Pastor and Staff: Rev. Dr. Jeff Guild, Pastor; Kristi Rosende, Clerk of Session; Priscilla Ortoski, organist; Elder Sharon Paup, Office Admin.; JoAnn Lapp, Bookkeeper; Lorraine Adams, Food Pantry Director; Crystal Gilmer, Celebrate Recovery Coordinator.
Board of Trustees: President, Lorraine Adams; Vice President, Cheryl Ellison; Secretary, Kristi Rosende; Treasurer, Bill Paup.
Session: Lorraine Adams, Sharon Paup, Kristi Rosende, Phil Centiempo, and Crystal Gilmer
Deacons: Becky Tabacchi, Kathleen Brooks
Deaths in 2020: Donald Curry, Donald Lowrey, and Virginia Hoffman. Services were not local.
In January 2020, the moderator of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay appointed an Administrative Commission in response to the Session’s request for assistance in September 2019. They first met in January 2020 for the purpose of walking with and supporting the Session.
In February 2020, former pastor The Rev. Dr. Andrew Beery resigned and the Session approved the hiring of The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Guild as Stated Supply beginning June 1, 2020. In addition, Session also hired organist Priscilla Ortoski who also served as worship director beginning June 1, 2020. A part-time bookkeeper was hired in August 2020 and worked with the Administrative Commission and church treasurer to put the church financial books in order.
The congregation at close of 2020 totaled 36 active members. Worship attendance was in the high 50’s because of the active community outreach and mission of the session. This number decreased because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The in-person Sunday worship services ceased after the March 8 service returning November 29, 2020 as an outdoor drive-in worship service. Online worship via Facebook Live began in the Spring and continued through the year with the leadership of Pastor Jeff. Average attendance cannot be determined during the year. As a result of no in-person worship or meetings, the revenue stream declined. This resulted in severe budget cuts and careful planning of a 2021 budget.
Session met for 13 regular meetings, 6 called meetings and 2 electronic meetings. Additionally, Session met with an Administrative Commission from Presbytery of Tampa Bay from March until autumn (either as full commission or individuals). This group served as mentors for the church and gave guidance that was gratefully received. In 2020, Rev. Ken Grubel was the COM liaison; Susan Kalkbrenner replaced him upon his retirement. The Annual Congregation meeting was held on January 26, 2020.
The Food Pantry provided food & toiletry items for 4734 individuals in 2020. LifeTree works with the Food Bank of Citrus County. St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Citrus County, provided additional food donations and volunteers to supplement our Pantry. Walmart of Homosassa was generous to the Pantry as well. LifeTree applied for and received grants to the Pantry from COVID funds (Presbytery of Tampa Bay). Donations from individuals were also received. The church worked with the Presbytery in the application for a loan to replace aging air conditioners in the sanctuary. The loan was approved by PBTY and Session. The LifeTree Quilters worked at home on quilts for new Habitat for Humanity homeowners; the Bear Craft group also working at home until a safe way was found to work in person in November and December. The small Painting Group also began to meet in November. Celebrate Recovery was temporarily paused because of the Pandemic. Crystal Gilmer, Director of CR, is working to restart the program as soon as possible.
Aaron Guild is a new addition to the LifeTree team. He is the designer and administrator of the new church website (www. Lifetreechurch.org) and works on other IT and electronic related areas of the church.
Although there have been many challenges in 2020, the Session and Members look to the future with hope and in eager anticipation of hearing and answering the call of Jesus Christ to make disciples. The year 2021 will see a return to traditional worship, the addition of a contemporary service, the endorsement of one of our ruling elders to begin the path toward certification as a Commissioned Ruling Elder, the return of Celebrate Recovery, and the expansion of the Food Pantry ministry as the need will surely increase as the economy struggles to recover.