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,
and
making disciples for Jesus Christ.

 
Affirming God’s Love by
transforming lives:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that we are supposed to transform peoples’ lives for the better because of our Christian faith. Whether it is feeding people who are hungry, giving hope to the hopeless, or voice to the voiceless, faith is not just for our own benefit, but is supposed to be for the whole world!
Matthew 25:31-46
 
Affirming God’s love by
connecting generations:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that connecting generations is a key part of how we affirm God’s love. We believe in ministry that serves the needs of particular age groups but also connects generations together. This can be seen when our Children & Youth make and deliver gifts to our homebound members, when adult volunteers attend a “youth” mission trip, or when our younger members are welcomed to be a part of our adult ministries. We believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and that we all benefit when we are all involved in age-related ministries.
Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17
 
Affirming God’s love by
impacting our community & world:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that our faith needs to have an impact in our community (through local ministries such as Interfaith Emergency Services and Open Arms Village) and our world (through Disaster Relief, Rise Against Hunger, or Peace by Piece Sewing Ministry)
Matthew 5:13-16
 
Affirming God’s love by
making disciples for Jesus Christ:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that the core mission of the church to which all our activities point is to make people into disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 28:18-20
 
St. Paul’s Christian School shares its campus with us and many of the families in our church and school come from the surrounding neighborhood. In this quiet, picturesque corner of Ocala we are like the neighborhood park – you’re likely to see families playing on our playground, couples taking a stroll around the campus, someone sitting for a prayer in our Memorial Garden, or our Scouts having a meeting at the fire pit. This is really the vision we have for St. Paul’s: a place that offers God’s grace, love and comfort to the people around us.
 
Want to know more?  Come and see what we’re all about, either online or in-person!
 
In Christ,
 
Robert

Robert’s Blog

This is the Sign

 
 
 

Happy First Sunday of Lent! 

 

So, entering the season of Lent this week, let me ask you a question: What could you do with a rock-solid promise? What would the security of a promise do to make your life different? Today we’re going to look at the rock-solid promise of Genesis 9:8-17 and hear Peter’s unpacking of the promise in 1 Peter 3:18-22.  Of course, you think, there are lots of promises in the Bible.  That is true, but essentially they all stem from the singular promise of presence.  “Best of all, God is with us,” as John Wesley supposedly said on his deathbed.  So today we focus on that simple and profound truth: God is with us; we are not alone. 

Now, the symbol of the rainbow is well known throughout the history of the faith.  And cultures throughout the world have always seen symbolism in the rainbow and its mysterious, ephemeral nature.  Today we’ll look at God’s promise of protection and presence to the world that God created.  The rainbow is a sign of God’s love and protection.  With the rainbow we point beyond ourselves to the naturally occurring light refracting through the rain and producing an arc of color and light; but because the church is the community of God doing Christ’s work, now we are the sign.  

The church has become the rainbow sign of the presence of God as we seek to gather up the scattered beloved people of God into one covenant community of faith. Where’s God’s sign of presence and protection for today?  It’s us – we are the sign. 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 2/21/2021 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 



But Only Jesus

 
 

Happy Transfiguration Sunday!

Transfiguration Sunday might not be a common observance in the United Methodist tradition, or in any Christian traditions on our side of the liturgical spectrum. There are those who do attempt to pay attention to this significant moment in the life and ministry of Jesus, but many do not. However, as we read the story of the Transfiguration in Mark 9:2-9, the key is actually what occurs around the Transfiguration.  If you’re already reading this blog post, go ahead and read the whole context of what is happening by reading Mark 8:27-9:1 and then 9:10-37.  This section of Mark makes a full circle and provides a more wholistic picture of that is going on here.

 

 We can always ask which is the real Jesus? Is it the one who gets his hands dirty with the mud and spit of this world, or is it the one who stands on the mountain top and glows with a radiance divine? Well, of course, the answer is yes! Yes, it is both. The human Jesus and the divine Christ. The transcendent part of the Trinity of God, and the immanent, incarnate human laid in a manger and nailed to a cross, the one who walked and taught and healed and loved on earth just like you. Yet not like you. More than you. A glimpse of what you might be. A hint of what you were created to be. An invitation and a hope.  The question for us is, will we accept the invitation to be what we were created to be?

 

 As we end the Season after the Epiphany and turn our eyes toward Lent this coming week, we’ll also look at Elisha chasing after the heavenly as Elijah is getting ready to be taken to God in 2 Kings 2:1-12.  Will we chase heaven like that?  Will we refuse to let go until some of heaven is given to us, or will we accept what the world says we should have (hint: it’s much less heavenly).  I’ll see you online and in-person as we worship this Sunday and open our hearts, our minds, and our Bibles in worship!

 

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 2/14/2021 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend! 

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We’ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary, starting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the month. This Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January.

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. Praise New Generation won’t be meeting this Sunday (2/14/21). SPYouth will have a longer session from 4:00-5:30pm.

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


She Began to Serve

 

Happy 5th Sunday after the Epiphany! 

Peter’s mother-in-law doesn’t have any lines in this gospel drama we’ll read from Mark 1:29-39, but her witness is strong. As soon as she got to her feet, her first action was to serve. As soon as she came to herself, she didn’t think of herself. She set herself aside in order to serve.  And she served them.  Not just the “big guy,” Jesus, but all of them 

Let us celebrate service today, but not as another call to do more, to give more, to work harder or to fill our overburdened schedules with work. Yes, there is always a call to more service. But instead, let’s celebrate service by saying “thank you.” Who can we thank for service? How can we cultivate a spirit of gratitude for the ones we have gotten used to ignoring, those who have become a part of the background noise of living in the world as it is? A few months ago, we called them “essential workers.” Do we remember that? They were essential, but as a society, we don’t pay them enough, or give them enough time off, or provide adequate healthcare, or thank them enough. 

And we who carry the name of Jesus before us, must, like him, carry it out to those who haven’t yet heard֫—those who don’t yet know him. We are making disciples, even as we are being made disciples. That is our service. Like Simon’s mother-in-law, we don’t just serve him; we serve them. All of them. Any of them. We serve them. 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 2/7/2021 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the month

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 


What Have You to Do With Us?

 
 

Happy 4th Sunday after the Epiphany! 

A warning: today’s scripture passages might seem far-removed from today’s world.  We’ll read from 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, and hear St. Paul talk about sacrificing food to idols.  Our Gospel passage from Mark’s gospel, chapter 1, verses 21-28, tell us about Jesus confronting an evil spirit in a synagogue.  Sound applicable, right? Just you wait.   

It is hard to deny that we are surrounded by the demonic in our world today—haunted by it, perhaps.  Just over the past year, we’ve seen lynchings of African-Americans in broad daylight, violence and anger on the streets of American cities and in our own Capitol buildingschool shooting after school shooting, we’ve seen rampant disregard for the health and safety of people who are created in the image of Godand we’ve accepted lies, accusations, and viciousness when we really need to pull together to get through a crisis that affects all of us.  That there are powers and principalities in the world over which we have little power seems undeniable. 

 But what do demons have to do with worship? Well, by the power of Jesus, we proclaim that there is help available. We worship a power and a presence greater than all that is broken around us and within us. Worship is an opportunity to celebrate all that is possible in Christ. 

Two weeks ago, we acknowledged that the question “can anything good” be asked about us. In the reading from Mark’s gospel, the question asked could also be our question: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” It is a question afraid of change; ultimately, it is a question of surrender and  of transformation. We ask if Jesus has come to destroy us, destroy our lifestyle, destroy our image of ourselves, our self-confidence, our self-dependence. 

We are people on a journey of transformation, and it isn’t always easy. Today, we acknowledge the hard work of becoming disciples and of setting aside the weight that clings so closely, of handing over the reins of our lives so that we can be led into wholeness. Let our worship not be burdened by defining the demonic, but by praising the power that conquers all that would press us down, by praising the one who breaks the chain of oppression in whatever forms it presents itself. And let us join in the proclaiming of this setting free, not fearing any power, not shrinking from any evil but offering grace and a way to wholeness. 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 1/31/21 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 


Follow Me

 
 

Happy 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany! 

Fishing for people. What images come to mind with this phrase? Can we move beyond the simplistic “rounding people up for Jesus” and talk about making connections? The fishing idea needs to expand beyond the numbers, because Jesus is inviting his followers to a life of engagement & relationship.  We hear a lot of fishy stories today: from Jonah 3:1-5, 10 and Mark 1:14-20.  Jonah has his second call from God – after being regurgitated from the briny depths – and finally goes to Nineveh.  Jesus calls four fisherman from the Sea of Galilee, telling them that they will now fish for people.  Are we willing to go to Nineveh?  Are we willing to lay down our nets and follow Christ where he’s going, even in if means going to uncomfortable places and doing uncomfortable things?  Each one of us has a call given to us from God.  What’s yours?  Let’s think about all this as we worship on Sunday! 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 1/24/21 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 


Anything Good?

 
 

Happy 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany! 

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” That’s our guiding phrase from our gospel text for this week in John 1:43-51. “Anything good?” Surely you can hear how that sounds. Surely in our contentious environment, you hear the presupposition behind the sarcasm. You can hear the prejudice tucked away in such an innocuous joke.  In the end, the question “can anything good” come from those unlike us, gets turned around to be asked of us, “can anything good” come from within us? Is there anything good in us that is worth God’s grace and Christ’s compassion? 

Then there’s the story of Samuel’s call we’ll read from 1 Samuel 3:1-10.  The atmosphere is set well by the narrator telling us that “the word of the Lord was rare in those days, and visions weren’t widespread.”  God spoke to the boy Samuel when visions weren’t widespread, and spoke to Nathaniel through his prejudicial sarcasm of Jesus’s hometown.  Maybe, just maybe, God can speak to us too, in the middle of our chaos, dysfunction, social media-fueled polarization, and pandemic weariness.  Maybe some heaven can come down to this dumpy place after all, because we could sure use a clean-up and a little joy right now.  Let’s worship on this Sunday, the second after the Epiphany, and have an Epiphany of our own. 

 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 1/17/21 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 


Tearing Apart the Heavens

 

Happy Epiphany AND Baptism of the Lord Sunday! 

 

Welcome to worship everyone!  Yes, we’re combining a lot into worship, celebrating what would normally be two Sundays into one.  But this year, as we look at our world so differently, and as we see our need for the presence of Christ so clearly in light of recent events, it might make more sense than ever to combine these two Sundays.  This new year, while we are glad to have the old one over with, is still a year where we need the light of Christ to shine brightly within our human experience.  If we don’t see it after this week, then we’re really in trouble.  We need to find that light, we need to use it to keep our own spiritual chins up, but we also need it so we can point others to Christ.  We need to remember that Christ works in us as well as beyond us.  We’ll read from Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:4-11, as well as Matthew 2:1-12 on this important Sunday.  We’ll reaffirm our Baptisms and our commitment to God’s work of bringing all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:10)  

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 1/10/21 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. This Sunday’s SPYouth meeting will be an informational session on this year’s mission trip. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 
 


Living the Celebration

 
 

Merry Christmas! 

So, we’re wrapping up Christmas this week. The Christmas season officially ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, which is January 6th.  Some of you may have already packed everything away; some of you may still be sitting in the glow of the lights and tinsel. But the goal of this Sunday isn’t to shuffle all of our Christmas away, but rather to embrace the new community that we have become through the Christmas we’ve just celebrated.  Paul tells us in our scripture reading today from his letter to the Ephesians that this gift we have received, the gift of new life, is so that we might live for the praise of God’s glory.  

That’s what this worship is about – praising God. Yes, of course, every worship service includes praise, but God wants us to live a life of praise, living the celebration of Christmas every dayNow our circle is wider because of the company who have come and stayed, so we can share the celebration with more people!  

Maybe during your “different” COVID Christmas you built new connections with new people, maybe you were able to talk to them about Jesus… We’ve done this at the church this yearbecause  our service is on Youtube, we’ve been able to expand our community and reach new people in new ways, and there have been some exciting results!  The company that has stayed is the renewed spirit of Christ who dwells among us in new and dynamic ways, even as we fumbled and stumbled our way through last year 

In this new year, we should be embracing the new thing that God is doing in our midst. We celebrate the new community that we have become. Even if it is the same people, we are renewed and revived by our attention to the Advent and Christmas season. We didn’t simply endure all that went before; we are being transformed into a better, stronger church family in this new year because of it. 

What that transformation looks like is still being worked out, but as the new year gets started, let our hearts be glad as we live the celebration of Christmas with all the new company that has come and stayed, and the company of Christ that has dwelt among us in new ways this Christmas season 

 

 

 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 1/3/21 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday we are not offering in-person worship, but we will return to in-person worship next week, the 10th of January. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together. All the SPKidz ministries and iClub will not be meeting on 1/3/2020 

SPYouth and Praise New Generation are invited to come hang out on 1/03 from 3:00pm-4:00pm for a Christmas Concert Livestream on the big screen! Praise New Generation won’t have another practice session until 1/10/20. Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

Happy Christmas Sunday!  Sunday’s worship will be in partnership with the Campus ministries of the Florida Annual Conference.  There are 12 campus ministries at college campuses throughout the state of Florida, and they help to extend the ministry of the local church to the college campus so that kids who leave youth groups and head to college can still find a place to grow their faith with a Wesleyan foundation.

Each of these campus ministries are called “Wesley Foundations,” and you can find them all over the country at different colleges and universities.  The ministry of the Wesley foundation is so important to countless college students who are trying to find their faith in an adult world as they leave home to head to college.  

It’s also personal to me, you see, way back in the previous millennium, I was a college freshmen at the University of Alabama.  By going to school there, I had moved closer to my dad’s family, but I was over 500 miles away from all my high school friends and church family.  Since I had grown up in the Episcopal Church, I tried their campus ministry but just didn’t feel like I fit in.  My roommate was randomly assigned to me at the beginning of the school year, and as we got to know each other and he found out I wasn’t having much luck finding a church, he invited me to the Wesley Foundation, where he went.  They had a dinner on Thursday night that was free for anyone who came for the first time.  Honestly, I was really tired of eating out of the dining hall and my dorm room microwave.  So I fell for the hook.

He was United Methodist, and while I had no idea what that was, I decided I would give it a try.  That was 21 years ago this Fall.  The Wesley Foundation at the University of Alabama is also where Heather and I met, and where I found a place to really search out this call to ministry I had been hearing.  So for those of you in high school now, especially if you’re close to graduating and heading off to college, know that there is an extension of St. Paul’s there for you.  It’s a place to continue to explore your faith in a more serious way as you grow into a young adult.  I hope you enjoy this special worship service today led by our Campus ministries of the Florida Conference.

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 12/27/20 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend! 

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We’ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary, starting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the month. This Sunday will be our last in-person worship for the year. We will continue to meet on YouTube on 12/27 and 1/3, but won’t be offering in-person worship until 1/10/21.

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together. iClub won’t be meeting this week (12/20), but join both iClub and SPKidz for a fun PJ party on 12/27/20 at 9:00am.

SPYouth and Praise New Generation are invited to come hang out on 1/03 from 3:00pm-4:00pm for a Christmas Concert Livestream on the big screen! Praise New Generation won’t have another practice session until 1/10/20. Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Waiting on the Threshold

 

Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent! 

It’s almost Christmas. We hit what rocket scientists call Max-Q somewhere around this last week before the day itself. We run on overload or we find a little bit of magic, a little miracle working to make it all come out the way we hope and pray that it will. Those seem to be our choices in this season, don’t they? Overwhelmed or by the skin of our teeth.  Why? Because it is Christmas. 

It’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, and we are on the threshold of a new world. Never mind the fact that we’ve been on this threshold for over two thousand years. We are standing on the brink. We need to proclaim what is on the other side.  What does it mean for Christ to take up residence in our world?  What did it mean then, and what does it mean now?   

That’s what even the casual church-goer is asking as we get close to the celebrations of this Sunday and Christmas Eve.  The problem is, people come with their answers too.  And their answer is often “not much.” It doesn’t mean much, except in romantic holiday movies and sappy cards in the mail.  But this is your chance, our chance as a church, to tell a different story.  This is our chance to tell the story of a life with Christ that changes everything.  This is our chance to remind everyone that while we stand on the threshold of a new world, there is also another One standing on our threshold, waiting for us to open the door. 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 12/20/20 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!   

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We‘ve launched our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuarystarting at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building, and communion elements will be provided as you enter the sanctuary to worship on the first Sunday of the monthThis Sunday will be our last in-person worship for the year. We will continue to meet on YouTube on 12/27 and 1/3, but won’t be offering in-person worship until 1/10/21. 

Our Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together. iClub won’t be meeting this week (12/20), but join both iClub and SPKidz for a fun PJ party on 12/27/20 at 9:00am. 

Praise New Generation is not meeting this week and won’t have another practice session until 1/10/20. Our SPYouth are planning on caroling this Sunday evening (or indoor plans if it rains) from 6pm-8pm. This will be their last meeting of 2020! Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While in-person office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.