each of the five schools selected!

2015 Student Aid and Scholarship Applications

Categories: News & Announcements

The 2015 Student Aid and Scholarship applications are now available.  You can find the guidelines, along with the application below.

A valid application for an LWML scholarship will include all of the information listed on page 2 of the guidelines.

• Send the original application to the LWML Scholarship Chairman.
• Send a copy of the application to the District Student Aid Task Force.

Materials must be received by JUNE 1, 2015 by the LWML Scholarship Chairman:

Sharlene Miers, LWML chairman
4870 Gopher Circle
Middleburg, FL 32068                                                                            

Lois J. Ford, Task Force Chairman
118 E. Wilt Ave.
Eustis, Fl 32726


Life’s Journey

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

Dear Friends,

Last summer when Edith and I were in Maui we took a day trip on the road to Hana. It is a beautiful fifty three mile trip that takes a full day. The road is narrow and windy. It’s a daunting trip with hairpin turns, single-lane bridges, and hills. There were stops all along the way with gorgeous scenery. Each time we thought it couldn’t be more beautiful, around the corner we saw another spectacular site. One of my favorite stops was a botanical garden called the Garden of Eden. It was a beautiful park with all sorts of tropical plants. We saw mango trees, bananas trees, and avocados, we saw tall bamboo and all kinds of glorious flowers in bloom. Many of these were things we had never seen before, and we joyfully took it all in. We saw all kinds of exotic birds, magnificent waterfalls and we had a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. Later we came to a black sand beach, and then a beach with pink sand. We saw craggy rock formations with the waves buffeting and shaping the stones. We saw crazy surfers out near those rocks which scared the life out of us! We saw road side stands with fruit and vegetables, not to mention the bluest sky imaginable.

For me, part of the trip was the journey, and seeing a new place I had never seen before. As we rode along the highway, taking in all the sights around us, paying careful attention to the road when necessary, we came behind a truck on its way to the little town of Hana, where the road essentially ends. It occurred to me that while this was an extravagant trip for us, for others, this was simply a routine route between point A and point B. I wondered if they daily took time to recognize the beauty all around them, or was it simply the route they had to take. In trying to reach their destination did they miss out on the journey?

Lent is a journey, and yet, so often we go through it in such a way that we miss the journey as we focus only on the destination. There is much to be learned along our Lenten journey, and what you see and find may be very different from what I see and find. If we really make the time to explore these forty days of Lent, imagine what Jesus could do in our lives. Even more importantly, maybe we need to see the season of Lent as a miniature of our life of faith. It’s a new beginning.

Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Co 5:17–20). The goal of Lent is that we become new creations in Jesus, not just for forty days, but forever.

I started thinking about this from a conversation I had with a Christian friend who was giving up beer for Lent. I suggested that rather than give something up, why not take something up, like feeding homeless people or volunteering in the local school, something that would be incarnational as we live out the love of Jesus. It’s relatively easy to give up stuff that really, in the end, benefits us anyway. How often have we heard people say they are giving up chocolate for Lent because, after all, I need to lose some weight anyways. And tell me again, how does that serve Jesus? She understood what I was implying and suggested that maybe in future years that would be a consideration. This year it was all about the beer!

My friend then asked me where in the Bible we find Lent. I was a little stumped at first and had to think. It’s really not in the Bible per se. We can certainly find the whole forty days theme in there, and Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, but technically, Lent is not really Scriptural. It is a man-made penitential season to prepare us to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s an opportunity for us to live with discipline and perhaps self-sacrifice, and spend time in the Word and in worship. It occurred to me, as the conversation went on, wait a minute, as Christians aren’t we called to daily discipleship? Aren’t we supposed to be like Jesus, whose life was one of self-sacrifice? Are we to reserve our reading of God’s Word until Lent? Are we more blessed if we worship extra in this season? Now, please don’t misconstrue my thought here. I love the season of Lent. It’s really one of my favorite seasons in the Church. However, why set aside forty days for something that Jesus calls us to everyday?

We go through this journey of Lent, focused on the destination of Easter, and we feel great if we make four out of six midweek worship services and Maundy Thursday, and maybe even Good Friday. The truth is, I don’t believe God is keeping score. Lent is a microcosm of our journey of faith. We should be living out these values every day. We should live with penitential hearts every day. I don’t know about you, but I need God’s full and free forgiveness every day, not only during Lent. I encourage you to take advantage of all the worship opportunities that your congregation affords during Lent, but I also encourage you to actively worship beyond Lent. In fact, I encourage you to spend time in devotions during Lent, but I also encourage you to spend time in devotions the other three hundred plus days in the year. Lent surely is a time for prayer, but really, when isn’t it a time for prayer?

It didn’t take us long in the parenting process to teach our children the value of a clean room. I didn’t only tell my children to clean their rooms in the weeks preceding Christmas. It was an expectation we placed on them from the time they were able to keep their bedroom clean. It didn’t always happen that way, and there were “seasons” along the way when they had to be reminded. Here’s my point: often what we promote at Lent is how we should be living anyway as the redeemed people of Jesus. Sure, it’s a wonderful time for us to cultivate the spiritual disciplines and holy habits. However, it shouldn’t end once the season is over. Don’t let the journey end at Easter. Let Easter be a celebration along the way as we continue to discover the twists and turns, the beauty and majesty of our faith journey with Jesus.

With you on the journey,


Lutheran Life 2015 vol 1

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:

  • A message from President Walton:  Engaged in the Master’s Business
  • Laura Zirbel Newest Member of LCEF Team
  • New FLGA Mission Starts under way in all 5 District Regions
  • District Continues Disaster Response Training
  • Campus Ministry News
  • Seminary’s Annual St. Baldrick’s Event
  • Inaugural Emergent Leader Class Hones Leadership Skills for Ministry
  • Thrivent Financial renews Habitat for Humanity Partnership
  • Reports from Lutheran Services Florida & Georgia
  • National Lutheran Schools Week 2015
  • Boca Raton’s Service Project Aids Wounded Warriers
  • Disrict LCEF Congregation Advocates Gather
  • National Lutheran News
  • Regional news
  • Capsules/In Memoriam
  • and much more

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

Live 2015 vol 1

Loan Consultant Change…. Welcome, Laura E. Zirbel!

Categories: LCEF-Lutheran Church Extension Fund, News & Announcements

Please join me in welcoming Laura E. Zirbel to the FL-GA District LCEF Team as Loan Consultant. She will be assuming the duties of the retiring Mary Byrd. Officially, Laura’s first day with this expanded role will be February 16th and Mary’s last day will be February 28th.


zirbelLaura Zirbel has been part of the District Finance Team since 2013 and officially became the bookkeeper on August 1st  of that year. In that time, Laura has proved to be a very competent and hard-working person.  She has helped unravel and streamline several procedures, assisted with many other projects, and provided her expertise in other areas of finance.

Laura has a BA in Mathematics from Bethel College in St. Paul, MN and has over 20 years of experience in accounting, administrative operations and real estate.  She has both for-profit and non-profit finance experience.  She has held a variety of positions with several organizations including Trammell Crow, Software Techniques and a local CPA firm.  In addition, Laura has 8 years of experience as a Board Member for ASON International, a non-profit mission organization located in Melbourne, FL. She is married with three children and resides in Winter Park, FL.



marybyrdMary Byrd has been part of the LCEF Family since 1986 (29 years) and has been the FL-GA District Loan Consultant since 2011. She is the consummate professional and truly represented LCEF as a Ministry Partner. In 2012, Mary received the Arthur C. Haake Leadership Award giving further evidence to her significant and long-lasting contributions to LCEF. Beyond her official retirement date of February 28th, she will be retained in an advisory capacity to assist in Laura’s transition. The FL-GA District has been truly blessed to have had Mary as part of its Team!

Mary is looking forward to retirement. She and Dennis (her Husband) recently purchased a Honda Odyssey and they plan to use it to travel with their dog, Birdie. Mary may also get in a few more rounds on the golf course. Fore!


Please join me in wishing God’s richest blessings to both of these Ladies in their new future endeavors…one we are welcoming and the other we are remembering!

Mr. Daniel J. Reichard
LCEF District VP &
FLGA District Executive Director-Finance and Administration


ALOA Grands Weekend

Categories: News & Announcements


GRANDPARENTS! Join ALOA and Luther Springs for GRANDS WEEKEND, March 20 – 22, 2015!

Bring your grandchildren for a weekend of spiritual growth and fun. Each day includes worship, intergenerational Bible study, exploring creativity, sharing stories, and growing together in Christ. You’ll enjoy campfires, canoeing, cookie baking, crafts, hiking, and plenty of family free time. Children may stay with grandparent in Kuehner Center motel-style rooms or in Morgan Village Cabins with a Luther Springs counselor. Each cabin is carpeted, heated/air-conditioned, and has its own restroom.TO REGISTER contact the Novus Way registrar, Jessica at 828-684-2361.
Presented at Luther Spring Camp & Retreat Center (near Gainesville) in cooperation with ALOA (Adult Lutherans Organized for Action)
LEADERS: Rev. Dick Hafer, Rev. Dave and Debby Kruger, Margo Walbolt & Luther Springs staff.
Cost: Kuehner Center/Morgan Village: $95.00 per adult (13+); $65.00 per child (2-12) – 4th grandchild is free!

RV Site: $55.00 per adult (13+); $35.00 per child

COLLIDE – The 2015 High School Youth Gathering is coming soon.

Categories: News & Announcements, Youth

Collide-PNG-Large (1)
March 13-15, 2015
Westin Lake Mary, Lake Mary FL  Register Now

District Executives conduct chapel at Trinity Lutheran Orlando

Categories: News & Announcements

Recently President Walton, Mark Brink and Doug Kallesen all led chapel services at Trinity Lutheran Church, Orlando. Here is a little about what they each shared:

Pres. Walton reminded the students that Jesus came as the Light of the World to cleanse us so that we could be perfect in God’s sight, and therefore join Him in heaven. How did President Walton do this? He surely shocked everyone in the church when he took a sheet of paper with a drawing of a heart containing the word “sin” and tossed it into a lit candle! As the flame, representing Jesus, engulfed the paper and symbolically our sin, it left no trace of ash or smoke as it completely disappeared! What an incredible image…our kids were silent, completely breathless by this amazing representation of God’s love and forgiveness.

Mark Brink shared with the students that Rebecca’s Garden of Hope (this year’s Hearts for Jesus recipient) is a ministry that serves children whose families cannot supply everything they need to lead healthy lives, physically and spiritually. Mr. Mark Brink also shared how giving our offering is like nurturing a plant; with our gifts, we can help all the children in Ms. Rebecca’s garden to grow healthy too!

Rev. Kallesen shared a bit about Epiphany and Jesus’ baptism with our students in the 3 y/o classrooms through 8th grade. We learned about how the magi found Jesus’ and also what the word “manifest” means! Pastor Kallesen even showed us what a baptismal font is and how baptism works. What great news it is to hear that Jesus has called all of us to be disciples and to be baptized…even if we have glasses! Just as Jesus was baptized, we are to be baptized also, being called into God’s family one by one.

What about Love?

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

Dear Friends,

February seems to be designated as the month of love by our popular culture. Valentine’s Day has become big business, and what used to be about candy, flowers and cards has now become about far more expensive gifts to show the depth of our love. What is love really all about? The world seems to define it by the visible actions that demonstrate that love. Ironically, so did Jesus! In fact, in John 13 Jesus said, “By this will all men know you are my disciples if you love one another.” In other words, it was to be a visible testimony of the truth of our faith.

Last month I was driving back to Orlando from Atlanta listening to satellite radio. I had listened on my drive up to a station that was playing holiday favorites from Bing Crosby to Paul McCartney singing about Christmas joy. Now that the holidays have passed the station has returned to playing only love songs. It was interesting listening to favorites from the 1970’s through the current fare, many of the songs I knew, and there were some I had never heard before. What captured my attention was the many ways we try to express this thing called love.

We live in a world that is desperate for love, even if they don’t truly understand what it is. Many seek love in all the wrong places, just trying to fill the hole they feel inside. One of the songs that I heard played by a band called Heart, entitled, “What About Love,” seems to express that well. This is what the chorus of the song says: “What about love? Don’t you want someone to care about you? And what about love? Don’t let it slip away; What about love? I only want to share it with you; You might need it someday.” There are literally thousands of songs expressing similar sentiments. People all around us are looking for real love, unconditional love. In December I became a grandpa for the first time and learned again the true joy and beauty of unconditional love. My little granddaughter doesn’t have to do anything for me to love her and every time I see her I can’t help but smile and rejoice. This is truly a gift from God, and it motivates my love for her. John would later write, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn 4:10–11). This is not only our privilege, but also our responsibility!

Sometimes the Church fails to capitalize on things that God places right in front of our faith. The world celebrates a distorted picture of love, but we, as believers in Jesus, have the real thing in Him that we get to share with a hurting world in such great need of His love. You are probably aware that the Christmas we celebrate really started as a pagan holiday to worship the sun god, and the Christians sanctified it and turned it into a celebration of the Son of God. How might the Church today redeem the popular misconception of love to show the world what real love is?

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35. I believe one place the church can begin is by genuinely expressing that love with each other. We often take such great pride in our denominational distinctives, and truly there are things that we just can’t and won’t compromise on, especially as we follow God’s Word. However, collectively, we as the Church on earth seem to give our faith in Jesus quite a black eye as we constantly bicker and battle each other over issues and ideas that don’t really matter to the unbelieving world and often simply confirm what they already believe about the church.

What might happen in our neighborhoods, in our workplace, in our marketplace, even in our congregations if the guiding principle was love? In John 21 as Jesus is feeding the disciples breakfast on the shore of Galilee, Jesus confronts Peter, but notice that He does it in a loving and positive way. Truly Jesus could have belittled Peter, chastised him, ostracized him and talked behind his back, or simply refused to have anything to do with him. Often isn’t that what we have a tendency to do?

I was watching the popular TV show “Shark Tank” and Kevin O’Leary offered a deal that was ultimately refused by the person pitching their product, and as they walked out O’Leary jokingly (I think) said, “You’re already dead to me…” I laughed when he said it, but then it occurred to me, often this is the way we treat brothers and sisters in Christ. We don’t even have to spend a lot of time working on how we relate to other Christians outside the church. Often we have plenty of opportunities to show forgiveness and operate in the love of Jesus within our own congregation or circuit or district or synod.

Coincidentally, Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday in 2015, but more importantly it comes only days before we turn our attention once again to the Cross of Jesus beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015. It was at the Cross that we saw true love come to life, as Jesus took our sins upon Himself, and then died and rose again. Over the centuries the church has encouraged believers to sacrificially “give something up” for Lent. It’s a great practice when we take it seriously and don’t use it as a simple excuse to serve our own purposes. The goal is always about getting more focused on Jesus. If giving something up assists you in doing that, by all means, this is a wonderful spiritual discipline. Let me suggest, at the same time, that you “take something up.” In fact, let me suggest that you take up the practice of not only living in Christ’s forgiveness, but actively seeking to share that forgiveness in the relationships in your own life. Let me suggest that you take up practicing living in the love of Jesus, and reaching out to others to share that love. Maybe it will be an encouraging word or a smile. Maybe it will be an opportunity to share the deep truths of our faith with someone whose life will be transformed through the power of the gospel. How might God use you as a conduit of His love?

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for a pre-Lenten celebration of God’s great love. Redeem the day, and let the love of Jesus flow through you to the people all around you. What about love? It’s one of the greatest gifts we’ve been given by Jesus, but it increases as we give it away. You won’t have to look far for opportunities to share His love, and it won’t require candy or a card. But it does take an investment of your time and energy. May the love of Jesus fill your heart to overflowing, not only for Valentine’s Day, but for this season of Lent.  Let the world see that you are a disciple of Jesus because of His love shining through you. Then the world will know we are Christians by our love, flowing from His love for you!

Living in that love,


LERT (Lutheran Early Response Training) at St. Michael, Fort Myers

Categories: News & Announcements

Pictured here are the attendees at the  most recent  for Lutheran Early Response Training (LERT) in the Florida Georgia District.  St. Michael, Fort Myers was the host for this event on January 17, 2015.