Meet FLC


First Lutheran Church is active and welcoming. We are committed to Jesus Christ and excited to build His kingdom through worship, study, and reaching out to those who have yet to learn of His amazing grace and love.

No greater peace and joy can be found than in Jesus, our Lord and Savior! He died on the cross and rose again, that in Him we would have the free gift of forgiveness and everlasting life in heaven. It is our joy and privilege to grow in that Good News and bring it to Clearwater, Pinellas County and beyond!

There is place for everyone at First Lutheran: those of any age, families, singles, the lonely, the broken, and the curious. We welcome you to join us for worship, study and fellowship opportunities as we share the Lord’s blessings at First Lutheran Church.

The Church

First Lutheran church was organized on June 8th, 1941, and has been faithful to Christ and His word through worship, study and service ever since. In 2016, First Lutheran celebrated its 75th anniversary!

First Lutheran accepts and teaches the unswerving truth of the Bible and the Biblically faithful teachings of Martin Luther: Grace Alone-God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him, and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly, Scripture Alone-The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in
which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine, Faith Alone-By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.

First Lutheran is a member congregation the LCMS-Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Faithful to the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions, the LCMS serves in all fifty states and around the world through congregations, schools, universities, seminaries and hospitals.

Mission Statement

We are deeply committed to our Savior Jesus Christ – desiring to lengthen and strengthen His Kingdom through worship and caring groups. Our Core Values are: Word, Outreach, Service, and Excellence.

Vision Statement

To become an inviting refuge as we reach out and build up Christ’s caring community.

Our Pastor – Rev. Philip J. Rigdon

Pastor Philip John Rigdon has served as Senior Pastor of First Lutheran Church and School since October 2015. Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Pastor Rigdon completed a bachelor’s degree in education at Concordia University, Chicago before serving as a missionary in Taiwan, R.O.C. After returning to the United States, Pastor Rigdon served as a Minister of Outreach and school teacher at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and School and completed a master degree in education. He began his seminary studies in 2008 and was ordained at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church and School in Avon, Indiana, where he served as Associate Pastor. He and his wife, Jamelyn, have been married since 2010 and have a chinchilla named Sunshine. Pastor Rigdon is a published author and enjoys playing the guitar and running.


Favorite Bible Verse: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Our Vicar – Andrew Apple

Vicar Andrew Apple has served on staff at First Lutheran Church and School since 2015. He is currently a seminarian at Concordia Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, while serving his vicarage at First Lutheran Church and School. This allows Andrew to engage in his theological education while continuing to serve in the church where he will be ordained as an associate pastor in 2018.  A native to Florida, Andrew completed his undergraduate education with a Bachelor’s degree in Ministry and Leadership from Trinity College of Florida. Andrew originally served as a pastor in a non-denominational church before leaving his former perish and converting to the Lutheran faith. Andrew’s life was transformed by an understanding that the love and grace of God cannot be earned or accepted, but freely bestowed upon us by Jesus. The love that Christ has shown to him empowers Andrew to serve in his local church and community. Andrew lives in Clearwater with his wife Renaann and son, Samuel. They enjoy visiting small towns, biking, and the outdoors.


Favorite Bible Verse:  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

Our Minister of Music – Mrs. Ann Hinz

Ann Hinz has been the Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church and School for the last fifteen years. Originally from West Bend, Mrs. Hinz received her Bachelor of Arts degree in the education and Director of Parish Music program from Concordia University Chicago where she also completed her master’s degree in the Master of Parish Music program studying under Dr. Thomas Gieschen, Dr. Kelly Waldschmidt, Dr. Carl Schalk, and Dr. Stephen Wente. Prior to serving at First Lutheran, Mrs. Hinz served as classroom teacher and director of music at Zoar Lutheran Church and School, Elmwood Park, Illinois and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and School in Park Ridge, Illinois. She also served as Director of Music/Music teacher at Zion Lutheran Church and School, Hinsdale, Illinois and St. John Lutheran Church and School, Lombard, Illinois. Mrs. Hinz and her husband Dave have two grown children, Erica and Zachary, a dog and three cats. In her spare time, Mrs. Hinz enjoys gardening and living in beautiful Clearwater.


Favorite Bible Verse:  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  Colossians 3:23

Our Principal – Elaine Popp

Elaine Popp has lived in Clearwater since 1970 when her family moved after her father retired from the Air Force. After graduating from Clearwater High School she attended the University of Florida and then graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois in 1980. She took her first call to California and taught in two Lutheran schools in the Los Angeles area for 10 years . In California she also completed her Master’s Degree. Upon returning to Florida in 1990, she became a teacher at First Lutheran School. She has taught 3rd,4th and 5th grades as well as some middle school classes . In 2002 she also took on the role of principal. Mrs. Popp is married to Kurt Popp and has 2 step sons, Joe and Andy and is looking forward to becoming a grandma this January. In her spare time she enjoys fostering puppies for the Suncoast Animal League. She also loves watching sports and is a huge Gator fan! Having the confidence that God’s plans are always for our best is so comforting. He has blessed First Lutheran School with a great faculty, parents and students and we have the assurance that will continue long into our future. Mrs. Popp counts it as one of her greatest joy to have the privilege of sharing in the ministry of First Lutheran Church and School for the past 27 years.


Favorite Bible Verse:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11