So who are Gary and Reba Peterson?
Continued from Pastor’s Ponderings of October 2016
We left off with the Peterson’s returning to Grand Rapids from Traverse City and locating in Southeast Grand Rapids. Shortly after arrival the Peterson’s began attending St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and very quickly transferred their membership from Central United Methodist in Traverse City.
St. Paul’s United Methodist church had been a long-established church in Grand Rapids and was going through a growth time when many families with children were being attracted to and joining the church. The church had a lot to offer not only for the Peterson children but also for Gary and Reba. Sunday school was an involved activity for the whole family. Bible studies during the week and the early Morning Prayer group strengthened the spiritual journey for Reba and Gary. Being involved in the different committees and activities of the church became a focal point for the Peterson’s. During this time many individuals of the church became involved in the spiritual retreat of the Walk To Emmaus.
Because of the spiritual strengthening for Reba, Michelle and Gary the Emmaus community became an important part of our life not only as individuals but as a family. It was following an Emmaus weekend that Gary started to consider the possibility of serving God in ministry. Reba, during this time, had taken a part-time position with St. Paul’s, working with new members and the continual involvement of existing members in their spiritual formation, programs and activities of St. Paul’s.
For Gary, looking at ministries involved what was to be a two-year exploration of God’s calling in his life. Gary did not always here what God was saying in the exploration process and it turned into three years. It was at the end of the three years when Gary had an encounter with a couple who helped him decide to take the final step and go into pastoral ministry. It took two years of study and training for Gary to become a Licensed Local Pastor. It was while driving within two blocks and in sight of Olivet United Methodist Church that Gary received a phone call from the Grand Rapids District Superintendent asking him to serve on a quarter time basis at that very church. It was the Holy Spirit speaking to us at that very time and moment. During our ministry at Olivet United Methodist Church, an inner-city church, we had the opportunity to minister to a small congregation that was deeply involved in ministry to those in the community and those living in the margins.
In the spring of 2008 after two years of quarter time ministry the Holy Spirit once again spoke to Gary and Reba and we committed ourselves to full-time ministry asking the Bishop to assign us to a full-time charge. It was only a short time later that we were assigned to the Fennville/Pearl Parish located just south of Holland.
It was a growth time for pastor Gary, who no longer would be at church doing those things that a pastor does with gifts and graces and receive a call from his business and need to leave to attend to the operation of the business. No longer would he be at the business and feel the longing in his heart to be at church or be with a church member or family attending to spiritual needs.
The eight years at Fennville/Pearl contained more blessings than we could count. Yet as time and age passed, it became necessary to return to a pastoral role that was less than full-time. A few months before our July 1st retirement date Gary was asked by the Grand Rapids District Superintendent to fulfill a quarter time pastor position at Claybanks United Methodist Church in the area in which we had wanted to move into retirement in. While Reba was not able to attend the introductory meeting between Gary and Claybanks United Methodist Church the Holy Spirit provided for us a beautiful way in which to semi-retire and yet be in ministry which we so much felt the calling to. The blessing of Claybanks United Methodist Church received in the Munson home and willingness to share with us when we could not find housing immediately in the area was a gift from God for us.
It has been a little over one year since we arrived. We have been lovingly and graciously received in the community and by the church and look forward to more years together as we together continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world. Thank you, Claybanks United Methodist Church, for allowing us to be in ministry with you today.