Sept. 17 2019
Hurricane Dorian Response Update
As of Sept. 12, 2019
We have established good contact with Pr. Lewis at Our Saviour in Freeport, and continue to work with partners to assess and strategize a comprehensive response plan. Pr. Lewis reports that no one from his congregation lost their life in the storm, but congregational members reported the loss of life of family members. One member's home flooded with 5 ft. of water. The congregation's building was not damaged, and so will serve as a local staging area for relief and response throughout the island.
Strategizing and Collaborating in Long-Term Response
Pr. Stan Wickett has agreed to serve as the initial disaster assessment coordinator. He will make a visit to Freeport and, after conversation with local leaders and review of the situation, Pr. Stan will work with the synod, LDR-international, ELCA Global Mission, and LDR-domestic to create a response plan.
Providing Short-term Relief and Supplies
While an overall response strategy is being developed, there are extensive immediate relief needs. Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, Juno Beach, has a long-term relationship with Our Saviour Lutheran Church member Gregg Lewis, and through connections with volunteer pilots in their community, are able to collect and deliver supplies directly to the Bahamas. A full list of supplies is on their web site . Pr. Frank Wagner (Holy Spirit, Juno Beach) and Pr. Steve Winsor (Nativity, Palm Beach Gardens), connected with Pr. Cliff Lewis and Gregg Smith to deliver over 2,000 lbs of supplies on 9/10. They were able to bring back 5 people from the Bahamas who had lost everything. Additional trips and deliveries are already being planned.
Pr. Lewis reports that there is an immediate need for clean water, as the water on the island is not safe even for bathing. We are working with local partners to find a boat and captain who can help us deliver clean water (which is heavy and better to transport by boat than by airplane) and water filters. If you have contacts with a boat or captain that is interested in helping with delivering supplies, please contact Michele Hilton.
Accompaniment through Relationships
Bishop Suarez will make a visit to the Bahamas soon. Additional pastors have volunteered to be available to offer pastoral support to Pr. Lewis and his congregation (pulpit supply, respite, additional pastoral care) as the pastoral needs in that community increase due to this disaster. While the desire is to visit now, we are committed to long-term accompaniment, and so will be scheduling regular visits over a longer period of time. If pastors, chaplains, and others are interested in being part of the relationship/pastoral support for Our Saviour, please let Michele Hilton ( know of your interest and availability. If your congregation has other connections in The Bahamas and you are organizing a visit, please let Michele Hilton know. As the community is better set up to receive work teams and volunteers, that information will be shared.
Holy Spirit, Juno Beach and Nativity, Palm Beach Gardens--collecting supplies for Hurricane Relief in the Bahamas

Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Juno Beach and Nativity Lutheran, Palm Beach Gardens , are partnering together as the Florida-side staging areas for collecting supplies for hurricane relief in the Bahamas. These congregations have secured a way to transport supplies to Freeport. If you can get your supplies to Holy Spirit or to Nativity, they will deliver those supplies to The Bahamas. Please bring/send only the requested items .

In lieu of collecting supplies and sending/delivering them to Holy Spirit or Nativity, you may send financial donations directly to either congregation to purchase items in bulk locally. Gift cards to Home Depot, Lowe's or Wal Mart will also help Holy Spirit purchase items.

To donate goods:
Holy Spirit Lutheran (11301 Ellison Wilson Rd, Juno Beach; 561-624-9663)
Nativity Lutheran (4075 Holly Drive, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-622-4998)

To donate money:
Holy Spirit Lutheran:
Nativity Lutheran:
Navigate to  and scroll to button under general donations. Please notate your donation as being for Bahama Relief.
Pill Packing for Belize--a GWOH Testimony
Story submitted by Sharon Koelsch, Paradise Lutheran Church, Treasure Island

Members of Paradise Lutheran Church, Treasure Island, gathered on Sept. 7 for a God's Work Our Hands work project that involved pill packing for the Nokumbaya Medical Mission to Belize. One of the members at Paradise lives part of the year in Belize and has been taking volunteers (some from Paradise L.C. and some from elsewhere) into the mountains near her home to provide medical services.
Boundaries Training Workshop Rescheduled

The Boundaries Training workshop that was going to be incorporated into this year's Conference on Ministry is being rescheduled for a different date, time and location.

The boundaries training will instead be offered on Oct. 29, from 9:00-4:00, at Hope Lutheran Church, The Villages. Leaders can RSVP for this training HERE. This training is recommended for rostered ministers (once every 3 years), congregational staff and volunteer ministry leaders. Questions can be sent to Ileana Sardinas (
Mark your Calendar
Click on the calendar to go to the synod calendar to learn more about these events
For Your Information
Save the Date for Synod Assembly 2020

June 5-7, 2020
NEW LOCATION: Caribe Royale, Orlando

This all-suite hotel is Family Friendly, Pet Friendly, and ‘Green’ conscious. With several pools, a fitness room, and several restaurants, this hotel is set up for your whole family.

NEW IN 2020: childcare will be available for infants and toddlers, and LutherSprings staff will be offering a daycamp experience for elementary and middle-school children/youth. High school youth are welcome to attend all workshops. More information coming. With an emphasis on workshops, we want this assembly to be uniquely set-up for multi-age and family learning. Registration for childcare and daycamp will be part of assembly registration.**

RESERVE HOTEL ROOMS SOON. At this hotel, in addition to King-size and Queen-size single rooms, there are s everal 2 bedroom villas (separate bedrooms with their own baths , an eat-in kitchen and living room) available. These 2-bedroom villas have a master bedroom with a King-size bed, and a second room with 2 queen-size beds. With the full-size pullout couch, these villas can sleep up to 8 people comfortably. The Florida-Bahamas synod is receiving an incredible deal on these rooms, offering a saving of about $45 per night over the cost of 2 separate rooms. There are also a selection of rooms that are pet-friendly.

Visit to take a virtual tour.

You can reserve your hotel room anytime between now and the Assembly.

To make reservations:

*This link does not require a group or attendee code to book. Just click on the dates and you will receive the contracted group rates   
Upcoming Vitality Training Retreats for Conferences in the South

The Vitality Kick-off is an invitation to congregational leaders to gather for a day of learning, fellowship and renewal as we center ourselves on God’s dreams. Acting on God’s dreams, leaders will gather tools and resources that will create a pathway to a deeper sense of vitality and mission. Surrounded and supported by others, congregations invested in the vitality process journey together into a deeper awareness of God’s presence and action, a deeper commitment to their own discipleship and faith formation, and a deeper understanding of the communities they serve. Each retreat will be from 9:00-4:00 and include worship, brief conference business, and lunch. Details from conference deans coming soon. RSVP to conference deans to assist with planning.

10/12 - Mid-Gulf Conference (Emmanuel, Venice)
10/26 - Caloosa Conference (Emmanuel, Naples)
11/2 - Tampa Conference (Good Shepherd, Tampa)
11/16 - Miami-Dade and Broward-Bahamas Conferences (St. John, Hollywood)
1/4/2020 - Lake Conference (Lamb of God, Haines City)
1/18/2020 - Tradewinds Conference (location TBD)
Announcing New ELCA Grants for Accessibility Reinvestment Grants
From the Sept. 9 ELCA Disability Ministries Fall 2019 Newsletter

We celebrate that at Churchwide Assembly 2019 there was overwhelming support by ELCA voting members offering guidance and solidarity for the future direction of the denomination.

Accessibility Reinvestment GrantAuthentic diversity and being a sanctuary body demonstrate our care and concern for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. While we are saddened that individual racism exists, we are acknowledging that ignoring the past is painful and that our collective sin can do substantial harm in systemic ways that are uncalled for. I’m thankful for our practice of corporate confession and believe the entire church will benefit.

In response, ELCA Disability Ministries introduces a new grant opportunity for ELCA congregations in diverse and divested communities for an Accessibility Reinvestment Grant. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 15, 2019, at for up to $25,000 for small-scale property and large-impact programmatic plans. Questions can be directed to

Bishop's Calendar
  • Synod Office
  • Tampa (Latino Ministry Association)
  • St. John, Winter Park (ordination of Nicole Eastwood)
  • Christ the King, Sebastian)
  • Conference of Bishops, Chicago
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