In 1976 Northern Pinellas County was being scouted for a possible Lutheran mission church. As a result of this search, in January of 1977 six and a half acres of cow pasture were purchased by the American Lutheran Church (ALC) at the current site for the Lutheran Church of the Palms. In December 1977 Pastor Timothy Nehls and his family moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to start this new congregation. With three people in attendance, Pastor Tim held the first service on January 1, 1978 at the Howard Johnson Motel on US 19 and Klosterman Road.
This young congregation broke ground for a new building on September 3, 1978. By Easter Sunday 1979, the first service was held at the newly completely facility on Nebraska Avenue with 224 in attendance. Lutheran Church of the Palms was officially dedicated on September 30, 1979.
The Palm Harbor Youth Recreation League approached LCoP about using some of the LCoP property for ball fields. In 1979, a lease was signed and the Palm Harbor community has been enjoying these fields ever since.
Our congregation voted to build an education center for activities and a long-range plan for a preschool. A new 11,000 square foot education building and renovated sanctuary (doubled in size), were dedicated on April 10, 1988.
Thanks to the generous donation from Robert and Alice Barlow, a preschool for 2, 3, and 4 year olds was started in 1992. Judy Garrity was named the director of the school in April 1993, a position she held until her retirement in 2013. Melissa Graham began serving as the director of the Barlow Education Center beginning in the Summer of 2013.
A church endowment fund was established in 2007 thanks to a donation from the Frank and Hazel Tymeson estate. This donation also included funds for a small chapel which was completed in October 2008.
After 31 years of service to the Lutheran Church of the Palms and 40 years of service to the Lord, Pastor Tim Nehls announced his retirement. On December 7, 2008, Lutheran Church of the Palms celebrated its 30th anniversary. As part of this celebration the Tymeson Memorial Chapel was dedicated and the education building officially renamed the "Timothy W. Nehls Education Building".
Pastor Greg Hager was called to serve in “Word and Sacrament” on March 15, 2010, becoming the second called pastor of our church. Since Pastor Greg’s arrival we have welcomed God’s renewal of our mission. With renewal came the addition of many new members and an open heart for “missional” ministry. To meet the needs of our community, youth group has expanded, music ministry has grown, worship has been enhanced, mission has become focused, ministries have branched out, technology has modernized, facilities have been upgraded, and the sky is now the limit of what we can do in God’s grace. We welcome everyone who wants to join in and be a part of our congregation, so that all kinds of people can share their gifts for mission and ministry.
Thanks to the generous gift of one of our members, beginning in August 2012, LCoP is serving for two years as an internship site for a student from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. The intern comes to us in August and serves for one full year in order to absorb and practice 'the many aspects of ministry and leadership'. As a teaching site we are an extension of the faculty of the Seminary and take seriously our role of shaping a future pastor of our church for mission.
Intern Neil Brady began his year on August 1, 2012. Pastor Neil and his wife Sandy had an exciting year where he learned to live out his role as a Missional Leader. Pastor Neil had a wonderful and lasting impact on our church and preschool. In August 2013, he returned to Seminary for his senior year.
On August 1, 2013, Michelle Notardonato began her her calling to serve for one year as our Intern Pastor. She has lived much of her life in Tarpon Springs, so she is quite familiar with the Tampa Bay area. She brings wonderful gifts for ministry to our church and community. We look forward to the year with her.
Throughout our history, Lutheran Church of the Palms has reached out in service both locally and around the globe. We have supported Haiti Missions, FEAST, Lutheran World Relief, Veteran's Ministry, and many other groups of people in need of God’s love in word and deed.
As a community of believers, we have also shared in one another’s triumphs and grief. Our members have been there for one another, sharing God’s peace whenever there has been suffering or illness and we have come together for countless weddings, baptisms, and funerals.
We are looking forward to many more years of serving God and his children.