Gospel Gazette: January 2023

It’s Grow Time: Make 2023 your year to learn and strengthen your faith.

In this issue:

  • Pastor David Averill shares hopes and plans for the year ahead.
  • The Pathway to Christ Bible reading plan for 2023: three ways to read with us.
  • Confirmation 2023: What students need to know.
  • Learn more about our upcoming trip to Turkey and Greece during a lunch info session.
  • Upcoming winter retreats for two age groups.
  • Writers needed for Lenten devotional
  • Living Love at the Art Festival
  • New Bible Studies beginning this month
  • The Fifth Avenue Thrift Shoppe creates change through donation of proceeds.
  • News, updates, and more!

Read as a digital flipbook »

LEARN: THIS IS MY THEME WORD FOR 2023I believe it is better to pick a word to guide our walk with God for the year than to pick an unrealistic resolution for the New Year. My approach to ministry is that I learn from you and you learn from me. I think people would be surprised to know how much a pastor grows spiritually by serving the flock. I see Jesus in you. I hope you see Jesus in me. My role as a pastor is one of many in the congregation where the Holy Spirit is guiding us toward fulfillment of God’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”. I firmly believe in shared leadership in the local church because this is how the Spirit works through the church to make God’s Kingdom a lived reality in the world.

In making the Kingdom a reality for Mount Dora  First UMC, the Church Council made the decision to form a long-range planning committee in May 2022, called the Vision 2030 Team. In October 2022, the Church Conference elected members of the Vision 2030. The Vision 2030 Team will begin its work under the guidance of the Church Council in January 2023.

The hope is that we as a church can develop a direction and plan to help us face future with confidence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I anticipate the Vision 2030 will present some significant ideas to the Church Council for the growth and renewal of our church. I am excited to see some of these initiatives unfold in the next 12 to 18 months as a churchwide spiritual journey.

Speaking of spiritual journeys, I am beginning, on January 8th, a 6-week message series on the Apostle Paul. In response, a few of you may want to sign up for the October 2023 tour of Greece and Turkiye that Alesia and I are leading. The trip will trace the footsteps of Paul’s Journeys (see the newsletter for more information about this trip in the newsletter).

The message series will explore what leads a man to travel thousands of miles by sea and by land. Paul was beaten, imprisoned and ultimately laid down his life for  his call, a call to follow Jesus. The Apostle Paul is a man second only to Jesus in his impact and influence on the Christian faith. Join us as we retrace Paul’s journey, and study the remarkable life and life-changing message of the Apostle Paul during this 6-week message.

I praise God for the ways that God continually grows and shapes us by the Holy Spirit.

With Joy on the Journey,

David Averill

2023 Bible Reading Plan 

Join us as we journey through the Bible on its Pathway to Christ. This is a 5-day-a-week, 260-day plan that highlights foundational passages of Scripture. Weekends are set aside for catch-up days as needed. There are multiple ways to access the reading plan: 

  • On our website, where you will also find helpful videos about each book. Bookmark it so it’s easy to find later!
  • On the YouVersion Bible app. This version is made especially for our church.
  • Pick up a printed copy in the Sanctuary.
More Bible Studies & Classes

THE BLENDED FAMILY / Wednesdays, 6:30pm, Thrift Shoppe North Room. Begins January 11. The most common family unit in America is the blended family, in which partners with children from previous relationships form a new family unit. Blended families experience similar challenges as nuclear families, as well as additional challenges like step-parenting, step-sibling relationships, and coparenting with ex-partners.  Led by Jill and Mike Zolty, veterans of blending a family, this course will address the six most prominent challenges of blending. Contact the church office to reserve a space.

PASTOR’S STUDY: ACTS OF THE APOSTLES / Wednesdays, 6:30pm, Chapel + via Zoom and Facebook Live. During this 20-week study, travel alongside the early Christians on a great adventure that continues even today. Email Pastor David to request the Zoom link.

NEW TESTAMENT ESSENTIALS / Wednesdays, 9:30am, Friendship Hall. Begins January 18. Janet Westlake leads this study based on the study book, New Testament Essentials. Book and homework schedule are available in the church office for $15. Daily homework is expected.

Upcoming Tour of Turkey & Greece

SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 12:30PM. Learn about this upcoming 13-day pilgrimage to trace the steps of the Apostle Paul through Greece and Turkey led by Christian travel ministry Educational Opportunities Tours. A free, light lunch will be served beginning at noon. The trip will take place in October 2023. Click here to register or download an itinerary »

More Activities

Friendship Dinners: Wednesdays, 5:30-6:30pm. Adults $7, Children $5, Families of 4+ $25. Includes drink, salad, and dessert. RSVP via phone or Connect Card. Meal Calendar:

  • January 4: Baked Potato & Super Salad Bar
  • January 11: Taco & Nacho Bar
  • January 18: Chicken & Gravy, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes 
  • January 25: Chicken Noodle Casserole

Exercise Class: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9am, Friendship Hall

Christian Book Club: January 11, 3pm, Chapel. This month’s book: Canaries’ Song by Charles Tabb. 

Lake Cares Distribution: Friday, January 20, 7am, Martin Luther King Center. Learn more »

Widowed Support Group: Thursday, January 26, 9:30am, Chapel. Widows and widowers in our community support one another in the journey of grief.

United Women in Faith Meeting Circles: (Naomi Circle) January 10, 10am, Sanctuary Hall / (Hannah Circle) January 19, 1:30pm, Chapel.

Confirmation Classes & Retreat for Barefoot Students

Confirmation is an opportunity to learn what it means to be a Christian, a United Methodist, and a member of this congregation. Seventh through 12th graders interested in participating, please notify Hannah McMahan, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

CLASSES: Tuesdays 7-8pm from February 21-March 8. Each student will be assigned a mentor to guide them through the process.

RETREAT: March 3, 6pm through March 4, 9pm. We will meet at the church and travel together to Warren Willis in the church bus. Pastor David, Hannah, and Janet will chaperone. 

CEREMONY: Sunday, April 2, 9:30am. All participating students will be confirmed before the congregation during the Contemporary service. 

More for Students: Overnight Retreats

Grades 4+5: January 20-21 / Grades 6-12: January 27-29

Volunteer With Us

February 4-5. Our mission of “Loving God, Loving Others” has been experienced by many people during our festival outreach. You have the opportunity to be part of it when you volunteer to greet attendees, guide them to the bathrooms, and highlight our stained glass windows.


  • 8:30-11:30am
  • 11:30am-2:30pm
  • 2:30-5:00pm


  • 12:15-2:30pm
  • 2:30-5:00pm

To reserve a time slot, contact Janet Westlake.

News & Updates

Lenten Devotional Writers Needed: We are looking for members of our congregation to write 200-300 words reflecting on a scripture of their choosing. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Due January 31.

Schedule Your Directory Photos. Photographers will be on campus February 13-15. Participating households receive a directory and a free 8×10. Packages of prints will be available for purchase. Schedule online at ucdir.com (Church Code: FL807 Password: Photos)

Lost & Found: There is a new Lost & Found in the church office. If you have lost something on campus, we just might have it!

2023 Envelopes: Members may pick up their contribution envelopes in the church office. Non-members can request envelopes by calling the office.

2023 Flowers: Find the new flower calendar hanging on the wall in the Sanctuary. Reserve a date to donate flowers in Honor or Memory of someone or something special.

Fifth Avenue Thrift Shoppe Creates Change

The 5th Avenue Thrift Shoppe is delighted to donate $43,031 in proceeds to the following organizations:

  • Africa University: Supports the university in Mutare, Zimbabwe ($281) 
  • Black College Fund: Supports Historical Black Colleges and Universities such as Bethune-Cookman and FAMU ($1,249) 
  • Conference Benevolences: Supports Florida Conference efforts including camping and retreats, campus ministries, disaster response, justice ministries, and Volunteers in Mission ($15,664) 
  • Cuba Partnership: Pastoral support for Calixto, Cuba ($380) 
  • Equitable Compensation and Mission Support: Provides support for ethnic, inner-city, and rural churches ($2,506) 
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes: Staff support for North Lake County FCA ($1,500) 
  • Forward Paths Capitol Campaign: Providing housing for young adults aging out of foster care in Lake County ($3,500) 
  • Haven (A battered women’s shelter): Supporting women and children leaving abusive relationships ($500) 
  • Lake Cares: For the capital campaign to build a new warehouse ($3,500) 
  • Living Love: Involving the congregation in local community service projects ($120) 
  • Ministerial Education Fund: Supports clergy education globally and students in the pastoral candidacy process ($2,702) 
  • Open Door Shelter: Helping Eustis’s homeless population with counseling, career support, and life needs ($1,000) 
  • Vision India Ministries: Covenant relationship with a missionary couple in India, ($1,500) 
  • World Service Fund: Provides support for missionaries and the global church ($8,629) 

The Thrift Shoppe also donated goods and items to The Humane Society, The Clothing Ministry at the First United Methodist Church of Eustis, Forward Paths, Open Door Shelter, and Habitat for Humanity.