The sign that announced God had claimed the corner of McGregor Blvd & Thornton Rd. for Peace Church.
 
  
The Organizational Quilt was made by those who helped organize the congregation
       
 
The banner celebrates the organization of Peace as a new congregation on January 19, 2003.
 
 
A service was held on the site of our church. The site had thick vegetation that made it look like a jungle. We loved the site God had led us to for our future church
 
 
    Pr Walter presiding at worship

 
 
HISTORY OF PEACE LUTHERAN CHURCH

 
Seeds of faith have been planted by God for some time for a Lutheran congregation that would serve the people in South Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. The organization of Peace Lutheran Church on January 19, 2003 bears the witness of the faith-filled spirit of many people and leaders of the Church. There were several attempts to plant a Lutheran congregation on Sanibel that serve as one root of Peace. In 1977 the Rev. Judson H. Westgate led the development of Shepherd of the Islands Lutheran Church. While 39 people signed the charter on December 4, 1977 there were roadblocks to development and the mission was closed.
 

The Rev. Paul Sutterer agreed to provide leadership for another opportunity to plant a Lutheran Church on Sanibel. The name selected was the Lutheran Church of the Isles. Fifteen people were at the first service at the Congregational Church of Sanibel on March 29, 1992. In 1992 the decision was made to associate with the ELCA through the Rev. Richard Hafer, Christ Lutheran Church, Cape Coral. With the leadership of several pastors from Christ, Holy Communion was celebrated every week at the 5:00 P.M. Saturday service. Attempts to find a suitable site for a church facility were unsuccessful. The group voted to disband with the last service being held April 19, 1993.
 

In 1994 Pr. Hafer suggested that the faithful remnant from the Lutheran Church of the Isles gather with a group interested in planting a new ELCA congregation in South Ft. Myers. This combined group chose the name “Peace Lutheran Church” sensing the Spirit had led them to a mission filled with Christ’s peace. The first worship service was held at Temple Beth El on Winkler Road Extension on February 5, 1995 with 28 people. Following worship they gathered at HealthPark Hospital for fellowship and coffee.
 

On November 12, 1995 worship was moved to the Fort Myers Beach Masonic Lodge the Rev. Donald Pederson led worship. The following year the Rev. George Frank began to provide leadership for Peace Church. He did so for three seasons. The Rev. Walter Still was appointed pastor developer by the ELCA Division for Outreach for Peace on August 1, 1999. A Land Fund campaign, Peace Today for Peace Tomorrow, was begun on March 24, 2001. A 5.2-acre site at McGregor Blvd. and Thornton Rd. was purchased for $270,000 by the Mission Investment Fund in December 2001. The campaign was completed in 15 months!
 

The ministry of Peace Church continues to develop. The celebration of Holy Communion is central to its ministry. It strives to share the blessings God has bestowed on the congregation by giving the first 10% of general offerings to the Florida-Bahamas Synod and the ELCA and 1% to local benevolence. While being blessed by many Mission Partners, the congregation became a mission partner of Cross of Glory, Derby, KS. A Parish nurse program was begun with Karen Duff serving as the nurse.
 

In March 2003 a capital funds campaign, Building Peace Together, was begun. Many people and Mission Partners generously gave over $550,000 for the new facility. A Building Team, chaired by Frank Warner, selected Bruce Tyson as the architect and Compass Construction as the contractor for the facility. Construction began in September 2004. Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004 had delayed construction by a month. The first worship service in the new facility was held June 19, 2005. The 10,500 square foot facility was built for $1,827,000. In addition the building was blessed with many memorial gifts that equipped the facility. Several lots adjoining the church property on Hibiscus Drive were purchased for future development. The facility was designed for future growth, with a fellowship hall and additional classrooms to be added at a later date.
 

The facility continues to be utilized as a mission outpost to expand the vision of Peace Church as a powerful force for God in Southwest Florida. In July 2005 a Day Camp, in conjunction with Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Florida, with forty children, was held in the new facility. The facility survived Hurricane Wilma on October 24, 2005 in good fashion, but there was no electricity for six days. Reformation Worship on October 30 began in darkness with the piano and battery-powered lanterns in the bathrooms. While praying the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, the building was energized with electricity. The congregation’s applause was spontaneous and joyous. This restoration of power allowed Mary Kent, who retired after eleven years as the first organist at Peace, to play a splendid postlude on the new organ. There is a blessed spirit that God is using the people and new facility to build the Kingdom of God as new disciples are equipped to God’s glory.
 

The ministry of the church has been blessed by the gifted and dedicated leadership of the staff. Ethel Baldwin began serving as the Parish Nurse in September 2007. Ric Jaeggi began to serve in September 2008 as the full-time Director of Music and Organist/Choir Director. Connie Schmucker was called in December 2008, in partnership with the ELCA, to serve as the Director of Christian Education/Community Outreach. Supported with the dedicated support of the office staff of Vicki McDonald and Susan Mitchell, the staff and leaders continue to be blessed by God.
 

Many people from the area have been worshipping at Peace Church. In 2009 the congregation was engaged through “God’s Work Our Hands” stewardship and debt reduction program. Ministry in Southwest Florida is unique with special dynamics related to seasonal characteristics and the growth of the area. God’s blessings have been abundant. Many thankful hearts in the midst of Peace Church and in the community celebrate His great and mighty acts and will boldly lead the congregation into the future.
 
 

  


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