Parish Staff

Interim Pastor

Pastor Tom Slater

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   I grew up in Northeastern New Jersey about ½ hour out of New York City.  I went to Concordia College in Bronxville, New York and majored in History.  I attended the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa. from 1981-1985.  I did Internship at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Pa.  I met my wife Sherry in Gettysburg and we were married in July of 1983. 

   Our first call in ministry was to Christ Lutheran in Loganville, Pa. from 1985-1991.  We were then called to Faith Lutheran in Jacksonville, Fl. from 1991-1996.  We, then, were called to Christus Victor in Naples, Fl. from 1996-2022 until I retired.  I became the Interim Pastor at Christ Lutheran, Cape Coral in 2023.  My wife, Sherry, and I now live in Magnolia Landing in North Fort Myers and we are both excited to be in ministry with the faithful at Messiah Lutheran.  It’s an honor to be in Christ’s service with you all through this time of transition.

Parish Administrator

Scott VanBaaren Synod Parish Deacon

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A native of New Jersey, Scott has lived in Florida since 2003 and he has been a member of MLC since 2008. Scott began serving Messiah Lutheran Church as Parish Administrator in January of 2017. He brings a wealth of experience in Church Administration to the parish office having served in various parish and Christian college offices for over ten years. He obtained an A.A. degree with a specialization in Liberal Arts from Ocean County College in 2000 followed in 2002 by a B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in Philosophy from Felician University, both in New Jersey.  He has completed coursework toward a Master's Degree in Religious Education and spent the final two years of his college career in College Seminary while discerning a call to the priesthood. He and Al currently reside in North Fort Myers FL.

Scott was commissioned as a Synod Parish Deacon in the Florida Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in November of 2019. With the departure of Pastor Richard Leseganich in January of 2024, Scott was placed on the inactive list of Synod Parish Deacons. On May 5, 2024, he was re-instated as Synod Parish Deacon, with the permission of Bishop Pedro Suarez, to serve concurrent with Pastor Tom Slater's term as interim pastor.

Director of Music

Dr. David Gomez, D.M.A.

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Dr. David Gomez is an accomplished musician, conductor, academic, educator, and global classical music industry business leader. He has deep experience directing an array of music programs encompassing K-12, community, sacred, collegiate, and professional levels. He also has experience working across prestigious musical institutions such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and in leading important music programs at the New York City All-City Choir, Brooklyn Borough-Wide Chorus, the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory, The Stamford Chorale, the First Congregational Church of Stamford, the New York City Summer Arts Institute, the University of Oklahoma, Five Towns College, the University of South Florida, and Florida SouthWestern State College. Additionally, he led international music festivals in the US, UK, and Spain, including collaboration with the London International Choral Festival and the Madrid Classical Music Festival.

Dr. Gomez’s experience includes leadership and management roles in the global classical music industry in which he has particular skills in managing diverse artist relations, identifying new music talent, developing relationships, coordinating with boards, patrons, and stakeholders, raising funding, managing budgets, designing and executing music programs, and promoting large-scale events across traditional and digital media platforms. In addition to his experience, his diverse formation sets him apart. He is an American and Spanish citizen and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. He holds a unique academic research focused on music throughout the Spanish-speaking world. He has studied across Latin America and Europe, including earning a Fulbright Scholarship to study the music of Vivaldi in Venice, and a full scholarship to complete a Doctorate in Conducting at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Gomez’s career has offered him the opportunity to thrive in urban, suburban, and cosmopolitan settings. All of his unique experiences give him a deep understanding of a myriad of cultures and perspectives, which permit him to infuse his work with an outlook that few others have.

Director, Handbell Choir

Judith King

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Judith King serves as director of handbell music at Messiah Lutheran Church. Originally from Vermont, Judith is a member of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringing, has rung handbells for over 30 years and was a charter member of the Southwest Florida Handbell Ensemble. In 2013 Judith attended the International Handbell Symposium in Liverpool, Great Britain. While in England she participated in ringing at a tower bell rehearsal at St. Michael's Anglican Church in Garston. Earlier this year Judith traveled throughout Ireland and Scotland visiting several cathedrals, some with handbell choirs and/or tower bell choirs. She had the privilege of accompanying the bell ringers in the tower at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland to toll the bells for Sunday services. While in central Scotland she participated in a handbell rehearsal in Dunkeld and attended the Dunblane Cathedral ringers handbell concert featuring their three versatile advanced choirs. Judith plays tenor drum for the Harp and Thistle Bagpipe Band from Naples, Florida, which placed first in the state of Florida 2015 Highland Games. Judith also plays mountain dulcimer and is a member of the Southwest Florida Dulcimer club. Judith enjoys reading, English Country dancing, Contra dancing and has achieved the three levels of the Florida Master Naturalist program.

Director, Kids Connection ELC

Carmen Orozco

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Ms. Carmen has been the director of Kid's Connection since 2007, and before that was assistant director for 3 years.  She has a Bachelor's Degree in psychology and sociology, and an associate's degree in Human Services and Early Childhood Development.

Ms. Carmen is married and has three children and six grandchildren.