From the Pastor's Desk
Prayer equals Vitality
This fall, on October 19, the Panhandle Conference of the Florida-Bahamas Synod is going to be gathering at St. Paul to learn more about a new emphasis on Vitality. Congregational vitality is obviously an important thing for our church. Vitality means being full of life and growth. The opposite of vitality would include inactivity and lifelessness. No congregation wants to be inactive and lifeless. All of us want our congregations to be lively and growing.
Where does vitality begin for a congregation? Is it the pastor that makes the congregation vital, or the music team, the programs that if offers, its Christian education, or something else? Are there proven programs from successful churches that can be adopted that guarantee vitality?
The Vitality process that is being implemented in the Florida-Bahamas Synod through the leadership of Rev. Rob Carlson, Assistant to the Bishop for North Florida, will focus on none of those things. Instead, the focus will be on something much more basic. The key to vitality is not in personalities, programs or worship styles, but in prayer. The revitalization of congregational prayer life is the key to vitality.
At the heart of this Vitality process in each congregation will be a team of 6 to 12 people who will agree to engage in the practice of Center/Contemplative Prayer each day. The members of the team will agree to spend 20 minutes in prayer twice a day for one year. Each week, the team will meet with the pastor to discuss how things are going and what they are experiencing. Meanwhile, the pastor will make a commitment to preach and teach about prayer on a regular basis.
Through the practice of regular daily prayer, leaders and members of the congregation will listen to hear God's vision for the congregation and its ministry. Rather than going to prayer with our own agenda, we seek to discover God's agenda for us. The question is, "What is God's dream for our congregation?" As God reveals His "dream" for our congregation, we develop a vision that leads to mission. As dreams, vision and mission flow from prayer, we experience vitality.
Another way of describing this is to say that through prayer we open ourselves to the Spirit of Christ. As we do so, we allow the Spirit to work through us to accomplish the Father's will in our lives and congregations. At a recent Council meeting, one of our charter members recalled how this was the way St. Paul grew in the first place. Again and again, when something seemed impossible, the members decided to trust God and believe that it was possible. The result is the St. Paul that we know today.
As we look forward to hosting the Panhandle Conference on October 19, there are several things we can do to prepare. In particular, I ask you to put that date on your calendar. We are tentatively planning to meet from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with a catered lunch at noon. I hope you will join us.
In addition, I would like you to consider being one of the 6-12 people who will join with me in that one year commitment to the practice of Centering/Contemplative Prayer. When I have enough people for a prayer group, I will set a date to go through the process. Finally, consider attending my Pastor's Class that will begin meeting again on Wednesday, September 11, at 6:30 p.m., following our congregational dinner.
I'm excited that our synod has developed this emphasis on prayer and vitality and I hope you will join me taking part in it at St. Paul.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. David Charlton
St. Paul's foreign missionary is Rev. Kristin Engstrom. Her picture is posted on mission bulletin board in the Garden Narthex. She was chosen by ELCA's Division for Global Missions to head Senegal's Young Adults in Global Missions. As the program head, she is called to lead several young adults who have come to live and to serve in Senegal for one year. They want to learn to be missionaries. One of the reasons she was chosen is that she had international experiences. When she was growing up, she lived in several different foreign countries. While at the seminary, she was a pastoral intern in an international church. Senegal is not a difficult place to live. Senegal has an amazing sense of hospitality and unique relationships between its citizens of Moslem and Christian faiths. Rev. Kristin will have the help in her roll from two local established Lutheran organizations: the Lutheran Church of Senegal and the Lutheran Development Services of Senegal. The Lutheran Church members are citizens of Senegal. The Church is led by its president, Pastor Thomas Diouf. The Lutheran Development services is led by its director, Philipe Badji. Mr. Badji described their work: "In evangelism I think we have to consider two sides, evangelism through the word, saying God loves you, Jesus has died for you; and evangelism through deeds and action, being compassionate, sharing somebody's burdens". Rev Kristin will use her skills and the help of the above two organizations to succeed. Let us pray for Rev. Kristin and her volunteers. Let us support her with our gifts to Missionary Support.
LUTHERAN SERVICES OF FLORIDA
Have you heard of Lutheran Services of Florida? There is an office near us here in west Florida. It is in Pensacola. LSF was established by our Florida Synod as a non-profit, statewide, human service agency 38 years ago. LSF was given the goal to help all people in need regardless of their religious beliefs, age, race, or national origin. In this it has been successful. It has helped a million plus individuals in the past four decades. In order to provide individuals with necessary help, LSF has established several different programs: Child Care Food Program; Head Start Child Development Centers; Foster and Adoption Case Management; Youth Shelters; Family Crisis Counseling Programs; Guardianship Programs; Housing, Employment, Refuge and Immigration Programs; AIDS Programs; and Disaster Response Programs. Each LSF follows Jesus's teachings. Jesus taught His followers in His ministry, and that includes us today, both with words and parables the importance of loving both God and fellow humans and the helping those in need. We as individuals can show and act this Christian love in different ways: person to person; through intermediates; through our congregation, St. Paul; and through our church agency, Lutheran Services of Florida. It is with LSF that we can be most effective. We can give more Christian love, and we can help more individuals. Let us assist LSF to continue to love and to help individuals in need by praying for their staff. Let us financially support LSF by giving to Mission Outreach.
LUTHERAN MEN In MISSION
August 2019 Bible Study Breakfast
The LMM monthly Bible Study and Breakfast will be Saturday, August 17, at 7:30 A. M. in the Parish Hall. We are continuing the Course on "Men." This is the sixth and final session where we will be discussing the subject "For Men Only: Issues Men face." The Bible study topic is "Spiritual Responsibility: 'Family leaders'" (Ephesians 5:22-6:9). This Bible Study will follow Option 2: Advanced: Teaching with Margin Questions.
Last month's Bible study from 1 Peter presented the command to submit to every authority instituted among men for the Lord's sake. In this month's scripture reading we gain even greater insight into the key to submitting. Many people have struggled with the words Paul chose to describe submission in Ephesians 5:22 - 6:9. He opened the subject in Ephesians 5:1 by encouraging Christians everywhere to imitate God himself and to "live a life of love" just as Jesus did (verse two). We are to submit to one another because we respect Jesus (verse 21). In any godly relationship - husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, employer and employee - there is always a third party: Jesus himself. The apostle reminded God's people that our relationships should reflect Jesus' fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus submitted himself fully to the Father's will (Philippians 2:8), and as we learn to love one another we demonstrate our love for God. Submission is not a problem to be haggled over when we focus on love.
We studied this well-known scripture, which is all about relationships, about a year and a half ago. As then, this excerpt from a November 3, 2013 FOCUS Magazine article by Rickie Jenkins, is most appropriate to set up discussion:
"Life in Christ is all about our relationships: Husbands and wives, wives and husbands, parents and children, children and parents, masters and slaves, slaves and masters. Relationships - it is all about our relationships. Every relationship has boundaries and expectations. We are not free to do as we please for ourselves. In our relationships we must think about the good of the other person. In Ephesians 5:22-6:9, "as unto the Lord" circumscribes every relationship. That is to say, regardless of the relationship under consideration the manner in which that relationship is carried out is with respect to God. So, when a wife submits to her husband she submits to him in the same manner she submits to the Lord. She is actually looking past her husband to the Lord (Eph. 5: 24). When a man loves his wife he loves her, in the same manner as, Christ loved the church (Eph. 5: 25). Also, when children obey their parents they are doing it to the Lord. They obey their parents in the same manner they obey the Lord (Eph. 6:1). When a slave submits to his master he does so in the same manner he submits to the Lord (Eph. 6:6). And, when a master functions over his slave he does it as his Master is head over him (Eph. 6:9). In each relationship we submit to the Lord and demonstrate our obedience to Him. Everybody in every relationship has a role of submission and corresponding responsibility."
There have been many efforts to analyze and explain these verses. They have often created controversy, especially with today's modern attitudes about individual roles in families and society. But the message Paul is conveying is that in our submission to the dignity and well-being of the other person, we demonstrate the very nature of God, who's Spirit indwells and seeks to guide us. In such submission we demonstrate our allegiance to Christ. In such submission we follow the example of Christ in His relationship with His Church.
Discussion will focus on how we as Christian men treat our relationships. Do we know what it means to "submit to one another?" Do we see this attitude of reciprocal yielding as the expression of humility and selflessness God expects of us? The basis of this position is our love for Christ and our desire to please and serve Him. The outcome is the edification of the Church.
All men of the congregation are invited to attend.
Are you looking for a place to get involved with our church family? Chancel crew is one area that needs attention every week but only takes two people to get the job done. Anyone and everyone are welcome to come lend a hand in preparation for worship. For more information or an orientation at your convenience contact Regina Humphrey at 850-502-7488 or email email@example.com.
WORN/TATTERED AMERICAN FLAGS
If you have a worn out, tattered, or faded US flag you need to properly dispose of, you can bring it to the church and Don Cleveland will deliver it to his Veterans of Foreign Wars Post for a proper and respectful disposal.
AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS (AEDS) -
St Paul Lutheran Church has 2 AEDs for use in an emergency. One is located in the Gathering Room hanging on the east wall (near the classroom door) and the other is in the Family Life Center/School in the Lobby.
NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION
If you would like to become a member of our church family, now's your chance! There will be a new member class on Wednesday, August 21st at 6:30 pm. Join us as we talk about what it means to be a Lutheran and hear from volunteer and group coordinators on how you can grow closer to God and to your brothers and sisters in Christ through service. We will be receiving new members at whichever service they attend on August 25th. This includes those who've attended the class as well as those who have recently joined us through transfer.
Lutheran World Relief Quilters
Lutheran World Relief Quilters meet on Friday and Saturday, August 16 and 17, beginning about 9:30 am. This is the final Quilting weekend before the Quilts are sent, so there is a big effort to tie as many Quilts as we can! Come tie some knots! We have been working in the back of the Fellowship Hall this summer, turning donated fabric, sheets, blankets and mattress pads into warm mission Quilts for needy people all over the world. Last year, the Quilts we sent to LWR were distributed in three different places; Haiti, Mali, and Georgia. In previous years our Quilts have gone to Tanzania, Lebanon, India, and Ukraine. Our School Kits went to children in El Salvador. Last fall some of our church members took all the Quilts we had made, about 25, to Panama City. The Quilts were given to people left homeless by Hurricane Michael. Where will our Quilts and Personal Care Kits go this year?
Our Quilters need help from the congregation in August.
- August 3, after the 10:30 Worship, volunteers move boxes of Quilts from the closet to the sanctuary.
- August 10, Saturday, beginning at 9:30, you can help us decorate the sanctuary with Quilts.
- August 16 and 17, beginning about 9:30 in the Fellowship Hall, we assemble Quilts by tying and sewing the top, fill and back together.
- August 18, after the 10:30 Worship Service, we need help boxing Quilts. There will be a short instructional talk before beginning. It is very important to accurately count and record the number of Quilts as they are packed in each box.
Sunday, August 11 thru 18, the mission Quilts will be displayed in our sanctuary. The blend of beautiful, colorful Quilts draped over all the pews is an amazing site. Do not miss it! The Quilts and Kits will be blessed on August 18. Then we pack them in boxes to be taken to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Daphne, Alabama. A truck will carry Quilts and Kits from area Lutheran Churches to the Lutheran World Relief warehouse in Minnesota.
Our church is not required to pay shipping costs, but it costs LWR about $2.25 to send each Quilt. Personal Care Kit cost more, $2.65 each, because LWR adds toothpaste. At Lutheran Center, the LWR headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, the Good Samaritan Quilt Plaza is covered with red, white and blue engraved bricks. The bricks form a patchwork that looks like a Quilt. Contributing $500 to LWR's Quilt and Kit Ministry sponsors a brick. Each year our people give over $500 Lutheran World Relief, so some of those bricks say, "Quilts For Jesus, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Niceville, Florida." Help us sponsor another brick this year. Envelopes for donations will be in the bulletin on August 18. Please make checks to WELCA.
Dear Church Family,
Thank you for the generous scholarship donations you made for the 5 students in need that attend our church school. Your contribution made it possible for all 5 students to return to St. Paul and continue their Christian education. With your love gift, the parents are now able to make up the difference in tuition each month. Your acts of kindness have been a testimony to these families.
St. Paul Family,
I want to thank you for the beautiful cards, phone calls, and prayers during my time of need.
Your sister in Christ,
There will an acolyte training session for any children who have received their First Communion on Wednesday, August 21, at 5:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. If you have any questions, contact Phyllis Wade.
CONFIRMATION INFORMATIONAL MEETING
There will be a student and parent informational meeting for Confirmation classes on Sunday, August 18, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will take place in Underdahl Hall and will last approximately one hour. If you have a 7th or 8th grader who has not yet been confirmed, please plan to attend with your student. This includes returning students from this past year. This year Phyllis Wade will be teaching about Martin Luther and the Old and New Testaments. We will discuss when classes will meet during the informational meeting. There will be $20 fee per student to cover the cost of a Teen Study Bible. (If your student still has their Bible from this past year, there is no fee.) If you have any questions ahead of the meeting, please contact Phyllis Wade. We look forward to seeing you there.
WELCA will be putting together Personal Care Kits to be distributed by Lutheran World Relief for needy families around the world and some will be retained for needy families nearby. If you would like to help, there is a box in Underdahl Hall where you may leave your donations. The deadline for donations is 11 August. The women of the church will be assembling the kits and have them blessed along with the quilts. The blessing will take place on 18 August.
Items needed for each kit:
- 1 light-weight dark colored bath-size towel, (20" x 40" to 27" x 52")
- 2 bath-size bars of soap equaling 8 to 9 oz, any brand, in original wrapping
- 1 adult size toothbrush in original package.
- 1 sturdy comb (no picks or fine toothed combs)
- 1 metal nail clipper (attached file optional)
If you have any questions, please contact Fran Clark.
WELCA had a successful Christmas in July salad luncheon on Saturday, July 19, 2019. We saw many faces that we'd been missing and got a lot accomplished. Thanks goes to Dona Charlton and all the vibrant women of St. Paul for making this meeting a fun and awesome event. Also included in the round of applause is our valiant Carl Spring for helping us by setting up and taking down the tables and chairs.
The business part of the meeting included a devotional about the words in the Christmas song, "What child is this?" Thus helping us to recognize songs as prayers. We discussed the meaning behind and our feelings about the words of the song.
We lifted up our Care Kits project information: Sunday, Aug 11 is the donation deadline (set up 3 tables in Gathering room to sort donations), Aug 17 we will assemble kits and set up the church display at 10:00 am, Aug 18 is the dedication of quilts and care kits. We will pack the boxes after the 2nd service. Drivers are needed to deliver the quilts and kits Friday and Saturday, Aug 23-24.
We confirmed that WELCA had given $1,000.00 toward scholarship fund and needed inupt on other donations. The Sharing and Caring donation was approved for "Tools for School" in the amount of $500.00. Don't forget that August is St. Paul's month of collecting goods for Sharing and Caring.