Reba and I have felt blessings together for our entire married life. We were blessed with a church wedding. We have been blessed our entire married life by having churches that have surrounded us with love and care. The blessings, love and care have extended all the way to Claybanks United Methodist Church.
As with most young married couples, we struggled at times yet we were blessed by God, family and friends when needs arise. Money, as with many young couples, can be an issue and when finances looked to be a problem there was a refund check from some unexpected source or a gift received (God’s blessings come in many forms and God’s timing is perfect).
Being blessed with two beautiful children a few years after marriage allowed us to surround ourselves with family and many close friends with children the age of our children. Employment for us has taken us to a number of different communities in which we have been able to experience the many blessings and resources of the communities and the churches we have attended.
While living in Traverse City, the Peterson family was blessed by Traverse City Central United Methodist Church with many activities and educational experiences for our children. Reba and I were blessed to be a part of a small parent group that was very intentional in being supportive of each other’s families.
As our children grew older and we returned to Grand Rapids we found St. Paul’s United Methodist church a growing and active community of believers with a number of programs for our children and for us as parents and adults.
Reba and I both grew in our walk with Jesus and our commitment as Christian believers through the Stephen Ministry and the Walk to Emmaus.
When I finally began to listen to God calling me into ministry, Reba and I were surrounded by a number of encouragers who prayed for us and were part of the discernment process. We had a number of friends who were United Methodist pastors, some pastoring for many years and some who had only recently gone into the ministry.
After completing the introductory pastoral training and being assigned as pastor to Olivet United Methodist Church (a small inner-city church with a quarter time appointment) we had the blessing of being surrounded by a church whose members were so loving, kind and very encouraging to us, an inexperienced pastor and spouse. They allowed us to begin our ministry and continued to encourage us with their support and prayer.
When we finally decided to enter into ministry on a full-time basis and were assigned to the Fennville Pearl Parish, a small community where the United Methodist Church was the largest worshiping congregation and only one of two churches that supported a pastor on a full-time basis, we were blessed by God. We were again surrounded by many loving church members and developed close friendships with a number of members and couples of the church and of the community, blessing our time there in so many different ways.
As we prepared for retirement and felt the calling to remain in ministry on less than a full-time mission which brought us to Claybanks United Methodist Church, a special gift was given to us in the Munson home in which we were very blessed to live in for one year. The Munson home was indeed a beautiful place for us with a yard, areas in which to plant flowers, to welcome birds to our feeders, friends and family, and yes, the Pea Barn in which to work on projects and cars. The one year in which we were able to stay in the Munson house allowed Reba and I to find a home that best fitted our needs together and where we had planned to retire, in Pentwater. The blessing of the Munson home gave us the opportunity of the extra year to find our own home. In addition, Claybanks UMC blessed us with the additional resources that added to how we prepared to retire in modest comfort.
We cannot tell you and thank you enough for what you provided us by surrounding us with your love, care, friendship and sharing the beautiful resource of the Munson house. As we have now completed our move to Pentwater, we want to share with you our gratitude and thanks for God has blessed Claybanks UMC with the Munson home and you blessed Reba and I as you shared what God has given you in such a loving way. We shall continue to look to be together in ministry with you for a number of years.
Praise God who is always there for all of us!
Reba and Pastor Gary