LAND O'LAKES — The grand opening of a small but growing congregation will be celebrated by members donating its opening day offering to Christian Social Services.
At 11 a.m. Sunday, Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church will meet at the Land O'Lakes Senior Center, 6801 Wisteria Loop, just south of Land O'Lakes High School on U.S. 41.
"This offering will help provide food, clothing and utility costs for those in need," said the Rev. John Huebner, pastor.
Worship services began in March with an attendance of two. They have grown to 20 and about 100 are expected to attend this special Sunday.
Two more events are planned with Christmas for Kids from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Senior Center. There will be activities including songs, crafts, a video story, puzzles, games, cookie decorating and a pizza lunch. This free event is limited to the first 50 children who register on the church Web site at www.shepherdoflakes.com.
A special candlelight service is planned for 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve, also at the Senior Center. Both familiar and new Christmas songs will be featured.
This Lutheran group has an unusual style of worship. While preserving the basic Lutheran style, each service is written to a theme with both contemporary and traditional worship music used. Video clips and PowerPoint presentations are used and the hymn words are projected onto a screen.
"This style of worship is more thoughtful, less noisy with more joy than guilt," Huebner said.
Huebner, the pastor, has been diagnosed with spasmodic dystonia, a voice affliction that is shared by Robert Kennedy Jr. among others.
During his preaching the affliction seems to diminish.
"It's God," Huebner said. "We are happy doing what we are doing here and it is fun to watch people grow in Christ. It is a joy."
Huebner is originally from Michigan and attended Northwestern College in Wisconsin and Northwestern Lutheran Seminary.
He has led churches in Michigan and Sarasota as well as serving as a mission consultant for the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church for 13 years, where he did a lot of traveling.
"It was exciting watching small churches grow into large churches," he said.
Huebner, 64, has been married to Esther for 37 years. They have three children, all married, and three grandchildren. His wife works for a cancer surgeon.
One of the church's programs is the Moms and Tots Power Hour program which they will pick up again in February at the Land O'Lakes Community Center on U.S. 41.
Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church is planning to offer five subjects for small home groups, beginning in January, including basic truths of the Bible, a Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsey, a marriage enrichment workshop by Dr. Kevin Leman and the Total Transformation course by James Lehman.
This congregation was begun as a mission church by Peace Lutheran in Holiday. Call (813) 401-9135.