Monthly Archives: March 2020

Good News Letter

Hey, how are you?

Reba and I are healthy and doing well during this time of sheltering in place. We had a number of opportunities to prepare for an extended period of time to shelter in place. We have been keeping a social distance which has kept us healthy and in good spirits. I pray that you are in a good place also.

During this past two weeks of isolation I have been spending a number of hours each day learning to do church differently. Our conference office is providing for us as clergy webinars that have given us ideas and practices to help us to continue our calling as pastors in many innovative and new ways. On Sunday, March 24th I was blessed to be able to share the web and radio broadcast from the Mears United Methodist Church with Pastor Anne Riegler. On Monday, March 25th the guidelines changed and we could no longer both gather at the Mears United Methodist Church to lead worship together. Anne will be leading worship on Sunday, March 29th from the Mears United Methodist Church sanctuary along with one technician to assist her. I will be leading worship on Palm Sunday, April 5th. Anne and I will be working together to develop an Easter Sunday worship experience for April 12th that Anne will be leading.

I will continue to use the phone and social media as well as postal mail as we continue to stay in contact with each other. I encourage you to contact me to share information, needs and concerns using the medium that you feel most comfortable with. I also encourage you to stay in contact with each other, your friends and family of Claybanks United Methodist Church. We need to communicate and be in relationship with each other as we work to support each other during this very unusual time that we are living in. By doing so we will get through the struggles together looking forward to the day when we can assemble to worship in our beautiful Claybanks United Methodist Church building. When that day arrives, we are planning some special activities to celebrate our connectional presence together.

John Wesley the founder of Methodism embrace three social principles that I find not only comforting but give me direction especially during this time. These social principles can be summed up by saying “Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God. First, “To do no harm” by sheltering in place we will not contact the corona virus nor open paths for its spread to others. Secondly, by “Doing good” we support those who are giving of their time, gifts, skills resources, health, and even possibly their own life so that we can remain protected from this deadly virus. Thirdly, by “Staying in love with God” means we take Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and trust in him to provide for our needs as we are given the opportunity to feed our faith through prayer, devotional time and by studying Scripture.

I look forward with hope and joy to the day when we can gather together and shout in unison, “Alleluia and praise to the Lord”!

Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff

United Methodist Women

To my dear fellow UMW ladies. Greetings and have a cookie or whatever you eat for a treat and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and let’s pretend we are together. I am mentally thinking of each of you with love.

The Bible scripture I wish to share is from the Upper Room a few days ago but I added more to it. Lamentations 3:22-28 and for a bit of humor Isaiah 26:20. I am using the NRSV.

Doris, you can skip roll call. Are you taking minutes of our mental meeting? Ok, laugh at me because laughter is still the best medicine!

I know we cannot read each other’s thoughts but I know we can feel the love. Right now let’s offer a prayer for our “sister” Elaine and pray for each other even if we don’t know each other’s needs. We may be isolated from each other but we are joined by the heart through Jesus’ love for us.

Stay brave and know that God wants what is best for us and this time is but a blink in God’s time.

Shalom, Edie

Private Group on Facebook

Our church has been encouraged to use ‘out of the normal’ means of communication during our time of isolation from each other. We have set up a PRIVATE group on Facebook for our church family. It is to be used carefully to protect our church, our members, and friends’ privacy. Joining this group is completely optional.

If you are on Facebook, you have or will soon be receiving an invitation to join the group. Any group member can invite others. Please do so, it’s relatively easy to figure out. We ask that you keep our private group PRIVATE , church family only, due to topics that may be sensitive. Also, at this time, absolutely no pictures will be allowed, conversations only.
We are doing this in an attempt to keep communication easier, especially when the world seems as crazy as it currently does. Please remember not everyone uses social media and this should never replace our one on one conversations. We still need to reach out to our friends and neighbors the ‘old fashioned’ way.

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated

Susan’s Dog News

I am certain that this news is not the news you are asking for, but I will share just in the event that anyone is interested. Many caring church-going people come and greet my dogs on Sunday mornings, and I am very thankful for the out-pouring of kindness and welcoming extended their way.

One of my church-going Dachshunds, Gladys (wire-haired, blonde and shy) had a disk in her back rupture — # T-13, and put pressure on her spinal nerves. This horrible event happened on Monday evening Mar. 8; she immediately became paralyzed and remains unable to move her rear quarters, even after neurosurgery at Dogwood Vet Referral hospital, Farmington, MI.

I will have Gladys in for a post-op evaluation this Friday and will know more at that time.

Gladys’ positive spirit and lack of realization that she is disabled have kept me going during these very difficult and expensive times. Of course, Gladys does not have insurance. None of her known canine relatives have ever suffered with Inter-Vertebrate Disk Disease, even though IVDD is a common ailment in the breed and one out of five dachshunds will suffer with IVDD.

Thankfully, Vivian is fine.
Blessings to all, Susan

What Can You Do?

As Methodists we are called to do good. So what good can we do during the time of Covid 19? We can’t visit those in prison or the sick. We need to protect our own health by isolating from the community. Naturally we can pray. For the sick, our country, and most of all the medical staff that is confronting this crisis. My daughter Lily is in Wichita, Kansas. She is a nurse. Recently she was promoted to director of the nursing facility where she works. About a week ago, she learned that her facility would be Wichita, Kansas’s designated Covid 19 hospital. She was panic stricken. She had ordered plenty facemasks in December, but as other Ascension hospitals had run short, she had had to send much of her supply to those places. Now she was faced with Covid 19 patients and a staff that could well not have the needed personal protective equipment. So what do our children always do in the time of need? Call Mom. She asked me to sew masks for her staff. 120! So during this time of isolation, I have begun sewing masks. There are many patterns out there for masks. I have been making two different styles. The one thing I have added is a layer of pellon, a non woven material as extra protection. One shortage I am facing is not enough elastic. Like toilet paper, and ice cream, elastic is in short supply. If you have any ¼ inch elastic or corded elastic you would be willing to donate, please email me. Thank you!


Upcoming Worship Schedule

April 19th – Resurrection Celebration (Tentative)
Isaiah 25:6-9 / 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 54-58 / Matthew 28:1-10
To Seek and To Save – You Will See Him

April 26th (Miracle Sunday – Tentative)
Acts 2:14a, 22-32 / 1 Peter 1:3-9 / John 20:19-31
As The Father Has Sent Me, So I Send You

May 3rd
Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 / Luke 24:13-35
In The Breaking Of The Bread

May 10th – Mothers’ Day
Acts 2:42-47 / Psalm 23 / John 10:1-10
Is There A Christian Gate Keeper?

Scripture for Living in These Uncertain Times

Psalm 27:5 and John 14:1 Pastor Gary’s favorites

Provide by
Proverbs 3:5-6 God directs our path
Isaiah 55:8-9 God’s ways are higher
Psalm 84:11 God give us good things
Philippians 4:7 God gives us peace
Romans 8:28 God is not done
Psalm 143:8 God know the way
Isaiah 41:10 God strengthens us
2 Corinthians 5:7 We walk by faith
Philippians 4:19 God meets our needs

You can find many more by googling: Scriptures for living in uncertain times

Worship Opportunities

Mears United Methodist Church – 9:15 am
Radio 100.5 FM
Live streaming; or going to Mears UMC and clicking on the link

White Lake United Methodist Church – 10:00 am radio 98.9 FM
U-Tube – go to White Lake UMC and follow directions there

Cornerstone UMC in Grand Rapids – https://

Other United Churches on the internet – and follow the link for Michigan UMC With Online Worship

Dear Claybanks UMC Family and Community,

We are now in our second week of Social Distancing with no confirming date to when we can return to a “normal” way of life. From Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” I know that it has been difficult for us and this may be an extended time where we must look for God’s hand upholding us. I encourage you to use the extra open time given to many of us to be with God in prayer, devotions, reading your Bible and in study as you continue to develop a closer walk with God while we go through the period of Lent.

I have been monitoring the different social media and see many good examples that we as humanity are doing for and with each other in what can be said as, “Out of the box thinking “. We need to reach out to each other in distancing forms. I as an introvert am for the most of the time am comfortable with the lowering of the social contact situations that we are presently are living in. I encourage those of us who are introverts to reach out and call our extroverts friends and family. They are not naturally comfortable with what is happening as distancing continues. They might not be “OK”. Please look for ways to stay in contact with all using social distancing.

While we may not be gathering in our building for worship I encourage you to continue to worship on Sunday mornings. There are many opportunities do so. Sunday morning TV offers a wide variety of worship experiences. Worship experience on our radios are available. For those who have internet, you will find God’s hand reaching out to you using our computers and phones. I can suggest some local opportunities to worship for you.

White Lake United Methodist – 10:00 am 98.9 FM or on U-Tube (Check their website for directions).
Mears United Methodist Church (where I will be assisting Pastor Anne) 9:15 am on 100.5 FM or visit their website and click on the streaming
If you would like a different type of worship experience I would suggest Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids –

Please continue as Philippians 4:6-7 instructs us to do, “Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and do not forget to thank Him for his answers”.

Stay Safe.

Pastor Gary

Church Closure

Claybanks United Methodist Church Faith Community and Friends

Claybanks United Methodist Church has joined with all other United Methodist Churches in Michigan following the direction of our Bishop David Bard to suspend worship, studies, meetings and other in person gatherings for the remainder of March effective Saturday March 13, 2020.
This action has been taken because of our concern that we as God’s Community are not bring the COVID-19 virus to others by meeting in close contact. We as a church and denomination are acting in an abundance of caution to keep the virus from spreading in our community, country and the world.
We are banning together as God has called us to do in caring for our neighbors and families. I would encourage you to do these things:
Pray for the health of all.
Continued to call each other by phone and interact using social media to send messages of hope, encouragement and love.
Call your pastor when you become aware of individual or community needs.
I encourage you during this time to continue your religious practices during this time of Lent and when possible even take a step up by expanding your prayer life, devotionals and worship experiences.
There are many worships experiences available on televisions and internet.
On the Sundays of March 22nd and 29th I will be joining Pastor Anne Riegler from the Mears United Methodist in presenting a worship experience for the Mears, Shelby and Claybanks United Methodist Churches on the internet and on radio.
The worship time will be at 9:15 am. You can visit their website ( and clicking on the link or visiting: The worship is also available on your radio at WEEH-FM 100.5.
I pray that you will stay safe and look forward to the time that we can once again be presence with each other. What a celebration that will be!

Pastor Gary

Claybanks United Methodist Church
March 8, 2020 10:30 a.m.
*Indicates to stand as you are able

Second Sunday in Lent

Welcome and Announcements

*Praise Song “Oh, How He Loves You and Me” TFWS#2108


In this place, among these people,
God is worshipped, God is praised.
We have seen the signs and wonders;
the lost are found here, the dead are raised.
We are living the Gospel story;
lives are changed, and mountains moved.
Won’t you come and work among us?
You are welcomed, you are loved.

*Call to Worship

*Gloria Patri UMH #70

Opening Prayer

*Hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” UMH #117

Prayers of the People – Joys and Concerns

Children’s Time–
After prayers, sing the Children out – “Jesus Loves Me.” Children 5 and under are welcome to remain in worship or go to the nursery at this time.

The Offering of Our Gifts and Ourselves

*Doxology UMH #95

Prayer of Dedication

*Hymn “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” UMH#121

Sharing of the Word

Old Testament Reading:​​Isaiah 53:7-9​​page 596
Epistle Reading: ​​​Titus 3:4-7 page 969
*Gospel Reading:​​​John 12:1-8​​page 874
Message: The Day of My Burial Pastor Gary


*Hymn “He Leadeth Me” UMH#128


Calendar and Announcements

Sunday, March 8, 2020
Sunday School 9:30 Youth 9:45
10:30 a.m. – Worship

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Noon Lenten Conversations at St. James Catholic Church

Sunday, March 15, 2020
Sunday School 9:30 Youth 9:45
10:30 a.m. – Worship

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
5 p.m. Worship Design, 6:30 Trustees, 7:00 p.m. Ad Council

Office Telephone: 231-923-0573
Office email:

Pianist​​​​: ​ Suzanne Bellrichard
Liturgist: Art Grumm
Nursery: Kathy Ohman
Ministers​: All People As We Live the Good News

Good News Letter

Pastor Ponderings March 2020

What is next for our United Methodist Church? Back in January, I preached a message concerning the state of the United Methodist Church and possibly where we were going. At that time a nine page document called “Protocol for Reconciliation And Grace Through Separation” had just been announced and was agreed upon by a coalition of global connected and advocacy groups within the United Methodist Church. This protocol was brought forward as a way to end or at least greatly reduce the denominations decades’ long struggle over how accepting we are to be of homosexuality. In March 2019 at the special called General Conference in St. Louis it became clear that a line in the sand had turned into a canyon and the impasse was such that we have come to realize that we just cannot stay this way any longer so the protocol was brought forward.

Since the protocol was released, it has been written up in a form that the United Methodist Judicial Council has approved and it now clarifies many of the questions brought forward since its release. In order for it to be brought to the 2020 General Conference to be held in May of this year in Minneapolis-St. Paul this proposal must be brought by an Annual Conference as approved legislation to be placed in front of the voting members of General Conference. Because the date to submit ratified legislation from Annual Conferences for General Conference was passed by last fall and no Annual Conference is meeting until after the General Conference the Michigan Annual Conference and the Sierra Leon Annual Conference have been selected to bring this protocol in front of the General Conference in May. These two conferences were selected with respect to the leadership that each conference Bishop has taken not only within their conference but in the greater United Methodist Church. A special session of the Michigan Annual Conference has been called to meet on Saturday, March 7th in the Goodrich Chapel on the campus of Adrian College with the sole purpose of this session to consider whether the Michigan Conference will approve and send the legislation based on the “Protocol for Reconciliation And Grace Through Separation” to the General Conference 2020 so that it might be considered by the delegates at the General Conference. To receive this approved legislation, the General Conference has said they will take it up as the first piece of legislative business. Only an approved piece of legislation from an Annual Conference can be brought forth to General Conference so one or both of the Annual Conferences must approve the proposed legislation.

Representing Claybanks United Methodist Church at the March 7th Special Session Annul Conference will be Edie Bogart who has been our Claybanks representative to Annual Conference for a number of years. Reba Peterson who is currently an equalization representative will also be attending. Myself, as clergy, will be attending and all three of us have been given by our positions voice and vote to the proposal. I would ask that you keep Edie, Reba and myself in prayers as we continue to research and try to understand all the complexities of this proposal. We understand what is about to take place is the most significant possible change in the life of our church since 1968 when the United Brethren Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church became the United Methodist Church that we have come to love and received love through in so many different ways.

Please keep our Methodist Church and its leaders in your prayers.

​​​​​​​​Pastor Gary