Happy 2024! Below is a letter from the leaders of one of the Catalyst Small Groups at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church & School in Oviedo, FL and their bittersweet journey of service. This journey didn’t go as THEY planned but God had a silver lining in store for them and bunch of kids on Christmas morning. If this story inspires you, please consider sharing or learning more about our Catalyst Small Groups. May we let God lead this year and always!
January 8, 2024
The Stewardship Committee
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
RE: Stewardship Grant, 2023
Mr. Taylor and the Stewardship Committee:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our Catalyst Small Group to you and your families! Early last year, the Stewardship Committee authorized a Service Grant to our catalyst group. Our application indicated that we were planning to support the Christian Service Center and their various ministries, from the Food Pantry and their Daily Bread soup kitchen to clothing and transportation donations. Unfortunately, our catalyst group suffered a number of setbacks due to injury and illnesses that made it impractical for us all to serve together. Thus, procras1na1on set in and eventually, our group membership evolved through natural changes in circumstances. As we marched through the Fall Season, we lamented our failure to utilize the service grant and we considered the return of the funds. God had a better plan though. Before Thanksgiving, we were approached by Rhonda with an opportunity to support a group that she had been involved with in the past but was unable to continue this year. The opportunity sounded exciting to us, we shared it with our Catalyst Group, and we all agreed it was a good way to use our service grant. The pieces all seem to come together in a very unexpected way, though I’m sure God is looking down with a smile and saying, “It wasn’t unexpected for me.” The organization is Word on the Street (WOTS) Homeless Ministry and is run by Pastor Skip Fengfish. The ministry is focused on supporting the homeless population by providing for their basic needs as well as educating them on how to survive homelessness, all the while “pursuing their hearts”. Being homeless and/or economically unstable, many families do not have the means to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Our particular involvement, and the use of our service grant, was centered on providing Christmas presents to all of the children being served through WOTS. Starting right after Thanksgiving, our group had representatives available on Sunday afternoons, when WOTS was hosting a meal and gospel lesson. Parents would talk with us about their children and what they would want for Christmas and we would take all of the notes. After 4 weeks, we spoke with 55 families, representing over 175 children. The magnitude of need was greater than what our service grant would cover, so thankfully we had the support of Avalon Church and the Avalon Park Rotary Club. We divided up the list and went shopping. On Sunday, December 17th, we delivered and handed out the bags of presents. To protect the integrity of the families being served, we do not have pictures of that event.
But over the course of this service event, we spent almost $3,500., not including what Avalon Church and Avalon Rotary Club spent on their portions. We were aided by a pair of Thrivent Action Team grants as well as individual donations and contributions. Our house felt like Santa’s workshop!
After we had all of the presents wrapped, we put them in bags per child, then bundled them into black bags per family. The black bags concealed the contents, making them safer and easier to transport home. The ultimate goal was to ensure that the parents were the ones who brought their children presents. With some left over Thrivent Action dollars, we bought some basic toiletries that are routinely handed out each week.
We feel blessed to have been able to participate in this wonderful ministry, and equally joyful that God made clear to us His will, even when we were looking in a different direction. Thank you for the generosity of the Stewardship Committee and to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. We pray that God continues to work through these ministries to strengthen the marginalized and support those most in need. Our Catalyst Group is looking forward to finding another service project as we consider this upcoming 2024.
Thank you again, and Merry Christmas!!
Catalyst Group Leaders