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Churches unite to cook a Thanksgiving treat

For the second time in two months, a group of churches in Lutz and Land O'Lakes are planning a joint service.

The special Thanksgiving service is planned for 6:30 p.m. next Sunday at First Baptist Church of Lutz.

Besides First Baptist, it will involve St. Mary Catholic Church, Tims Memorial Presbyterian Church and River of Life Church, all of Lutz, and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and First United Methodist Church of Land O'Lakes. The service is to involve pastors and a mass choir from all of those churches.

"The service is laden heavy with music," said the Rev. Charles White, First Baptist's pastor.

Most of the churches participated in a joint Sept. 11 service at Tims Presbyterian. The combined services are a project of the Lutz/Land O'Lakes Ministerial Association.

In a sense, the joint services revive a long-lost tradition in Lutz. Area churches for years combined efforts for Easter sunrise services in Lutz's central park area before the bandshell that hosted them was torn down.

David Talley, the retired pastor of First United Methodist Church of Lutz, remembers several years around 1990 when churches combined for Wednesday night Thanksgiving services.

"We didn't have overwhelming attendance, but we had good attendance," Talley said.

He said the practice "just sort of dissolved" as the ministerial association became less active.

Next Sunday's service was organized partly by White. His music pastor, Steve Biles, planned the music. White has been teased about his decision to invite the Rev. Bob Morris, the priest from St. Mary, to give the night's sermon from a Baptist pulpit.

"I thought he was the only one among a bunch of Baptists and Pentecostals who would know what the concept of brevity is about," White said.

Morris had urged White to preach, but was told the same thing.

"I felt privileged being asked," Morris said.

_ Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or