Dearest Faith Community Near and Far-

Well, I’m truly learning there are not enough hours in the week to get everything done that needs to get done. Many apologies for not getting this out prior to Sunday night. Not very helpful for the weekend. 

Today was the first Sunday in Lent. And we are beginning this journey about talking about what a bigger table can truly look like. I shared about the Thanksgiving table at my aunt and uncle’s house and how I remember these gatherings as a child. I hope that you are able to think about gatherings you and your family and friends have had around table over the years. Building a bigger table is going to look different for everyone, but I do hope you truly think about what it can mean for you. Everyone is invited to bring a cup, mug, glass, or wine glass to represent your table from home and bring it help make our table bigger. Inside your glass, I would like to encourage you to write a note in there about what it means for you to create a bigger table. Put that in the glass and we will keep them on the table throughout our series. Then on Easter Sunday, we will create something unique to Wintergarden to represent a bigger table for our families and faith community. 

We also started our journey to explore a biblical understanding to inclusion of the LBGTQ community. One of the things I have always loved about Wintergarden is how welcoming and inclusive we already are. Our faith community really does live out being welcoming in the truest since. What a gift! We are exploring what it would mean expand our welcome to also being accepting and affirming of the LGBTQ community. For some folks, this is not even a question and for others it brings up lots of questions and wonderings. 

Here are a few of the questions I have already received (and I am so thankful for them!). And I love the honesty in these questions. I’m so thankful that we can have such honest conversations as a faith community. 

  • Why even go through this journey if we already are inclusive? 
  • But the bible seems to be really clear on homosexuality…the bible says homosexuality is a sin…how do we reconcile all of this?
  • I haven’t heard any of this before…why?
  • When I read scripture, I read from the bible I have. How can I know what the Hebrew and Greek really say? I’m not trained in that. 
  • Why are there so many different versions of the bible? And why do they translate words so differently?
  • Are people always gay? Like, do they always know? Is it a choice? Or how people are born?
  • My heart tells me it is important to love everyone, but…

And I will tell you, there are probably so many more questions and wonderings that I haven’t heard yet…and maybe we don’t even know how to ask them yet. 

This is why we are going on this journey. To learn. To understand. To explore. To realize that sometimes what we think we read in the bible isn’t actually the correct translation. To realize that context and culture matter and most of us don’t fully understand the context and culture the Old and New Testament were written (trust me, this is complicated and I can’t remember all of it either!). It is my hope that we will work through the text, ask the questions, and dive deeper. That we won’t just say, “the bible says so” and not do the hard work of diving deeper into understanding. 

This Lenten season, everyone is welcome to learn, unlearn, and even relearn…to have an open mind and heart to explore something that might be different than we have always been taught. It is an opportunity to grow in ways that might be hard. But it is a journey…and one that is better to do together. Where this journey will take us, I’m not 100% sure. But it is a journey in relationship to God, one another, and with scripture. 

In the study from The Reformation Project, these statistics were shared about youth who were rejected by their families for their sexual orientation and gender (and these statistics is from 2018):

  • Young people are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide
  • Young people are 5.9 times more like to have high levels of depression
  • Young people are 3.4 more likely to use illegal drugs

For me, these numbers are heartbreaking. As I heard these numbers, I just thought about all the young people who aren’t here anymore because they weren’t welcomed, accepted, and affirmed for who they are. 

If you want to talk more about where you are on this journey or even the struggles you are having with us even having this conversation, please reach out to me. I would love to take you out for coffee so we can just talk. Please know that where ever you are on this journey, there is no judgment, just love. 

Dates to Remember

  • Sunday morning schedule: 8:30- Sacred Space, 9:30- Fellowship, 10:00- Worship
  • Volunteer Appreciation on Saturday, February 24 from 12-2:30. Please let Kymmie know if you are able to make it. So far, we have 53 people coming!
  • Building Rededication on Sunday, March 10 at 4pm. Everyone is invited to join us for a special worship service as we welcome everyone who helped bring our sanctuary back to life. 

Making Headway

We’re making some headway on some more projects around the church. 

  • We are praying that the permit for the showers will be approved. This project has been submitted 5 times!

Happy New Year-
Pastor Devon

ps…Fridays and Saturdays are the two days I am taking off every week. This isn’t always working great, but I am really trying hard to take these days off each week. If I do not get back to you, please know I will on Mondays.

LENT 2024

Worship with Wintergarden
Sunday, February 18, 2024

First Sunday of Lent
Sacred Space Meditation Service @ 8:30 am
In The Garden By The Fountain 
Fellowship (light continental breakfast) @ 9:30 am
Worship following about 10:00 am

In the Sanctuary and on Facebook Live

How to access the bulletin:
Bulletin HERE
How to Access Services Online:

Join us on Facebook for Worship Services
Remember, you don’t need a Facebook Account
to join us for worship. 

You can also click HEREfor the Facebook link.

Sunday, February 18, 2024
First Sunday of Lent
Fellowship @ 9:30 am
Relaxed Traditional Worship @ 10:00 amA Bigger Table
Finding Our Place
Scripture Lesson: Psalm 25:1-10, Luke 13:21; 31-34
Every Monday – Lectio Divina
Every Tuesday & Friday – Wintergarden Bees @10am
Every Wednesday Food Truck Delivery
Every Thursday Food Pantry 12-4pm 
Feb. 20 Homeless Coalition meal at 4:30pm
Feb. 21 Lenten Bible Study and Dinner 5:30pm (bring a dish to share)Feb. 22 CNS Care N Share (Every 4th Thurs.)
Feb. 23 Family Fun Night (Last Friday of every month) at 5:30pm
Feb. 24 Volunteer Appreciation Lunch from 12-2:30pm
Feb. 28 Lenten Bible Study and Dinner 5:30pm (bring a dish to share)

In order for us to do Sacred Space, we need some folks to show up by 8:15 to help with set-up. If we don’t have help with set-up, we will not be able to continue Sacred Space. In addition, we have been trying to get it online, but have had issues. We will keep trying. Thanks for your help and understanding. 

This Lent, everyone is invited into a journey to learn more about what it means to become a welcome, accepting, and affirming faith community. I hope you will join us on this journey of deeper understanding and love. 

We wanted to let you know our official office hours. The staff has made a few changes to the hours the church is open. We are working on creating some better boundaries for the staff with work. Here are some details:

Monday- we are closed. If there is a pastoral emergency, please contact Pastor Devon directly on her cell phone.  Devon is working from home and attempting to work on sermons and worship planning on Mondays. The rest of the staff are taking Mondays off. On behalf of the staff, please try and honor their days off and not reach out to them. We recognize there are situations that arise, but most things can wait. Thank you for helping our staff to rest and have time away from work. 

Tuesday-Thursday- The office is officially opened from 10-2. We are there before and after those hours, but those times are designed for us to be able to get more things done. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will also be instituting “power hours” when we will all be working with our doors closed so we don’t have to keep taking so much work home. More details to come in the next two weeks. 

Friday- the office is closed. 
FOOD PANTRY VOLUNTEERS NEEDEDPlease contact the church office at 941-743-5335 or email at
With the pantry cover completed and the weather cooling down a little, we invite you to come volunteer with us on Thursdays. Bring a friend to help! 
Also, we need translators. If you know anyone who speaks Spanish, Ukrainian, or Russian, we need assistance.
Interested in joining our Garden?
Garden of Eatin’ – Food Forest
For more information click HERE
At Wintergarden Presbyterian Church
we’re eager to pray with you!  

Please let us know how we can pray by submitting a Prayer Request online (link below). Prayer requests are emailed to Pastor Devon once submitted.
Prayer Request
Lectio Divina for February 19, 2024All are welcome to join us as we continue to engage in the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina together as a community. Maybe you can add Lectio to your New Year’s resolution list 😉

This Week’s Scripture: Psalm 22: 23-31, Luke 14:1-6

We will gather via Zoom for an intentional time of listening, reflecting, responding, and resting in the Word of God. We will meet on Mondays from 8-9am. 

Here are some details about Lectio Divina. 

Lectio Divina, literally meaning “divine reading,” is an ancient practice of praying the Scriptures. During Lectio Divina, the person listens to the text of the Bible with the “ear of the heart,” as if he or she is in conversation with God, and God is suggesting the topics for discussion.

There are four movements for Lectio Divina: 
1. Lectio: (Listening to the Word of God or Reading God’s Word)
2. Meditation: (Reflecting on the Word of God)
3. Oratio: (Responding to the Word of God)
4. Contemplatio: (Resting in the Word of God)

Here is the Zoom Link: 
Join Zoom Meeting: Click HERE 

Meeting ID: 878 3208 0869
Passcode: 396015
+16465588656,,87832080869#,,,,*396015# US (New York)
Facebook for Wintergarden Presbyterian ChurchFacebook for the Garden of Eatin’ at Wintergarden Presbyterian Church

Friends, I am reading 6 different books right now. And they are all on so many different things. But the one I wanted to share with you is the book “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines. I have heard from folks recently that they didn’t know they could be gay and Christian! This book is full of amazing information, deep dives into scripture, and an amazing story of grace and love between a father and son. We have purchased these books for anyone in the congregation to read and think through. They are in the sanctuary and the library. Please feel free to pick one up!