Dear Friends in Christ,
A letter from Pastor Nicole Martin, pastor of Messiah, Panama City:
In 2018, Messiah Lutheran stepped relevantly into a more perfect story. A Perfect Storm. You might call it Michael, Hurricane Michael, but we call it Hope. It is hard to imagine a perfect storm as a period of transition, but it is our truth, and we have learned to embrace who we are because of it.
Interestingly enough, we could have stopped being church. We could have stopped growing. We could have stopped improving. But we did not! We hung on, and in the last 20 months we have made strides that have shifted us from survival to dreaming and from dreaming to action. We dare to see possibilities in new ways guided by God’s vision for us to be a worship & renewal community, where people can participate in authentic encounters with God for healing, restoration, and reconciliation. We take seriously our mission to joyfully share Christ’s love and grace with people, and we seek to step into the call of God by opening our doors to new friends and community partnerships. We understand that life is always in transition, and we are called to create space to journey with others as they encounter the struggles and joys that are part of their journeys. It is from this place, we dream.
What do we dream about? Laughter, health, and robust fellowship between people of all ages and backgrounds. We dream about people coming together for mutual consolation, care, and celebration. We dream of being a place of refuge for those in need and a place for spiritual renewal with God. And after working these years to rebuild our church, we are looking even more to impact our local community.
Our playground, as necessary evangelism tool, was damaged by Michael. Therefore, an important part of our congregation’s infrastructure of hospitality to young people and families was wounded. We are hoping that, with your help, the MP100 Grant can help us heal it, not just to replace what was there, but to make what seems to be “just a playground” become an even more significant space for community hospitality and spiritual renewal.
What do we envision? “Play and Pray Adventures”
Moved by our desire to create space for encounters with God, we see not just a playground, but an opportunity to connect play to God through moving prayer. This philosophy extends past the original boundaries of a playground to include landscaping that creates meditation stations and a prayer walking path.
Imagine a traditional playground, but inside are hidden treasures. Each hidden treasure is a moment that invites the player to stop and consider how their play is a gift from God.
- A PVC pipe xylophone brightly colored to attract the child’s eye with a plaque next to it that reads, “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:5)
- A circle on the ground, that once you step into it, your response is to do nothing but dance like David danced. A plaque tells the story of David dancing and quotes from Psalm 150, “Praise God with timbrel and dance.”
- A path of steppingstones, but on each stone is an image that invites the stepper to stop and say a prayer. Maybe one stone is a picture of the earth and an invitation to pray for creation. Maybe one stone is a picture of bread, and the invitation is to pray for our daily bread.
- A covered picnic table area with parents gathered under the shade, for fellowship and parents walking the “play and pray adventure ground’ teaching their child.
So many possibilities, but we need your help to make this dream live. Where do we begin?
First, community partnerships. Through Rebuild Bay we have been able to secure 30-40 volunteers that will help us take down parts of the old playground, clean and restore what we believe to be salvageable, remove bushes and weeds, and address issues with the irrigation system. As the project continues, we will have extra labor support from R.E.T.I., as needed.
Second, grant funds. We would like to install new updated playground equipment, refresh the old equipment with paint, repair the fence, and landscape the grounds for prayer stations and a prayer path. We need signage to direct the prayer moments and to direct persons to the playground, office, sanctuary, etc.
As a church we currently have $4,000 designated for this project, with the ability to spend up to another $5,000 for a total contribution of $9,000 by the congregation. We are asking for your generous support by through MP100 gifts to match dollar for dollar our $9,000.
With any additional help from the MP100 grant, we know our vision of hospitality in the form of “Play and Pray Adventures” will be a gift to the whole community as we build a new spiritual center for the people of Panama City.
Thank you for considering our request. For video support please go to: https://vimeo.com/816398660
Rev. Nicole Martin, Pastor, Messiah Lutheran Church, Panama City, Florida.
Your Mission Partner 100 gift will help Messiah in encouraging God’s people, strengthening faith, and sharing the love of Jesus Christ with all! We thank you for your generous gift.
Mission Partner 100 (MP100) FAQs
What is MP100?
MP100 is a synod campaign that invites donors to support specific projects for congregations designated by the Office of the Bishop. MP100 recipients are often congregations that have a specific construction or facility need related to their ministry priorities and vision for mission. The vision of MP100 is that if a large group of donors contribute $100 each, the funding available for specific projects increases. MP100 is an example of how we can be ‘church together for the sake of the world’ as the Florida-Bahamas Synod.
How do I contribute?
You can send in a donation to the synod office designated for “MP100”. You can also designate your electronic gift for MP100 through the “Give Now” link on the home page of the web site.
How are recipients chosen?
Each year, MP100 recipients are chosen in consultation between the Directors for Evangelical Mission and the Bishop. The recipient (congregation) is invited to submit a brief description of the target project that is then shared with the donor list.
How do I get onto the donor list?
You may send a note to Yuliet Garcia, Administrative Assistant to the DEMs (firstname.lastname@example.org), to request an MP100 letter. When you make a donation to MP100, you are automatically added to the list for following years.
Over the years, Mission Partners 100 program has been able to make a difference in our congregations and new developments of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. Over the last two years these congregations have benefitted from this wonderful program, and a total of $41,239.50 has been raised:
- Stephen Lutheran Church, Pompano Beach – New church sign.
- St. Paul Lutheran Church, Pensacola – New church sign.
- St. John’s Lutheran Church, Jacksonville – Repairing of the facilities & expansion of the food pantry.
- Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Tampa – Repair & renovation of main entrance and bathrooms.
- The Community, ELCA, Babcock Ranch – Worshipping community building.
Many Ways to Give
First, please give your prayer support, and then select which option works best for you.
Over the years Mission Partners 100 has expanded to include opportunities to give in addition to the central and primary $100 gift for those looking to empower mission development further in special circumstances called Mission Partners Plus.
Through Mission Partners Plus you can provide a second $100 gift:
- To the Mission Partner 100 current appeal!
- Other Developing Ministries
- For Multi-Cultural Development
Go to https://fbsynod.com/ and click “Give Now!”. Designate your gift to one of the 3 MP100 categories:
- MP100 Current Appeal (provides support for specific project identified)
- MP100 Multicultural Development (provides support for any multicultural development ministry)
- MP100 Mission Development (provides support for any mission development ministry)
SPREAD the word about MP100 in your congregation: Speakers are available to come to your congregation and tell the Mission Partners 100 story and invite individuals from your congregation to become partners. E-mail Yuliet Garcia at email@example.com about your interest to schedule.