How is Claybanks United Methodist Church doing?
I get this question asked of me quite frequently when I attend some type of activity in our local area, and also when I go to a district or conference activity and I am with lay and or clergy. For the most part, many of them know where Claybanks United Methodist Church is located. I for one, knew of Claybanks United Methodist Church many years ago, prior to my appointment here. You see in September of every year Reba and I would come to Pentwater to pick up my mother who had been staying at the family condo for a good part of the summer. We would ride down the lakeshore leaving Pentwater and driving to Muskegon and then Grand Rapids as part of our last contact with the beauty of the summer. In doing so we would, of course, drive by Claybanks Methodist Church as we followed the Circle Trail along Lake Michigan.
It has been two years now since I first met a number of the Claybanks United Methodist Church representatives when I came with our district superintendent to Claybanks to be interviewed as a possible pastor for Claybanks United Methodist Church. During these past two years I have very quickly come to appreciate a number of special gifts and graces that Claybanks United Methodist Church has been given by God. With limited space in this newsletter I can only dwell on a couple. I’ve learned to answer the question, “How is Claybanks United Methodist Church doing?” By responding not with the general response of, “Claybanks United Methodist Church is doing very well”. I take pride in being able to respond with, “Claybanks United Methodist Church is indeed a church that loves one another and so very truly seeks to be in the presence of each other.”
Now most churches, when we talk about their members and how they gather as church members, will usually like each other. But I see Claybanks UMC taking many additional steps further than the average church. I respond by telling that person or persons who asked the question of me that Claybanks loves to be in each other’s company and I see it, yes on Sunday mornings when so many gather so early, long before the worship service begins and they mingle with each other, greeting each other so sincerely. Not only before church but after church, as many churches have coffee time and a social time, yet Claybanks United Methodist Church is unique in the fact that being a small church everyone is excited and delights in sharing time together after worship. And the amount of time far exceeds what is normal following worship. Now I go on to explain to those who asked that question that in the Claybanks area there is no Main Street or real gathering place except the Claybanks church itself. So, as we gather on Sunday mornings and at other times throughout the week as a church community, we take time to just be with each other. It is an opportunity to gather as so many might do in other communities at a local restaurant, beauty salon, school activity or hardware store. And I truly believe this happens not just because of so many years gathering together as friends and neighbors, but I see people who truly care about and for each other.
During these past two years I have also come to appreciate how well you care for your church. You take care of your church building, your fellow church members and the community. Your annual budget is well-funded and provides for all the needs and requirements that a healthy church should care for. Your ability and desire to respond to special financial requests have set my heart on fire. To support special giving needs such as UMCOR and it’s special giving requests, missionary support, local outreach, Shalom giving, support of camping and our young people, and currently our Nigerian Well Project tells me that the power of the Holy Spirit is alive and active within the Claybanks United Methodist Church and its members truly care about others. This caring is not limited to just our church, but to our community and the world around us close and far away.
I believe that God has blessed Claybanks United Methodist Church with many gifts and graces because of your willingness to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to put that Gospel into action. May God continue to bless Claybanks United Methodist Church, its member and friends.