About SiR

2018 begins the seventeenth season of the SiR program at St Armands Key Lutheran Church. Since 2002, fifty-eight scholars have presented a wide range of topics on the Bible, church history, Christian doctrine, church tradition, church music, world religions and the like.  This year as part of our 50th Anniversary Celebration – Remember and Rejoice – we have invited a unique mix based on our history, passion for growing in Christ, and vision for the future.

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Rev. Gabi Aelabouni

Director, ELCA Fund for Leaders
The Rev. Gabi Aelabouni has served as a pastor in the ELCA since 2005. Born and raised in a small town near Nazareth in the Holy Land, he sometimes jokes that he and Jesus went to the same high school. Gabi was invited by the ELCA in 2001 to attend the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Gabi graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago with a Master of Divinity and was ordained. Prior to becoming the Director for the Fund for Leaders, Gabi served congregations in Chicago and Brookfield, IL and in Fort Collins, CO. He has served on the board of RefugeeOne and ALAMEH (the Association of Lutherans of Arabic and Middle Eastern Heritage) as well as on the ELCA’s Church Planting Team for Arabic and Middle Eastern Ministries and on the Rocky Mountain Synod table for Global Mission. He has discovered a passion for sharing the vision of the ELCA’s ministries and mission and inviting God’s people into faithful generosity.
Having been blessed by the ELCA’s support in the past as a seminarian, Gabi is excited to have the opportunity to “pay it forward” by building the Fund for Leaders to empower other future pastors and deacons to go and to serve where the church needs and the Holy Spirit leads.

Theme: “Encouraging New Leaders”

Thu., Jan 4, 10 am

“ELCA 2025: Leadership for a Vital Church in the future.”

Sun., Jan. 7, Homilist  9 am and 11 am Worship 

Tue., Jan 9, 10 am/ 6:30 pm

“My Homeland, the Holy Land.”

Sun. Jan. 14, Adult Forum 10:10 am

“ELCA Fund for Leaders: For This Church and For Our Future.”

Dr. E. Louise Williams

Executive Director Emeritus, Lutheran Deaconess Assn.

Dr. E. Louise Williams has served parishes in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Kansas City, MO. She holds an MA in Christian Spiritualities from Mundelein College, Chicago. She served on the Executive Committee of DIAKONIA World Federation and was president for eight years. In retirement, she teaches an on-line course in the Theology Department at VU, meets with people for spiritual direction, leads retreats, preaches, and writes and speaks for church-related groups. She serves on the Synod Council of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod and on the ELCA group developing recommendations regarding the entrance rite for the new roster deacons.

The Rev. Phyllis Kersten was Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois until 2008. Following her retirement, she served three calls as interim pastor. Phyllis has written for the Christian Century magazine and is the co-author of R Is for Religion, a 26-session curriculum for inner-city churches, and authored a hymn text, “Wake Us, O Lord, to Human Need.” She served as an adjunct professor at the Lutheran School of Theology teaching Christian Education courses and as Vice President for Communications of Wheat Ridge Ministries. Louise and Phyllis have collaborated in leading retreats and writing including three Bible studies for women.


Theme: “Spirituality”

Sun., Feb. 4, Louise Homilist at 9 am and 11 am

Tue., Feb. 6, 10 am / 6:30 pm

“Mary Revisited: A Lutheran Pastor Looks at Mary, the Mother of Jesus.”

Sun. Feb. 11, Adult Forum 10:10 am

Louise “Spirituality.”

Tue., Feb. 13, 10 am

“Images of Christian Service: Deacons and All Who Have Diaconal Hearts.”


Rev. Paul Oman

Artist in Residence, Paul Oman Fine Art
Paul Oman, artist and pastor, shares his Drawn to the Word artistic ministry with audiences ecumenically across the country. He served as science teacher, then Lutheran pastor when, in 2011, he took up work as an artistic pastor full-time. Paul seeks to give new vision to God’s Word by using the process of painting to captivate audiences in our visually oriented culture.
Painting and drawing have been a part of Paul’s life since childhood. Receiving national & international recognition his work in watercolor, Paul uses this gift to proclaim the Gospel in a unique and powerful way that impacts lives and inspires mission.
Paul works in many settings, including congregations, schools, universities, camps, prisons, non-profits, and more. The larger-than-life sized murals are painted with acrylics on stretched canvas.

Theme: “Fine Art, Opening Eyes to Visions of Hope”

Sun., Mar. 25 at 9 am and 11 am Worship

“Passion/Palm Sunday— Drawn to the Word.“

Tue., Mar. 27, 10 am/ 6:30 pm

“Drawn to the Word: Mission and Ministry .“


A Note from our Pastor . . .

To reach the beautiful beaches of Lido and Longboat Keys from downtown Sarasota, folks pass St. Armands Key Lutheran Church. And so, it is much more than a metaphor to say that this congregation is at the intersection between city and beach; commerce and recreation; skyline and shoreline; visitor and resident. In our worship life, social justice ministry, and mutual learning, we seek to be that intersection at which people from all backgrounds may come together to find a “place at the table” for a lifetime or a season.

This year’s Scholar in Residence program runs the gamut from a virtual tour of Israel and Palestine, led by a native Galilean; to the work of a gifted artist devoted to capturing the Word on canvas; to a fresh look at Mary the Mother of Our Lord. Along the way we’ll also hear about how the Church raises up faithful pastors and deacons; explore what it means to have a servant heart the Church and the world; and watch as a larger-than-life sized mural is painted right in the midst of Palm Sunday worship!

So, come along and join our presenters as they teach, lead and guide. Also join us as they preach or paint in worship, either at our 9:00 am service (using praise songs and a simple liturgy); or at our 11:00 am service (using the historic liturgy and hymnody of the Church).

Blessings, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Blyth