On February 2, 2020, Zion was visited by a group of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church, a nationally-known hate group infamous for picketing churches and military funerals. They had made known their intention to visit, and Zion's leadership decided to counter their message in several strategic ways. That morning, we rolled out the piano and spent an hour before our worship service singing hymns about love, justice, and compassion for all. We did so next to a display of doors, lovingly curated and painted by Drew Shimkus and Bruce Elkins (with assistance from Michele Clancy). The doors, painted in the colors of the LGBTQIA+ flag, represented our commitment to love our neighbor for who they are with no exceptions. Since then, our commitment has not changed and this picture has become one of Zion's signature images; however, our resolve has strengthened in the belief that we could and would do more to speak out publicly for all those who have been marginalized by the church and our society.
Music, Communications, and Outreach
954-421-3146, Option 2
Lover of iced coffee, syndicated sitcoms, and non-fiction books (especially biographies and memoirs), Kurt is a son, grandson, uncle, an expert at canes, wheelchairs, scooters, and a beloved child of God.
Kurt serves as our Cantor and Director of Music, planning and organizing all of our worship services, leading our choirs, and accompanying on our piano and organ. He also serves as our Communications and Outreach Specialist, handling all printed materials, the website and social media, and community relations. Before joining Zion in these roles, Kurt was a full-time teacher in Christian schools for a decade.
(954) 421-3146, Option 4
Passionate about her family, her country, and all things Disney, Erica is a wife, mother, grandmother (call her Gorgeous), friend, and a beloved child of God.
Erica serves as the Director of our Preschool, Evergreen Academy of Zion Lutheran Church. Evergreen Academy's ministry includes over twenty teachers and staff members and almost 100 students. Erica came to Zion in 2019 with over 30 years of experience in early childhood education as a teacher, administrator, and peer educator.
Pictured L to R: Mrs. Gail Schmidt (Vice President), Pastor Jonathan Gantt (Administrative Pastor), Dr. Robin Larson (President), Ms. Michele Clancy (Secretary), and Mr. Scott "ScottyMac" McElroy. Not pictured: Mrs. Debbie Burns.
As a Christian denomination, our beginnings go back to the evening of October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther (a professor and pastor) nailed his 95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences (promissory notes guaranteeing admission to heaven) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. What began as an invitation to discussion grew into a movement aimed at reforming the established church.
Like other Christians, we accept the Bible as the Word of God, the true and trustworthy (infallible) source of God's love and guidance. We also profess the same ancient creeds (statements of belief) as billions of other Christians worldwide.
We emphasize the teaching of justification by faith, the belief that a person is saved by grace through having faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works or anything a person does. We distinguish between law (what God does for us) and gospel (what we do for God). We celebrate two sacraments: Baptism and the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper). We call them the means of grace, because we receive God's grace through the water, bread, and wine.
Worldwide, Lutherans that accept the Augsburg Confession (written in 1530) as an accurate explanation of their beliefs belong to the Lutheran World Federation, based in Geneva, Switzerland. In the United States, there are three major Lutheran groups: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The national level of the ELCA is referred to as the "churchwide organization" (because the ELCA extends beyond the boundaries of the United States into the Bahamas and the Caribbean). The churchwide organization is based out of the Lutheran Center in Chicago where Its staff and elected officers work as administrators, advisors, conveners, partners and resource people for the ELCA and its ministries.
We are proud to be a congregation of the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA, along with 176 other congregations and over 49,000 baptized members.
A synod, like a diocese, is a geographical division of a larger (national) area. The ELCA's 65 synods vary greatly in size, geography, membership, staffing and program. Synods unite the work of congregations within their areas, serve as regional support, and guide pastoral and other staff members.