Pastor’s Ponderings

I am writing this message to you with a deep concern for the physical health of our congregation and the need to be spiritually fed. Over the past two weeks our Worship Design Committee and our Administrative Council have looked at the possibility of returning to worship once again in the Claybanks United Methodist Church Sanctuary. We were carefully looking at returning to worship in the first part of July along with other churches in our area. It has been decided during these past few days that our community is not ready for us to return to worshiping together. With the recent increase of Covid-19 cases in Oceana County and the rising trend in our country, we are not ready to gather together safely in our church building. When the time is right for us to gather together additional communications will be issued by phone, email or postal mail to confirm our re-engaging in worship. To do this we must meet the requirements set before us by the State of Michigan, follow guidelines developed for the re-engaging of churches by the Michigan Conference of United Methodist Churches and the determination to do so by our church leadership. This will not be an easy process and some practices will not be what we have done before as we worship God, in the image of Christ through the guiding of the Holy Spirit.

Please hear and understand when I say this: you must decide for yourself and possibly other family members as to how comfortable you will be in returning to worship in the future. Some of us for health reasons must refrain from gathering together because of the possible health risks Covid-19 poses to those with pre-existing health conditions and other at a greater risk. For those who are just not ready to return to worship and all who will not be with us in worship as we gather together please do not let peer pressure, the habit only of being in worship on Sunday mornings or any other possible influences that might make it uncomfortable for you to be in worship be your only deciding factor. I assure you that we will not judge anyone or place a negative value on your decision to gather in common space worship until you feel comfortable. God knows your heart and wants nothing but safety and your well-being to be his desire.

If and when you so choose to return to worship, please evaluate your health each and every day including Sunday mornings prior to attending worship. People with Covid – 19 have a wide range of symptoms and if you have any of these please stay-at-home, contact your local medical providers and evaluate your current health. Some of the Covid-19 symptoms are: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, feeling nauseous or vomiting, and diarrhea. Should you have any of these symptoms please error on the side of safety for yourself and others that you might come in contact with.

For Sunday morning worship and any time we gather at Claybanks United Methodist Church we will practice safe social and physical distancing. We have developed policies and procedures in which to meet these requirements as much as possible. Wearing of face coverings is required for all with this one exception: those who because of health reasons are not able to where a face covering. We asked that you contact Pastor Gary prior to arriving at church so that we can make accommodations to keep you safe and others safe. All are welcome but certain restrictions will be in place. The entrance and exit to our building will only be through our double door entrance into the Fellowship Hall. As you approach and enter the church building please respect and use safe distancing. The entrance being used is wide and will allow the safest entry into our building. When entering and leaving safe distances are required. Hand sanitizer, sanitized wipes and face coverings will be available at our entrance area please use them. We will have a noncontact thermometer available should it be needed. In the entryway you will find baskets in which you may place your offerings for the day. We ask you to minimize your contact or touching of surfaces within the church. As you approach and enter the church building please respect and use safe distancing. Ushers will be available to seat you in the Sanctuary or in the Fellowship Hall if you prefer and we will use Fellowship Hall as overflow when needed. Please follow the directions of ushers and sit where direct (be open to the new and different perspective from your usual sitting location). We have determined the best possible seating to maximize the number of seats available in the sanctuary keeping safe distances. Bulletins will be placed in the seating areas where the ushers will guide you to. During our worship when we use a call and response, we ask you to respond in soft voices. For the immediate future we will not be singing, Suzanne is selecting music for worship that will touch our souls. To lift up Joys and Concerns we ask you to write them out prior to attending worship or use the forms provided in the pews which the pastor will collect and offer up during our prayer time. To minimize contact our Scripture Readings will be done by our liturgist and should you want to read along we asked that you bring your own Bible to worship. The touching of Bibles and our hymnals in the pews we are asking you to keep to a minimum. At the conclusion of worship, we will dismiss those in the Fellowship Hall first and then working from the back of the church towards the front you will be directed to leave by pew using safe distancing. We asked that you leave the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall and proceed outside so that others can be directed to leave in a timely fashion.

Please be flexible and aware of the changes being made and any adjustments that will be made in the future are to protect you and the others as we gather together in community. It is our prayer that the precautions that we take will be effective in allowing us to continue to meet together in worship as the community of Christ gathers at Claybanks United Methodist Church to give glory and praise to God for the love that he has for us and our church.

We as a church have never closed, so the church does not need to be reopened only re-engaged in worship. We as a church have simply stop worshiping in our building for time to protect the health and well-being of the people in our community. The church does not require a building in order to be the church. What is required to be a church is love, compassion and the presence of God.

May the love of God and the compassion of Christ be in all that you do and say, and may the presence of the Holy Spirit be with you each and every day wherever you might be.

Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff

United Methodist Women

As I sit here in the sun on a Sunday morning, I am remembering an old hymn “Shall we Gather at the River, the Beautiful the Beautiful River”. With that lovely hymn resonating in my heart, I invite any or all the UMW to gather at 1 PM at our church on the 3rd Thursday of July the 16th. We may not be working on the Strawberry Social, but we do need to plan a joyful recognition of our graduates, Kyra, Eric, and Lance. We will have a devotion time with a bit of humor and if permitted, a treat to eat.
It is perfectly okay if you feel you cannot attend because of the Covid-19 pandemic or any other reason. God loves us and we love each other, present or apart. We will maintain social distancing with masks. Bring your own coffee and no offense if treats are declined!
Shalom my friends and sisters in Christ, Edie Bogart

Nursery Schedule

July 5​​ – Cheryl Gaultney
July 12​​ – June Freeman
July 19 ​​- Kathy Ohman
July 26 ​​- Joyce Twiss
August 2 ​​- Doris Graham
August 9 ​​- Carol Adams

Mission Related

During the past couple of years, we as a congregation have supported the Step-Up Program in Muskegon helping young adults moving out of foster care. Dr. Kamps from Step Up has notified us about an open position that they are trying to fill. We are asking if you know of someone that might fulfill the position requirement to let them know about the position.

The Program Coordinator – The Program Coordinator meets weekly with the residents of both men’s and women’s houses to set and evaluate completion of goals for each individual. Areas to be addresses include education, transportation, job seeking, managing finances and the continued development of social skills. The Program Coordinator holds the residents accountable to move forward.

Financial Position -An update on the finances of the Claybanks United Methodist Church.

The financial position of Claybanks United Methodist Church as you would expect has changed during the three-plus months of Covid-19. While many of you have faithfully continued your normal giving, we have experienced a drop in contributions during Covid-19. The month of June has continued to show a decline in giving and to meet our financial obligations we have needed to dip into some of our reserves.

On July 1st which is halfway through our financial year Cinda Moulds, our Church Treasurer, has been asked by our Finance Committee to send out half-year statements to our congregation as a reminder of your commitment to support the Claybanks United Methodist Church with your financial gifts. As we look to coming back together in worship in the near future it is a prayer, hope, and desire that our church community will look at their financial position and support the Claybanks UMC in meeting our financial obligations.

John Wesley
A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
(Contemporary Version)

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven.
Amen.

And Can It Be that I Should Gain
By Charles Wesley

1. And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
o Refrain:
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

2. ’Tis myst’ry all: th’ Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

3. He left His Father’s throne above—
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!

4. Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

5. No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Upcoming Worship Schedule

July 5, 2020
Open to the Leading of the Holy Spirit

July 12, 2020
Psalm 119: 105-112 / Romans 8: 1-11
Christ In You

July 19, 2020
Genesis 28: 10-19a / Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43
The Weeds of the Field
Children’s Message: Flat Stones

July 26, 2020
Guest Worship Leader
Dion Stumpo

Pastor’s Ponderings

As I am writing this Pastor Ponderings, I sit in one of the most difficult decision times of my life. I write this pondering out of love for the Claybanks United Methodist Church. When will we be able to more safely meet in person together as the Body of Christ? I and along with many other church leaders as part of a Christian body lead and guide in a time of considerable uncertainty and with a prayerful hope that we as God’s people are able to work through this, “Once in a lifetime event”. First Corinthians 16:4 speaks to us, “Let all that you do be done in love” and I am also reminded of Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We may be slowly approaching a time when we may once again be able to gather in worship. At the time of this writing we believe it will be at a time after June 15th when the State of Michigan may lift the Emergency Order that will allow for groups of 10 or more to gather in the same place. Bishop Bard and others in leadership in the Michigan Area Conference of the United Methodist Church have developed guidelines to assist us in gathering more safely as we returned to “A more normal church” as we might remember and have experienced in our lifetime. We will only do this under and with extreme caution. The difficulty for us is gathering all the different resources that are needed and the trust that is needed for us to come together in a safe manor. I believe that trust is one of the greatest resources in human society. In a reading that I have done most recently written by Paul Nixon who encourages us as a community to develop relationships with others and in so doing we will develop a level of trust through respect, friendship, and love. In trust we develop a covenant of mutual respect and love for each other and that forms a kind of canopy, a protection so that we can come together as members of the church to fulfill the many different missions that a church provides not only for us but others of our church and community.

We have been living with Covid – 19 for over three months now and it has made an impact on our lives that none of us could have ever predicted. We are still living in a time of uncertainty as to how long we will have to adjust to a new, “Normal”. The leaders of our church are working to develop a new playbook that will honor the mission of our church and the community that we at Claybanks United Methodist Church serve. We are striving to make the most of our organization’s assets: our people, our finances, our relationships, and our trust for each other to work together.

The past three months have brought to us a time for grieving, and as I look into the future we will continue to grieve for the loss of many lives. Some lives of people that we have known, and others lives known also to God. We also grieve for the many of the things that we have loved to do that will be forever changed. The way we worship, how we work, how we enjoy recreation and how we see what God has given us in the world around us. We grieve the changes and adjustments of our relationships and even how we will use our time differently. Yet, in this time I believe we can form a new vision and a new hope. For during this these past few months, we have learned to enjoy even the smallest things of life that we had previously passed over.

We can look forward to new ways to be challenged as we are being presented new ways in which to learn and to change. For we have been afforded an opportunity to explore the depths in our lives and in our souls as our hearts are strangely warmed as Christians. It is through this challenge of testing of our faith we recognize that we have been strengthened through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior. Let us act boldly today and tomorrow building the best world we can for the love of our neighbor and the glory of God

Announcements and Stuff

Quarantine Exercise
Help Reba and me Find Number Sixteen!

After two days of searching we can find only fifteen. On the first Sunday when we return together from Stay At Home, we will have a special recognition for those who found all sixteen Books of The Bible (Bring Your Sheet to Church).

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Quarantine Exercise: Can you find the names of sixteen (16) books of the Bible hidden in the paragraph below?

I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible (merely by a fluke). It kept people looking so hard for the facts and for others it was a revelation. Some were in a jam, especially since the name of the books were not capitalized, but the truth finally struck home to numbers of readers. To others it was a real job. We want it to be a most fascinating few moments for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot. Others may require judges to help them. I will quickly admit it usually takes a minister to find one of them, and there will be loud lamentations when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of tea so she can concentrate better. See how well you can compete. Relax now.

There really are sixteen names of books hidden in this story!

Look For Change- COVID-19

As we prepare for re-engaging our Claybanks Church Body these are a few of the changes you will or may experience as we gather for Worship, Bible Study, Sunday School, meetings, and other activities of the church.

Please monitor your health for signs of illness (Covid-19 or other illness) remain home and seek medical attention when needed.

Worship
We will enter through the double doors between the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall (please respect safe distancing as you approach and are waiting).

Face coverings will be necessary (you are encouraged to wear your own personal covering, or one will be provided for you).

Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available in the entry way and throughout the church.

Temperatures with a non-contact instrument maybe taken when necessary.

An Offering Basket will be placed by the entry of the Sanctuary for your gifts to be placed in. Also Prayer Request forms.

Ushers will seat you in the pews using safe distance guidelines (Family members from the same household may sit together).

Bulletins will be placed in the pews being used prior to the beginning of worship.

While we will have music, we will not be singing as a congregation.

Bible and Hymnals will still be in the pews but we ask that you refrain from using them (for cleaning purposes). If items are used, please leave them on the pew seat for cleaning.

Worship Leaders will remain in the front of the Sanctuary as much as possible.

The Fellowship hall will have some seating space as needed. The remaining space will be closed off (with the acceptation of entrance to restrooms).

Following worship, you will be dismissed using appropriate distancing. We ask that you exit the building immediately so that others may follow.

For time being, no Coffee or Social Time will be offered following worship.

For childcare during worship, prior arrangements will be needed.

Meetings, Bible Study and Sunday School Worship practices will be used as appropriate.
Limited number of attendees will be determined by safe physical distance and need.
After building use please clean the area space used as needed.

Please understand these and other precautions that may be established are being made because we love you as God’s children and are committed to, “Do No Harm” as Methodists following the guidance of John Wesley our founder.

A Little Bit of This and That

Shared joy is joy doubled,
Shared sorrow is sorrow halved.

**************************
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart
In a garden
Then anywhere else on earth.

You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag!
Flag Day, June 14 – Sunday

Father’s Day
June 21, 2020

That man is a success –
Who leaves the world better
than he found it;
Who has never lacked
appreciation of earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
Who looked for the best in others
and gave the best he had

Kids Say the Darndest Things!

A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”
“I wouldn’t know what to say,” the little girl replied.
“Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother said.
The little girl bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Greetings my dear sisters in faith.

Here it is another month with no social contact, no planning for a strawberry social, and I miss you all! Fortunately, we continue to stay in touch the best we can and with the help of all sorts of social media, by phone, or by “snail mail”. We have been able to show love in old ways made new with cards and food. We are blessed to be able to be church even without being in our beautiful building. Our prayer chain is active, and I know God is listening.

Shalom my friends and with the love of Christ to support us,

Edie Bogart

Nursery Schedule (if needed)

June 7 – Kathy Ohman
June 14 – Joyce Twiss
June 21 – Doris Graham
June 28 – Carol Adams

Upcoming Worship Schedule

June 7, 2020
Psalm 8 / Matthew 28:16-20

June 14, 2020
Romans 5:1-8 / Matthew 9:35-10:23

June 21,2020
Genesis 21:8-21
New Testament Reading TBD
Message Yet To Be Determined

June 28, 2020
Genesis 22:1-14 / Matthew 10:40-42

Claybanks United Methodist Church Midmonth Update May 2020

One of the important communication tools that we have used at Claybanks United Methodist Church is our monthly “Good News Letter” newsletter. Another communication tool we use is the announcement time prior to worship. Because of our sheltering in place that we have followed diligently to protect not only ourselves but others we have had to rely on different ways to communicate upcoming activities, events and other news. My goal in writing this is to bridge this time until our next newsletter is published at the beginning of June and we again meet in worship with announcement time.

Your Claybanks United Methodist Church leadership teams have been communicating with each other during this stay-at-home time. In the upcoming weeks we will be meeting using Zoom to plan the re-engagement/opening of the Claybanks United Methodist Church once again. The goal of these leadership meetings is to provide a safer place for our Claybanks family to gather together when we are empowered to do so. Church will be somewhat different than our previous, “Church” experiences. Please be assured as we approach the time when we can gather once again in worship we will be communicating to you the steps we will be taking to make the Claybanks United Methodist Church a safer place in which we can gather. Things will not always be the same. Some of our practices and traditions will be different, so please keep an open mind as to the changes you will experience are for the health and safety of all.

Sunday, May 31st I will be leading worship once again from the Mears United Methodist Church as we join our brothers and sisters in Christ online and on the radio. I know that for some of you online worship is not possible and you are not able to receive the radio broadcast from the Mears United Methodist Church (9:15 am 100.5 FM). I do encourage you to join other churches in worship such as White Lake United Methodist Church which broadcast at 10:00 am on station 98.5 FM.

For those who are able to join the Mears webcast I would like you to notice a very special addition to the Pentecost Sunday broadcast on the 31st. Shortly after the beginning of the year a number of the ladies from you Claybanks United Methodist Church began a project to create a new banner for our church to be hung on Pentecost Sunday. Because we will not be in church at Claybanks the banner will be hung as part of the Pentecost Celebration as I am able to lead the Mears, Shelby and Claybanks United Methodist Churches in celebrating Pentecost Sunday Worship. This will be a time when we acknowledge the special presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The new banner at present has been hanging in the sanctuary at Claybanks United Methodist Church and will remain there until just prior to May 31st. I would encourage you to stop by and see the beauty, color and artwork of the banner created by the ladies from our church. We acknowledge with love the work of Leona Twist daughter Jill from Quilted Memories who has donated materials and time so that our banner could be completed. Thank you Jill and all who made this new banner possible. We are blessed to be able to share it with all who will be watching the webcast on Sunday, May 31st.

Other forms of communication: Luanne Nienhouse continues to keep our Claybanks United Methodist Church website up-to-date. You can check our website by going to: https:claybanksunitedmethodist.com. We also have for our Claybanks family a Facebook page. You can find it by searching for, “Claybanks Methodist Church Family” on Facebook and request to join the group.

Many of you have continued to support the ongoing operations of the Claybanks United Methodist Church by sending in your weekly offerings to our PO Box. We very much appreciate your commitment and the continued support you have made in meeting the needs of our church. Because this stay-at-home time is continuing longer than most of us had anticipated we encourage you if you have not recently made a contribution (as you would do weekly if we were meeting in worship) would you please consider mailing your offering to:
Claybanks United Methodist Church
P. O. Box 104
Montague, MI 49437

It is my belief and the belief of others in the leadership of our church that we will soon be able to gather together once again. When we have a firm date in which we will be able to gather together we will be communicating that with you by email or through our US Postal System and our church call list. Our plan is to give you ample time and direction on the opening of our church.

Please continue to keep our church family along with our community and our country in your prayers during this Covid-19 pandemic.

I would like to close with this Scripture and thought, from Isaiah 43:1 – 3 “But now, says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched and flames will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior”. These times for us in our country and the world have been rough, difficult and our souls hurt. We have changed the way we live, we have lost many lives in our country and possibly lives of those close to us. Our economy is in a difficult time and many have lost their employment and income. We look into the future and see a different way of life. Isaiah says in Scripture that we are not to fear for the Lord knows each one of us by name and claims each one of us as one of his children and when difficulties sweep over us he is still God and through the love that Jesus Christ has for each one of us we know that we are not alone. In the power of the Holy Spirit we have the assurance that God will be with us and give us strength for what lies ahead. I offered this prayer, “Lord, thank you for standing beside me, for knowing my name, and for calling me your own. Help me trust you when the floods and fires come. Help me to remember that you are always with me and to trust in your unfailing love. Amen”.

Pastor Gary