Category Archives: Pastor’s Blog

No Time Like the Present

The afterglow of a strong time of serving our Lord together can be especially warming. Each year I hear stories from folk about our Health and Safety Fair and other large serving events that stir my heart. This year I have heard from several youth about their experiences over the summer with Matthew, Monday, Mission, Meal [not sure if that’s the exact name, but you know what I mean].

The excitement and exhaustion that comes from serving together, worshiping together, being together in Christ our Lord inspires us all.

What about asking someone to be a part of it all with you…us? 

So many opportunities in the months ahead! Just check the newsletter. Special worship times together as we Pray Around the Cross September 13. Women, join other women in retreat September 30. Be a part of the fun when we ‘Guess’ Who’s Coming to Dinner October 7.

October 31 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing 95 Theses to the church door—what we observe as the beginning of the Reformation. In adult learning times on Wednesdays and Sundays, we are witnessing how this reformation took more than Luther. Courageous individuals from many different countries called for change. Come see!

Our middle school youth will be learning more about reformation in retreat with youth from all over the Synod later in October.

All of these opportunities and many more [from choirs to quilt tying to…] are not just for those who call themselves members of PoP. They are for everyone, just like worship on Sunday morning – for everyone. Bring a friend. Tell others about how we are trying to live as God’s people in Christ. As our Lord’s friends said to their friends about Jesus, “Come and see!”

Welcome, Nicole! PoP’s Faith Formation Intern

We are excited to have Nicole Gonzalez joining us this summer as our Faith Formation Intern. Throughout the summer, she will be spending time with our youth and families. Nicole arrived this week and will be with us through the end of July. Below are a few words of introduction from her:

Hello! My name is Nicole Gonzalez.  This May I will be graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) where I spent the last four years studying Mathematics. I was also very involved in the Lutheran Campus Ministry at UNC during my time there, which provided me with a community that I would not be the same without! My leadership in this group, in addition to working at summer camp, helped me realize how passionate I am about faith formation and kids! A few of my other favorite things include Harry Potter, coffee, reading, and music. I am looking forward to spending the summer discerning my own call to ministry with your congregation! I can’t wait to meet you soon!

A Month of Easter: The Stage for What’s to Come

With Pentecost not coming until June 4, May brings us a month of Easter.  Tracing the movement of our Lord and his followers through Holy Week always opens us to the Spirit’s inspiration.

And we come away with so many memories as well – an archway of palms for procession; everything solemnly being removed from the chancel; the large cross laid across the steps and the slowly dimming light; entering that darkened place with handheld candles and then celebrating the baptism of our newest little sister; brass, timpani and joyful anthems for Easter Sunday. What a week!

Many folk have asked me about the busiest season being over, as in, “now what do you do?” Frankly, now we enter a different “busy.”  There are graduations for some of our youth and the end of school for all.

Here at the church our summer intern arrives, and there’s the golf tournament for youth scholarships and fun. We will observe Prayer around the Cross once again and hold another Inquirers’ Class.

But May serves as a staging month for what’s coming. Vacation Bible School, with all of the singing, learning, crafts, games and fun arrives in June.  We need to get ready! We are already looking to August and our Health and Safety Fair.

The staff has already begun planning for 2017-18. We also will be firing up some task groups for planning adult learning opportunities and our stewardship emphasis. And, finally, we will be looking toward the fall as we observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in October.

Before we pat ourselves on the back for being so busy, remember May is a month of Easter. Undergirding all that we do, inspiring all that we are and hope to be is the reality that God has raised our Lord, Jesus the Christ, from death to life for all the world. Sure, we are busy. But this is May…Easter – a time to ponder God’s blessed gift for us. A time for shouting an age-old greeting:

“Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

Prayer Around the Cross: May 10th

Wednesday Evening, May 10th at 7:07pm

This year in the fall and winter we have experienced a unique time of quiet prayer together as a close to our Wednesday evening. Before Wednesdays Together takes a break this spring, let us join in prayer once again after our meal and classes.

Each day wherever we are, we offer to God our prayers. When we are together in worship on Sundays, we lift our voices in prayers and praises, making a joyful noise to the Lord even as scripture encourages us.

Sometimes it may be good for us to experience prayers and praises another way. With all of the harsh noise all around us and within, times together listening in the evening stillness can surely inspire our spirits.

Prayer Around the Cross is a time of prayer, scripture reading, song and silence.  In this 20-minute worship time, we will gather around an illuminated cross, hear brief passages, pray aloud and in our hearts and experience the silence of prayerful moments with sisters and brothers in Christ.

September 18th: The Official Dedication of The Learning Center

The Learning Center

The official dedication of our new Learning Center will take place on September 18, 2016!

Each week is a time of worship and celebration. Christ is risen indeed! But there are other moments when we are blessed to continue the prayers of thanksgiving in a unique way.

On Sunday, September 18 we will worship at only one time: 10AM.  Immediately following worship, we will have a brief dedicatory event for our new Learning Center. The dedication will take place inside the sanctuary due to the heat. We have invited guests to join our celebration: neighbors, our contractor, our architect, city officials, leaders of groups who meet here and others.

RSVP for the Luncheon & Celebration!

Following the dedication, we will adjourn. Some may want to join us as we go to the Learning Center for prayers with water from the baptismal font, even as we did at the groundbreaking. There will be an opportunity for us to write our own prayers in a special way at the door of the Learning Center.

You may also choose immediately after our time in the sanctuary to go to the Parish Hall where there will be a celebratory luncheon.

The God of grace and mercy has blessed us in so many ways. Now is a time for celebration and thanksgiving. What a blessed day!

Read past news updates about the new Learning Center here!

-Pastor Joe-

Let’s Take it to Facebook: Faith & Conversation

“I’d like to read something about faith and talk about it with someone, but I just don’t have time!” In our busy world, time is a precious commodity. 


PoPFBWell, here’s your opportunity. Starting in October we are going to read a book together and discuss it—via Facebook!

From October 3rd to November 13th, we will be reading Pr. Frank Honeycutt’s interesting little book, “Sanctified Living.” It is a brief paperback filled with stories of his ministry and insights from scripture and other readings. We Lutheran Christians know how to plumb the depths of our Lord’s forgiving work and abundant grace. But what about actually LIVING that God-given faith? How do we do that?


  1. Join us weekly on PoP’s Facebook page. Invite a friend or two!
  2. Pr. Joe will stir up the discussion as our conversation moderator.
  3. Weigh in with responses and questions of your own!
  4. Repeat each week!

Would you like a copy of the book? Call the Church Office (727.585.9969), sign up on Sunday’s attendance card, or let us know on Facebook – we’ll order one for you! You can also find the book at Amazon or other online stores.

If you’d like to be part of this unusual book read, simply like PoP on Facebook and follow the discussion there. Let’s have a faith-filled conversation from wherever you are!

If you would like to come to a one-hour face-to-face discussion group [you don’t have to if you don’t want to], we’ll do that only twice: after Sunday 11am worship on October 23rd & November 13th. We will share a light lunch and jump right into conversation.

New Faces & Staff at PoP

00_KathyMeet Kathy, Parish Bookkeeper

Born in Tampa, Kathy is a second generation Florida native. She attended Plant High School, then received a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting from the University of South Florida.

Kathy spent more than 15 years of her accounting career in the Medicare industry. Having a passion for working with faith organizations, she has spent the past 5 years in volunteer and paid church accounting positions. Kathy has one grown daughter who is a student in Gainesville. She enjoys cooking, reading and getting together with family and friends.

00_BernaMeet Bernadette, Parish Secretary

Since her move from the Philippines in 2012, Bernadette has been actively involved with non-profit organizations in south Florida. Her professional background includes administrative and executive assistance, project management and radio show production.

Bernadette is currently working on her Business Administration degree. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach and motorcycle riding with her husband.

Response to Orlando Shooting: Close to Home

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ at Prince of Peace,

Monday morning comes, and we are left speechless.  In the dark of night, in the noisy clamor of the early Sunday morning hours, as a nightclub announces “last call,” a man commits the most deadly round of carnage in this country’s history.

Sure, we have experienced bombings and hijackings that have taken many lives, destroyed dreams and shocked us into permanent changes in our travelling habits.  Images forever remain in our memories.  Temporary memorials have been replaced by permanent places of remembrance, extravagant and simple.

But now after multiple shootings—from an army base to high schools, a small company holiday party to an elementary school and so many more—it has now for us come closer to home.  A nightclub in one of America’s “playgrounds,” Orlando.  Near home.

Frankly, as loved ones and sirens wail, brave law enforcement personnel give their accounts of what and how and when; as we listen to our leaders express condolences yet again and political candidates grope ham-handedly for words that will put them in the best light under such circumstances, we are bereft, numbed by the pain, frustration and helplessness of it all.  We all grieve.

What is the price of freedom?  Perhaps, we are looking at it.  How can our freedoms be tailored to combat such violent outbursts by those who disagree with others leading to anger and then hatred and then the planning and execution of outrageous horrors as we see in an Orlando night club?

We have no answers, no illuminated way through this morass.

What we believe is that leaders have responsibilities.  To seek wise counsel; to be assertive and yet measured; calculating and at times spontaneous; to initiate new approaches and to take what is best of the old ones.

Now is not the time to fan flames of prejudice or blame, political gamesmanship or ego.  But it is the time to recognize again where our unity lies.  Christ Jesus.

We are a congregation of a denomination that is not unlike other groups of Christians in this country and around the world.  Our history as God’s people in Christ spills over with examples in scripture.  We have our differences.

We are going to see and hear all manner of theories pointing out why this tragedy happened.  And we are going to be tempted to stake out our positions, if we are not already fixed like concrete in one already.  Often, we will listen only to commentators who confirm our thinking, as they declare that the heart of the matter is:

  • Islam/radical “jihadists” around the world
  • Hatred of folk in the LBGT community
  • Easily obtained firearms/our Constitution’s Second Amendment
  • Lax immigration laws
  • The disparity among the “haves” and “have nots”
  • A “do-nothing” government
  • Leaders more interested in their own personal interests
  • An unwillingness to let the government do what it needs to do to protect us

We are going to disagree on many things.  In fact, we feel quite certain we already do.  What we must insist upon, however, is that we continue to walk together in the sweet and yet demanding assurance that “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, these is no longer male or female; for all are one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:27-28]

Nothing can change that oneness.  If we decide to live outside that oneness, we are choosing to go against the One in whose name we have been baptized.   In Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth, we worship One who insisted on welcoming the hated and healing the foreigners.  He loved his friends even when they turned on him.  And still he commands them, us, to love as he has loved—even to death.

So what now are we willing to do or not do?  What position that we so carefully have staked out on our “issues” are we willing to re-visit?  What are we willing to give or to give up?  Whom are we willing to befriend and walk with?

Yes, the issues are so complex, demanding much more than sound bites and bumper stickers.  But no matter what we may do, we are first God’s own people, baptized into the living Christ.  And by virtue of that precious gift, we are inextricably bound with brothers and sisters on every side of each issue and boundary all over the world.

So let us march or meet or act or gather for prayer, whatever action we may choose, knowing that are we always are first—one in Christ Jesus.

In God’s great love,
Pr. Joe and Pr. Adam

The Learning Center Dedication Set for Fall 2016!

The Learning Center

The official dedication of our new Learning Center will take place in the Fall of 2016! We hope to have the certificate of occupancy from the City of Largo by the end of April. However, because the 2015-16 school year ends in early June, moving would not be wise. Nor would it be possible to move the furniture and materials and to prepare for Vacation Bible School by June 20.

Our Preschool has a summer camp for children throughout the summer, so when we make the move, we will need to do it very quickly. The moving date from what will be the Community Outreach Center (COC) will be Friday-Sunday, July 8-10. You will hear more about that project later.

The Learning CenterAnd speaking of later, the dedication of the Learning Center will be a day of celebration for us and, we hope, for the whole community. In order to prepare for a celebratory day, we need time to ensure that our rooms and hallways are complete with all bulletin boards and white boards, screens, cubbies and much more. We also need to prepare materials and extend invitations to all our friends to join us for this day.

Once details are finalized we will publish details. Along the way if you want to walk through to see the progress, there will be opportunities. Please do so. God has indeed blessed us with so many opportunities to serve in the name of Christ. The future (and to be sure, the Lord is in the future) will bring many more. Let us pray and open ourselves to the Spirit’s leading.

-Pastor Joe-