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Pastor shows passion for Lightning through signs

by Mike G. Morreale /

Pastor Tyler Moore is passionate about spreading the good news of the church and the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As assistant pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church and School in St. Petersburg and Largo, Fla., Moore has taken it to a new spiritual level during these Stanley Cup Playoffs with headlines on the sign in front of the Largo church that combine theology and hockey.

"I've been a big Lightning fan for a long time so I was thinking how much fun it would be to create signs after a win each game during the playoffs," Moore said. "I know we are a church. But at the same time, church is a community organization. [The Lightning] are something the community is rallying around right now so that was the catalyst."

Moore thinks up something new to celebrate every Lightning win.

"I'll be walking through the school and kids will shout to me, 'Go Lightning!'" Moore said. "They ask me what the sign will say tomorrow. I've actually had moments when, while handing out communion, the kids will whisper in my ear, 'Go Lightning.'"

He said his most creative message was the one prior to this Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers that read: "Learn From Adam & Eve. Say No To The Big Apple."

Moore, 29, has been married for seven years to his wife Cassie.

"Cassie is also theologically trained and is a big hockey fan, but she also serves as my editor when it comes to writing the signs," Moore said. "She will tell me if she thinks no one would understand a Bible reference or if no one would get the hockey reference. She kind of keeps me honest."

Moore said he wanted to post the messages during last year's playoffs, but because the postseason started right before Easter he wasn't sure if he could get away with signs reading "Go Lightning" right before the holiday. By the time Easter had passed, the Lightning were trailing the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in an Eastern Conference First Round series they lost in four games.

Moore mentioned his idea prior to this year's playoffs to senior pastor Paul Burtzlaff and was given the green light.

"It's tough because you are trying to balance what you think people know about the Bible or church and then the understanding of the hockey reference," Moore said." I tend to skew it more toward the hockey side; it has to be witty and fit on the sign."

The school in St. Petersburg, which is preschool through eighth grade, had an "Our Savior of Lightning Day" two weeks ago. The children were encouraged to wear Lightning gear instead of their usual school uniform.

"We had almost 100 percent participation and a lot of kids had original jerseys; that's commitment when you consider how hot it is in Florida this time of the year," Moore said.

Moore has attended two playoff games this spring.

"I don't want people to think the church is taking life too seriously; we like to laugh. And being a Lutheran church, I'll quote Martin Luther who said, 'If there's no laughter in heaven I don't want to be there,'" Moore said. "I like to let people know that I'm a hockey fan and that I'm a Lightning fan, and I also take great pride in my job as a pastor."


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