Friday Contemplation: REPENT. We are in Lent. Wednesday we smudged ashes on our head to remember that everyone is going to die. In a word, Lent is fundamentally about repentance. Lent invites us to turn away from things that separate us from relationship with God, with others, and ourselves/who we are called to be. Said another way, we turn from sin, acknowledge our shortcomings/the ways we fall short, and turn back toward the Giver of all life through spiritual practices. We participate in restoration.

The Greek word for repent is "metanoeō." It means to change your mind. Reflect upon a time when you changed your mind about something significant... I suspect you experienced some kind of pain or dissonance. While repentance is indeed individual, it at times is also communal.

I experienced this dissonance as I sensed a call to participate in efforts around racial reconciliation. I clearly heard from God but was initially resistant. Partially because of my own past. Partially because I was a white male, and didn't think I had much to offer. As I began to learn more about segregation, racial terror, and lynchings right here in Hillsborough County, I was uncomfortable.

In January of 2020 our spiritual community made a pledge to answer the call issued by Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative in his documentary, True Justice to own and acknowledge the history of racial terror in our country and our cities.

I leave tomorrow to Montgomery, Alabama for a pilgrimage with 40 others to the Equal Justice Initiative. City Councilman Viera, my friend Robert Blount (Abe Brown Ministries), and members of our Justice Team will be going. The purpose of this "March Fourth" pilgrimage to Montgomery is to visit EJI's National Legacy Museum. We are delivering the soil of Robert Johnson to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. He was brutally murdered along the Hillsborough River in 1934. To learn about the Robert Johnson's story, click here and ABC News story.

The 12 steps of different recovery programs assert that three key principles required for heart/life transformation. (1) Honesty. (2) Open-mindedness. (3) Willingness. I believe that it applies both individually and communally.

Let's get honest, open our minds, and be willing to change. It won't be easy, but transformation never is.

You are Loved.


p.s. March 13 is our 2nd Sunday gathering and will be the start of Daylight Savings time!
The Rev. Justin LaRosa, LCSW
Director & Minister, The Portico
O: 813.222.2299 | M: 813.444.2941
1001 N. Florida Ave.,
Tampa, FL 33602
Conversation. Connection. Community Change.
Websites for The Portico and The Portico Cafe.
The Portico includes a neighborhood cafe, a historic chapel, spaces to meet and work, and an event space for the public that enhances the social, artistic, and spiritual fabric of Tampa through Conversation, Connection and Community Change!

The Portico Community is a non-conventional church whose mission is to make God’s Love Real through spiritual practices and to serve the city and world in ways that address equality, housing insecurity, and economic challenge. We are a community of Hyde Park United Methodist.

The Portico Cafe is a social enterprise that offers people transitioning from homelessness, addiction, and incarceration--job training, employment ladders, and connections to safe, affordable housing. Support here.
Sunday Gathering
Grow more deeply in love. Consider these gatherings:

  • Sunday Gathering, 3/13 at 10:30: Come every 2nd Sunday to build relationships, have conversations about life and scripture, practice silence, and serve together!

  • Community Meal, 3/13 at Noon: Participate Sunday where we get our "knees under tables" with friends and neighbors who are unsheltered or hungry and occurs immediately after the Sunday Gathering.

Join a Small Group

Our community thrives as we gather, grow and serve. The Portico's primary vehicle for that is small groups. We have a bunch. If you can't find one, Justin or Mark B will help you create or join one. These new groups have spots available. Join a Group

  • Women's Joe 4, 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays (hybrid). 1x month in person. 3 spots. Email Sarah.
  • Men's Joe groups, about 5 spots at different times.
Events, Gathering, Serve
  • Sunday Matinee at The Portico, Feb 6 - April 24, 3 - 4:30 p.m. Showing The Chosen Series! Community and Multigenerational Family Event with popcorn, coffee and soft drinks.

  • Habitat Build: build Mindi's house! The second Friday of every month for the next 6 months, we'll come together to build and create a great future. Sign up here.
Coffee On A Mission
As of today: 9 Bags Sold 

The Mission100 Bags in 30 Days 
The Coffee: Locally-roasted Portico Blends (medium and dark) and Don Carlos Espresso
The Cause: Stand against homelessness with every gift or purchase.
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The Portico | 1001 N. Florida Avenue | 813.222.2299 |