HOUSTON—Delegates attending the 64th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod learned about a Florida congregation’s outreach efforts. The efforts have revitalized the church’s mission and ministry. Our Savior Lutheran Church, Plantation, Fla., was recognized for its work, which flows from its vision statement: “Serving Christ — Serving Others — Changing Lives.”
Our Savior’s pastor, Rev. Edwin J. Nicklas, spoke to the convention, which is meeting July 10-17 at the George R. Brown Convention Center under the theme “ONE People—Forgiven.” Among the approximately 3,000 participants are some 1,200 clergy and lay voting delegates.
The congregation participates in a cooperative feeding program, takes its music ministry to local nursing homes, and mentors students at a local school, Mirror Lake Elementary. Dr. Thomas R. Zehnder, interim executive director of the LCMS Board for Mission Services, introduced Nicklas to the convention.
“I’m not the person that should be here,” Nicklas said. “It’s the people of Our Savior Lutheran Church and School that should be here.”
Nicklas explained that the congregation began with a community assessment, asking 300 people if they had heard of the congregation and its school. Nicklas said not one person answered yes, despite the congregation’s 49-year history on a heavily traveled road in Plantation. “That was shocking to us. We knew we needed to do something different,” he told the convention.
Because of members’ work at Mirror Lake, the feeding program and the congregation’s outreach to area nursing homes, Nicklas said members now tell success stories at weekly services “about the differences we’ve made by serving others.”
Nicklas told of his own experience at Mirror Lake, mentoring a third-grade boy who has been shuttled between reluctant parents. “Jonathan and I meet every Thursday. When I get to his class, he’s sitting by the door waiting for me,” Nicklas said. “He says, ‘You’re the only one who cares about me.’”
He also spoke about a Jewish school employee who has expressed an interest in the congregation because of its mentoring work. Also, students have written letters of appreciation to the congregation, expressing thanks for its involvement at the school.
“I have only been here since November and to walk into a school and find over 50 mentors was overwhelming,” said Cindy Dean, Mirror Lake principal, in a video presentation shown to delegates. “I can’t imagine having a school without them. They come from the community with all of this love, and they give the children love.”
Dean said the students talk frequently about their mentors. “Knowing that there’s someone there motivates the children and helps them to succeed,” Dean added.
“You can see why we’re excited about what has happened to our ministry as we reach out into the community,” Nicklas said. “If we at Our Savior can do it, so can all of you.”
Posted July 12, 2010