TEMPLE TERRACE — Perfected Love International Fellowship is centered on five e-words: evangelize, empower, equip, employ and encourage.
Simply put, the focus of the nondenominational church’s work, both inside and out of its home base at 10960 N. 56th St., is built on those underlying objectives.
Angel Tree, an arm of Prison Fellowship, a national Christian-based ministry that reaches out to children of inmates and their families at Christmas, is one such example. Perfected Love members, like others from other churches scattered throughout the nation, act as the hands and feet of the program’s mission to bring holiday cheer through gift-giving and spiritual direction to those who would otherwise have little joy or hope in their lives.
Valora Cole, who along with her husband, LaJune Cole, lead the 200-member congregation, said they’ve been given a list of names and ages of children from 10 local families for whom church members will purchase gifts. In turn, those families will be encouraged to attend the Dec. 22 worship service and receive their presents. If they are unable to be there, the gifts will be delivered to the homes in time for Christmas.
Roland Victor, Prison Fellowship Central Florida’s field director, noted that attached to every package will be a hand-written note from its donor.
“This church demonstrated such a passion to change lives in the community and I know they are already doing that,” said Victor, who spoke about the project at a recent Sunday worship service. “I really appreciate their initiatives and willingness to share the love of Christ with the families of prisoners during this Christmas season.”
Valora stressed how important she believes it is to get involved in the community they serve.
Also, in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Temple Terrace church has a full-service public assistance Access Center in which users with assigned case numbers can sign up for food stamps, Medicaid and temporary cash assistance.
It’s open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and church volunteers are on hand to assist clients.
“The church is a hospital for those who are sick and are in need of spiritual and financial help or need jobs,” Valora said. “By doing this we equip people, which is empowerment.”
The church, she added, also has an affiliation with the Tampa Circuit Office of the Florida Department of Corrections that allows offenders to fulfill community service hours at the site.
“Sometimes we can be helpful just by offering some kind of support. No one wants to be in a place like that so we try to encourage them,” Valora said.
In addition, Perfected Love hosts GED classes from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday and Wednesday. Call (813) 443-5107 to register.
“We said in the very beginning that if we just had services on Sunday and Wednesday we would fail,” she said. “It does take a lot of commitment but there are many rewards. You see the brokenness in people’s lives and then you see the wholeness, when people get to a place where they are also ready to give back.”
Visit www.perfectedlove.org for more information.