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Our Story, for His Glory

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

Every Church is full of people with special stories... they are the people who make our congregation who we are. Have you ever wondered about that quiet woman that sat on the third pew who wears those beautiful hats? What about that man who always wears a bow tie?  Here, you will meet some of our special members who have a story to tell. We will be adding a story once a month.

January 2024

We All Care About Each Other

Becky Locklar came to St. Andrew in 2009 with her family. Being a single mother with two sets of toddler twins and a pre-teen daughter, Becky was drawn to St. Andrew by the Christian Academy but soon discovered that she had found a forever family.

Having been raised in the Catholic church and attending Catholic school, Becky knew the importance of including God in raising children. The St. Andrew Academy was not the only attraction for Becky; St. Andrew also offered children and youth programs to supplement their education and her family became more and more involved.

Becky said she would never leave St. Andrew because the church is her family.  She feels supported by the people here and believes that she can depend on the people of St. Andrew; “even if you’re having a bad day, everyone makes you feel better.  We all care about each other.”

Becky’s five children have since grown up to be compassionate and responsible adults and for this she is highly respected. When asked if she had any advice for other young mothers, she said that communication is key and that she was always honest with her children, never keeping secrets from them. Becky said that she tries to never use the word “disappointed.” If she ever had to use that word, her children knew they were in big trouble. She wanted her children to understand responsibility, commitment and respect; she never used words as punishment.

Becky said she would never leave St. Andrew and for that we are all blessed.

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Becky Locklar

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August 2022

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Paul Culler is a newlywed at 89 years old. He is also an inventor with 10 patents. He continues to work on improving a highly efficient wastewater system he developed. “I love membranes!” he declared. ​ Paul and his late wife were long time Lutherans from Wycoff, New Jersey. Paul attended eight churches throughout his lifetime. He desired to live a full Christian life in service to others. It was also important to Paul to remain involved in a Lutheran Church. ​ He then met Randy Kennedy, an aspiring minister. Paul hired him to take on several home remodeling projects. Paul and Randy bonded. After Pastor Randy was called as the senior pastor of St. Andrew, Paul decided to give the community a try. Paul says Pastor Randy is truly a man of God. ​ But there is more to the story. Today Paul says, “If Pastor Randy were to leave, and I hope he doesn’t, I would stay at St. Andrew.” Paul explains that the new friends he found at St. Andrew have changed his life. St. Andrew provides him with the “raw material” to serve God. ​ One Sunday a friend from St. Andrew took Paul to lunch at a nearby restaurant after Sunday services. Paul was seated next to Thelma. Unbelievably, they were both from the same town of Mansfield, Ohio. They talked. One thing led to another. Soon they were married at St. Andrew. ​ Paul attributes his growing connection to God through St. Andrew being his church home. There are people in the congregation that need help. Paul and Thelma, both trained as Stephan Ministers, find fulfillment taking communion to people who can’t make it to church and providing guidance to others who could use a little help. Paul says, “Every day, I feel a little closer to God.  Every day, sanctification is working on me.”

October 2022

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Cindy and her husband were from Baltimore, Maryland.  Cindy was very active in her church and loved being with fellow Christians and worshipping the Lord.  It was important for her to resume her activities and attendance in the church once she retired and moved to Florida.  ​ Cindy was on a cruise chat-line when she struck up a friendship with a woman who, as it turned out, was a fellow Christian and was involved in St. Andrew Lutheran Church.  Cindy feels that it was divine intervention that she met this woman and it was through her that Cindy moved to Port St. Lucie and began worshipping at St. Andrew and ultimately joined. ​ Cindy was on the Nominating Committee for Pastor Randy and stated that it was the most gratifying church project she was involved in.  She loves his enthusiasm and dedication to the Lord.  She says of Pastor Randy, “He is the best.” It was Pastor Randy and the friendly people who were the motivating factors for her continuing attendance and involvement here.  She has been the President of the ELCA’s Women’s ministry for 10 years at St. Andrew and is active in many other ways.  As she says, “when you are involved in church, you are on 24-hour call.”  She is self-motivated and enjoys every moment.   She says that coming to St. Andrew was one of the best decisions of her life. 

December 2022

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Donna Timmons Ortiz is an accomplished musician with a Bachelors and Masters degree from Julliard School of Music and a doctorate from George Mason University. She was excited to offer her talents at St. Andrew to play music for the youth of the church. That turned out to be a greater blessing than she could imagine. ​ After 30 years of devoting herself to her career and caring for her parents, Donna met Jaime who played the guitar in the Praise Band at St. Andrew and is now her husband.  “What I have with Jaime, I never knew before.  God led me to this.” ​ Growing up, Donna attended a Lutheran church in Long Island, New York but stopped attending church regularly once she went to college. She moved to Port St. Lucie in 2015 to be near her parents. In 2017 Donna’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Near the time of her mother’s death, Donna had a profound spiritual experience where the Spirit brought her mother’s soul to her one night in bed before she went to sleep. “I felt a definite touch on my arm followed by a series of pulsations going up my arm. I said “I’m okay, Mom. I will be all right. I will see you again some time.” Then the sensations stopped. It was not much more than a minute since Donna laid down. Her mother passed 15 hours later. ​ Donna began attending St. Andrew after Pastor Randy had been installed as Pastor.  “After hearing him preach, she shared, I just knew this was the place for me.” “Before coming to St. Andrew, I had never heard people saying “I have a church family. This really is!  I feel that.”

September 2022

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Bill Dake's dad was instrumental in promoting his love of the arts.  He and his family lived in Washington, D.C. where plays, operas and concerts and other cultural events were readily available to them.  Later in his early years he moved with his family to Ft. Pierce, Florida where he completed his schooling.  Bill's love for the organ and sacred choral music was awakened when his dad, who was Episcopalian, often took him to the National Cathedral in Washington for services and sacred concerts.  His mother was a United Methodist. Bill attended both services and developed a rich passion for the varying types of worship styles. As Bill grew into adulthood, he felt he was missing the real spiritual meaning for the church.  He was enamored with all the trappings and the grand music. His mom invited him to join her at a Billy Graham revival in Miami. She had seen Rev. Graham on numerous occasions during her life in Washington.   At first Bill was hesitant to go but knew how important it was to his mom.  She was determined that he understand more fully the true meaning behind being spiritually right with God. The stadium altar call led Bill to Christ as the choir sang “Just as I Am”.   His college education led to degrees in Humanities and Music Education. He felt a calling to teach young people while continuing his church music passion.  After college Bill accepted high school choral teaching positions in Bartow and Tampa, Florida, Bill returned home to accept the choral position at Westwood High School in Ft. Pierce.  He was also hired as music director at First Baptist Church in Ft. Pierce.  After successfully serving as choir director, he moved on to an open position at St. Andrew Lutheran Church.   Over the years Bill has been blessed to play the organs at the Crystal Cathedral (Christ Cathedral) in California, Central Lutheran in Minneapolis, Riverside Church in New York City, First Presbyterian Church in Tampa, and the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale.  After 39 years Bill continues to serve St. Andrew. He attributes his longevity to many things including our church family, fellow musicians, outstanding staff, and the joy of spreading God’s ministry alongside Pastor Randy Kennedy.  Bill knows that music is ultimately from God, and when we sing or play our music for His glory, we are extending our gifts and talents as a dedication and offering to Him. Music is more than a study. It is the stewardship of a God-given skill and a means of giving back to He who has blessed us in many ways.

November 2022

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Growing up, in Washington, D.C., Lorraine Fasci was raised as a Catholic and attended parochial school. Her Grandmother was a major influence on her spiritual life and her faith in the Lord. ​ When she got older, she married and converted to Lutheranism. She was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Lake Park, FL where she became a Pre-K Sunday school teacher. ​ Many years later, she inherited and adopted 3 wonderful grandchildren. When they were young, she read children’s Bible stories and explained the true meaning behind religious holidays and they were very active in their close-knit community of West Hartford, CT. ​ After living in Northern California, she felt there was a very little “sense of community” there. And when she and her family moved to Port St. Lucie, she found herself in a similar situation and having to start all over again. Besides taking all the steps to settle in, there was still something missing. ​ As COVID restrictions began to ease, Lorraine and her family began to get back into the swing of things. It may have started with Scouts, but she has also been blessed with children that clamored for more spiritual growth. Though they visited several troops and churches that were closer to home, her children were drawn to St. Andrew where not only did they want to join Scouts but also wanted to attend church after meeting Pastor Randy. ​ The first sermon of the service that she and her family attended, and one of her favorites, was about God’s Plan for Us. The congregation was given a piece of paper with a list of 10 items, but it was blank! Most people would think to fill in those blanks, but as Pastor Randy continued his sermon, it became so profound as we can plan out our whole lives but end up somewhere else. Sometimes we forget, along the way, that we are here for a purpose. God’s Purpose. And we must learn to get out of our own way to make room for His Plan, not ours, to come to fruition. Ever since that day, Lorraine became a member of the congregation and attended the “Knowing Christ” class for a re-confirmation of her faith. She also heads the Scouting portion of our Youth Ministry, is a member of the Altar Guild and helps with our Brown Bag Lunch Ministry. Her children are just as active and are a part of the Altar Guild also and assist with services as Acolytes. They also help with BBLM, attend Youth Group, went to Camp Lutherock and are in their second year of confirmation class. ​ Lorraine and her family feel very blessed to be a part of St. Andrew. From day one, they were welcomed with open arms. Combine that with the tremendous amount of support and guidance they continue to receive, they are finally have a place to call Home and found their community they were so longing for. She cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings.

January 2023

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There are many interesting things about Jaime Alberto Ortiz-Munoz, who was born & raised in Bogota, Colombia. He hails from a family of actors, the most famous being his Uncle Carlos Muñoz, who was awarded the “1st Actor of the Century of Colombia”. Jaime himself has had training in acting, but it was God who led Jaime at age 4 to teach himself to read. At age 5, God then led Jaime to teach himself to play the guitar through playing by ear and being able to read articles and books about learning guitar. When Jaime first entered school (age 5), he was placed directly into second grade. Then by the age of 6, Jaime was singing and playing guitar at the same time. When it came to third grade, he was placed in a special school: Saint John Bosco Salesian College. Jaime comes from a large family and likes helping others. At age 7, Jaime loved singing in the well-known Colombian singing group “Viva La Gente” and continued doing so for 10-1/2 years. He likes working for the common cause to help others especially through performing music.

March 2023

Each of us has received a special gift, a Grace from God that has influenced us to share with others.  My gift, my Grace, my influence…was my mother.  I grew up in New York, in the “typical” Italian family, Church every Wednesday and Sunday, shortly followed by an early spaghetti and meatball dinner. After dinner we would clean up and then load the back seat of the Caddy with 4 big Tupperware of leftovers and a baggie of scraps and a ham bone from the previous night’s dinner.  Our first stop was to a man name Marty, who I thought at the time lived inside Shoprite, but he was homeless.  After sharing some food and laughs with Marty we would head over to the man and woman who “lived” inside Rickles with their dog, Buddy. This was my favorite stop, not just because of Buddy, but because after they gobbled up the spaghetti, my mom would always have a large art pad or canvas in her trunk, and we would spend some time painting or coloring in the parking lot- because the lady was an artist. Just before it got dark, we stopped by Uncle Bill’s and made sure he had a full belly, gave him a breathing treatment, and prepped his morning breakfast and meds. ​ When it was time for bed we prayed and counted our blessings.  When morning came, my mom would pack my lunch box.  2 sandwiches, 2 juice boxes, 2 fresh pieces of fruit and 2 snacks… just in case someone else was hungry or didn’t have enough to eat.  ​ As fall turned into winter and the cold became intolerable my mother had a hard time making our dinner visits, because she was very ill herself.  She worried most for Marty, and for Buddy and his humans, this was going to be a long winter for all of us.    ​ And it was, my mother was hospitalized once again for most of the winter and for the first time I questioned God, why would He make my mother so sick all the time…? ​ When my mom was finally discharged from the hospital and we were on our way home I had to ask, I had to know why God would do this to her, I was mad and confused.  So, I asked, and I could literally still hear my mother’s reply, it was so matter of fact.  She looked right at me and said, “Baby, God is the one who brings me home to you”.  My anger instantly lifted, it was a simple explanation, that made all the difference in the world to me.  With that my mother hugged me tightly and then said, “let’s stop at Bradley’s to pick up a winter jacket for Marty, it’s freezing!” St. Peter in his first epistle tells us, "Each one of you has received a special grace, so like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others."

February 2023

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As a young boy, Juan Hinojosa never forgot how in awe he was of a tall man named Deputy Battle the very first time he saw him. Deputy Battle was a substitute teacher in Juan’s class at school. Deputy Battle presented and carried himself in such an unforgettable way that Juan’s first impression of him lasted throughout the years! Juan dreamed of becoming a deputy, too, someday. Because God had a plan, the meeting with Deputy Battle was definitely meant guide young Juan down a specific path. Juan, the young boy, would never have imagined that in later years, he – Juan – would become Deputy Battle’s Sergeant! At about age 15, Jacinto Avarog – Juan’s cousin – was a deputy who sparked Juan’s interest in joining the Sheriff’s “Explorer Program.” Juan participated in the program for about three years. Later, Juan worked part-time in the Sheriff’s Office and was a member of the Cadet Program. By 2000, Juan became a Certified Deputy Sheriff, a job that gave him more ways to help people. As Deputy Sheriff, Juan found great satisfaction in the Field Training Office where he taught new deputies various ways to talk to people, which might include kindness and compassion when needed. It was about this time that Juan met Pastor Jim Weist who was the Chaplain at the Sheriff’s Office. Pastor Weist was also the Pastor of the Epiphany Lutheran Church. Juan was raised as a Catholic. Meeting Pastor Weist sparked Juan’s curiosity to visit other churches of different faiths. One day Juan visited St. Andrew Lutheran Church where he met Pastor Randy. Juan and his family attended the “Pizza with the Pastor” events following church services. Juan and his family felt welcomed and accepted by all they met. Juan says that it was then that he felt that his “Life Is Good.” He felt a sense of peace. Juan likes watching our St. Andrew youth members as they grow up here. St. Andrew Church gives Juan and his family a “sense of being part of the St. Andrew Church family.” As we approached the end of our conversation, Juan gave me (Donna Timmons) a “Peace Officer’s Prayer” medallion. Juan gives this medallion to most all of his deputies. This is his way of serving the Lord. One side says: “God will judge our enemies. We’ll arrange the meeting”. The other side has the following prayer “Oh, All Mighty God, watch over all policemen and law enforcement officers. Protect them from harm in the performance of their duty to stop crime, robberies, riots, and violence. Grant them your unending strength, and courage in their daily assignments. Dear God, protect these brave men and women. Grant them Your Almighty protection. Unite them safely with their families after duty has ended. Amen.” This prayer reflects the quality of humility, humbleness, and the character of the brave people who carry it. They are walking with God.

Dianne Maxam works tirelessly behind the scenes at St. Andrew. ​ Dianne, a dual citizen, fled London as a child with her parents near the end of World War II. Her mother was a war bride. Her father was a U.S. Army assistant to General Dwight Eisenhower. They headed to Detroit where her father had family. Dianne had a highly successful career at the Volkswagen headquarters in Detroit, eventually becoming the Administrative Assistant to the CFO. ​ While still in Michigan, she met Noel, her husband, on a blind date. Dianne and Noel eventually moved to Florida and, after some adventures in West Palm Beach and Hutchinson Island, they wound up in Port St. Lucie. They worshipped at Grace Lutheran Church when they needed a new church home. They gave St. Andrew a try. They were immediately welcomed by Pastor Dave. St. Andrew felt like home. Sadly, Noel got cancer. Pastor Dave provided much comfort to them before Noel passed. ​ Pastor Dave influenced Dianne’s life in another way. He asked her to pray about heading up the Grief Share Ministry. Dianne, after all, had more than her share of grief from losing family members. She hesitated. She wasn’t sure she was qualified. God spoke to her and told her this was the right thing to do. She followed Him.  She now has run the program six times. ​ It is satisfying work. What she hears most is people need to interact with others who have had similar experiences. They become like a small family. ​ With the arrival of Pastor Randy, Dianne’s life changed again. Pastor Randy asked her to run for Church Council. She had not seen that one coming. She prayed again and God again told her to say “yes.” Dianne is still serving on Church Council, a job she takes very seriously. She served two years as Vice President. ​ Dianne has worked quietly behind the scenes to take on tasks that might go unnoticed. She spent untold hours helping manage the church office after the passing of Mary Lou Carboneau. She organized the Church Directory, the Lutherock trip, cleaned out our long neglected Memorial Garden and more. ​ Dianne attributes her growing connection to God through Pastor Randy’s ministry and the St. Andrew community. “I pray and God tells me what to do.”

April  2023

Lisa Kennedy enjoys being a member of St. Andrew because she feels like part of a family where you matter. She was raised in the Catholic faith but her family eventually moved to a Methodist church where she felt that people could actually relate to each other. That is the feeling Lisa gets at St. Andrew.  She said that she feels like she is being “hugged by the community” which is a feeling she had not known until joining St. Andrew. Furthermore, Lisa believes that the Sunday messages are more relatable. Lisa observes how, at times, the Bible can be confusing, no matter how beautiful the words of the scripture. Lisa believes that the messages and community at St. Andrew give her a better understanding of the meaning of the Bible and help her grow closer to God. In the past, Lisa was involved in Sarah’s Kitchen and loved being able to serve the community. In addition, she believes that at St. Andrew members can be involved in many different ministries of service that are not overwhelming but still satisfying.  Lisa explains that in a church from her past, one Sunday would be set aside for community service involving several different organizations where people could volunteer to serve for a few hours in the morning. The people would return to the church around noon and have lunch to discuss their service experiences.  Not only was that experience valuable in serving God, but gave everyone the benefit of fellowship in sharing a meal. Lisa believes that St. Andrew is like a family for her.

May 2023

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I was born in Patchogue, Long Island, New York. Dad worked for Grumman Aerospace and was transferred to Stuart, Florida in 1980. Mom, my sister, and I moved to Florida in 1981. My Dad and brother moved first because Mom had to wait until she could sell the house. The interest rates were 16% at that time and no one was buying anything. I attended Fort Pierce Central High School and graduated in 1984.  I was married to my first husband, Israel for seven years, divorced and then after some time married Bill.  He is the father of my two girls. Mom has always been heavily involved in our family.  She would pick the girls up from the bus and bring them home, help them with their homework.  A lot of times when we went on vacation, it was me, Mom, and the girls.  I am very proud of the girls. Jazmin is the oldest and struggled with learning deficiency in school. Mom helped with her studies and eventually Jazmin graduated from high school. She loves animals. She has four dogs, a cat, and a horse!  The horse is blind and is very dear to her.  She married a year ago on the coldest night of the year.  This was a challenge because the wedding was outside!  Jade joined the Air Force after graduating from high school and stayed for six years.  She is still in the reserves and has flown on Air Force Two with the First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other dignitaries. She met her husband at the joint base in D.C.  They married two years ago and live in Kentucky. Her next career will be as a dental hygienist. When I was beginning my work life, I went to IRCC (now IRSC) for two years where I studied computer science and accounting.  I am now with the City of PSL as a Financial Specialist which entails paying bills for the City, spreadsheets for revenue, process the credit cards for the guys in the field.  I have about 20 people that I process for.  I didn’t attend church on a regular basis as a young adult but now I’m in church every Sunday. I volunteer for various jobs such as usher, worship assistant, Vacation Bible School, altar guild, assist in giving communion, and entered the tithe/offering envelopes for years. I participated in Via De Cristo and I wish the church knew more about it, because it has affected my life in a dramatically good way.  I have always felt that St. Andrew is my religious home. I feel that I belong at St. Andrew and do what I can to support the church, Pastor Randy, and the congregation.

June 2023

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Michele Burkett is a very compassionate and sensitive person who actually has the ability to feel the pain of others. She has known since she was about six years old that her rare ability is a true gift from God. She found this out while her mother - who was very ill - was having a terrible, throbbing headache. Little Michele remembered from Sunday School stories how Jesus would put His hand on others to heal them. So, little Michele put her hand on the head of her mom for a few seconds while Michele asked Jesus to help her heal her mom’s head. Sure enough, Jesus heard Michele because after Michele had her hand upon the head of her mom a few seconds, her mother said that her head miraculously no longer hurt! Throughout her life, Michele has been able to draw out pain from different individuals. She has done this by asking if she can touch the area in pain. Upon approval, Michele then focuses, concentrates, and prays for Jesus to help send the hot (sometimes “burning”) energy through her hand to help heal the pain. She always specifically says that she is helping “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” to heal the pain of others. Michele has never advertised or tried to make money by using her special gift from God. Only those close to Michele and Gerald - her husband - have known of her gift. Therefore, through the years it has been through word of mouth that other people would hear about Michele and her gift. For many years, Michele and Gerald were looking for a church which exudes love and spiritual ambiance. A few years ago, St. Andrew Lutheran Church member Nancy Faillaci introduced Michele and Gerald to St. Andrew Church. Both husband and wife immediately fell in love with the church. From their perspective, Pastor Randy Kennedy can take a concept from the Bible and weave one of his own personal stories around it in order to help others better understand and relate it to their life today. They also felt that Pastor Randy is easily an “approachable” person. This was because they witnessed how many St. Andrew children would go to Pastor Randy and never did he turn them away. In addition to Youth and Sunday School Classes, Michele and Gerald were pleased to know that there are Adult Classes at St. Andrew too. Thus, the personality of Pastor Randy truly made an immense impression upon Michele and her husband to make St. Andrew Lutheran their church home. The fact that Michele is now publicly sharing the story of her special gift from God demonstrates that Michele truly feels at home with our St. Andrew Church Family!

July 2023

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Rick’Keria Juaneceia Gardner is a unique young lady whose name perfectly introduces an essence of uniqueness! She is 15 years old (10th grade), has been playing the clarinet for six years, and is currently in her high school marching band. An English teacher told this writer (as the teacher walked by during this interview) that Rick’Keria is also an amazing writer. Rick’Keria chimed in that she loves to write short stories especially, ever since she can remember! ​ However, what makes her unique is Rick’Keria herself. When she speaks, she lights up with one of the friendliest smiles that you have ever seen. Her smile invites you into the energy of her conversation. Her face reflects happiness and it is infectious when she speaks. She brings you into her world of cheer! ​ Her first taste of St. Andrew was through Vacation Bible School when she was about eight years old. She was reticent to come at first because she did not know any other children. However, at Vacation Bible School, Pastor Dave taught the children about God in ways that were energetic and fun! Rick’Keria soon found new friends and a new sense of belonging. ​ She has chosen to stay at St. Andrew until this very day because she is comforted by the friendliness of the people in the church. She continues to feel that she not only is a part of the St. Andrew Church family, but that she belongs here too. Rick’Keria is very passionate about the Youth Ministry here at St. Andrew and has been able to bring other youth into the Youth Ministry. She tells many others out in our local community how St. Andrew Church has a great Pastor along with many wonderful organizations such as the Youth Ministry, Women’s Association, and Sarah’s Kitchen, which do many things to help others out in the community. She even gets others to come to our church to see what it is all about. ​ As a member of the Youth Ministry at St. Andrew, Rick’Keria has enjoyed many fun activities such as “Trunk or Treat”, Car Washes, Movie Nights, and Lutherock Camp, to name a few. This summer was the second time that Rick’Keria was part of the Youth that attended the Lutherock Camp. She enjoys the Bible Study sessions because they include lots of fun. Learning about “Who you are through God” with skits, singing songs, telling stories, campfire times, and by just meeting new people, are just a few examples. ​ Rick’Keria wants to personally thank Pastor Randy Kennedy and all of the people of St. Andrew Lutheran Church for supporting the Youth Ministry and especially for giving the Youth the opportunity to be able to attend this particular summer camp. She says: “Learning about God through attending Lutherock changes lives.” Rick’Keria Juaneceia Gardner is truly an inspiring person with a unique personality that exudes her infectious cheer and joy in life, especially in her church! She thinks she might want to someday be a journalist, music teacher, or a chef. This writer would not be surprised if Rick’Keria adds something else that may interest her pursuits too. Whatever she decides to pursue in life, no doubt God will be right by her side in all of her future endeavors, along with that smile and joy that she shares with everyone!

August 2023

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You can often see Dory Anne DeMille clapping her hands and tapping her toes to the praise music at St. Andrew’s 9:00 am praise service.  Dory Anne loves praise music.  In fact, that is why Dory Anne joined St. Andrew. She saw our sign that said “Praise Service, 9:00 am.” ​ That was only one reason that drew Dory Anne to St. Andrew.  Once she visited the church, the people in the lobby were very friendly and welcoming.  Even though Dory Anne enjoys the size and mix of the congregation, she said she probably would not have stayed if not for the Pastor; teachings are a very big part of the service for Dory Anne.  She has been going to church for 45 years and heard a lot of sermons and she believes Pastor Randy is a very gifted teacher. ​ Having grown up in a dysfunctional family environment, Dory Anne started going to church in her early 20s which set her life in a very different direction.  She has always been involved in service.  After she got married, she moved to Long Island and got involved in a very charismatic Episcopal church which she attended for 38 years.  Dory Anne served with their youth ministry and worked with toddlers for 13 years.  Additionally, she was the leader of the Women’s Ministry and started and organized a ministry known as Martha’s Ministry which brought meals to people who were sick or coming out of the hospital or suffered a death in their family.  Again, she was involved with the music singing in the choir which produced several CDs. Dory Anne considered this church as her family and was sad when she and her husband left to come to FL.  As devoted as Dory Anne was to her church in Long Island, she feels just as much at home at St. Andrew. Dory Anne considers the faithfulness of God as the most important thing in her life.  She feels that God always gives her strength to face whatever she may be going through; especially during her husband’s illness and death only a year ago. She felt the presence of God and his support throughout this trial.  He gives her the grace to understand that she does not have to experience hardships all by herself.  God always gives us other people to help us and give us strength. Dory Anne feels that her devotion to St. Andrew continues to grow.  She was recently appointed to the church council and feels good about the opportunity to contribute.  She feels that for a church to flourish and be alive, you need more people to contribute and volunteer.  Furthermore, Dory Anne believes that a church thrives not only with volunteers but also by the encouragement of being with a body of other believers.  The community is such an important part of the church. The more you give back, the more you receive. ​ St. Andrew is instrumental in helping Dory Anne recreate a new life since the death of her husband.  She said that most people don’t want to feel alone.  St. Andrew is helping her with that in developing new relationships and friendships.  She admits that this does not happen overnight but she feels that she is developing new relationships to the point where you can really be yourself and share your life with other people.  She can feel this happening at St. Andrew.

September 2023

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Stephanie Stark was but a “wee” 8-year-old when she first experienced the “call of Jesus.” This was the “first call,…..” the call to repentance.  At that time in her life, she had been going with her parents to the Baptist Church. Pastor Bob was faithful in preaching the gospel from the pulpit. For three Sundays, this “wee” 8-year-old began experiencing the conviction of sin.  At the end of each service, Pastor Bob would have an alter call. For those three services, she states, “I had butterflies in my tummy.” She thought her heart would beat out of her chest.  Her little hands would grip the back of the pew in front of her until her knuckles turned white. Finally, on that third Sunday, she relented, walked to the front of the church, and repented of her 8 years of sin. In 1968, Apollo 8 orbited the moon and Stephanie Stark was born again.       Stephanie admits that through-out her life, she was known to her family and friends as a “roller-coaster” Christian. She explains that she would be “on fire for God” one minute and out partying with sinners the next.  When she was almost 16, a well-known, young female evangelist, Rachel Cook, visited her congregation and preached to the youth.  This changed her life forever. This was an evangelist that didn’t just love them and leave them.  She believed in cleaning the fish she caught. Rachel started an organization for teenagers called “Believers Bootcamp.” There were regular meetings where the youth worshiped in song and Rachel discipled the youth through the teaching of the Bible. ​ Stephanie continued to serve Christ in the ministry as a teenager and young adult. She even left the college she was studying music at to go to Bible School and earn a Biblical Theology Degree. ​ Because of some difficult issues she was facing, she began to question everything she ever learned.  She began to experience a turmoil that she did not understand and she did not know how to deal with it.  When she sought help, she states that all she got was “pat answers.” So, again, she floundered. ​ In 2012, after 10 years of floundering and a failed 15-year relationship, she was a very broken and lost Stephanie. She had a dear colleague, Bill Dake, who listened and never judged her. Bill began inviting her to church.  He assured her that no one in his congregation would judge her.  So, because this man was so kind and loving, she came to his church…. St. Andrew Lutheran. ​ One Sunday during a worship song, she experienced something that is difficult to put into words. As she was worshiping, she says, “It was as if God’s spirit swept over me like honey. I wept; God healed. God continued to heal.” ​ St. Andrew’s congregation has poured their love and support into her since she became a member in 2012. Pastor Randy Kennedy, after speaking with her numerous times, began encouraging her to seek her Master of Divinity degree. He stated to her, “It’s obvious that you have a calling.” ​ Stephanie states, “While my story is not that of a drug addict, or of someone who was never ‘churched,’ it is an example of how one individual may need to be evangelized on more than one occasion. This, I can testify to with certainty.” Stephanie, an art teacher at a local high school,  is now on her way to becoming a pastor… a testimony to the unconditional love she has received at St. Andrew.

October 2023

November 2023

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Bree Warner grew up going to a small Baptist church in Ohio. She carries with her to this day the closeness of this kind of small church family. Bree and her husband Jake enrolled their son Joshua in pre-school while still living in Ohio.  After moving to Florida, they wished to enroll their younger daughter Callie in a pre-school in the Port St. Lucie area. But while the larger churches seemed good, Bree was not sold on them.      Then she learned about St. Andrew’s Christian Academy. Although Bree was searching for a Baptist church with a pre-school, she thought she would give the St. Andrew Christian Academy a try. She ended up being so happy with the Academy that both Bree and Jake started coming to St. Andrew’s Sunday services along with their children Joshua and Callie who go to our Sunday School.      Among the things she likes about the St. Andrew Church and Christian Academy are the many activities, such as the Angel Tree, Boy Scouts Christmas tree sales, Thanksgiving turkeys to the needy through Sarah’s Kitchen, our Youth Group, and Sunday School activities, to name just a few. Most of all, Bree likes the close-knit feeling and warmth that the St. Andrew Church family gives. This writer asks you to ponder the thought that the denomination of a church might not  matter as much as providing the welcoming warmth that a church family can bring to others.      One thing that Bree would like is to have a little bit more regular hymns, especially the kind that are passed down from past generations. This writer has seen how Bree and Jake have raised their two children with good Christian education and values, which seems to include good manners too!  I find it refreshing to see this firsthand as I (the writer) watched how well-behaved the children are during Christmas Children’s Choir Rehearsals in the past. “Marvel Mom” Bree tells her children to “always be kind.”  If a person at the end of the day before going to bed can say how he or she was kind to someone at least once during the day, that is saying a lot. I think Jesus could agree!

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