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Two months out


90 degree July heat will likely reach more Floridian neighbors in years to come. “It’s outreach and mission. There are boxes and bags of stuff—paper, pencils, crayons and glue. Mountains of it! Some people come to church but not to the din- ner. They come right in and put their gifts under the tree,” he said. A team comes the next day and sorts and packs it all up to give away.


Hunter Stroud holds up some of the Christmas in July gifts provided by his church, Calvary Lutheran in Apollo Beach, Fla., and the community.


Christmas in July: Pure outreach


E


verything you love about Christmas—the feast, the mountain of gifts, singing “Silent Night” by candlelight, the man in a red suit—you can find at Calvary Lutheran Church, Apollo Beach,


Fla., in July. On Wednesday, July 25, Calvary and the surrounding community


will celebrate Christmas in July as they have for 17 years. Jack Pal- zer, one of the pastors, said the event began—and still is—designed as pure outreach. “We start out with a full Christmas dinner. Hundreds of people.


Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, apple pie,” he said, his voice full of enthusiasm. The church is decorated for Christmas, complete with trees. On every dinner table is a nutcracker from Pal- zer’s collection. Santa and Mrs. Claus are on hand to give out gifts. All the proceeds from the meal and evening offering go to Mary & Martha House, Ruskin, Fla., for abused and homeless women and children. Calvary is one of several churches that support its work. About 30 to 40 of the women and children are also special guests on “Christmas” for the meal and worship. Members and community folks bring the gifts: mountains of school supplies and backpacks. They’re not only given to the children of Mary & Martha House, but to some 30 members of Calvary who are teachers to pass on to students in need. Last year, the church put together 2,100 packets of supplies to give away. “People say Christmas is so hectic and busy,” Palzer said, add- ing that July is perfect for thinking about the joy of the holiday and outreach.


The only problem, he said, is having enough space. The church has room to feed about 250 diners (who pay $7 a ticket, $25 for a family), but the demand is more like 600 to 700, Palzer said. But the church is starting its first phase of a 25-acre mission center. So Christmas in the


Palzer’s tip: Plan ahead and get the com- munity involved. Pick a charity outside the church. Ask for donated or matching gifts. To learn more, email Palzer at rezlap@aol. com. 


SHUTTERSTOCK


Good


one! Graduation refreshments


For the past five years Sally Johnson, Nadine Lafuze and Barbara Bell, members of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Dal- ton, Ga. (ctkdalton@optilink.us), have provided a behind-the-scenes ministry to a specific community population. Four or five times each year they serve refresh- ments after graduation ceremonies from Conasauga Drug Court, a program for first- time offenders. The drug court is dedicated to reduc- ing drug-related criminal offenses. Its outcomes are in the 99th percentile, with other counties using it as a model for their programs. “The folks at Christ the King have built


a bridge to us by offering themselves to help us heal the hurt of addiction,” the drug court coordinator said when the women and John P. Rossing, pastor, were named “Citizens of the Week” for their support of people with drug and alcohol addictions.


Does your congregation do a specific ministry in September, October or November? Send details to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org. May 2012 39


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