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  • Pastor Don Zlaty

Consumers, Practical Atheists, and Followers of Jesus . . . . . . . . A note from Pastor Don

In America, over 220 million people claim to follow Jesus Christ. That amounts to almost 61% of our entire country’s population. This should be good news and yet only about 20 percent of this number attend a church service at least once a month. Christianity today has lost its way. Many people have forgotten how to live through the teachings of Jesus; they have forgotten that they are to die to their old selves only to pick up a new life through Christ. Christians today fall into three categories: The practical atheist, the consumer, and the genuine followers of Christ. Two of the three categories are spectators of the Christian faith while those who follow Christ are doers of the faith. As a Christian, we should be aware of how our actions quantify the way we experience our faith. Here is a brief breakdown of the characteristics of each category.

Practical Atheists:

The practical atheist declares that they believe in God. They may also say they believe in Jesus as well. Sadly, that is as far as they go in terms of living out their faith in Christ. The practical atheist can melt into any gathering, demonstrate an appropriate level of worship and Christian fellowship, and say what people want to hear concerning their position on things like grace, salvation, God, etc… What is missing is that there is no divine evidence of transformation in their lives. They live as they wish, do what they want, treat people however is advantageous to them or their agenda, and they do this all under the guise that they are “Good Christians.” When confronted, the practical atheist will be insulted or devoid of the ability of spiritual accountability. Many practical atheists are men. Men struggle with the idea of submitting to God. Many men have grown up being taught the “tough guy” lessons of showing strength at all costs and suppressing one’s emotions as much as possible. Following Jesus is difficult because it requires us to be vulnerable to God; to submit ourselves to Christ, and to follow the directions of the Holy Spirit.

The Consumers:

Consumers are the largest segment of Christians in America. Consumers will take portions of the faith they like and discard the things they find uncomfortable to deal with. Consumers find all sorts of worldly excuses as to why they cannot participate fully in their faith. They are too busy, too tired, too something or another. This consumer mentality extends to what a person believes as well. For example, Christian consumers pick and choose how to interpret God’s word and how to obey Christ’s commands. We have seen this happen in our own churches in this very district. All of this “consumeriz-ing” has left us scattered and broken apart. When a consumer decides they don’t like something, they simply move somewhere else that provides their desires. This is dangerous as accountability often chases the consumer away. Spiritual growth stops when we pick and choose God’s lessons.

Followers of Christ:

Only two percent of Christians in America today follow Jesus with all their hearts, minds, and strength. This is about 880,000 people. A follower of Christ loves like Jesus, serves like Jesus, has empathy and compassion like Jesus, are selfless like Jesus, generous like Jesus, and they embrace the transformation that comes to them through the Holy Spirit. Followers of Jesus know peace, have hope, experience joy, and share the love that only knowing Jesus can bring. A follower of Jesus gives of their time, talent, and treasure because it is an honor to serve our Lord and Savior. Followers of Jesus change the world around them through their witness and commitment to Christ.

As members of First UMC, I pray that we all seek to be followers of Christ. No matter what we start off as we can always turn to the Holy Spirit to help us change. My challenge to all of you brothers and sisters of Christ is that you look into the spiritual mirror of your faith and assess what group you belong to. Once this is done, ask God to guide you to where he wants you to be. Remember that you are loved and belong to God.

In His service always,

Pastor Don



Second Sunday Giving for August is C’ville Blessing Boxes. Items needed are canned food, soup, crackers, boxed potatoes & creamy peanut butter. Items will be placed in the Blessing Boxes throughout the community and must be non-perishable. These items are used by families in need and also homeless people in search of something to eat. Please keep this in mind when you donate your items.



I want to thank my church family for all the cards, calls and visits during the last couple of months. I’m feeling better and my family is taking good care of me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Saranne

Thanks to all who helped me celebrate my birthday with cake and many cards. And, on a sad note, all who sent condolence cards and came to the calling and service of my sister-

in-law, Martha B. Wicker.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim

A huge thank you to George and Carol Henry, Nate and Rachel Pfeiffer and Tara and Jason

Madden for finding a solution to clear out the clinic rooms! All the medical equipment, supplies, and furniture were donated to FAME, a world-wide Christian organization that provides medical evangelism. FAME was thrilled with the donation and we know that it will be used to help with medical needs and show the light of Christ.

Thank you also to the Trustees, Pastor Don and Jackie for all your help.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gina and Steve


· NEEDED: Volunteers to serve the community meal provided the second Sunday of each month. If you are interested but would like someone else to help, please contact the church office and Ava will be happy to help coordinate this effort. This is an important part of our church outreach! Sign-up sheets are located at the back of the sanctuary.

· We are collecting aluminum cans to help sponsor a fundraiser for our local Cancer Society. Bagged cans may be dropped off by the sign at his residence 725 W. 29th Street.

· NEEDED: Volunteers to host the Hospitality Room on Sunday mornings. Just need to bring breakfast snacks i.e., donuts, fruit, cookies, muffins…….. Sign- up sheet is located on the table in the Hospitality Room.

· Women of Faith: Formerly known as the UMW, are accepting GOOD, GENTLY USED items for their next indoor/outdoor sale. If you have things that you don’t use anymore, please consider donating them. Proceeds from the sale help support their mission projects. Items may be brought to the church throughout working hours.

· The Franklin County Retired Teachers Association are once again trying to build their scholarship funds by collecting gently used shoes. The shoes will be boxed and shipped elsewhere for distribution to needy families. In return, the FCRTA will receive funds for however many pounds of shoes that are shipped. These shoes may be any style, baby shoes, flip flops, heels to boots. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 765-825-8506 The shoes may be dropped off at the church.

· Teacher Bonanza is August 12th from 9:00am till Noon, on the parking lot of the church. If anyone would like to volunteer to help hand out supplies, please contact our office.

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  • Pastor Don Zlaty

Note from Pastor Don

Of all the minor prophets of the Old Testament, Jonah stands out to me as a person who knew God, had awe of God and still refused to do what God had commanded of him. We will talk more about that in this month’s sermon series on the book of Jonah. I want to concentrate on something different here.

Jonah was upset that God was going to show mercy to people who Jonah felt had earned God’s wrath as a proper form of justice.

Like Jonah, we sometimes allow our desire for that pound of flesh to supersede God’s command to love. Many people have said that when something bad happens to someone it is “karma.” It is our way of saying that someone got what they deserved; that justice had been served in some way or another.

God’s justice is different. God wants us to fly right. He wants this so much that He sent Jesus us to die in our place. Justice for our sinfulness and rebellion had to be answered for and Jesus paid that price.

People have said that “sinners go to hell.” This is true but not as simple as they think. The term “sinner” was often used as a derogative against people who did not follow the constraints of a particular culture. In Christ’s time, tax collectors and Samaritans were considered the worst form of sinners. It is interesting to see how easily this culture degraded a person that did not fit in to their concept of righteousness.

We have this problem today. Division is running rampant. We are divided by our beliefs, our political associations, our entitlements, our color, our sex, our life choices, where we live, how we live, our money, our social standing, our popularity, and our notoriety to name a few disharmony points. Each group believes that they are righteous and that all other are “sinners.” We see that in how we treat one another.

To God, we are ALL sinners and the wages of that sin is death (Death with a capital “D” meaning hell and the complete separation from God for eternity.) This is what every human being is judged by. The Good News is that Jesus died to cover that sin which means NOBODY is beneath God’s mercy and grace. No one experiences God’s wrath here on earth. What we see as justice being satisfied is actually the worst sin we can commit! It is a lack of compassion, mercy, and grace. It is an action or belief divest of love… No love – No God…

So, what am I trying to say here. I believe that the answer to the issues in our families, churches, communities, country, and the world around us is the application of MORE love not less. Justice for us should be represented by our going out into this world of sinners and sharing the Good News that God loves people and that Jesus died for all of us even though we don’t deserve that. God’s justice is steeped in mercy and grace.

As we look at the crazy world around us, I would like to make this plea:

Love God with no reservation. Love others with the mercy and grace that God first showed to you. Work toward building bridges in people’s lives that lead them to Jesus. Learn to communicate with people unlike yourself knowing that love does not need agreement as a precursor. Love like you mean it!

My friends, as we continue on our journey together I want you all to know that I love you, God loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it. God bless and prayers for all of you.

In His service always,

Pastor Don


Thoughts from your Finance and Administrative Council Chair

Some of the thoughts I will be expressing are “repeats” from prior letters and committee reports on Stewardship Sundays. Some will be more recent and current. I am hoping you will read all with an open mind, and even add your own thoughts in newsletters to come. Spoiler alert: the topic is GIVING!

I have a little book called “Stewardship, Nurturing Generous Giving, a guideline published by the Methodist Church. In that book, is says that we are charged with “building a culture of generosity in the church.” Well, for many in THIS church, it is evident that that culture of generosity has already been built, and is part and parcel of the values of most of our members. So instead of “building” a culture of generosity, I will talk about sustaining that culture, and expanding it to become “extravagant generosity fostering sacrificial giving.”

It tells us in the Bible that Jesus was bold when speaking about money. So, I’m going to be BOLD, too. Even though we have kept the budget as lean as possible, the fact remains that our tithing is not keeping up with expenses.

Yes, that budget reflects utility bills and staff compensation, but it is actually about MINISTRY AND MISSION.

Stewardship is about faithfulness to God. We don’t want you to think about giving to a budget, but supporting in faith the ministries that enable us to fulfill our vision and mission. Jesus wants us to be giving, loving generous people.

I will close with this from 2nd Corinthians 9: 7-8: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”


On August 12, 2023, First UMC will be hosting a Back To School Bonanza!

At this event, First UMC will be giving Fayette County teachers needed room supplies.

Below you will find a list of these supplies. There will be a box at the back of the sanctuary for donated items. You may also donate cash OR visit our Amazon wish list by clicking on the image above. Thanks for supporting our teachers!


New Bible Study Begins

You are ALL invited to join the bible study group meeting Tuesday mornings from 10:30 to noon in the lounge. ALL means ALL: both men AND women.

After studying the book “The Circle Maker”, those attending regularly decided to continue to meet, and seek to grow even deeper in our faith and prayer life.

Activities for the classes are chosen to create comradery and to have FUN! The curriculum we are following is called “Fearless Conversation; Is God In Control Of My Life?”

These are discussions from Joshua, Ruth and Esther. If you are not able to attend each time; no worries – just come when you can. (And Jim always has coffee ready for those who need another jolt of caffeine).

Reminder: We will not be meeting on July 4th, as most will be busy celebrating Independence Day.


Call Pastor Don at church 765-825-8506.



Eve Circle

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Meeting: July 20, 6:30 p.m. at First UMC



Thank you for all the way you make this world a brighter one. We couldn’t keep our pantry stocked without the support of others. Thank you for your donations, we truly appreciate it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Grace Food Pantry


I just don’t even know where to start in thanking my church family for their love and support during my health issues. I’ve always prided myself that I was a “tough ole bird”, but this time around, I really began to have my doubts!

Thank you for all the prayers, cards, words of encouragement, food, phone calls . . . . . . . It has meant so much to me!

A special thank you to Phil Greene who convinced me that I needed to go to the Emergency Room. You were right, my hemoglobin was critically low! I hate to think what kind of shape I would be in had I waited.

Another huge, huge thank you to Pastor Don and Jackie. They kept us well stocked in food, for which I am grateful as I do like to eat! Plus the checking in on me and taking the time to drive me to my doctor’s appointments. Let me tell you, our Pastor knows more about me than any pastor should ever know!

I absolutely love my church family and hope to be back really soon! Much love to all. . . . . .. . . Ava


I want to thank my church family for all the cards, calls and visites during the last couple of months. I’m feeling better and my family is taking good care of me. . . . . . . Saranne P.



Second Sunday Giving for July is Community Sharing. Items needed are canned food, boxed mac & cheese, peanut butter, pasta.


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