I started thinking a short time ago about two different newsletters that I receive monthly and how they interrelate with each other and how they affect our Parrish life and our ministry at Claybanks UMC. Don Nations wrote an article recently, DNA Updates For United Methodists, about our United Methodist Appointment System as different from the Common Call System that many religious denominations use and the need for Interim Pastors at times. Many churches and denominations use the Interim system when a pastor retires, becomes ill and cannot resume their role as pastor, or is called to another church. We, in the United Methodist Church use an Interim Pastor occasionally when a fill-in is needed to cover for a period of time, from when a pastor leaves for whatever reason until new pastor appointments are set on July 1st of each year. An Interim pastor quite often has a very special role helping the congregation make the transition from “Our Way” to a “New Way”. The Interim pastor’s goal is to help the congregation look at gifts and graces, seeking to strengthen the congregation and then embrace the new pastor who brings a number of gifts and graces to the new congregation which they have been appointed to serve. This is happening now in our area as Pastor Mary Brown at Montague UMC is not able to return from her medical leave and retired Pastor Gunnar Carlson has been appointed temporarily to shepherd the Montague UMC Parish. We as the Claybanks United Methodist Parish are to be in prayer and support for our sisters and brothers at the Montague United Methodist Church and Pastor Carlson.
Lewis Parks, in the second article A New Way To View Vitality In Smaller Congregations, offers these things that I believe our parish is very much committed to and we pray that all church congregations will commit to.
• We maintain a vital worship of God. We honor God with our praise, gifts, service and prayers, attend to the Word and are exposed to and receive Baptism and Communion.
• Our parish is a surrogate family. We hold each other close and extend the love of God to all, in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. We share our hearts and our resources with all.
• Our congregation is a blessing to our community for we seek the welfare of our community and we are in touch with the needs of the community.
• We use our building as holy space and for mission and service. We are attentive to our properties and use them as expressions of who we are in Jesus Christ.
• The last of Lewis’ commitments is the most critical and yet difficult for us. We as congregations are to pass the faith to the coming generation.
There has been a shift in our society over the past fifty years where we have become less and less joiners in many areas of life including the church. Even with this uphill battle before us, we must attend to the children we have, strive to reach other children and adults, get to know them, open and teach the faith to them, and encourage their participation in worship.
We must be the Body of Christ to each other and our community. Because of my love for God and for you I am committed to being a part of the “Sharing of the Good News” to those around us, our families, friends and our community. May we at Claybanks UMC continue to look at new and exciting witnesses where we can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!