Monthly Archives: October 2015

Pastor’s Ponderings

Season of Thanksgiving

This month is Thanksgiving month!  As I look forward to all the things I am thankful for, I want to share with you a recent cartoon I saw that really spoke to me.  It was a picture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy sitting on a dock looking out over the water.  Charlie Brown says, “Someday we will all die, Snoopy!”  And Snoopy responds, “True….but on all the other days, we will not.”  

On all the other days, we will not!  What are we doing with those ‘other days’? This question comes to mind as I begin to prepare for the coming weeks.

November begins a busy time of year for me.  All Saints Sunday means some extra planning for worship.  Plus the Advent season is approaching and must be planned for.  There is also the planning for the extra services that will happen in December; Blue Christmas, 2 services on Christmas Eve and this year we are going to try a New Year’s Eve Family Watch night potluck and service. There is a new Advent Study to prepare and I also have a Christmas letter to write.  I usually try to make sure communion gets to all of our shut-ins in November and/or December and I try to send out special notes to those we haven’t seen who may want to know what we are planning for Advent.  Plus there is a lot of ‘End-of-the Year’ paperwork to deal with.  

The leaves come down in my yard too so that has to be taken care of and the holiday decorations will need to come out of storage.  I like to make a trip to Kalamazoo to visit my mom and siblings and Thanksgiving Day is one I love to spend with my grandchildren.  There are gifts that will need to be purchased and wrapped, special goodies to bake and make and Christmas cards to address.  So much to do…..sometimes we get so caught up in the chores of the season that we forget what the season is all about.  This is why I try to think of November and December as the Season of Thanksgiving!

The Season of Thanksgiving begins for me that first day of November, and continues on through the whole month and into December as I remember and give thanks for my family, my vocation, my friends, my life!  It is a busy, busy time, but it is also a time of great joy as I remember all I am blessed with.  

One of the things that I have heard over and over from folks who are nearing the end of their lives is the fact that it all went by so fast.  As I passed my 60th birthday a couple of years ago, I noticed how right they are!  My life does seem to be on warp speed!  Often, I get so busy with things that I forget to take time to enjoy my blessings.  This is why it is so important for me to remember that this is a Season of Thanksgiving!  I want to make sure that I remember, as I am racing around with my To-Do list, that I am blessed!  I need to LIVE my life each day and give thanks to the one who has blessed me.  

As Charlie Brown reminded me, someday, I will die.  Someone else will worry about the Advent services and the newsletter.  Someone else will worry about raking the leaves and taking Communion to the shut-ins.  That day will come. But if, on the other days, I live my life in thanksgiving and take time to honor and enjoy the gifts and blessings in my life, then the ‘other’ days will be filled with joy!   But even more important to me, is that if I live my life in thanksgiving and honor and enjoy my blessings, then the ones I leave behind will remember not only the really great newsletter articles I wrote……..they will also remember that I laughed, that I loved them, and that I knew that I was blessed.  That is a legacy we should all try to leave!  


Announcements and Stuff

Small Group Study

Shelby UMC continues with Disciples’ Path studies and they are going well.  If you want information on this study, see Denise or Carl.

The small group study of The Call that was happening on Monday nights at Claybanks has concluded.  Watch for a NEW Advent study that will be beginning soon!

Advent Study!

“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them….”   ~John 17:18

This Advent season, we will be learning about delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas by studying the book  Sent. Dynamic pastor Jorge Acevedo who pastors a multi-site United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida, leads us on a 5-week Advent journey to discover how, where, and why we are sent. Joining him on the journey are four young clergy who challenge us through story, art, and Bible study.  Pastor Jorge says, “Jesus’ birth was not a one-time occurrence.  Every Christmas has the possibility of Jesus being born again in our lives and in our world.”   

There will be two opportunities to be a part of this study, Mondays at Claybanks UMC and Wednesdays at Shelby UMC.  The study will start on Monday, November 23rd at 6:30 at Claybanks UMC.  At Shelby UMC, the study will start on Wednesday, November 18th at 6:00.  Both times are open to both churches. We hope that you can join us at one of them.  There will be a sign up sheet so that we can order books.  The books are $11 and if you want a devotional that is designed to go with the book, that is $7.   If you have any questions, see Pastor Terri.

SUM Club

We are really trying to be able to get SUM Club started up after the first of the year.  But we cannot do it if we don’t have teachers.  There are several classes that are open.  Plus we could use some men to help in the gym.  Claybanks UMC folks, you can help here too as both churches are invited to SUM Club.  Please prayerfully consider this ministry.  If you want to know more, see Pastor Terri. We cannot continue this vital ministry without your help.

CUMC Website

Have you looked at our new website for CUMC yet?  Check it out.  The address is   Let Luanne, Konnie, or Pastor Terri know what you think.

Prayer Shawl Ministry

We have lots of yarn that has been donated for Prayer Shawls.  If you can knit or crochet and would like to make a Prayer Shawl that will be given to someone going through a hard time, see Pastor Terri for some yarn and some instructions.

Nursery Schedule

Nov. 1 – Doris Graham
Nov. 8 – Karen Anderson
Nov. 15 – Edith Bogart
Nov. 22 – Carol Adams
Nov. 29 – Kathy Ohman

Benefit Luncheon for Kelly White

Please join us immediately following our church service (keep watch for the date) for a soup luncheon benefiting our dear sister in Christ, Kelly White.  As many of you know, she is battling serious health issues and is in need of our support. There will be a free will offering to be given to Kelly as well as lots of good “Methodist Soups,” dinner rolls, and desserts to choose from.  Won’t you join us in showing Kelly how much she is loved?

Are we living up to our Mission Statement?

Claybanks UMC Mission:  We accept the responsibility to provide a nurturing community of faith to our members and the surrounding area.  We accept the responsibility for ministering to all our members, wherever they live, and for the persons in the community where we are located, and to provide appropriate spiritual training and nurturing to all ages, cultures, racial and ethnic groups, as well as those with handicaps.



Upcoming Scripture and Sermon Topics

Nov. 1 – Rev. 21: 1-69 – “Remembering My Place” – Al Saints Sunday

Nov. 8 – Ruth 3: 1-5, 4: 3-17 – “Redemption in a Broken World”

Nov. 15 – 1 Samuel 1: 4-20 and Mark 13: 1-8 – “The Birth of Hope”

Nov. 22 – Revelations 1: 4b-8 – “There is always more” – Christ the King Sunday

Nov. 29 – First Sunday of Advent – Malachi 3: 1 – Our Coming Savior –  “Meet Elizabeth & Zechariah – Light Prophecy Candle

Dec. 6 – Second Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 9 :6-7 – Our Coming Savior –  “Meet Herod” – Light the Preparation Candle

Dec. 13 – Third Sunday of Advent – Luke 2: 8-20 – Our Coming Savior –  “Meet the Shepherds” – Light the Joy Candle

Dec. 16 – Blue Christmas Service

Dec. 20 – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Luke 1: 26-38 – Our Coming Savior –  Meet Mary and Joseph” – Light the Love Candle

Dec. 24 –  Christmas Eve – Luke 2: 1-20 – Our Coming Savior –  “Meet the Innkeeper”
—7:00 pm Service will be held at Shelby UMC
—11:00 pm Service will be held at Claybanks UMC

Dec. 27 – Luke 2: 41-52 – “And then…..”


Pastor’s Ponderings

Pastor’s Ponderings
By Pastor Terri Cummins

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”1 Corinthians 11:23b-26

When Paul wrote these words, he was trying to remind the people of why they celebrated the Lord’s Supper.  Communion had become a time of fellowship and included a meal that had turned into a feast.  Unfortunately, those who got to the table first (usually the rich aristocratic folks) ate and drank excessively and so those who came after (usually the poor working folks) went hungry.  Christ asked us to “do this in remembrance of me”.  With so little sharing and caring where was the unity and love that Christ had taught?  Where was Christ in their celebration?

As United Methodists, we take care to preserve the unity and love of Christ in our Communion services.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come to our Lord’s Table.  We do our best through our litanies and our prayers to remind ourselves of the grace and the abundant love and mercy that is present at the Communion Table.  Our Book of Worship includes services for persons who are sick or homebound and services for different Christian seasons like Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Thanksgiving, etc.  We are encouraged to include Communion in our services of Christian marriage, our funeral or memorial services, and our baptisms.  

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,” (Luke, 24: 30-31a).  For me, an important part of Communion is remembering who Jesus is for me.  He was more than just a great teacher and he was more than just a man who sacrificed his life for me.  Jesus was and is the son of God.  His presence at the Communion Table is, for me, very real and very clear.  I try very hard not to let myself get caught up in the whole debate about whether or not He is there physically in the bread and wine or spiritually.  I believe He is both.  When I take the bread and wine into my body, I am inviting His presence into my life.  It is, for me, both a physical ingestion as well as a spiritual one.  It is a means of grace upon which Christ can come into me and transform me from what I was when I first came to the table, a sinner in need of salvation, to what I am when I leave the table, a saved and transformed child of God.  

I say this, believing that even if I never took Communion, I would still enjoy that grace and that transformation.  It is not because I have taken Communion, or even because I have been baptized that I am saved.  I am saved because of God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice.  I know that.  Communion is just a way to re-affirm my salvation.  It is a way to remind myself and recommit myself to my baptism vows.  It is a way for me to visually and ceremoniously let go of my sins and transgressions and to visualize my transformation to a person who belongs in the family of God.   It is because of this that I wholeheartedly agree with John Wesley who believed that we should take communion as often as we can.  

In the United Methodist Hymnal, page 10, we pray, “we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us…”  This is important.  We are submitting ourselves to be changed!  When we go to the Communion Table we go for our transformation.  In accepting the gifts of the Table, we receive the grace we need to go out and transform our world.  We do not have the power to do it alone.  We need to feed ourselves at the table to be able to do the work that God needs us to do.  

Holy Communion is a type of sacrifice.  It is a re-presentation, not a repetition, of the sacrifice of Christ. It fills us and prepares us for the world we face.  It helps us to let go of our sins and transgressions and reminds us that we are clean and fresh and sin-free in the eyes of God.  It helps us to remember whose we are.  For me, that is enough to have me running to the Table.  But in his Sermon 101- The Duty of Constant Communion, John Wesley reminds us of something else.  We are commanded to do it.  We are not excused from Communion because we think we are ‘unworthy’, since we are all unworthy.  We are commanded to do it. Jesus said, “do this”, and so we simply must.  

It is a commandment that should be easy for us to keep.  It is a win/win for us. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)  Our obedience to this wonderful commandment reminds us that we have been blessed with the merciful grace of a God who loves us in spite of who we are or what we do.  Communion is a way to acknowledge and remember Christ and His great gift to us.  It can transform us, if we allow it to, because it can remind us that as believers, we are changed and we are different and we are saved.  

Baptism does not get repeated because God will always do his part, even when we do not.  We only need to be reborn once.  We can re-affirm our baptism, but there really is no need to do anything but remember that we are baptized. Communion, however, is needed regularly and often, because it feeds us.  It feeds us!  As residents of a sinful and sin-filled world, where the bread of life can seem pretty scarce, we are always hungry.  Thankfully, there is always enough to share at the United Methodist’s Holy Communion Table!  

Sunday, October 4th, we will be observing, with the rest of the world, World Communion Sunday.  This is a time when Christians all over the world observe and focus our attention  on the universal and inclusive nature of the church. Today’s world really needs us to come together to celebrate the love of Christ that is extended to ALL people.  We have a special service planned so please invite your family and friends to join us as we join the world at the Lord’s table.



Announcements and Stuff

Sunday School News

We are off and running with our Sunday School!  I am so very pleased that both churches have some really great teachers who have stepped up to teach this year. Special thanks to Karissa for continuing on as Christian Education Director at Claybanks UMC.  We still need someone for that position at Shelby UMC.  If you are interested in hearing about that position, see Pastor Terri.  There is still time to volunteer as teachers for SUM Club.  I am hoping to put together a ‘winter’ version so that we can reach out to our kids and the neighborhood kids for some Christian education and fun during the winter months.  If you would like to help with this, we are looking for an organizer, a couple of teachers, a couple of teacher helpers and some gym-play-helpers.    If you would like to hear more about this, see Pastor Terri .  

Prayer Shawl Ministry

When you are under a physical or emotional crisis, the world seems like a pretty cold place.  We want to be able to comfort and warm the hearts of those we know who are in crisis.  A few of our ladies are going to be hard at work making Prayer Shawls.  These shawls will be given to folks who need to cover themselves in prayer.  If you are interested in helping out with this ministry, see Pastor Terri. Can’t knit or crochet – you can still help by contributing yarn.  The world can be a pretty chilly place, Shelby/Claybanks UMC are going to do our best to comfort and warm with our prayers and our shawls!

Small Group Study

Our Small Group Study of “The Call” by Adam Hamilton is well under way at Claybanks UMC.  We are following the journeys of Paul, beginning with his dramatic conversion, as he spread the Gospel through modern-day Greece and Turkey.  We are traveling to the early church sites and exploring Paul’s conversations with the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians and Thessalonians.  In this six-week study, we are experiencing faith through Christianity’s greatest teacher and missionary.  The study is held on Mondays at 6:30 at Claybanks UMC, and there is still time for you to join us!  If you are interested in the study or if you just want the book, see Pastor Terri.

Annual Pig Roast

The Mitteer family is hard at work preparing for the Annual Pig Roast!  It will be held on Sunday, October 4th.  The meal will begin after Shelby UMC services around 11am and they will serve until 1 pm.  EVERYONE is invited to attend. Free will offering will be collected at the Roast or/and you can donate before the Roast (to help with expenses) by giving your donation to the church and label it ‘Pig Roast’.  Or, see Jim or Debby if you would like to help (with your garden goodies or other ways).

Please plan to come and eat and fellowship!  Bring your friends!  It is also World Communion Day so it is a great day for bringing guests to our service!  

Thank You!

If you enjoy the beautiful cross in front of the sanctuary, please be sure to thank those ladies in our Worship Design team who have been hard at work for you. Mitzi, Konnie and Edie have not only helped to do the brainstorming for our services, but put that cross together as well as some other nice displays on our Altar area.  They have some really neat other things planned too! (see our Altar area on World Communion)  These displays are meant to help us to set the mood for our worship time.  I am so very thankful for their help and their gift.

Nursery Schedule

October 4 – Edith B.
October 11 – Carol A.
October 18 – Kathy O.
October 25 – Joyce T.

A Quick Note from your Secretary

I just found out that we are able to turn any empty ink/toner cartridges in at Staples for a $2.00 credit towards our rewards account.    We can turn in up to 10/month for a total of $20/month.  I’m asking everyone to please bring your empty cartridges in to the church office rather than throw them in the garbage. This all adds up and could help save the church on the cost of office supplies. I’ve put a basket in the office to collect these, so please feel free to fill it up!



Lay Servant Classes: Winter 2016

Registration for Winter 2016 GR District Lay Servant classes begins October 1. 
Classes will take place at GR Trinity UMC on Saturday, January 23  and Saturday, February 6 from 9am-3:00pm with lunch provided. Both Basic and Advanced level classes are planned.  Fee is $25 and includes your materials and lunch for both Saturdays.  There must be at least ten registrations to hold class. To register, please contact Jody Pratt  or 269.792.0481. Please note-Saturday,  February 13 is being held as an ALTERNATE date in the event of a weather cancellation.  

How to Help Middle East Refugees

Published September 21, 2015 in the Grand Rapids District Newsletter

Help through The United Methodist Church

Contributions through The United Methodist Advance Projects are tax deductible. One hundred percent of the donation goes to the project. The United Methodist Church pays the administrative costs.

Online Donations

Shepherd’s Society of Bethlehem Bible College Humanitarian outreach is given to Syrian Refugees by mission teams from Bethlehem Bible College, Photos of prior mission ministry are on Bethlehem Bible College’s Facebook page. Make donations online at In the search box enter “Shepherd Society” or “3020439”. Once on their page, choose “donate.” In the gift designation section, enter, “Syrian Refugee Outreach.” UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Make donations on line www.umcor.orgChoose “Donate” on the first screen and “International Disaster Response” on the second screen. The funds will be distributed to the areas of greatest need.

Donate by Check

For Shepherd Society of Bethlehem Bible College:  Make check out to Advance GCFA, include both Project Number “3020439” and “for Syrian Refugee Outreach” on the memo line. For United Methodist Committee on Relief: Make check out to Advance GCFA include both International Disaster Response Project Number “982450” and “for Syrian Refugees” on the memo line. Mail to:Advance GCFA, PO Box 9068 New York, NY 10087-9068


Give a check to your church with the notation “For Middle East Refugees” and we will pass it on.

Michigan Area Website

A new Michigan Area Website has been established.  Take a minute to check it out!






There is nothing—absolutely no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me.  If it has come that far, it has come with … Continue reading

Upcoming Scripture and Sermon Topics

October 4 – 2 Timothy 1: 1-14 – “Come, Let Us Eat” – World Communion

October 11 – Mark 10: 17-31 – “Can I Pay The Cost?”

October 18 – Laity Sunday – Welcome Denise Schuitema and Edith Bogart to                                                        our Pulpit

October 25 – Mark 10: 46-52 – “What Do You Want Me To Do For You?” –                                                                  Reformation Sunday