Is your congregation looking to become a Seed Sower in your community?  You can find inspiration by seeing what other congregations in our District are doing below.

St. John in Ocala, Florida launched their first Trunk or Treat with the support of the $300 investment from Kingdom Seeds.

20 fully decorated trunks, face painting, crafts and games were all part of the event.  What wasn’t expected was people starting to line up at 6:30 for the 7 pm open!  Estimated attendance to this event was around 1000 people.

Some stories:

  One of our volunteers told me this story after I asked her, “Did you have fun”?  She replied, “Oh, my goodness I had so much fun.  My daughter of course came.  But guess what else…my son came to help!”  I have never met her son.  “And my husband came (the back story is that she told us that her husband has had issues with “church”, that’s why he never comes.).  It was crazy, but so fun”.

  Another volunteer told me that her elderly parents came to help and decorated a trunk.  She said, “My dad never comes to church.” But he came to this and met a lot of people from St John.  In fact, her whole family came including the grandkids just to hang out and enjoy the night.

  Another volunteer told me that she met a family from New York who had just moved into the area.  They had a three year old son.  When this family mentioned how cool it was that a church would do this, this volunteer told them all about the church and the school and invited them back. 

 

In the month of September, Grace Lutheran Church and School in Jacksonville, FL applied and received a “Miracle Grow” investment for the purpose of placing “My First Bibles” in the hands of its pre-schoolers.  Pastor Jeffrey Skopak and Pastor Michael Popp are a regular and active presence in the life of the school.  After reviewing the preschool they discovered that 90% of the children were not members of Grace and that 70% identified “no church home.”  Realizing that most of these students would only be on campus for one year, the idea was born of putting the Bible into each child’s home.

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The teachers now encourage the families in their classes to read a Bible story to their children from those Bibles each week so they can further discuss them in class (as well as do activities that reinforce the Bible learning).

Amazing Grace provided a pizza party  to students at the nearby Wildwood Elementary School.  These students are part of Wildwood’s Accelerated Reading Program.  The students were treated to pizza party – who doesn’t love pizza?! And the top 10 highest scoring students in each grade were given an award book containing a message of encouragement and congratulations from Amazing Grace Lutheran Church.

The volunteers from Grace helped the children select their free books and served the pizza and juice boxes.  The pictures tell the story of how they engaged with the students during this special time.

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Bob K. entertained some of the boys with his sleight-of-hand magic card tricks.
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Paula has some magic of her own in the way she connects with the kids in meaningful and caring conversations.
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The Pizza Team was on their “A game“ as they ushered in and fed the kindergarten through second graders for the first awards ceremony, and then the third through sixth graders for the second awards ceremony.
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Amazing Grace, Oxford, Florida members  Diane Biel, Dennis & Paula Ewald, Bob Renner, Marliese White, Bob & Linda Kavalunas, Dave Schernikau, Tom and Carrie Andrews, Peggy Ludwig, Devra Siebert, Kathy and Teal Trendowski, Barb Farner, Norma Delair, Lois Schaefer, Pastor Rockey gathered at church on February 5 for a brief devotion led by Pastor Rockey, instructions and carpooling assignments.

Students from Christus Victor (University of Georgia)  teamed up with University Lutheran (Florida State) students on October 22-24 in Auburn, AL to serve with Alabama Rural Ministry. Trinity Lutheran’s (Auburn University) student leaders organized the cooperation with ARM.

The weekend was an excellent opportunity for the students from Auburn, Florida State, and the University of Georgia to work together in service and enjoy fellowship.   Work was done on several homes, ranging from replacing floor joists, laying floors to installing roof barriers to prevent water damage until installing new roofs.  Moving a piano topped off the workday.

The homeowners greatly appreciated the help and the students welcomed the opportunity. Following the work, we returned to the church to eat and then went to host homes to shower. The students also explored Auburn University and generally enjoyed time together.

Miramar Learning Center, in Miramar Florida is the first recipient of a Kingdom Seeds Grant.  Sonrisa Howey, who began the Learning Center shares the story!
A little history on how the Miramar Learning Center came to be…
At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, I began to feel out of place in the school I had been teaching at for 8 years. I wanted to continue teaching, but not in a school and was unsure what it should look like with the unknown of COVID-19. I started looking for a place that would be interested in helping me piece together this new idea I had of blending e-learning and tutoring. Miramar Lutheran Church caught my eye. In this church struggling to find its place in a changing community, I felt connected because I too was trying to find my new “place”. The facilities were there, but needed so much work to be up and running properly. With your help in getting the grant we were able to clean up the room, purchase school supplies/ materials and advertise. Within the first week of opening I had parents eager for my help. They came to me with concerns of their kids falling behind this school year with everything being virtual.
One of my students, Levi, came to me in third grade with a 2nd grade reading level. His mom was concerned he would score low on the winter testing and have to repeat. I worked with him every day for five weeks and was able to improve his reading scores. His mom came to me after receiving the test scores with so much joy and gratitude. She couldn’t stop thanking me for the huge improvement her son was able to make.
Another student, Israel, came to me in 1st grade not even knowing his sight words. He also had missing assignments dating all the way back to the start of the school year and was failing. His mom was frantic and in need of help. Within two weeks we were able to catch up with all his work and get him back on track. As of now, he has been able to successfully pass ⅔ of his needed sight words. His mother is so grateful to have found help through our Learning Center.
I would love to grow the tutoring service over the summer as a learning enrichment program, which could then transition back to after school tutoring. Most recently, we hosted an event for St. Nicholas day to connect our school and church. I intend to host more events this upcoming year. I hope these events can bridge the gap between church and school and form a sense of community. My goal with the tutoring program is to not only help kids excel in their education, but to introduce them to God and help grow our church family.

In November of 2020, St. Peter initiated plans to enter a float in the town of Dahlonega’s annual Christmas Parade.  (In 2019 there were no Christian floats.)  We thought this might be a way to reach out to people with the good news of Jesus’ birth.  Our members planned and built the float entitled “Follow Us To Bethlehem.”  Sheep with children dressed as shepherds rode on it leading the way to the manger with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.  Members also walked alongside greeting the community and wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas!”

St. Peter won first place.  This pandemic has devastated collective gatherings for worship and fellowship – and the success of our float has lifted the spirits of both our members and the community at large.

Our Savior Orlando and Rebecca’s Garden of Hope participated in a “LET’S GET HEALTHY” LIFESTYLE PROGRAM

The goal of the program was to improve outcomes for youth ages 4-18, in the areas of: 1-Nutrition and Food Choices, 2-Physical Fitness, 3-Social and Emotional Mental Health, 4-Personal Well-being & Goal Setting. Youth were invited locally and nationally and held online to encourage more participation.

Sessions were held over the summer and included:

  • 2 days/Week dance classes w/ a professional dancer,
  • 2 days/Week Workout sessions & instructions:
  • Health, Mental Health and Wellness Friday,
  • Saturday & Sunday Bible Study & Art sessions.
  • A reading club

Ten youth were able to attend a healthy cooking demonstration at Hebni. To learn more about Hebni click here.

The final dance recital was held at Our Savior Lutheran in Orlando, FL, Sunday August 8th during worship service. Lynn Hogan from Prince of Peace, Orlando, FL assisted youth with creating their own tie-dye t-shirts featuring their own unique designed RGOH Healthy lifestyles logo which they wore during their final dance performance.

They also received journals and were encouraged to journal about struggles, challenges and successes, praying about each subject and include Bible verses that helped them deal with their struggles.

We look forward to partnering with them next year and getting more youth involved.

Lake Oconee Lutheran Church is offering  a new service to their community.  The Little Free Pantry  is stocked with a variety of food and is available to anyone at any time.  There are no applications and no pre-requirements. Just stop by and take what you need. The pantry is checked and refilled twice per week.

Shepherd of the Coast Lutheran School is a seed sower with the help of the Miracle Grow Grant!  This year’s LCMS theme is “Sent to Serve”. This January, during Lutheran Schools Week, the students participated in several outreach projects to connect people to Jesus.

The students, ages 4-14, made sandwiches to feed the less fortunate children of God.  The end result was over 600 sandwiches.  The students realized that their efforts made an impact  in the Fort Lauderdale community and wanted to help raise more funds to continue their outreach project more regularly.

The students are now making over 100 lunches every other week!  The lunches include a sandwich, chips, and a cookie that are delivered to Hope South Florida for distribution.

Lutheran Schools are the center for service with faithful pastors and teachers teaching our students how to serve the Lord. We are mission outposts for our communities. Giving our youth various opportunities to serve provides rich examples of servants following Jesus.

 

We celebrate our Savior who was “Sent to Serve”.  He came to serve the diseased and distraught and by feeding thousands

ThriveFGCU, our Lutheran Campus Ministry at Florida Gulf Coast University, with the help of a Miracle Grow grant hosted two days of Tie-Dyeing T-shirts at FGCU, a unique way to reach college students. One hundred shirts were ordered and many students who have not yet been part of the ThriveFGCU campus ministry joined in.  They were greeted by student leaders and a couple members of Thrive’s congregation, given an invitation to the Wednesday evening gatherings, and also invited to worship on Sundays.

The Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry of Messiah Lutheran Church in Valdosta is open! We work to provide food assistance to individuals and families in the local area. The food is purchased through the regional food bank or donated by members of the congregation. Members of Messiah donate their time to shop, organize and store the food, pack bags, and staff the pantry.

We are able to utilize our Pine Tree House for the food pantry. Before it  could open, some updates, including making it handicapped accessible,  needed to be done to the house. Thankfully, that was all accomplished. We are still working with the city to have permanent signs installed, but have temporary ones for now.

We are very thankful that we are able to begin this outreach to our community, especially with the ongoing effects of Covid.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and School had their first blessing breakfast, where families of 1-year-old class were invited to the Church. Families were given gifts of diapers, diaper wipes, and baby snacks.  Breakfast was provided, and the Pastor shared the word of God with them. They were able to tell them that they  love them and that Jesus loves them.  It was a great time of fellowship.  They are planning their next blessing breakfast for the 2-year-old class already.

Watch the video for the story about the Grief Share ministry.  The Miracle Grow grant dollars helped this ministry.  Our Redeemer uses the program as an outreach tool,  teaching and sharing Jesus.  They have had one person from this group join the church, and have had several visitors as a result of attending a Grief Share meeting.

 

After the completion of our church building in May 2019, we, the members of King of Kings in Jasper, Georgia, began exploring ways that we could positively impact our community.  God has blessed us with a location on the main highway connecting communities in North Georgia.  This prime location prompted us to explore how we might use a digital sign to inform, invite and encourage the tens of thousands of people who pass our church every day.

Our fundraising started with memorial gifts given in loving memory of Bill Patrick.  The FLGA District generously contributed to our cause as did some friends and members of the congregation.  In total, God helped us raised over $25,000 to make our dream a reality.

Our mission strategy can be summed up by two words – generously and intentionally.  Like Jesus, we seek to cast the seeds of the Gospel far and wide, participating in a variety of community events and regularly extending invitations to church events.  (We are currently offering GriefShare.  More than half of those attending are from the community.  Praise God!!)  While we recognize many of these ‘seeds’ may not bear lasting fruit of faith, we still joyfully sow them trusting that Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, will grant an abundant increase!

 

 

Hope’s Missions & Outreach Ministry Team requested the Miracle Grow grant of $300 to purchase Bibles to distribute to the children in the Lots of Hugs summer reading camp. The camp is sponsored by the Plant City Black Heritage Celebration. It meets annually at Hope from the Monday after school closes in May until they return to classes in August. It is designed for the disadvantaged in the community who are in need of additional help with reading and math

In addition to sharing Bibles with campers Hope’s Christian Growth Ministry Team has been leading Vacation Bible School for the students this week as well. The little girl in the picture below commented that she was so excited to get that Bible because she has never had one!

Another mission story from the week – one of the boys in program proudly said he did not want to be a Christian…but by Thursday he asked to do the closing prayer! AMAZING HOW GOD WORKS!!!!!

A couple of times a month, volunteers from a few LCMS congregations around Atlanta gather to distribute fresh produce to New American families in Clarkston, GA.  At times we go into people’s homes with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This allows us to care for the physical AND  spiritual needs of those we meet. We recently formed a mission society called All Nations Society of Atlanta. It is dedicated to bringing human care plus Word and Sacrament ministry to the New American community.

At ANSA, we have helped people in a variety of ways. From offering in-home ESL classes, help with lawn care, assisting families with schooling and childcare, and of course, access to wholesome foods.

Below you can see some team members packing fresh produce and distributing it at an apartment complex. We spend some time in prayer with individuals who gather with us and ask them to take a brief survey as we get to know our community.

 

Mt. Garizim Lutheran, in Fort Lauderdale FL, provided children and teenagers special Valentines treats and activities.  The congregation members prepared treat bags and shared them with congregation members to hand out in their communities.  The youth also provided special music during the church service.

As one of its opportunities for ministry beyond its campus, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Columbus, GA, participated in a “Faith Fair” at Columbus State University which is less than a mile from the church campus. Dr. Mike Ramey, the Intentional Interim Pastor serving Redeemer, spent a couple of hours on campus introducing himself and the congregation to the students of CSU. A dozen-plus students stopped at the display table, learned about the Lutheran Church, and picked up brochures (and candy) as they continued through the various faith group tables represented. A couple of the students were extremely interested in what the Lutheran Church had to offer, having never heard of Lutherans prior to this.

 

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer also serves many of the soldiers (and some with families) that come through Ft. Benning on a regular basis. Most of these soldiers are only here for short periods of training, but a few are assigned to the post as their duty station. The brochures produced from the generous grant of “Sower Seeds” have been used in the church’s annual yard sale in addition to the “Faith Fair” and are being sent to Ft. Benning as part of “welcome packets” for the new families assigned.

Hope Lutheran in Hudson FL had their 1st Feed Homeless bag lunches on Oct. 15, 2021.  They made 24 lunches consisting of bologna sandwich with packet of mayo and mustard, a bag of chips, apple, crackers and cheese or peanut butter, bottle of water, and a prayer card and our church card with church service hours.

They distributed these bags to 8 people on the streets and then took the rest to ROPE, a shelter for homeless, they would give to those there or go out and distribute the rest.  They were all very happy.

Hope plans 2 more bag distributions this year in  November and December.

Good Shepherd, Gainesville, GA had  27 volunteers and approximately 200 children plus parents visit Good Shepherd for or annual Trail & Treat on October 30th.

In addition to a warm welcome and good fellowship, every child and most adults were given a packet with the cross that Miracle Grow helped fund. The packet included a  card with a bilingual story of the cross and of salvation as well as an invitation to join us for worship.

Thanks to the Miracle Grow Kingdom Seeds investment, St. John the Apostle Lutheran Church in Buford, Georgia was able to promote their congregation to at least over 500 families.

 

The $300 investment was used  to purchase a popcorn machine and supplies in order to attract people to our table.  At the table popcorn was sold for $2 a bag and the proceeds were used to support the Gwinnett County Food Bank in Buford.

They also handed out  250-300 church bookmarks which provided contact information and service times for the congregation along with bible verses from the Gospel of John. The table had free copies of the Gospel of John which many people took home with them.

Trinity at Fort Pierce, FL offered a Pop-up Stem program as a new outreach. They set up in a surprise park and offered hands-on science activities for whatever children are present.

In the pop-up pictured, you see one of the families experiment with serial dilution of a colored solution. Serial dilution is used in many disciplines to get more precise concentrations, reduce concentrations to a measurable level and for calibrating equipment. There are even connections to measuring the size of a lake.

After experimenting and exploring, a devotional was shared with children and parents.  If you keep diluting a colored solution, you can no-longer tell what color it’s supposed to be and drew an analogy to diluting what Jesus teaches us. However, we have the undiluted word of God in the Bible! They also did experiments with a Thermal camera, pulleys-on-the-playground and 3-D shapes.

The first event served 11, the second 4, the third 14, the 4th 7, the 5th 9. For the most part these were all different families, and they were all invited back for the next pop-up.

25 High School Youth from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lakeland, FL, spent the week of July 10-17 serving in the Atlanta area. For 3 of those days the youth served the ministry of Stepping Stone Mission. Stepping Stone has a property that they recently purchased that includes a house with acreage. This location is called “New Life Village.” The youth worked to clear debris, washed windows, pressure washed, created a fire pit, sanded the front doorway, and dug up roots that had taken over the garden area.

 

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The money from the Miracle Grow investment was used to purchase yard tools supplies to help aid in the work at the New Life Village.

Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Macon, GA has a summer time camp for students.  They used the Miracle Grow investment to help the camp

View the video of the outreach below.

 

It was a very early morning while we set up for our first ever Coffee Kick-Off.  Members of Epiphany Lutheran Church and Preschool banded together to serve coffee and treats to the parents of our preschool. We served a local favorite, Lucky Goat Coffee, with all the fixings.

We also provided breakfast treats including some gluten-free options. All the parents who stopped by commented on how nice it was spend some time together over a cup of coffee and a danish. We look forward to our next event in January.

 

Faith in Sebring, FL held a back to school bash that reached about 2 dozen families with a bounce house, school supplies and invitations to church/youth nights.   One woman who was prayed for was healed from her neck pain following an auto accident!  Over 13 youth were invited to attend the youth programs.  About a dozen or more volunteers from church participated in the event.

It was hot and sweltering, but we glistened with the Lord’s joy!  The money was used provide the food, equipment and other materials that was distributed.