The outpouring of support, prayer, and offers of help in response to Hurricane Irma has been ASTOUNDING! Thank you so much! Below are some quick answers to questions we are getting frequently:
Your financial donations are still very much needed. The needs change daily. Financial gifts are the most flexible. Your gifts make it possible for the synod to provide fast and effective support to communities.
Already the donations have helped us support the cost of removing a tree that fell on a fence of a daycare, assist a congregation with the cost of roof repair, buy WalMart gift cards to share with families still without power who lost food, and send donations to the Carribean Synod to help there.
–>Florida-Bahamas Synod Disaster Relief Fund: donations to this fund allows the synod office to support immediate relief needs as well as long-term needs felt by congregations. You may also mail a check made out to “Florida-Bahamas Synod” to the synod office: 3838 W. Cypress St, Tampa, FL 33607. Please include “synod disaster response” or “Hurricane Irma response” on the memo line.
–>Lutheran Disaster Response: donations to LDR support long-term case management and relief/redevelopment in low-income communities
–>Lutheran Services of Florida: LSF is on the ground providing FEMA-funded crisis counseling in 23 counties throughout FL. LSF also supports HeadStart programs and other services throughout the state that serve those most severely affected by the storm. 50 LSF staff members suffered significant devastation and will need help. FEMA funding does not cover administrative and overhead costs, so LSF is having to do additional fundraising to support this important service.
Please send donations of supplies to the synod office (3838 W. Cypress St, Tampa, FL 33607). From here, we can distribute them throughout the synod where they are most needed.
The best way to connect with volunteer opportunities is to register with VolunteerFlorida or Crisis Cleanup. They are managing the volunteer response. You can register your group size, your skills/interests, what kind of work you want to do, and even what agency you want to work with. You can designate Lutheran Disaster Response as your preferred group through VolunteerFlorida. If your group registers and plans on responding, please email Michele Hilton (email@example.com) so we can continue to celebrate the vast response of God’s people.
To find out if you qualify for FEMA assistance and to apply for help, please visit their website here.
We celebrated our 50th Anniversary.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Greetings St. Mark Family,
When visiting a shut-in member a few years back, I remember how amazed I was that despite her circumstances, she was able to be grateful for so many things. Her health issues had left her limited in her ability to move around on her own. She had to be assisted by nursing home staff for simple things like eating and dressing. What was astonishing to me though was her spirit – she continued to give thanks, have a positive outlook on life, and essentially minister to those she encountered. “I’m so thankful, pastor,” she would say, “for ALL God has given me. Even though I’m not able to give much, what I can give back is a little joy and gratitude.” This woman’s thankful and joyful spirit was contagious, and blessed my day (as well as the staff you could see attended her) with much love and hope.
It’s very easy in this world of challenges and trials to get caught up in what I “don’t have.” I think it’s human nature for us to complain to God about what’s lacking in our lives or what we wish God would do or bring to us. While God is always open to hearing our concerns, like a trusted friend who will talk or Facetime with you at all hours of the day or night…the simple act of saying “Thank you” changes the way we look at the world. God loves to hear our words of thanks, and seemingly at the moment that we think or say the words, gives back to us a joyful and hopeful heart. “Giving thanks in all circumstances”, like the apostle Paul writes, gives hope to our hearts and reorients our whole selves. And like the woman who I visited, if we too are able to be grateful for God’s daily blessings (be they large or extremely small), our gratitude will be contagious to others. It’s like the toddler cold that so rapidly spreads throughout our household. You can’t avoid be affected by gratitude in some way, shape or form!
I pray that this Thanksgiving season you are blessed with the gift of a thankful heart. I hope that you and those around you might feel the love and grace of God that comes in the simple form of saying “thanks.” And may God’s peace dwell in your hearts this day and always.
With a grateful heart,
St. Mark is a Reconciling in Christ Congregation.
The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations. Lutheran communities that publicly welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are accepted onto the Reconciling in Christ Roster which now exceeds 600 settings.
You may also get to our Facebook page by scanning the image to the left with a smart phone or other device.
For more than 100 years, the Mission Investment Fund and its predecessors have been financing church-related building projects and land purchases. The money invested will fund building loans to churches and help spread God's word. The Mission Investment Fund is a resource for church building and much more.
Mission Investment Fund website. Click here.