From the Pastor
Dear Members and Friends of First Church,
Warm greetings from warm and humid Bonita Springs, where our summer is quickly moving along towards another fall and another great season in Southwest Florida. I trust that your summer months, wherever you have been spending them, have been enjoyable. Here is a quick update from your winter church home.
The beautiful waterways of our area have been plagued this summer by a double-whammy of red tide in the Gulf of Mexico and algae bloom in the Caloosahatchee River and other waterways. They are two separate problems, and have resulted in water sports being compromised (and significant fish kill in both saltwater and fresh water). The red tide is at times even a respiratory danger to humans. Local, state and federal governments are all trying to point the finger of blame at others. This may take awhile for nature to clean up. The other big news from our area recently was the shooting death of a Fort Myers police officer (by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record). It brought some national news attention to our area. A massive funeral service was held for the fallen officer (over 6,000 people at Germain Arena). The political landscape of Florida is in flux as we have significant elections coming up this fall (party primaries are on August 28); the most important votes will be for Governor and US Senator. The weather this summer has been very good. We have had less rain than the previous summer, but our lakes and aquifers are all adequately full. No hurricanes have come our way yet, though we remain vigilant because the peak of hurricane season is the final two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September (Hurricane Irma made landfall last year on September 10).
The sound system in the Sanctuary is in the process of complete replacement, and will be fully operational by the end of August. A complicated system of speakers and soundboards like ours has a limited lifespan, and we have come to the end of ours. We are hopeful that the dead zones some of you may have experienced will be eliminated and the sound much more clear. The biggest change in our church staff this summer is the hiring of our first-ever Director of Communications. Mrs. Michaela Carson brings a great professional background and a love for the Lord and for church ministry. She will be working to coordinate and improve all of our various communication platforms (print and digital). We expect that we will develop an enhanced website and social media presence, as well as linking together all the different ministries. Many of you will have a chance to meet and work with Michaela in the months to come. We have also hired several new teachers and aides for our preschool (which begins its school year in the week before Labor Day). Starting this fall we will be inviting people to come to the church for a photo session, as we will be preparing a new photo directory of our members and friends. The incentive to participate is that you will receive a free 8 x 10 portrait as well as a copy of the new directory, which should be ready by mid-year 2019. Our CenterPoint room and the video of our pastor's messages is on a short hiatus for a few weeks to give our staff and volunteers a brief break and to do some equipment upgrades. Look for the weekly video sermons to return right after Labor Day.
If you are a reader, I remind you of our two Summer Reading Challenge selections for this year: Unimaginable by Jeremiah Johnston and 7 Lessons from Heaven by Dr. Mary Neal. Both authors will be guests of First Church in January. You may also want to attend a showing of the new Christian film Unbroken: Path to Redemption, which will be in theaters nationwide beginning September 14. This is the sequel to the 2014 film Unbroken (based on the bestseller about Louis Zamperini), and has a powerful spiritual message.
I pray that this letter finds you well. If you have any prayer concerns you wish to share with me and our church, please feel free to write or call me. I look forward to seeing you on your return to Southwest Florida in the coming months!.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Doug Pratt