Two new pastors are on the way. The last week of August Pastor Selle traveled to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO to participate in the orientation of two new students who are beginning their formal theological studies leading to ordination into the pastoral office of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Herminio Pagan, Messiah Lutheran Church, Naples, and Saint Luc Charelus, Haitian Immokalee Lutheran Church both made their first visit to the seminary campus. They joined dozens of other first year students from all across the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Laos, Sudan and even Mongolia. This is a four year program of study. What an inspirational thing to see people from across the globe with such joy and dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our circuit now has three students studying for the pastoral office at Concordia Seminary. Andre Mezilus is now a vicar and is in his third year of studying in the Ethnic Immmigrant Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary.
Quinceañera, Desiree Martinez, beams next to her father, Enrique, during her coming out party in North Fort Myers. Latin American girls often celebrate their fifteenth birthday (16th in Puerto Rico) with family and friends with an elaborate party. Traditionally, the Quinceañera marks a turning point in a young woman’s life when she is allowed to date boys, go on outings with friends, be allowed a degree of greater independence, etc. Since Pastor Selle baptized Desiree when she was seven years old, he was invited to consecrate the event with both Word and prayer. A common theological theme at such an event is that the young woman is now at an age when she is to live out her baptismal covenant with God as an adult woman, no longer as a child under the tutelage of her parents.
On August 7th, Amigos en Cristo Lutheran Church in Bonita Springs held a Family Festival after worship services. It was a special occasion to invite friends and family to church. The festival featured live music, children’s water park activities, food, dancing, and games. Families could also enroll in our Marriage Enrichment Program, first communion classes and baptism instruction for children.
In order to maintain high standards of financial integrity, our Amigos ministry maintains a standing Financial Review Committee. The committee:
- establishes and periodically reviews our financial investment policy;
- assumes responsibility for oversight of the annual audit, review, or compilation of our financial statements;
- is responsible for the selection of an independent accountant; and
- investigates any reported violation of our employee policies.
Members of the committee are (pictured left to right) Pat O’Donnell, (owner of O’Donnell Landscapes, board member of Amigos en Cristo and former chairperson of the United Way of Lee County Campaign Drive); Tom Cioper (Former president of Zion Lutheran Church, Fort Myers and retired Major Account Manager of Motorola Semiconductors); and Denny Brown (retired CFO/CEO of Owens Illinois Latin American Division, former volunteer Financial Consultant for Amigos Center and long time community volunteer).
Andre Mezilus, our Mission Developer for Haitians in Immokalee, received his vicarage assignment from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod on July 20, 2011. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, issued Andre his vicarage assignment during a special service at the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus located on the seminary campus. Four other Ethic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) students received their divine calls during the same service. Andre has successfully completed 11 of the 16 EIIT courses required to graduate. Upon graduation, Andre will receive his Theological Diploma from Concordia Seminary, thus making him eligible for a divine call into the ministry of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Recently retired LCMS pastor Steve Hess began serving as Andre’s mentor during this past summer semester.
As part of our Amigos en Cristo pastoral staff, Andre is a key person in our vision to establish three Haitian Lutheran Churches in Southwest Florida by the year 2013. We envision these churches to be in Immokalee, Naples and Fort Myers. Also key to our vision is our second Haitian worker, Saint Luc Charelus. Saint Luc begins his theological studies with the Ethic Immigrant Institute of Theology on August 30, 2011. His mentor will be Rev. Richard Browning, Hope Lutheran Church, Bonita Springs, FL. A grant from the Zimmer Family Foundation of Sarasota, FL is underwriting a portion of the theological studies of Andre and Saint Luc.
Thank you to a very generous mission group from Restoration Church in Naples for your dedicated efforts last weekend! We are so grateful for your time, energy, support and prayer towards our mission in Immokalee.
Thirty children participated in the first day of our week long Immokalee Vacation Bible School. Under the direction of Grace Lutheran Church of Naples, Director of Christian Education, Kami Jo, and her group of volunteers, the children enjoyed play time outdoors, Bible Stories about Moses, crafts, songs and snacks. According to Pastor Selle, this VBS helps us proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in a relevant and understandable way to the Hispanic and Haitian children who live in Immokalee. We are very thankful for Kami Jo and the people of Grace Lutheran for sharing their time and talent with us. Our ministry is largely volunteer driven and we count heavily on the dedication and service of people like Kami Jo to complete our mission.
Father’s Day was made special for the men of our church with just a little extra effort. Our Immokalee Hispanic mission hosted an after Sunday Service gathering with food, laughter, our Seeds of Hope video and some vision casting by Pastor Selle. Our Bonita Springs Hispanic congregation gathered after church service for a all-time favorite ice cream social.
This morning we had thirteen students here in Immokalee to learn English. Nine of them were learning to write and speak out loud while three of them were on the computer. It was AWESOME!