All Members, Winter Residents, Family and Friend

          Greetings and Happy New Year to those I have not greeted yet this year.  As I sit to write this today there are so many things going on in the world the Middle East is uneasy, Puerto Rico is under a state of emergency following a  multitude of earthquakes, and Australia continues to see massive widefires and so many people and wildlife animals have tragically died in this terrible situtation.  It is certainly no a great way to begin a new year and a new decade.  But the one thing that we are reminded of in times like these God is still on His throne and is in control.   This week in my sermon we are reminded of God’s Gracious Washing of Baptism.  It will be a time of renewal for each of you I pray, especially as we enter into this New Year!  We are blessed and we need to share those blessing with each other and the people of God. 

          I have tried to ignore this vision for a new ministry here at Trinity but I just cannot shake it.  I have tried to ignore it and God keeps calling me back to it every day in my personal time with Him.  This is the Ministry of the Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dog ministry.  This has been weighing heavy on my heart and I feel that we need to try this.  Last year I was ready to get started in organizing a team here at Trinity even had a Top Dog and people willing to keep the dog in their homes.  However tradgedy struck the individual who agreed to be our Top Dog passed away suddenly.  Out of respect for this individual’s family I have not brought this up again until today. 

          I would like to try to move forward with this ministry opportunity exploration.  Trinity Lutheran Church would “own” the dog and the dog would be expected to be at the church most days including each Sunday morning.  I will contact the handlers for “Peace”the comfort dog from Trinity Lutheran Church downtown Orlando.  My son and daughter in law are on the support team for this ministry, but I would like to invite them and the primary handlers and Top Dog. 

Here are some key thoughts…

  1. We need about 10-12 people interested in being part of this ministry.
  1. People to actually be trained in handling the dog.
  2. People to be helpers when the dog is called out to service. 
  3. People to take care of the dog on a daily basis.  We have one person we need at least one more who would be willing to house the dog in their home.  A home without a dog already in the home. 
  4. Support and engagement organizers.  People to help advertise and set up oportunities for the dog to go place. 
  5. People willing to travel to areas perhaps outside the state when tragedy strikes and the needs arise. 
  1. We already have the starting money.  The cost of the dog is $15,000.00 which we have and then there is the training for the handlers which is held in the Chicago area for 4 or 5 days.  We would have to probably raise some money for this training. 
  2. I have at least one Vet willing to give us reduced or free care for the dog and have two others to ask if they would support this ministry. 

This is a ministry that a variety of people can be involved with at various stages of implementation.  I personally feel would be a tremendous asset to reaching out into out community with the love of Jesus Christ.  Pray about this and think about this and let me know via email if you to want to learn more and possibly be a part of this ministry.  I cannot do this ministry alone, we need a team to be involved. 

          I will not be in the office the next three days.  I will be in training at the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office with other chaplains, deputies, fire service, ems and dispatchers.  We will be taking a Critical Incident Stress Management and Debriefing course from a college in St. Petersburgh, Florida.  This is the first major step in a desire I started about three years ago to have a fully active Cricitical Incident Stress Management and Debriefing Team here in Highlands County.  We will be in class from 8AM to 5PM the next three days.  If you need me call the office to leave a message or contact Rev. James Olckers at 561-843-3775. 

          Crafts with Linda and Julie Friday at 2:00PM in the Family Life Center. 

          Bible Study Sunday morning at 8:30AM.  Studying the book of Revelation. 

          Worship on Sunday at 10:00AM a service of Baptism Remembrance and Renewal. 

Have a great week and make it great for someone else! 

Pastor Norris


Rev. Richard A. Norris, Pastor

Trinity Lutheran Church

25 Lakeview Street

Lake Placid, Florida 33852