A letter from Rev. Kim to parents

This letter was written specifically to the teachers and parents of Lakewood United Church of Christ by Pastor Kim Wells in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.


My heart goes out to each of you, especially today. You went to school or sent your child(ren) to school. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. So much grief, fear, and anxiety.

I’m sure there were many students at school today who were worried, afraid, or distraught, even if they didn’t exactly know why. I’m sure there were teachers who were also worried, afraid, and distraught. And I know that parents made sure to give that hug and say that “I love you” this morning.

There are many conversations taking place in the teachers’ lounge, the lunchroom, and at the dinner table about the Parkland shooting. How did we wake up in a society where “school shooting” is a thing?

After fear and grief, we often move to anger and frustration and despair. Here, I want to tell you a few things.

First of all, you are not alone. Many other people in society and in your church family are alarmed at the gun violence in our society and especially the involvement of young people. Sue Sherwood, Earl Waters, Patti Cooksey, Lucille Ruga and I went to the event at Allendale Methodist Church Tuesday night for a community conversation about gun violence in St. Petersburg. The gathering was very helpful and we went away committed to continue to be involved in addressing this problem. So, please know, you are not alone, and there are people at church that are working on doing something about this.

Secondly, know that you are already part of the solution. You are already doing something about this each and every day. You are teaching your children constructive ways to express anger and resentment and hostility and fear. Each and every day they are learning from you to use words, to take a run, to cry into a pillow, to talk with a trusted friend or a trusted adult about their feelings when they are upset. So, each and every day, in your various settings, you are addressing this problem and making a difference.

You are also making a difference by paying attention. You pay attention to your children and their friends. You pay attention to your students. You notice what is going on. You ask questions. You take an interest in others. You are involved. You express concerns. You show that you care. That matters. Many adults today are consumed with themselves and don’t notice what is going on around them. And when they do see something of concern they think it is not their problem or their business. I know that all of you are proactive in your caring and concern for others. That really matters!

You also make a difference by involving yourselves in schools and education. You advocate for better educational policies. I am not an educator but I am a parent and the Parkland school had 3,000 students. That is just too big. A high school should not be that big. Maybe it is an economy of scale from a financial standpoint but it is not an economy of scale from an educational standpoint. With 3,000 students it is too easy for students to fall through the cracks. It’s too easy for teachers and staff not to care. And we know that students these days have more and more needs. They need more attention and care not less. A school that large cannot meet the needs of the students. But in ways large and small, I know that you are working to make the school culture more supportive of the educational and character building needs of the students. That matters!

Let your heart break for Parkland and those families. Don’t hold back your tears. Love your kids and your students. Let them know it! Continue to be a positive influence in society. And know that your church family is with you every day all the way!

Please call on me if I can be helpful. I am willing to listen. I can give a hug. I am available to speak with your children as well. I want them to know that at church there are caring adults that they can trust.

I know you may be weary of all of this but stay engaged. Be courageous. Don’t let fear win.

Take care.

Kim Wells, pastor
B.A. Wellesley College
M. Div. Union Theological Seminary of New York

Lakewood United Church of Christ
2601 54th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33712-4700
(727) 867-7961


Open and Affirming Coalition of the UCC 2018 Gathering

February 15, 2018

Registration is now open for National Open and Affirming Gathering, June 27-30 at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, TX! Join us for this annual family reunion of our growing movement of LGBTQ-affirming communities in the United Church of Christ. Help us welcome ONA church #1500, and renew our commitment to become a church where everyone is welcome, wanted and needed, and no one left behind!

This year’s theme: “Living Our Covenant Beyond Boundaries.” We live in a time of great danger and great opportunity. The Trump Administration is threatening the basic rights for which the LGBTQ community and our allies fought for years. Violence against transgender Americans is on the rise. Research shows that anti-LGBTQ feelings  ——–  which had been declining steadily for two decades  ——–  is creeping upward again. And ONA congregations are challenged not only to defend their LGBTQ neighbors, but all whose lives and human dignity are under attack.

If there was ever a year when National ONA Gathering was needed, this is it!

We’ll tell you more about the program in the coming weeks. Our keynoter is the Rev. Justo González II, a leader in the UCC’s Sanctuary Movement, who will challenge us to renew and expand our ONA covenants. While we’re still working on the schedule, every National Gathering is an opportunity to:

  • meet and develop friendships with LGBTQ people and our allies throughout the United Church of Christ.
  • learn new ways we can be effective advocates for the Gospel of God’s love in our communities.
  • celebrate, sing, and have fun!

More information and registration are at www.openandaffirming.org/ona-gathering. If you’ve any questions, please contact us at ona@openandaffirming.org.

Help us build our scholarship fund to help people with financial needs attend this life-changing event! Tax-deductible support for scholarships is an option on your registration form.

Open and Affirming Coalition | United Church of Christ | 216-926-6262

Free Luis

Rev. Kim Wells, Rev. Victoria Long, and Susan Pomeroy from LUCC attended a rally in support of Luis Blanco and just immigration policies at Allendale United Methodist church in St. Petersburg on Feb. 1. It was a great way to begin Black History Month!


Ash Wednesday

Imposition of Ashes at the Ash Wednesday service.

Tora Alexander is playing “Ashokan Farewell” on the violin. It was a beautiful beginning to the Lenten season. Many thanks to Chip and Dana Cosper for hosting the service and continuing the vision of Jean Johnson of an Ash Wednesday service around a fire at the waterfront. With the warmer weather this year there were many more people at the service. Yes, there were s’mores afterwards! Lenten blessings to all!

(video also available at https://youtu.be/L4KNZT2kJTs)


Community Conversation on Gun Violence

LUCC was one of the Community Partners sponsoring the League of Women Voters’ “Community Conversation on Gun Violence” at Allendale United Methodist Church on the evening of Feb. 13th.

Patti Cooksey, Sue Sherwood, Earl Waters, Kim Wells, Lucille Ruga

Gun Violence pamphlet created by Grace Lewis

Lucille Ruga, Earl Waters, Kim Wells, Patti Cooksey

Speakers: Ryan Mitchell (firefighter paramedic facilitator), City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Amanda Thalji-Raitano (licensed psychologist/school counselor), Dr. David Berman (physician at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital)

Sue Sherwood at the LUCC table with church brochures, UCC “firsts,” and the Gun Violence pamphlet created by Grace Lewis.


Photos from morning & evening Christmas Eve 2017

click for video: Video1224
(above photos and video by Yoko Nogami)
soloists & duos from the pre-service concert, left to right: Denise Williams, voice/guitar; Yoko Nogami, banjo & Margaret Radens, cello; Jim Andrews and his son, Zach Blair-Andrews, guitars.

If anyone knows of a photo someone may have taken of the choir performing, PLEASE send to Hilton.
Wonderful having all those instruments up there.


Lakewood youth in the news

Below is a repost of a press release announcing the The Power of Song Music Contest 2018 winners. The contest coincides with the Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement: The Power of Song at the Palladium Theater on Jan. 7-8 as the kick-off for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. It concerns an award, Lakewood UCC youth, Zach Blair-Andrews received  and a concert that he will be performing in at the Palladium.


Some holiday concerts of interest

*December 1, Friday – SPC student Choral group at 7:00pm (I’m singing as a “temp” alto) Friday at the Lealman Community Church, 4090 58th Avenue North, St Petersburg FL 33714 – Schubert Mass in G Major and other Christmas music
Inline image 1

*December 2, Saturday – 5:00pm, Adult Community Chorus at the SPC Music Center on the 66th St. campus Vivaldi Gloria and other holiday music

December 6, Wednesday – 7:30pm – Eckerd College Choir in the EC Chapel – Holiday Concert

*Dec. 10th, Sunday – 4:00pm, Many Moods of Christmas Benefit Concert at 1st Presbyterian Church downtown (see attachment on this email sent by Matt for schedule).

PS: Lakewood UCC parishioner, Claire Stiles, will be singing in the above SPC concerts with asterisks.

Following are concerts at St. Petersburg First Presbyterian Church:


Lakewood High Jazz Ensemble to perform at the Apollo Theater

The Lakewood High Jazz Ensemble was invited to participate in the 2018 New York City Jazz Festival, where the band will perform at the Apollo Theater. The festival, which will take place in April 2018, is designed to give jazz ensembles the opportunity to perform as part of a ticketed daytime performance. The ensemble was also featured recently on WFLA’s Daytime. The students have produced a CD, “Swinging on 54th,” and the Spartan Band Boosters are promoting the album to raise funds for the trip. See Zach Blair-Andrews to buy your CD and promote this excellent educational and music adventure!


The Animal Plays, A Climate Change Theatre Action Staged Reading This Tuesday at 6pm

October 24
at 6pm in ES 100

The Animal Plays:
A Climate Change Theatre Action Staged Reading
Directed by Dr. Tonia Krueger

Henry Cowhey
Christina Rubinetti
Victoria Bamford
Sahra Carpenter
Amelia Kalagher
Kaley Whipple
Noela Lokolo
Megan Smiley
Shannon Tivona
Caroline Wood
Dr. Joanna Huxster
Dr. Miranda Goodman-Wilson
Dr. Amanda Hagood
Dr. Cynthia Totten


​CCTA 2017 is a collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, NoPassport Theatre Alliance, The Arctic Cycle, Theatre Without Borders, and York University.

Modeled on previous NoPassport theatre actions focused on gun control and the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, CCTA draws on the expertise and resources of local artists, while being global in scope and uniting multiple countries around a common issue.

Fifty playwrights from around the world were asked to write 1- to 5-minute plays about climate change with the following prompt:

Assume your audience knows as much as you do. Assume they are as concerned as you are. But they may not know what to do with this information and those concerns. So how can we turn the challenges of climate change into opportunities?

The plays featured in Eckerd’s reading all have an animal theme and reflect the theme of changing challenges into oppportunities.
Runtime is approximately one hour.

A series of short play readings on the topic of climate change


40 Countries, 50 States are participating in CCTA 2017. Come see Eckerd’s contribution!


Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays presented biennially in support of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP meetings)


The Animal Plays Include

“Homo Sapiens” by Chantal Bilodeau

“Brackendale” by Elaine Ávila 

“The Penguins” by Elspeth Tilley

“Minor Flood, Major Constellation: Sirius and the Cartographer Map the New World” by Lisa Schlesinger

 “Pond Life” by Elyne Quin

“El Toro Sagrado at the Car Repair Shop” by Mindi Dickstein

“Appreciation” by Katie Pearl


Climate Change Theatre Action 2017 at Eckerd College

Environmental Studies Auditorium



Tues Oct 24 at 6pm


Some local events of interest to the social conscious

This information is provided by former members of the Women’s March St Pete steering committee to raise awareness about upcoming events that may be of interest.


Oct 20.
Sheroes & Heroes Among Us
6 PM @ Enoch Davis Community Center, 1111 18th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

The arrival of a new documentary series shot on location in South Saint Petersburg. Sheroes & Heroes Among Us kicks off with its first premiere “Winnie Foster: The Activist Pollinator.” Mrs. Foster’s contagious energy and tenacity fed the progressive spirit for civil rights . Her courage and willingness to work with bulwarks of integration and the women’s rights movement forever altered the political and socioeconomic landscape in Southern Pinellas County.

This documentary is the first of twelve episodes about Saint Petersburg’s Sheroes & Heroes Among Us who have left an indelible footprint in the advancement of equal rights, education, and the arts. The documentaries are scheduled to be released over the next year. A panel discussion and dinner will follow every viewing.

A $10-plus donation at the door would be most appreciated. Food will be provided.
Oct 21. Petition Picnic2pm @ Capaz Park, 2700 W Aileen St, Tampa, FL 33607

Join Indivisible Action Tampa Bay in downtown Tampa to meet progressive candidates running for office in Hillsborough County and sign petitions to help them get on the 2018 ballot. Bring food to share for a picnic potluck.

Everyone is welcome at this family-friendly event with a terrific playground that will appeal to kids — bring them along! Spend the afternoon hanging out with fellow progressives making a difference in the world.

Oct 25.  Fired Up Pinellas: FL Gun Laws & Issues, Charter Schools6 PM @
Metro Wellness & Community Center, 3251 3rd Ave N, Suite 125, St. Petersburg, Florida 33713

  • FLORIDA GUN LAWS AND ISSUES. Speaker: Patricia Brigham, First Vice President League of Women Voters Florida & Co-Founder Florida Gun Safety Committee & Chair. Learn about gun safety issues, advocacy, and legislative goals.
  • CHARTER SCHOOLS, WHOSE CHOICE?. Speaker: Robin R. Jones – Education Co-Chair, LWV St. Pete. -Charter schools began in the 1990’s as laboratories of innovation within the public education system, supported by teachers and education professionals. Today charter schools have become highly controversial, promoted more as competitors of rather than compliments to public schools and often built and managed by national for-profit charter chains. Last spring the Florida legislature continued its quest to make Florida one of the most charter friendly states in the country with it omnibus HB 7069. As parents and taxpayers we need to understand charters and their proper role in our public education system.
  • METRO HEALTH, WELLNESS & COMMUNITY CENTER – Learn about this center with a mission to provide quality health and wellness services that are inclusive, relevant, supportive and represent the lifetime continuum of the diverse people in our community.
  • CLOTHES TO KIDS – Learn about this great local organization and their mission to provide new and quality used clothing to low-income or in crisis school-age children, free of charge.
  • PLEASE BRING DONATIONS – New or used children’s and teen’s clothing, school uniforms and shoes (especially sneakers). Also, new donations of socks and girls underwear (bikini style) and boys underwear (boxer style).
Nov 2. Brookwood Florida’s 90th Anniversary Celebration6:30 @ Duncan McClellan Gallery, 2342 Emerson Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Join the 90th anniversary celebration of Brookwood Florida — an amazing organization providing a home for girls diverted by abuse, neglect or homelessness. At Brookwood, girls learn the life skills they need to lead self-sufficient and independent lives.

This fun-filled evening will include food, craft beers, wonderful wines, music, a special live glass blowing demonstration, and a raffle for an amazing one-of-a-kind piece of glass. All proceeds from ticket sales, raffle and sponsorships wilI directly benefit Brookwood.

Nov 8. Get on the Bus – Advocacy Day in Tallahassee
Guns at the courthouse? Guns in churches and private schools? No thanks! Tell your legislative representatives how you feel in person during Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Florida Advocacy Day. The round-trip chartered bus ride leaves from Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa and is free to any and all volunteers. Interested?  SIGN UP HERE
November 9, 6:30pm @ Kaizen Collaborative, 5215 W Laurel St #110, Tampa FL  33607
Events like the mass shooting in Las Vegas or the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville weigh heavy on people’s minds and hearts, and it can be difficult to disengage entirely from these critical events and conversations while at work. So how do we talk about current events in ways that strengthen relationships rather than divide them? What happens when someone’s identity feels too “political” to talk about?
Join Community Tampa Bay for an evening that will include interactive learning, dialogue, and networking focused on best practices in inclusion. Free and open to the public. Light meal served.
Nov 11. 100% St Pete Solar Tour. 8:30 AM @ St. Pete Eco-Village, 302 15th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33705

Join the 2nd annual 100% St Pete Solar Tour to see how neighbors and businesses, such as LEED certified Planet Fitness and USF St. Petersburg, are using solar energy and energy efficiency to reduce monthly utility bills and to help tackle climate change – and how you can too.

The tour concludes at the St Pete Eco Village for optional garden lunch and informal Q&A with homeowners and business owners from the tour.

Hosted by St. Pete Eco-Village, Florida Suncoast Sierra Club and League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area

The St Pete Solar Tour includes $15.00 to cover the transportation. Registration required: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3103169


Nov 11. Circus McGurkis:
The Next Generation  

Celebrating Peace Education, Diversity, and Community Activism
10am-4pm @ Lakewood United Church of Christ, 2601 54th Ave S St. Petersburg

Featuring arts, crafts, music, games and ideas which celebrate the creativity and activism that makes our community a more beautiful, loving and just place to live. Roving poets and actors, musicians and drummers and art activities for children and families of all ages and types  Circus McGurkis is an expression of Quaker belief in the dignity and worth of each person an in the power of love and nonviolence to bring about change. Sponsored by the Quakers and hosted by Lakewood United Church of Christ

Nov 16. A Former Skinhead Speaks Out Against Hate, 7 PM @ Eckerd College, 4200 54th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33711

Frank Meeink, author of “Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead,” will share his personal story.

Frank Meeink was a skinhead at age 13. By age 17, he had his own cable-access TV show, “The Reich” and he was roaming the country as a skinhead leader and Neo-Nazi recruiter, with gangs that would beat people indiscriminately. At age 18, he was finally arrested and convicted of kidnapping and beating a member of a rival skinhead gang.

While in prison he befriended men he used to think he hated, men of different races. After being released from prison, Meeink tried to rejoin his old skinhead pals but couldn’t bring himself to hate those whom he now knew to be his friends.

Now a noted speaker, author, and founder of Harmony Through Hockey, Frank’s life stands for tolerance, diversity, and mutual understanding in racial, political, and all aspects of society.

Presented by Eckerd College. Sponsored by The Florida Holocaust Museum.

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP at 727.820.0100, extension 301.


Nov 16 & 17. Impact Summit @ USF St. Petersburg Student Center, 200 6th Ave South, St. Petersburg FL 33701

Data is key to the identification of community trends and a basis for addressing health disparities and inequities and to mobilize around other key issues that matter to residents.  Yet, the validity of data is routinely questioned and information is increasingly coming from unreliable sources. Now at growing risk of being eliminated or withheld, community data matters more than ever.

The 2017 Impact Summit will offer a forum to discuss and explore the role of data in supporting community change, on how to facilitate the use of accurate data for democratic decision-making at various scales – locally, regionally, statewide, nationally and internationally – and on opportunities to fortify and intensify our efforts to promote and lead change through the use of community data.   Sponsored by the Community Indicators Consortium.

Registration: http://www.communityindicators.net/2017ImpactSummit

Nov 17. Lecture: White Nationalism, Anti-Semitism, and Neo-Fascism7pm @ Allendale United Methodist Church, 3803 Haines Road North, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33703
The Leif Nissen Social Justice Lecture Series of Temple Beth-El, in partnership with Allendale United Methodist Church, presents a Social Justice Shabbat with Investigative Journalist, Scholar & Author Chip Berlet.

  • 7:00 PM Shabbat service
  • 7:45 PM lecture and Q/A

The evening is free and open to the public; dessert reception to follow lecture.

Chip Berlet is a progressive activist, journalist and scholar who has spent over thirty years studying bigoted right-wing movements. He is a co-author of the entry on Neo-Nazism in the current Encyclopedia Judaica and contributed a chapter on Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to the book The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In 2000, he co-authored the book Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, which received a Gustavus Myers Center Award for outstanding scholarship on the subject of human rights and intolerance. Berlet has authored numerous peer review articles and book chapters on White Nationalism and Neo-fascism.
Chip blogs at www.researchforprogress.org.

Nov 21. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community?
6pm @ Childs Park Rec Center, 4301 13th Avenue South, Saint Petersburg, Florida 33711

During this electoral cycle proverbial shots have been fired, shade has been thrown and relationships have been tested. As sad as it is, the one thing we can all be sure of is, no matter who wins and who loses, the work must continue. With that in mind, we would like to invite you to a post election community conversation and dinner to discuss, “Where do we go from here?” We will highlight the book with the same title by Dr Martin Luther King Jr and work to settle our differences and prepare to move forward.


Every Tuesday-Resist Trump Tuesdays10:30 am, Corner of Kennedy and Dale Mabry Blvd, Tampa. Sponsored by Indivisible Tampa – Join us every Tues for our ongoing show of dissent! Bring your favorite sign.
Every Wednesday – Independent Investigation Rally, 12 noon – 1:30pm @ St. Petersburg Judicial Building, 545 1st Ave N, St Petersburg, FL 33711. Ongoing Wednesday rallies to demand a public, independent investigation into Trump/Russia ties. Bring signs! We meet on the sidewalks surrounding the St. Pete Judicial Building.  Organized by Floridians Against Corruption & Treason (FACT).

Some Gebrauchsmusik (from hiltonkeanjones.com)

CC0 Creative Commons
Free for commercial use
No attribution required

The church where I work, Lakewood United Church of Christ, is in the midst of a fund drive to fix their roof which is badly in need of repair. As part of that, the pastor, Rev. Kim Wells, is having three weeks of sermons that center around a theme of Lakewood UCC as “Our shelter from the stormy blast,” a line from the hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past.”

Church musicians are always looking for ways to make what they do “fit” somehow. So, I decided to write three preludes on the hymn tune, ST ANNE, which is the actual name of the melody of “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” playing each one on a different Sunday of the three Sundays.

Links to computer “performances” of each of the three are below. I hope, someday, I can record them because there’s simply no comparison to the subtle changes a human can make in shading of tempo and color and the sterile rendering of a computer. But…ya gotta go with what ya got. So here are links to scores and streaming audio for each.

Prelude on St. Anne #1   score   audio
Prelude on St. Anne #2   score   audio
Prelude on St. Anne #3   score   audio

Here’s a link to the audio of all three as a playlist in the order I would recommend if played as a group.

Note: my teacher’s teacher was Paul Hindemith. Go to this link for a good, SHORT, description of Gebrauchsmusik (Music for Use).


Confronting Our Racism

Monday, November 20, 2017
8:45am – 4:30pm
Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida
Fox Hall and Wireman Chapel
4200 – 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33711
(727) 864-8587

Whether you are just thinking about this issue for the first time or have been doing this work all of your life, you are invited to join us for a day long conversation about opposing racism. We will be asking questions and talking about next steps in dealing with racism in our own local communities.

Our guests will be the Reverend Paul Roberts, President of Johnson C. Smith Seminary, and Professor Erin Cooley of Colgate University. There is no cost to register for the conference. You will be asked to pay $15 (cash or check) for lunch on the day of the conference. To register for the conference, please visit the following Google link:


This conference is made possible with funding from the John and Phyllis Ogden Fund of the Synod of the South Atlantic.

Doug McMahon
Director of the Center for Spiritual Life and Chaplain
Wireman Chapel, Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711


Restoring Respect”, a community conversation, at The Cathedral Church of St. Peter

ST. PETERSBURG–The Cathedral Church of St. Peter will host a five-part series, “Restoring Respect: A Community Conversation,” starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The initial gathering, “Restoring Respect: Where Did It Go?” will offer a panel discussion with President Donald R. Eastman III; Eric Deggans, television critic for National Public Radio; and Dr. Brendan Goff, professor of history at New College, Sarasota.

“Lack of respect for those who look, think, worship or vote differently is one of the compelling issues of the day,” said the Very Rev. Stephen B. Morris, dean of the cathedral. “It is something we all confront, day in and day out, regardless of who we voted for in the presidential election, where we are on the political spectrum, where we get our news,” Dean Morris said. “This is a time of heat without light, shouting without listening. We want to contribute to a community conversation that helps us get beyond that, listen and learn from each other.”

Additional sessions and topics are:

Nov. 14: Restoring Respect: In the Media; Jan. 16: Restoring Respect: In Religion; Feb. 20: Restoring Respect: In Race; March 20: Restoring Respect: In Politics.

All five sessions are free and open to the public. The Cathedral is at 140 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. The entrance is on Second Avenue N, and there is free parking in the city-owned lots on the north side of Second Avenue opposite the Cathedral. Information:(727) 822-4173.


Lakewood UCC is a member of the Florida Coalition to prevent gun violence

Your energy is needed!
The Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is on the move again with introducing bills that would ban semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines. Senator Linda Stewart and Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith brought the bills forward in the 2017 Legislative Session, and they are again sponsoring them for the upcoming 2018 Session. We applaud them for doing so. Read about their announcement here.
These bills did not get a hearing last Session, even though Florida had just experienced what was, at that time, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
This week with the terrible news out of Las Vegas, now the site of the worst mass shooting in American history, the ban is more relevant than ever. The Nevada shooter possessed 47 guns, and jerry-rigged his semiautomatic rifle so that it would work like a fully automatic weapon. The result was at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured.
We cannot allow the further normalization of gun violence. We should not have to fear getting shot whenever we step into a movie theater, nightclub, or attend a concert.
The fight for smart gun laws remains in the states. Senator Stewart’s and Rep. Smith’s proposals—SB 196 and HB 219—deserve a hearing. The time for debate on responsible gun safety legislation is long overdue. We need your help to encourage Florida Legislative leaders to hear these bills!
Please call the following lawmakers and request that they give Senate Bill 196 and House Bill 219 a fair hearing!
Senate President Joe Negron
Senator Bill Galvano
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Greg Steube
House Speaker Richard Corcoran
House Rules Chairman Rep. Jose Oliva
House Criminal Justice Committee Chairman, Rep. Ross Spano
Thank you! With the thousands of members under the umbrella of the Coalition and League of Women Voters of Florida, we can affect grassroots change that will make our state safer from gun violence.
In League,
Pamela Goodman
Patti Brigham
Co-Chair, Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

League of Women Voters of Florida


Coming concerts

Below is the list of concerts at St. Petersburg’s 1st Presbyterian Church. Lakewood UCC member, Claire Stiles, will be participating in at least one of these as well as these two concerts of the SPC Community Chorus: November 5 – Sunday at the Palladium at 6:00pm – Veterans Day concert with patriotic music; and, December 2 – Saturday at the SPC Music Center on the 66th St. campus (not certain of time yet, but likely 7:00pm) – Vivaldi Gloria and other holiday music.


Florida Coalition to end gun violence

Lakewood UCC is a member of Florida Coalition to end gun violence

Media Contact:
Pamela Goodman
President, LWV Florida
Patricia Brigham
Co-Chair, Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Statement from LWVFL and Coalition on Las Vegas Shooting
Once again, Americans awoke this morning to the news of another horrific mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas. At this writing, at least 58 were killed by a lone gunman. In addition, over 500 people were injured. Just a little more than a year after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the mass shooting in Las Vegas is now the deadliest in modern U.S. history.
While we are still learning the facts of what happened, the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence mourn the loss of life of so many innocent people in Las Vegas. However, the response of our elected officials with messages of “thoughts and prayers” is insufficient. We do not elect our government officials for thoughts and prayers. We elect them to make law. We cannot continue to allow easy access to assault weapons in our country. We have seen the consequences of such access too many times. We honor the lives lost today with our unwavering commitment to protect all communities from gun violence.
Pamela S. Goodman
LWV Florida
Patricia Brigham
Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
Andy Pelosi
Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

Response to Las Vegas Shooting


Las Vegas Response, Oct. 2, 2017


Having trouble viewing this email? Click here Oct. 2, 2017

Conference Call


Rev. John VertiganDear Church,

The member congregations and staff of the Florida Conference woke this morning to an all-too-familiar tragedy; a mass shooting. Our hearts break at the thought of more terror being spread by a lone gunman with a high-volume weapon. We are brought back to the morning of June 12, 2016, when the PULSE nightclub became a crime scene and a memorial.

We hold our sister churches in Las Vegas in our prayers, knowing that the path to wholeness is a long one and that the scars of those few minutes of gunfire will stay with the Las Vegas community for years to come. As congregations in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, and Hood, Texas, have taught us, the work of healing goes on long after the cameras are gone and the candles have gone out, and people are left with pain in body and soul.

We are also witnesses to the power of love. We learned from the PULSE shooting that communities can come together to proclaim and live out the gospel news that LOVE WINS. Violence scars and strains our communities, but it is not the final word.

But as faith communities that respond to individual need, to natural disasters and to the specific needs of our local communities, we have to ask ourselves and our nation this question: what are we called to do to help end gun violence? Whatever the motive of this shooter, he had the means to inflict enormous harm in a very short time. Can we continue to wring our hands and accept this violence, or will we seek policies that limit the access of angry people to means of destruction? As contentious as this issue can be, it is one that we must confront if we are to honor the memories of those who have been lost today and each day.

The Florida Conference is a member of the Florida Coalition to End Gun Violence, and we encourage our local settings to act for the safety and security of all God’s children. We hold in prayer those who have lost loved ones, or who face long-term rehabilitation. We ask that our members be sensitive to victims of violence who are re-traumatized by this event. And we pray for the courage to confront the gun violence in our society, believing that change can happen.

Be at peace and be in touch, won’t you. LOVE WINS.

Rev. John Vertigan

The Rev. John Vertigan
Conference Minister

A pdf version of this letter on Florida Conference letterhead is available here for further distribution.


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New Members!

Yesterday, Rhonda Lay and Penny Hammond joined Lakewood United Church of Christ.

panorama of congregation during new member liturgy

panorama of congregation during new member liturgy

photos by Yoko Nogami
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Service cancelled this morning due to hurricane Irma

A beautiful service of hymns, prayers, and readings about storms was planned for today, but evidently Irma has other ideas.

Calls to local authorities say that tropical storm winds are expected as early as 8 a.m., there is a 100% chance of rain, and the authorities are requesting no one on the roads after noon.

In light of this, we are cancelling worship, choir rehearsal, and church school for today. So, please say your prayers for the storm at home. Please remember your Lakewood family. Take care and much love.


Prepping for Irma

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After sandbagging all the doors that leak in heavy rains, taking off the roadsign letters, moving plants and nursery gear indoors, and arranging interior to prevent damage, the hearty crew pauses for a selfie: (L to R above) Hilton Jones, Bill Lindsay, Yoko Nogami, Rev. Wells, Gary Long, Victoria Long, and Bill Parsons.