The plot of land next to the church was purchased by Boley for use as the site of a housing development for those who are vulnerable and in need of shelter. There will be 20 units in the community. In light of delays related to covid and increased costs, Boley approached the City Council asking for an additional $760,000 to fully fund the project. Rev. Wells was asked by Boley to speak to the City Council at their meeting on Thursday Feb. 17 in favor of the funding. This is what she said:
Good afternoon. I am Rev. Kim Wells, pastor of Lakewood United Church of Christ which is next door to the property acquired by Boley for Whispering Pines.
We are a Christian church. A consistent message in our faith tradition is the dictate to work to eliminate poverty, need, and want in society. We are committed to ministering to ‘the least of these.’
Our church has responded to this call in various ways. We support Operation Attack providing assistance to families in need. We have been involved in Family Promise helping families secure housing. We had about 30 houseless people stay at our church for a month several years ago. We have a partnership with Maximo Elementary School to assist their unhoused students. And we routinely have people in need come to the church for help and we provide assistance as we are able.
So, when we heard about the Boley initiative, we were thrilled.
But we don’t expect the City Council of St. Petersburg to follow the teachings of our faith tradition. You are the government not a faith-based organization.
So, having personally worked with people without housing, here’s what I feel you need to consider.
The struggles associated with home insecurity divert and distract people from being constructively involved in the community. Housing issues impact the capacity to work in a reliable and consistent manner. Housing instability impacts children getting to school and succeeding academically. Housing insecurity contributes to health problems that stress the healthcare system. There are many negative consequences to the community when people don’t have stable, secure housing. A person with a safe place to live then has the capacity to be a responsible, constructive, contributing member of the community.
The Whispering Pines community will have a significant positive impact not only on the new residents but it will have an important positive impact on the community as a whole and it will benefit us all.
When Boley leaders met with our church to introduce the Whispering Pines development, we were told that there would be a substantial fence erected on the property line between the church and the housing development. We made one request: Please put a big gate in that fence.
We implore you, the City Council, to vote to fully fund the Whispering Pines community. It is a much needed improvement not only for those who will reside there but for the community and the city as a whole. Thank you!
The City Council voted unanimously to fully fund Whispering Pines.
This Sunday, Feb. 27, is the last Sunday of the season of Epiphany before Lent begins. The season of Epiphany ends with the Transfiguration, a story of a mountaintop experience. See Luke 9:28-43a.
The Sundays from Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday through Black History Month, the services are highlighting the teachings of Dr. King. Join in the celebration on Sunday in person or on Facebook Live.
The service will be in the sanctuary with the doors and windows open.
Lent Ahead – The Wildness of Mercy
The season of Lent begins next Wednesday. Please see the details about the Ash Wednesday service. Lent is a 40 day period of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. The time echoes Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. The season of Lent is a time to re-turn your life to God/Divine Love/Spirit – however you conceive of what is of ultimate importance in shaping your reality.
Traditionally, people give something up for Lent. This is a spiritual discipline that functions on many levels. It reminds us of all that we have. It invites us to exert discipline. By foregoing something we care about, it is all the more precious when we enjoy it once again. It sets the season apart and keeps us mindful. In recent years, people have begun taking something on for Lent. Maybe a volunteer activity or service of some kind. Again, this functions to set the season apart, to revisit the concept of sacrifice, to follow in the way of Jesus. Are you giving some thought to what you will take on or give up for Lent? We’ll ask about that in church the next couple of Sundays.
At LUCC for Lent, the theme for services and other reflections and activities will be ‘The Wildness of Mercy.’ There is a well-known hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.” With a typo, that easily becomes ‘There’s a Wildness in God’s Mercy.’ And sometimes mercy does seem pretty wild! Themes involving nature will remind us of the wildness of Divine mercy and how blessed we are to be recipients of that mercy.
In addition to Sunday morning worship and the weekly Labyrinth walks, there will be daily devotions posted to support you on your Lenten journey. There will also be a couple of outings in nature to invite reflection and renewal. Stay tuned for more details about those.
In spite of covid and the many losses and changes we are experiencing, Lent is a wonderful season to remember that there is a wildness in God’s mercy!
Ash Wednesday Service on March 2 at 7:00 p.m.
The Lenten season of preparation for Easter begins with Ash Wednesday. This beautiful service involves a re-commitment to the way of Jesus, re-turning our lives to God. The service is held around a fire reminding us of the healing, renewing, purifying power of Divine Love. Communion will be served. This year the service will be held at the waterfront home of Emily and Bob Bell. You may bring a chair if you wish. You may also bring a stick to add to the fire. For more details please contact the church at 727-867-7961 or email@example.com.
To carpool from the church, please meet in the church parking lot at 6:30 p.m. If you would like a ride, please contact the Church Office.
New Members Received
Last Sunday two new members were received into the LUCC faith community. Michelle Cloutier, who has been active in the immigration ministry as well as serving as a liturgist, joined the church transferring her membership from Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. Sherry Santana also joined the church last Sunday through the sacrament of baptism. Sherry has been active in the LUCC family as an usher and a liturgist. The church is blessed by the presence of these new members. Welcome!
Congregational Meeting Follow Up
Last Sunday following worship there was a congregational meeting to take action of the church budget for 2022. Advisor Lucille Ruga conducted the meeting. There were 25 people in attendance. Sally Purvis offered the Opening Prayer. Mark Gibson, the new church treasurer, presented the budget offering explanations of each line item and answering questions. In spite of covid and the other challenges facing LUCC and all churches, due to the faithfulness of the congregation, church leaders were able to present a balanced budget for the year ahead without drawing on reserves. The budget was unanimously adopted. [Here’s a link to the budget:https://lakewooducc.org/2022/02/23/lucc-budget-for-2022/] The congregation also agreed to partner with Celebrate Outreach by collecting toiletries for those who are houseless in St. Petersburg. There is more information about that below. There was a time for suggestions and comments on the life of the church in general. Comments were made about the children’s ministry, using hymns in church, the Creation Justice ministry, and gratitude for the church family. Jim Andrews offered a closing prayer. There was a sweet ending to the gathering as everyone present received a beautiful homemade cookie complements of Deanna Moore who is eager to bake!
Toiletries for Celebrate Outreach
Celebrate Outreach is a local ministry with people who are living without shelter in St. Petersburg. An average of 135 people are served each week. LUCC was asked to collect toiletries to be distributed to the community at the meals that are provided on Saturday and Sundays each week. This collection will be ongoing in addition to the food being collected for Operation Attack. All are invited to donate the following items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, bar soap, wash cloths, deodorant, feminine hygiene items, travel size creams, shampoo, body wash, individual packets of Kleenex, hand wipes, toilet tissue, and paper towels.
LUCC Receives Florida Conference People’s Empowerment Anti-Racism Grant
LUCC was awarded a matching grant of $500 from the Florida Conference to buy anti-racism books for each classroom at Maximo Elementary School. The school has selected age appropriate books for each grade. The church will place bookplates in each book indicating that the book was donated by LUCC. This is a wonderful opportunity to serve the community and impact the future. The congregation will be informed about donating the matching funds needed.
Boley Project Receives Needed Funding
The housing project to be built on the land next to the church has been delayed. Due to covid and increased costs, additional funds were needed for the project to be constructed. Last Thursday, the St. Petersburg City Council voted unanimously to provide the additional $760,000 needed for the project to be completed. Rev. Kim Wells was asked by Boley to speak in favor of the expenditure.
There was no expressed opposition to the request. While the City Council was discussing the Boley project, there was a demonstration on the steps of City Hall in support of affordable housing in St. Petersburg.
The church is continuing to collect used inkjet cartridges. They are sent to a recycler and the church receives payment for the cartridges provided. So, don’t throw out your cartridges. Bring them to church. Not only do they get recycled but they provide income for the ministry of the church.
Guided Labyrinth Walks
The guided walk is held weekly on Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. This provides an opportunity to be aware and deepen your spiritual journey. If it is raining, the walk is held on Thursday at 9:00 a.m.
Also, the readings and prayers used on Wednesdays at the guided walk are put in the mailbox by the labyrinth each week for use during the week.
The labyrinth is on the church grounds near the southwest corner of the church property. It is available for use at all times.
Operation Attack Update
OA needs donations of cereal/oatmeal, mac and cheese, pasta sauce, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, soup, and vegetables.Donations may be placed on the shelf in the hallway at church.
Being Covid Safe and In-Person Worship
Please stay home if you are not feeling well.
Please wear a mask while in the church building. While most people have been vaccinated, this helps visitors to feel safe.
Additional masks will be available at church to use as needed.
Two hand sanitizing stations are available for use by worshippers.
There is well-ventilated, physically distanced indoor seating in the sanctuary.
Please know that your safety is of primary consideration!
On Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. please use the link above to visit our homepage. There, after using the link, you will see a section labeled “Happening Now”. This is our Livestream of the Sunday Service.
To watch the live stream, locate and click the “watch video” button in the lower right corner of the screen.
If the link above is not working, there is also a link to our Facebook page on our website. Please try that link located on the Home page of our website.
With the cooler temperatures, we will resume opening the doors and windows for morning worship as we continue efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Sunday services are being held at 10:30 a.m. Masks are required. There is physical distancing. Childcare is provided.
You can also join in on Facebook Live at 10:30. Please see the instructions below.
Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.