The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Christmas in July: Pure outreach

Congregation's celebration benefits shelter for abused women and children

Everything you love about Christmas — the feast, the mountain of gifts, singing "Silent Night" by candlelight, the man in a red suit — you can find at Calvary Lutheran Church, Apollo Beach, Fla., in July.

On Wednesday, July 25, Calvary and the surrounding community will celebrate Christmas in July as they have for 17 years. Jack Palzer, one of the pastors, said the event began — and still is — designed as pure outreach.

Hunter Stroud holds up some of the
Hunter Stroud holds up some of the Christmas in July gifts provided by his church, Calvary Lutheran in Apollo Beach, Fla., and the community.

"We start out with a full Christmas dinner. Hundreds of people. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, apple pie," he said, his voice full of enthusiasm. The church is decorated for Christmas, complete with trees. On every dinner table is a nutcracker from Palzer's collection. Santa and Mrs. Claus are on hand to give out gifts.

All the proceeds from the meal and evening offering go to Mary & Martha House, Ruskin, Fla., for abused and homeless women and children. Calvary is one of several churches that support its work. About 30 to 40 of the women and children are also special guests on "Christmas" for the meal and worship.

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