Welcome to Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church

2540 W. Norvell Bryant Highway, Lecanto Florida 34461

Office: (352) 527-0052 Fax: (352) 746-6336

E-mail: office.sothec@tampabay.rr.com

Website: sothec.org

Office Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Monday through Thursday

Services: Saturday 5:00 p.m. – Prayer and Praise Holy Eucharist Rite II

Sunday 8:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist Rite I and 10:30 a.m.– Holy Eucharist Rite II

5:00 p.m. Paws & Prayers Holy Eucharist – last Sunday of each month

Wednesday 10:00am – Healing Eucharist

The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, Diocesan Bishop

The Very Rev. George M. Conger

The Rev. Michael Hall and The Rev. Linda Liebert-Hall

Newcomer’s Guide Staff

The Revs. Linda Liebert-Hall and Mike Hall, Deacons

Mary Kay O’Hanlon, Receptionist/Secretary

Bookkeeper, Karen Landin

Bill Kinley, Organist

Sol Asekun , Choir Director

David Blain, Guitarist

Officers of the Parish

Senior Warden, Michael Herman-Smith   ….804-2381

Junior Warden, Dennis Hall………………. ….489-5822

Treasurer, Robert Kosty……………………. ….rkosty@verizon.net

Clerk of the Vestry, Jan Fontaine

Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church is a Parish in the Diocese of Central Florida. The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer is Diocesan Bishop.

Our address is:

2540 W. Norvell Bryant Highway (Hwy 486) Lecanto Florida, 34461.

Phone: 352/527-0052. Fax: 352/746-6336.

E-mail: office.sothec@tampabay.rr.com. Website: sothec.org.

As Episcopalians we are “liturgical,” meaning our worship is centered in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Our liturgical music is centered in the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal 1982, although we draw from other music expressions.

MISSION STATEMENT

To be a beacon of faith known for engaging all persons in the love and truth of Jesus Christ.

VISION STATEMENT

It is our vision that Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church will become a church that seeks people with rich and meaningful experiences in life, and helps them help others, both inside and outside our church, to actively engage in the love and truth of JESUS CHRIST.

HISTORY

Following a survey done on the Ridge area in the north central section of Citrus County in 1993, a group of thirty people began meeting at the Amsouth Bank in Beverly Hills, Florida on Sunday evenings for Evening Prayer and fellowship. These services were led by Fr. Joe Goss of the Church of the Advent in Ocala and Deacon Gene Reuman of Holy Faith in Dunnellon.

On March 6, 1994, Bishop John Howe appointed Fr. Charles Hotchkiss as part-time vicar. He celebrated the first Sunday morning Eucharist on March 13, 1994. That same evening the name “Shepherd of the Hills” was unanimously selected and given to Bishop Howe for approval. In the fall of 1994, Deacon Humbert Thomas joined Shepherd of the Hills and assisted Fr. Hotchkiss during the fall and winter months. The Charter was signed by forty-seven people on December 5, 1994, and on January 28, 1995, at the Diocesan Convention, Shepherd of the Hills Mission was officially welcomed in the Diocese of Central Florida.

In the summer of 1995, Shepherd of the Hills purchased a four-office building at its present location. The two unoccupied offices were converted into a sanctuary, meeting, room, and office. It was consecrated and dedicated on December 17, 1995 by Bishop Howe. When the two other offices were vacated, the entire building was in use for church activities, including nursery and church school.

In July 1996, Deacon Joan Clark was assigned to Shepherd of the Hills. Shortly, thereafter, Fr. Hotchkiss became ill and resigned. Fr. Gilbert Watt was our supply priest until July 1, 1997 when Deacon Blake Rambo became Deacon-in-Charge until his ordination December 14, 1997 when he became Vicar.

Additional adjacent property was purchased in 1998 in anticipation of a future church building.

Fr. Rambo resigned in August 1999. Deacon Joan Clark led us through the interim period while our Search Committee sought a new vicar. Deacon Frank Gough III took office as Deacon-in-Charge on August 1, 2000 and became Vicar upon his ordination to the priesthood in December of 2002.

The “new” church building began construction in September of 2001 and was consecrated on April 21, 2002 by Bishop Hugo Pina-Lopez, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida. In October of 2004 the mission suffered a breakup, as the Vicar and roughly a fourth of the congregation left the Episcopal Church to form a local congregation of the Anglican Mission in America due to General Convention actions.

The Wardens and Vestry, with the consent of the Bishop, subsequently called The Rev. Ladd K. Harris to serve part time as Priest in Charge.   In addition to Deacon Joan, we were assigned two new Deacons, Linda-Liebert Hall and Michael Hall.  Then in 2006 Citrus County bought the office building to widen the highway and it allowed Shepherd of the Hills to build the Church we now are blessed to use through the efforts of the whole congregation and the grace of God, Shepherd of the Hills has continued to grow.

In March of 2010, The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams, former Bishop of Western Kansas, became Vicar and in January of 2011 became Shepherd of the Hills first Rector when we were made a Parish. Finished in March of 2011, the Church was consecrated by The Rt. Rev. John Howe, Diocesan Bishop of Central Florida, and Bishop Adams.

When Bishop Adams retired in August of 2013, we formed a Search Committee to bring a new shepherd to guide our flock. In September 2014, The Rev. George Conger filled those shoes. Fr. George continues to help our church grow and reach out to the community.

Shepherd of the Hills continues to grow and be filled with an enthusiastic spirit for doing the Lord’s ministry. Thanks be to God!

ONGOING MINISTRIES

THE VESTRY, according to the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church (and except as provided by the law of the State or of the Diocese), is an elected body and shall be agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the Parish to its Clergy. Furthermore, the Vestry serves to empower and support the various ministries of the Parish or Mission The Vestry is comprised of the Senior and Junior Wardens and seven members, plus a Clerk of the Vestry who has seat and voice but no vote and the Treasuer who has seat and voice but no vote. The Rector presides at Vestry meetings, and if there is none, the Senior Warden acts as the presiding officer. Vestry members are elected each year at the Annual Meeting for a rotating three-year term.

ALTAR GUILD is comprised of dedicated persons who take care of the Altar and Sanctuary of the Church. There are four teams which rotate on a regular basis. The guild prepares the altar for three weekend services, the Wednesday morning Healing service, special services during the liturgical year, which includes funerals and weddings.

CHRISTIAN FORMATION Christian Education for Adults is offered from September through May at 9:15am with Sunday School and Nursery at 10:30am Sundays. Weekly Bible studies for adults is on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. and on Wednesdays following the Healing Service. ECW quiet days, retreats, ALPHA .and Cursillo, are also offered. Cursillo comes from the Spanish and means “a short course in Christian living.” The purpose of the Cursillo movement is to bring Christians to a deeper relationship with God and to help them understand their calling to be Christian leaders. Cursillo is a three-day weekend conducted by a team of lay persons and clergy who give talks, lead discussion groups, and songs. Prayer and Praise play a vital role as well as fellowship. Many meet regularly to support and encourage one another in their spiritual growth and apostolic endeavors. Anyone interested to know more about Cursillo can pick up a pamphlet from the rack in the narthex or speak to one of the clergy.

CITRUS COUNTY BLESSINGS is a program which gives food weekly to Citrus County school children who don’t have access to food during the weekends. Each week a different group gathers to pack bags of food for the children and their siblings to take home on Fridays. The SOTH crew, of about eight, packs food for the two elementary schools in Citrus Springs. Last month we packed food for about 150 children in Citrus Springs Elementary and Central Ridge Elementary. The food is packed at Hope Lutheran Church on Citrus Springs Boulevard in Citrus Springs. Two members of our team then deliver the bags to each school.

DAUGHTERS OF THE KING The Esther Chapter of the Daughters of the King was established in 2011. The Daughters are an Order for Women grounded in Prayer and service within the Church and is ordered by a rule of life. Anyone interested can talk with the clergy or look for the distinctive cross worn by all members.

EPISCOPAL CHURCH WOMEN (ECW) assists and enables the women of the Church to carry out their mission and ministry; encourages proactive advocacy for educational initiative, and provides for women to come together at the Triennial Meeting for worship, study, and action. All women at Shepherd of the Hills are members. Our local ECW offers spiritual growth and nourishment, fellowship, education, and leadership training. It is noteworthy that the men of the Parish are very supportive of the ECW.

FATHER CHRISTMAS BALL is a semi-formal dinner dance presented to Citrus Country by Shepherd of the Hills and co-sponsored by the Citrus County Chronicle. The ball is held on the first Friday in December and has become a major social event in Citrus County. Each year the Father Christmas Ball Committee chooses a special person in the community, whose identity is revealed at the Ball, to be Father Christmas. Proceeds go towards Serving 0ur Savior Ministry.

FEEDING OUR FLOCK is a plan to help our parishioners who have, for a number of reasons, difficulty preparing their meals. We decided that using our commercial kitchen, we were ready to move ahead and would borrow the name, “Feeding Our Flock”, from the church cookbook. Every Monday at 9:15, the FOF crew meets in the Parish Hall to prepare three meals for each person on our list. Before we start our work, we pray together. Each person is given a responsibility. We have cooks, dishwashers, people who plate the meals, wrap and bag the boxes for delivery, make labels and deliver the food. Altogether there are 20 who work together to provide this service to the members of the parish. After the meals are ready to be picked up, we are ready to catch our breath and start our planning for the next week. Usually the meals consist of a main course, starch, vegetables and/or fruit, bread, and dessert. We appreciate the large pantry and the new refrigerator and freezer where we store the ingredients for the meals. We are a happy group that works efficiently together. We welcome donations and new recruits to help with our ministry. If you find you have a need for meals to be delivered to you, whether for a few weeks or for the long term, please let Fr. George know. He will advise you about how FOF might assist you.

FLOWERS can be donated on a given Sunday as a memorial to a loved one or in thanksgiving for a birthday, a birth, or anniversary. A flower sign-up sheet is located in the Parish Hall of the church. More than one person can sign up for a Sunday. Envelopes marked “Flowers” are in the Parish Hall for your contribution, which can be placed in the offering plate or taken to the church office. During the Lenten season there are no flowers. At Christmas and Easter special flowers adorn the sanctuary.

FRIENDS IN SERVICE: GOD’S LOVE IN ACTION ministry focuses on community and domestic mission work. Traditionally, the members of the mission team work on local projects year round, like Habitat for Humanity projects, and plan a week long mission trip to a location in the United States. They have done mission work in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Expansion into foreign mission work is also being considered by the team.

GREETERS AND USHERS welcome persons at the back of the church for worship. Worshippers are greeted with a warm smile, a handshake, and given the worship bulletin. In addition, our greeters/ushers take up the offering, assist persons at communion, and straighten the sanctuary following services. At Shepherd of the Hills we like to think of all our members as ex officio Greeters!

HEALTH AND WELLNESS MINISTRY Commissioned in April 2001, this ministry is led by the Parish Nurse under the direction of the Parish Health and Wellness Commission. Services offered include: Health screening blood pressure screening, monthly articles, seminars on pertinent subjects as requested, assistance with referrals – helping parishioners identify and obtain the services, listening and health counseling for individuals, training volunteers – preparing and coordinating groups of parishioners who provide auxiliary services, home and hospital visits, determining needs and facilitating planning, a limited lending closet of home health needs for short-term loan. Volunteers needed.

HOSPITALITY is a ministry geared primarily to welcome, visit, orient and incorporate newcomers into the life of the church. In addition, the ministry educates the whole congregation in their role of hospitality to fulfill the ministry’s goal to “serve Christ in our daily lives – at work, at home, in the community, in leisure activities, as well as within the Church.”

KAIROS arose from the Cursillo movement – and is a specialized Cursillo held in prison. The first Weekend took place at Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Fla. in September of 1976. Raiford is north of Gainesville in Union County. Kairos is now active in 35 states and in the countries of Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Peru, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The ministry is active in over 300 ministry sites and 62 Kairos Outside ministries for women whose sons and husbands are in prison. Female family members find support, strength and encouragement. Youthful offenders acquire new God centered values and change their direction in life. Families are reunited with a hope for the future.

Kairos is a structured program of talks, meditations, individual and group activities that act as an invitation to live in a personal relationship with the living Christ. Kairos is not only to help Christ in saving souls, but to put human lives in service ─ literally to transform prison environments.

Kairos volunteers continue to return monthly to provide mentoring and guidance through these accountability groups. It is here that Kairos participants begin to replace old ways of thinking with new and they learn they are not alone on this journey. They realize there is a hope for a future.

LITURGICAL MINISTERS are persons who either read the Lessons and Prayers of the People and or serve as Acolytes, Lay Eucharistic Ministers and/or Lay Eucharistic Visitors.   LEM’s are persons licensed to administer the chalice and bread at the Eucharist. LEV’s are persons licensed to visit persons who cannot attend the Sunday Eucharist, bringing them the sacrament.

MEMORIAL FUND was established during the annual meeting of January 2002. A Board of Trustees was elected whose duty is to administer the gifts and donations to the Fund in accordance with the By-Laws and to acknowledge these donations to the donor and enter their names in the Book of Remembrance or the Book of Thanksgiving. There are two types of gifts: 1) A gift of Memory of a Loved One. 2) A gift of Thanksgiving. These gifts are usually monetary, including stocks, bonds, etc., but can also be a physical gift. Physical gifts may be for direct use by the church or church staff, e.g. vestments, computer, garden tool, etc. The acceptance of physical gifts is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees. Any gift may be designated by the donor as “restricted.” This means that the gift has to be used for a particular purpose, e.g. the purchase of prayer books. Envelopes for gifts can be found on the table in the back of the church. Completed cards may be placed in the offering plate, given to the church office, or handed to a trustee.

MUSIC MINISTRY seeks to minister to our diverse congregation. The choir sings at the 10:30 a.m. service, which is a traditional style of worship, along with other special services as requested by the Rector. The Saturday liturgy draws more from praise style musical resources. Whether traditional or contemporary, everyone is invited to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

OFFICE VOLUNTEERS are always welcome and are involved in several aspects of administrative support, from folding mail and communications to helping with financial duties. Ask at the Office, Monday –Thursday, from 9:00am-2:00pm.

OPEN HOUSE MINISTRY Our Open House Ministry is focused on bringing the good news by being welcoming and good hosts to visitors, neighbors, and friends who may be looking for a church relationship with God or just curious about this new church on the hill. To do this we want to create opportunities for visitors, neighbors and friends to visit our new facility and experience the warmth, caring and Christian fellowship that are unique to Shepherd of the Hills. The many new and traditional events that are being planned reflect this “open house” outreach focus. We hope that you will participate in this ministry by personally inviting a friend or neighbor to one or more of our events.

THE ORDER OF ST. LUKE (OSL) The International Order of St. Luke the Physician is made up of clergy, health professionals, and lay people throughout the world who feel called to make Jesus’ Ministry of Healing a regular part of their vocation.

The Order maintains a prayer list which we pray daily, participate in the weekly Wednesday morning Healing Eucharist, and meet once a month to share with and support one another in our ministry. Each member also observes a Daily Rule of the Order which includes prayer, study, and service.

To request prayer for yourself or someone else, either fill out a Prayer Request Form in the narthex, leave a message at the church office, or call or e-mail an OSL member, especially when the need is urgent.

PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY is a ministry of love to those having any kind of difficulty in their lives that a warm covering may help. The Shawls are blessed at the Altar and then distributed to those who need comfort, warming, a hug or just the knowledge that they are loved and cared for by God and their Church family. Shawls are also available, for the service, at the back of the Church who find they need some warmth. Please return them after use.

RESTAURANT NIGHT Most months we have a night out at a local restaurant (dutch treat) where good food and fellowship are offered and enjoyed.

SERVING OUR SAVIOR (SOS) is a ministry of food, to those in need, which began at Shepherd of the Hills. Now a ministry off site, it is an ecumenical ministry in Citrus County supported by several churches and individuals, but still very much a part of Shepherd of the Hills ministry and life through contributions at Saturday and Sunday services, monetary contributions and many volunteer hours. SOS is open on Thursday mornings from 8:30am through 11:30am.

SHEPHERD’S STAFF is part of the parish’s communication system. A monthly newsletter, it also provides an outlet for the arts and information on ministries. Contributions are sought from members of the congregation and its ministries but all submissions are accepted as to space and appropriateness.

FRANCIS FESTIVAL The mission of the St. Francis Festival is to celebrate God’s creatures through education, fun, and love while supporting ministries to serve the community. This ministry began with an annual pet blessing and grew into a large community event. The Festival is held the first Saturday in October. The ministry has expanded beyond the annual festival to include these opportunities to serve:

  • Serving our Savior Animals – establishing a donation programs which support a foundation set up to provide food for the pets of the Serving Our Savior food pantry recipients.
  • Worship Service – a special church service where participants can bring their pets.
  • Pet Memorial/Cemetery – to establish a special resting place for our beloved pets.
  • Animal Outreach – to extend our reach into the community, demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ through animals.

A Message from the Vestry

Our central act of worship is The Holy Eucharist. We gather as the People of God to hear how our story and the story of God in Christ intersect. The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table (Holy Communion) invite us into the Divine Drama of reconciling love for the healing of Creation.

The Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer defines the Church as the Community of the New Covenant. The Bible describes the Church as the Body of Christ of which Jesus Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are members. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life which we are called to follow. The Prayer Book describes the ministers of the Church to be lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

We believe the two great sacraments of the Gospel given by Christ are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. But we also hold to the other Sacraments of Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a penitent (Sacramental Confession), and Unction as divinely give to the Church for our Christian walk. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, along with the Apocrypha, to be the Word of God, for God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through them Our statements of faith are found in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles’ Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism used in the Church’s daily worship to recall our Baptismal Covenant. The Nicene Creed is the creed of the universal Church and is used at the Eucharist.

Welcome to Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church. Each and every one of you is a Child of God and a blessing to us all. Please call the office at 352-527-0052 if you need

additional information and or conversation about our life. May the Grace, Peace and Mercy of God Almighty be always with you.

Places to be and see at Shepherd of the Hills

The Memory Garden and Columbarium– The new Memory Garden and Columbarium was just finished and is open not only for burial of loved ones but for quiet meditation and relaxation from the world around. Prayers can be said in a tranquil setting beautified by roses and well planned landscaping, including benches. Arrangements for the Columbarium can be made through the office or one can purchase a paver for the garden with a thanksgiving or remembrance.

The Butterfly Garden– Long a fixture at Shepherd of the Hills, the Butterfly Garden, on the southern side of the Office Building/Chapel Is newly refurbished. It is colorful and conducive to prayer and solitude while one enjoys the flowers or seeing the many winged visitors to the Garden.

The Garden Between– one of the gardens of Shepherd of the Hills is found between the two main buildings. Openings at the north and south ends let one enter into a quiet space that is cooler in the summer and out of the wind. Accented by trellises with climbing roses, a stone Celtic cross and a beautiful bench to rest upon, it is a welcome spot on a Sunday morning or when one stops by during the week.

The Chapel– Converted from the Sanctuary, used by Shepherd of the Hills for 10 years, The Chapel is dedicated to The Rev. Charles Hotchkiss, first Vicar of the, then, Mission Church. With a beautiful new Altar it uses the lectern and fixtures used at the time.

The Art of Shepherd of the Hills– All around the parish you will find art work on permanent loan from the estate of the late Fr. C Thomas Raezer, a member of the Parish and gifted artist. Check out the book about our art in the Narthex. Also in the Narthex is a beautiful mosaic of “The Shepherd of the Hills” crafted and donated by Mr. John W. Gracy, a friend of the parish and artist from Inverness.

Thank you for visiting, and we are here to serve you and hope you will join us in celebrating the teachings of Jesus Christ.