Welcome to Saint Paul’s!

St. Paul’s is a different kind of church.  We’re not a large megachurch with a sound stage and a suped-up production machine, but we strive to be a church full of authentic followers of Jesus.  No matter how you come to visit us, we pray you’ll find clear examples of God’s love, whether through us or through our ministries – but hopefully both!

You might be excited about finding a church to belong to, or you might be a bit fearful from bad church experiences in the past. Either way, if you are looking for a church that focuses on creating spiritual fruits, not religious nuts, then you have come to the right place!

I hope the information on this website will help you get to know us, whether you’re an online or in-person visitor. Feel free to email me if you have any further questions that are not covered here.
Our Mission statement at St. Paul’s says a lot about who we are and what we do:


As a Christian family of faith,
Saint Paul’s affirms God’s love by
transforming lives,
connecting generations,
impacting our community & world,
making disciples for Jesus Christ.

COVID-19 Update

Re: COVID-19 Response for St. Paul’s

As news continues to roll out about the spread of the new Coronavirus, I want to give everyone an update on our response here at St. Paul’s. With greater transparency, I hope we can all work together to limit the spread of this global pandemic in our own community, especially to those who are in more vulnerable populations. As a church full of different age groups, this offers us the chance to look out for each other’s wellbeing, no matter what our own risk may be.

Here at St. Paul’s we are closely monitoring and following directions from our local Marion County Health Department as well as the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. We are staying informed, not panicking. You can help prevent the spread of rumors and disinformation yourself by monitoring these same websites at marion.floridahealth.gov and cdc.gov.

Here are some of the things we’re planning on doing at St. Paul’s:

  • At this point, we are not planning to cancel Roundtables or other gatherings because of COVID-19. We will still gather for worship on Sundays, although we ask that everyone practice some common-sense “social distancing” in the form of fist bumps or other greetings instead of shaking hands.
  • Starting Sunday the 8th of March, we have replaced “Go Now in Peace” with “This Little Light of Mine” as our response hymn, and we recommend clapping to the music instead of our traditional holding hands.
  • We have hand sanitizer in the narthex for your use, and we encourage you to use those and/or bring your own.
  • Remember to wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds – sing happy birthday twice, pray the Lord’s Prayer, or find some other fun new handwashing routine to help you keep the time. Soap and water have proven to be the best ways to clean this virus from a person’s hands.
  • When you cough for whatever reason, cough into your sleeve, not your hand.
  • Know the symptoms of COVID-19 and how it is different from seasonal flu, colds, or seasonal allergies like we have this time of year.  
  • If you feel sick or you have a fever, stay home. If you have to miss worship and are not able to give in person, you are welcome to give online at spocala.org/giving, or mail your check to the church so we can continue in ministry while we are experiencing this slight change in our usual routine.
  • Volunteers in our hospitality ministry will have gloves available to wear while they’re serving.
  • When using our tables in the Fellowship Hall or the Sanctuary building, remember to wipe them off before and after use with cleaners that will be provided in these rooms.

One of the best weapons we have in combating COVID-19 is common sense. Let’s stay informed, follow CDC and FLDOH guidelines, use good judgment, know what signs to look for, and know to ask our local health departments when we have additional questions. We will keep looking for ways to improve our response to this situation as the need arises. We urge caution, but not fear. Most importantly, please continue praying for each other and for those affected by COVID-19.

Thank you and God Bless,


Lent 2020: Teach us to Pray so We Learn to Love

One of the central places we Christians learn about prayer is from Jesus, who made prayer a central part of his personal life and his teachings to the Disciples.  In two separate Gospels, Matthew and Luke, we have what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer,” taken from Jesus’ specific instructions to “pray like this” in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2.  In both passages, Jesus teaches about prayer, yes, but he teaches about prayer as a way to build community.  Moving from personal to social, the Lord’s Prayer isn’t just a prayer for us individually, but a prayer for and a challenge to build community.  Jesus is not teaching his disciples a prayer just so they can have a handy formula to memorize, he is teaching his disciples how to pray so they learn how to love.  Through the practice of prayer, we learn to listen to God and those around us who are also bearers of God’s divine image.  This lesson on building community is especially important as our United Methodist Church family both here in Florida and around the world come together for General Conference in May.

Through using the Lord’s Prayer as a way to build community, we learn to let go of hatred, pretention, and power-grabbing.  Instead of seeking our own “kingdom” in competition with others, we pray that God’s Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.  Instead of considering our names as holy, we proclaim God’s name as holy, and we might notice that everyone else praying this prayer is asking the same thing.  We ask God to forgive our sins specifically because we have forgiven those who have sinned (or “trespassed”) against us.  And another thing; Jesus taught this prayer in first-person plural —as “we/our” and not “I/me.”  It should cause us to think of our faith as something we do together, not just individually.  A faith practiced and prayed according to the lessons of Jesus, then, is a faith that builds community and does not tear it down.  It uses prayer, not as a personal showpiece (Matthew 6:1-8 & 16-18), but as a vessel of God’s transforming, healing, and life-giving love.  It uses prayer to be salt and light to a dark and flavorless world (Matthew 5:13-16).  I could go on and on.

This Lent, dear Jesus, teach us to pray so we learn how to love.

Pastor Robert

Ash Wednesday Worship

Ash Wednesday


February 26th

7:00 am-7:00 pm

Ashes, Prayer, & The Hard Work of Repentance

Lent begins with a rather outlandish idea: let’s come and remember we’re finite and fallible, imperfect and mortal.  Far from the revelry of Springtime, Mardi Gras, and the planning for March Madness brackets, Lent makes for strange counter-programming, and skipping this time of repentance and deep looks inward would definitely be easier.

However, this crazy idea is also the first step in acknowledging our need for God.  Without confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness, we can never have Christ in our hearts, following him as Lord and Savior.  That’s why Ash Wednesday is so important, and why we’ll have the sanctuary open for twelve hours, from 7am-7pm.  Anytime during these hours, you are welcome to prayerfully begin your Lent in this unique worship experience.  You’ll receive a booklet to guide you through the stations, and your experience will end with ashes in the sign of the cross on your forehead.  There will also be booklets for Children and Youth so that they can go through Ash Wednesday in their own special way.  You can take as long as you need to process through the stations; your pace is between you and God.

During the Sundays in Lent, we’ll be diving into prayer through the Gospel of Matthew.  We’ll ask Jesus to teach us to pray so we learn to love, following Jesus as he is tempted in the wilderness (Ch. 4:1-11) and as he gives his disciples the Lord’s prayer during the Sermon on the Mount in Chapter 6.  We’ll also take a Sunday to hear about the work God is doing through our new church start at Lowell Correctional Institute in Reddick.  In all these times of worship, I hope you’ll worship through the ashes of repentant prayer so you may receive the world-changing forgiveness of God’s love.

As outlandish as Lent and Ash Wednesday may seem at first glance, the work to go through them always pays off.  Extracting ourselves from all the distractions around us, we can more effectively work with God to re-make us into the forgiven, loving, joyful, eternally peaceful person God created us to be!

I’ll see you on Ash Wednesday!  ~Robert