We Are Blessed!
About a year after coming to Claybanks United Methodist Church, I met another United Methodist pastor who shared a phrase with me that I now have adopted when introducing myself to someone new. I am, “Gary Peterson blessed to serve in retirement at Claybanks United Methodist Church”. You see I have the best of two worlds. The first world is being able to continue to serve God as a pastor within the United Methodist denomination through the Claybanks United Methodist Church congregational family, and what a blessed time it is for me for I will shortly be completing 15 years as a clergy person in service to God’s people. The second part of my introduction is that I get to now live in retirement for which I worked a number of years to get to this joyful and complete point in my life.
Now when I tell somebody I am serving in retirement as a clergy person appointed to the Claybanks United Methodist Church I get a lot of skeptical looks and questions, such as is it possible to be retired and still serve a church? Does time management really allow you to do those retirement things and still meet your obligations to your church family? How does that work for you!!! Or you must have an understanding congregation that allows you to serve and be retired, too! I love to respond and expand upon this last statement by stating that I have a church while small, is still very active and recognizes the demands that they placed upon me as a pastor and the balance that is needed so that retirement can be enjoy.
To live in Michigan is to appreciate our summer time. We go through a lot in the winter looking forward to spring and then the enjoyment and warmth of summer. For Reba and I, the summer holds much enjoyment and activity for us. We work hard to develop a calendar that allows us to both serve the Claybanks United Methodist Church and enjoy our summer time together and to include family and friends in many activities.
Early summer began for us in the beginning of May by taking a trip to the western side of the Upper Peninsula where we had not previously visited. We now have an appreciation of Lake Superior and that very beautiful part of Michigan. I can tell people with all honesty that I had been to all the parts of my home state of Michigan from north to south and east to west in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. I so very much appreciate and enjoy what our beautiful state has to offer us in its diversities and beauty. The first week of June always includes our Methodist Church Annual Conference and for the past few years it has been held in Traverse City where Reba, our children and I had once lived and still today love its northern charm and amenities. Following our visit to Traverse City my extended family begins to arrive in Pentwater, and we become engaged in many activities with family which includes many afternoons sitting on the beach, splashing in Lake Michigan (when it warms up) and taking in the beautiful sunsets over the lake. July arrives and like many of you we are in awe of fireworks and celebrations as we celebrate our country’s independence in our very proud communities.
For Reba and me, our grandchildren and their parents arrive on the last day of July this year, and they will be spending two weeks with us. We will pick blueberries, have campfires, be at the beach and swim in the waters of our inland lakes and Lake Michigan. We will introduced them to some new activities with the intent of bringing them to a new appreciation of our state of Michigan and all it can be to each of us. Shortly after their departure in the middle of August, I will be attending a Pastor School in East Lansing that is intended to help us as clergy better serve our local congregations.
September comes all too soon winding down our summer activities and as the cooler winds blow through our state slowly my family returns to their own homes and communities. Reba and I will have more time visiting friends and new places in our beautiful state while still enjoying the sunset over Lake Michigan.
So, you have an idea of what my summer will be like this year. I hope as we gather together on Sundays or other times you will share with me what this summer holds for you and your families! I appreciate what God has given us and our ability to take in all that God has provided for us as we share it with family and friends in the beauty of summers in Michigan. Enjoy your summer!
“I am blessed to be able to serve in retirement at the Claybanks United Methodist Church.”