2017 had it all: A sinkhole, Hurricane Irma, wildfires and floods

But, it also was a year of significant growth, notable achievements and touching moments, too. It’s not often that Land O’ Lakes makes the international news, but it did just that in July when a massive sinkhole swallowed two homes in Lake Padgett Estates. Then, just a few months later in September, the world’s attention turned to Florida as a potential category 5 Hurricane Irma appeared … [Read more...]

Bay Hope Church plans big expansion

When Van Dyke Church began in 1985, it met in the cafeteria at Claywell Elementary School in Northdale, and the church was named for its planned future location, on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. It never did build on Van Dyke Road, though, because the land was taken through eminent domain for the Veterans Expressway project, said Matthew Hartsfield, the church’s pastor. Instead, the church was … [Read more...]

The Laker/Lutz News brings home five awards

Work published in The Laker and in the Lutz News brought home five awards from the Florida Press Association 2015 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest. The honors were presented on Sept. 16 during an awards luncheon at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. The contest drew a total of 1,670 entries from 65 weekly newspapers across Florida. The work was judged by experienced editors and publishers from … [Read more...]

Preserving family history, one Bible at a time

Andy Smith, who attends Van Dyke Church in Lutz, has an unusual hobby. It began about eight years ago, sparked, in part, by the Bible he inherited from his grandmother. The sacred text originally belonged to his great-great grandparents, dating back to the 1870s. “I believe it was given to them as a wedding gift,” Smith said, and it was passed from generation to generation. “It is … [Read more...]

Holy Week ushers in celebrations

Churches across Pasco and Hillsborough counties are gearing up for a wide array of Holy Week events and Easter celebrations. Some churches will do re-enactments of the Last Supper and Good Friday, while others will include egg hunts, pancake breakfasts, barbecue meals and other festivities. Whatever they’re doing, churches are ready to greet regulars and visitors alike, as they … [Read more...]

Watoto choir shares story of Africa’s vulnerable children

The Watoto Children’s Choir is kicking off its four-month United States tour with appearances in Florida, including local stops. The choir’s tour, entitled “Beautiful Africa: A New Generation,” seeks to raise awareness about the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa. The performances — which are free and open to the public — include original African music, dance routines … [Read more...]

Youth ministry uses puppets to spread gospel message

The music is cranked and the kids are clapping, jumping and gliding around in a second-floor room in the education building at Van Dyke Church in Lutz. They are waving flags, raving poi balls and making dance moves, as they practice a routine for a future performance. The middle and high school youths are part of a group called PfC, which stands for Puppets for Christ. If the name … [Read more...]