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Churches unite to support Myakka City pastor after fire

Seven churches hold benefit to support Myakka Family Worship Center's pastor after his barn burned.

Lynn Howell, the pastor of Myakka Family Worship Center, says he is humbled and honored to see the faith community coming together to support him and his family.
Lynn Howell, the pastor of Myakka Family Worship Center, says he is humbled and honored to see the faith community coming together to support him and his family.
Photo by Liz Ramos
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Whenever someone in his community is in need, Myakka Family Worship Center Pastor Lynn Howell quickly arranges a fundraiser or a plan to help. 

His congregation has raised thousands in the past for such causes.

However, Howell never wanted to be the one receiving the proceeds. 

But on Feb. 25, an accidental fire consumed Howell’s barn along with another barn owned by his neighbor.

Mark Albritton decided to bring the Myakka City faith community together for a benefit on April 6 to support Howell and his family. 

Howell said he was home at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25 when he noticed a fire had broken out behind the barn and was making its way to his neighbor’s barn. He said he doesn’t know the cause of the fire, which is under investigation. 

“It sounded like a war zone there for a little while,” he said.

Howell’s barn not only served as storage for his personal tools and also items for the Myakka Family Worship Center. He used those tools to fix things around the church or to help those in the community who were in need.

He still has five generators, gas cans, tarps and other emergency supplies that weren't lost in the fire.

Howell still catches himself thinking he can go to the barn to grab one of his tools. 

“We’re starting over again,” Howell said. “But God will provide.”

Howell was appreciative of the support from East Manatee Fire Rescue, especially Chief Lee Whitehurst and Battalion Chief Casey Lambert. Howell said Whitehurst stayed by his side all afternoon and helped him through everything.

Howell also said the outpouring of love and support from the community also has been much appreciated.

“Words cannot begin to describe how thankful we are for the response in this community,” Howell said. 

After hearing of the fire, Albritton, who retired as the pastor of Sandy Baptist Church in January, said God was telling him to do something to support Howell and his church. He said it was an impressive response "across denominational lines." 

Albritton said the benefit reminded him of 40 years ago when the churches in Myakka City would come together every year for a sunrise Easter service. Over the years, the churches started going their separate ways and have become more independent, he said. 

“It was always in my heart to bring some unity to our diversity,” Albritton said. 

Members of seven churches are coming together for the benefit, which will include a raffle, bake sale, music and a choir performance. Albritton said members from all the churches will create a choir to sing hymns. There also will be a service at 7 p.m.

Howell said he’s thrilled, humbled and honored to see the faith community coming together for a common goal. 

“There’s a scripture in the Bible that says, ‘Can a man be a prophet in his own homeland?’ The Bible goes on to say, ‘It’s difficult, but for me, it works,’” Howell said. “I’ve lived here all my life. Myakka is a unique community, and I’m honored I get to serve here. … I am tickled pink and I’m grateful the community is rallying around us. It shows the love of this community.”

The proceeds from the benefit will go toward rebuilding his neighbor’s barn as well as replacing the items for the church that were lost in the fire. 

“It’s hard for me to be a receiver, but I can be a giver,” he said. 

If anything can come from the benefit, Howell said he hopes it’s the unity of the community. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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