Members of the Cross in Mt. Dora, Florida, a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, are getting tattoos of their church’s logo:
A local pastor who casually told his members that the church would find a way to pay for a tattoo of its logo if anyone wanted to get inked, soon learned he had more than a few takers.
“It was a very minor part of the sermon that day, and I really didn’t think anyone would take me up on it,” said the Rev. Zach Zehnder of a sermon he gave on Feb. 23, which touched on cultural differences. “After the service, I had a few people come up and tell me they wanted to do it.”
The 30-year-old father of two was both surprised and a little taken aback.
“At first I had to think and pray about it,” said Zehnder, who leads The Cross Mount Dora, a nearly three-year-old Lutheran congregation with about 250 members. “But I made a promise, and I had to back it up.”
Now, more than a dozen members of Zehnder’s congregation have received a tattoo of the church’s colorful logo, a cross inside a series of circles, at Bill Gold’s Tattoo Studio 441 in Eustis.
Church member Laura Whittlesey, a recovering alcoholic who recently turned 50, got a logo tattoo on her ankle, while her son, William Trigg, 26, got one on his arm. Whittlesey said the decision to get her first tattoo was easy because the church has helped her maintain sobriety and welcomed her without judgment.
“It’s my first tattoo,” she said. “But I feel very strongly about the church and the people there, so I was very happy to do it.”
The tattoos have caused some discourse on area message boards and social media sites, but Zehnder, who holds a masters of divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., said he doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with tattoos, theologically or Biblically.
“There are some who aren’t too excited about the tattoos,” he said. “But Christians can have differences of opinion and still unite to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
For Realtor Holly Stratton, who has belonged to the church for more than a year, the decision to get a tattoo was easy and her way of showing solidarity with a congregation she’s grown to love.
“It’s a way of rallying around the church and its common beliefs,” said Stratton, 49. “The church is great, it’s relatable and it’s exciting to go there every week.”