Weekly Devotion February 29, 2024

Faith and Flooring

The new floor in the Wesley building lobby is almost completely installed. This project is part of a long process we started this year of updating the lobby with paint, furniture, decorations, and, of course, new floors. Thank you to everyone who contributed their volunteer labor and funds for this much needed project.

But, the flooring project was most interesting to me. I never really thought about the floor until my attention was directed to it. My eyes rarely looked down, I only saw the need for paint and other eye-catching décor. Our project coordinator said, “We need to do this. The original brown tiles have turned green!” Really? Green? So I walked to the building and turned my head down. Sure enough, it was obvious. I saw the green haze on every single tile in the room. Fourteen years of sunlight damaged the color and finish of the tiles. Now I can’t stop seeing it every time I walk through that space. Many of you told me you, too, never noticed the ugly green haze until I brought it up in worship.

We didn’t notice the need for new flooring until someone called our attention to it.

The same is true of our Christian life. We are about halfway through the season of Lent and I’ve been preaching about avoiding the seven deadly sins and encouraging the seven virtues. I’m calling attention to the spiritual equivalent of our ugly green flooring that we need to renovate.

This season and this sermon series made me look at my own weaknesses and need for Christ’s grace. When I preached about gluttony, I became acutely aware of my absent-minded snacking and unhealthy choices on my plate. When I preached about envy and greed, I saw all the places in my heart where I was obsessed with other people’s successes and my own unhealthy desire for material things. This week–Wrath and Patience. Lord have mercy on me! I have felt wrath more times over the last couple of years than ever before in my life. Maybe you have, too.

I’m grateful for this Lenten season even if it is unpleasant to face the places I need to do better in my spirit. We need sermons and people and disciplines to help us look at the weak or broken places we never notice. I’m thankful to God for the opportunity to rip it out those ugly places out and start anew with Christ’s forgiveness, love, and grace. Thank God for the renovation of the spirit and happy Lent to us all!

Rev. Zack

Easter Eggs Needed!

Please bring in candy or treat filled Easter Eggs to use for our 1st Annual First Kids Easter Egg on Easter Sunday. Drop off bins will be located in the Wesley Lobby and the Asbury Building. Thank you!

Weekly Devotion February 22, 2024

As a Youth Director, I often find solace in reflecting on my deep roots in the church and my extensive involvement in the youth group—a tradition passed down from my parents and grandparents, who themselves served as youth leaders. Presently, our youth at FUMC are immersed in a series exploring the complexities of relationships.

My formative years at Smyrna Presbyterian, a church much like ours in size, were characterized by the vibrant camaraderie of our youth group. Together, we embarked on meaningful missions, reveled in spirited games, and shared in both laughter and tears, unwittingly forging bonds that have endured over time. During my senior year, the arrival of a new pastor brought his son, Miles, whose passion for the outdoors mirrored my own. What began as friendship soon blossomed into romance, culminating in our marriage sixteen years ago.

However, Miles was not the only relationship I formed within our youth group. Since our relocation to Rutledge eight years ago, five other cherished members of our youth group have also made this community their home, enriching our lives in countless ways. Most recently, a dear friend from New Mexico joined our ranks, further reinforcing the enduring bonds of fellowship that have united us since our early church days. He joined us as a volunteer for our indoor rock climbing day.

While the demands of raising families and pursuing careers may have led to periods of less frequent communication, our friendships remained steadfast. Each reunion transported us back to our high school youth group, united by shared experiences and unwavering faith in Christ.

“Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)

Now, I have the privilege of witnessing our youth at FUMC build similar relationships with each other. As you know relationships and teenage years often can be difficult But These teens are putting in the work they are showing up to youth engaged and recently our group is getting even bigger. They are laying the groundwork for strong foundations in Christ, forging lasting friendships and creating unforgettable memories here at FUMC. It is such an honor to watch them laugh and have fun together all while worshiping Jesus.


Jen Buzbee

Mission Trip: Hildale, Utah

In June, a group of Pointe of Grace dancers, teachers, and parents (including several members of our church) will travel to Hildale, Utah on our second mission trip. We were honored to serve in this same community for a week last April and look forward to going back.  Hildale (also known as Short Creek) was the home of a fundamentalist sect of the Morman church known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or FLDS. Their leader Warren Jeffs, was arrested and sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for the forced marriage of underage girls. The corrupt leadership and subsequent arrest of Warren Jeffs left the people of this community traumatized and very disillusioned by organized religion.  Over 70% of the people have left the FLDS church and have no professed faith. Hildale is still a polygamous community with most homes having three or four wives and forty to fifty children. Warren Jeffs’ leadership also damaged the economy in Hildale, and the community is still struggling to overcome those economic struggles.

Our mission group partners with SCORE International and Community of Grace Church to conduct a free dance camp as an avenue to share the love of Christ with the children of the community. Since we are working with the local church, our dance camps provide the pastor and church members with an avenue to draw people in and begin to build relationships with the unchurched people of the community. Many of the children are neglected, particularly the girls, so we are honored to share our love of dance and love for Jesus with them. We will also participate in traditional mission trip activities like working in the church’s thrift store, cleaning, and light construction. Last year we unloaded a semi-truck of materials for the church thrift store, organized the craft room at the Dream Center (a home for people escaping the FLDS) and did cleaning and painting at the home of a former FLDS member.  We will be staying in a hotel that is run by a former FLDS family. Over the course of the week last year, we began to build a strong rapport with the hotel owner and her daughters as well as several of the other parents of dancers. We look forward to continuing to build those relationships and pray for opportunities to share the Gospel. Our goal is to share the love of Jesus in many different ways and share The Gospel when we have the opportunity.

If you would like to give your offering to support this mission, please note on your offering note.
You can give online HERE.
Please contact Katie Anderson for any additional information.

February 11, 2024 Worship



February 4, 2024 Worship






January 28, 2024 Worship

9AM Worship

11AM Worship

Weekly Devotion | The Good News | 2/8/24

Where are You Going?

Last weekend some friends gave us free tickets to the Atlanta RV show. Hundreds of them were on display. There are travel trailers of all shapes and sizes, fancy conversion vans, 5th wheel mobile apartments, and semi-trailer sized palaces on wheels. The intoxicating, new-car-like smell of fresh glue, vinyl, and clean fabrics can cause you to make a bad decision on a purchase. One doesn’t think clearly when you see the amazing camping comfort you can have for just 5% down and payments forever.

The RV show reminded me of when Leigh and I thought about taking a year off and hitting the road in an RV. Yes, we wanted to renovate a RV, home-school our children, and see what adventures lay out there for us. We were serious about it. We started home-schooling for a semester and laid out a realistic budget for the journey. We met a few “full-timers” and even hosted a popular podcaster in our driveway for a weekend. Turns out that living on the road is pretty expensive, if you want health insurance and to eat well. We realized the RV lifestyle is not as glamorous as we thought and eventually tabled the idea.

God is not without a sense of humor. There was a booth at the show featuring  the “RV nomads”, a United Methodist mission group. The Nomads live in RV’s and travel around the US helping communities in a variety of ways. I wasn’t sure if it was God or the devil tapping me on the shoulder to remind me of our dreams of sabbatical year.

I’m glad that the Holy Spirit led us away from hitting the road in an RV. There was something better in store for us as a family. We were appointed to a church in the beautiful Northeast Georgia mountains and enjoyed 4½ years of lake life and all hiking and camping I could handle. It was nice to have a warm house and shower to come home, too. I didn’t understand it at the time, but Jesus accommodated our wanderlust and the calling to serve a church by luring us away from the RV lifestyle.

I pray that if you are considering selling it all and hitting the road or just wanting to start a new spiritual discipline, that you spend time in careful, prayerful discernment. Lent, which starts this coming Wednesday, February 14th is a great time to contemplate your spiritual, family, career, and life goals. The 40-day season of Lent encourages us to simplify our lives and be intentional with our spirituality. Whatever changes you may be facing, do what the old hymn says, “take it to the Lord in prayer” this season of Lent.



First Church Retreat

First Retreat Complete

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

Last Saturday, 55 church members from our committees and general membership gathered to consider what God would have us do in the coming year. It was my first churchwide retreat as your pastor. I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm and creativity of the participants as we established several goals and priorities for the coming year.

Claire Bowen, our facilitator, guided us in a reflection on the changes in the past year in our congregation. We specifically addressed examples of welcome and unwelcome changes. As we talked around the tables, we saw how the stages of grief apply to us when change happens. When the status quo is changed, we have a “date with disillusionment”. Our responses vary from being in frozen denial, angry, bargaining, depression, testing, and finally acceptance. Sometimes we are thrown back into another stage of grief, but we are always moving toward healing. Confession to God and being with each other in a church community are our first steps to healing.

We also spent time looking at our present state and future state of ministries.

We celebrated the present state of children and youth ministries, volunteer involvement, a friendly worship environment, and increases in membership and new visitors. Present challenges such as financial losses, gaps in music ministry, future direction of the denomination, and a few remaining holes in adult ministry were listed as well. We encouraged the current staff members, who are poised to have great ministries in the coming year.

Our final task was to “Focus on our Future”, and the Holy Spirit didn’t disappoint. Our participants came up with dozens of ideas. Through a fun voting exercise, we narrowed our priorities in the coming months. Certainly, we will maintain and grow the excellent ministries we currently support. However, some new opportunities rose to the top of the list. They include:

  1. Improving our senior adult ministries
  2. Completing an inventory of our church members needs
  3. Reaching families with children with topics that impact them
  4. Increasing and streamlining communication channels
  5. Increasing the traditional service attendance

Now the work begins.

Our staff and volunteers will develop plans to achieve these goals in the coming months. Be watching for announcements that chart our progress this coming year. As opportunities arise, consider jumping on board to help. Fortunately, there are several ideas that are already in progress, like streamlining our communication channels. Please pray for the church as we begin this exciting year of ministry together!