Monthly Archives: April 2020

Pastor’s Ponderings

From Psalm 86:6 – 7 “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication in the day of my trouble, I call on you, for you will answer me”. Tomorrow is not a promise it is a gift from God. We need to recognize the changes that God has given us in our life during Covid-19 as we are sheltering in place at home. Along with some of you and many in our world today I have made adjustments to my life. Reba has pointed out to me that I am more communicative and sharing in what I see in our media, what I have read and in my devotional life. We have tried with somewhat limited success to turn off the television for extended periods of time so that our minds can go to other places. Yet, we always return back to those places that keep us informed on what is happening around us in our community, in our state, in our country and around the world. At times the news seems overwhelming and I need to just take a deep breath, breathe slowly and remind myself that it is truly a gift to be here each day and God has programmed us to be able to change even in the most difficult of times. It is the ability to change using the strength that God gives us that will see us through.

Much of my time during these past few weeks have been dedicated to communicating with family, friends, the Claybanks United Methodist Church family, our district, conference and pastors from our United Methodist Churches and pastors from other denominations. A common thread in so much of these conversations is that yes, we will get through this, life will be different in a number of different ways beyond what we could have ever imagined. We are a people of trust and hope. God has given us the strength and love for each other in knowing that his gift of another day will be there in eternal life.

As of this writing we know that we will not be gathering together in worship at the Claybanks United Methodist Church at least until after May 15th. It is possible that our coming together may be some time off from that in the future. Of the many new things that I as your pastor have learned from a number of different educational training and supportive webinars that our conference has offered us as pastors is that we may be doing church differently from how we have done church in the past. Our future may hold some new changes and challenges for us. It may not seem comfortable to us yet there will be a new “normal” for a period of time for us as a church community. We need to prepare ourselves to adjust in doing church differently. What that will be, will be determined by the best practices as we as United Methodists uphold our belief given to us by John Wesley our founder and that is to, “Do no harm”. By meeting together in the different forms that we anticipate we will need to do we will be doing “Good” as a church community and we will continue as we are doing right now as we practice, “Staying in love with God”.

I have worked to stay in touch with the leadership of the Claybanks United Methodist Church and they are supportive in that we as a church need to continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world. This means that the gift we have been given is a promise from God as the psalmist so beautifully said, “In the day of my trouble I will call on you for you will answer me O God”.

If you need to talk, I am only a phone call or email away. Stay safe, practice physical distancing, lift each other up in prayer, and stay in touch with your family, friends and each other as brothers and sisters in Christ for you are Claybanks United Methodist Church.
Peace and blessings,

Pastor Gary

Announcements and Stuff

Online Communication

Submitted by Cinda Moulds

We now have 2 online connections available to help keep us in touch with each other and to be aware of church news and events. One is our church website which can be found at:

The other is our private group on Facebook. If you do a Facebook search for Claybanks Methodist Church Family, you will see a place to request to join the group. Please take a minute to read through the suggestions of use for this group.

Hopefully, you will utilize these ‘new-fangled’ ways of communication, but just as important, don’t forget to keep in touch with our members who don’t use the internet.

Needs and General Updates

From Pastor Gary

Communications – if you have email and we do not have it listed in our 2020 Directory it would help us in our communications to you if you would email pastor Gary at:

We will need to do some planning for the first few Sundays when we are able to come back together. We will need liturgists and additional greeters to help George Brown. Please email Pastor Gary if you will assist:

Devotional – If you are unable to get to church and pick up your Upper Room Devotional for May-June you can visit: for an online copy or Pastor Gary can mail one to you. Give him a call at 231-869-3373.

Michigan Annual Conference scheduled for the end of May has been postponed and no date has been selected.

The General Conference for the United Methodist Church (Meeting of all the Methodist Churches for the world) scheduled for May in Minneapolis has been rescheduled for the beginning of September 2021.

I encourage you to visit these websites to see what is happening:
Claybanks UMC –
Mid-Michigan UMC District –
Michigan Conference

Nursery Schedule (when we meet again)

May 3 Joyce Twiss
May 10 Doris Graham
May 17 Carol Adams
May 24 Cheryl Gaultney
May 31 June Freeman


Submitted by June Freeman, Missions

COVID-19 presents challenges to every person and community, but some are less prepared than others. As restrictions limiting employment, economic activity, and physical gathering have spread around the world, communities which live at subsistence levels have no safety net and their governments have little capacity to respond to the challenges.

In recent weeks, the UMC and Wesleyan Covenant Association has received desperate requests for assistance for pastors serving in Africa and the Philippines whose churches, like so many around the world, have not met for several weeks. These churches likely will not be meeting for a season. These pastors as well as their people, because of the financial impact of quarantines, are immediately dealing with food insecurity.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has established the COVID-19 response fund for the purpose of responding to the challenges presented by this pandemic. This fund will equip partners around the world to assist the most vulnerable populations. Grants from the fund will be disbursed quickly and efficiently to address health concerns, food insecurity, water and hygiene limitations, and other pressing needs.

The UMC and WCA encourages you and your churches to respond to meet these pressing needs by making a gift to the UMCOR COVID-19 response fund. Your gift will be a tangible expression of the love Christ has for the most vulnerable who do not have a safety net and need compassion and care as a result of the pandemic.

Other news

Jack Townsend*
Jacks’ son Joel informed us that Jack passed away on March 29, 2020.
We send our heartfelt condolences to the Townsend family.

​Please note in your church directory that Pat Bagley now resides in Apt. 303 instead of Apt 208. Everything else in her address is correct.

A Public Health Moment

Help stop the spread of any virus:
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Eat and sleep separately from your family members
• Use different utensils and dishes
• Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
• If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
• Follow social distancing (6 ft)

Lower your risk:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Happy Mother’s Day
May 10

The Watcher
by Margaret Widdener (1884-1978)

She always leaned to watch for us,
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly,
Who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe
Because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget!
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.
Waiting till we come home to her,
Anxious if we are late,
Watching from Heaven’s window,
Leaning on Heaven’s gate.

Scripture and Possible Messages

May 3rd
Psalm 23 / Acts 2:42-47 / John 10:1-10

May 10th – Happy Mother’s Day
(To Be Delivered through Mears webcast and radio broadcast)
Acts 7:55-60 / John 14:1-14
Lord, do Not Hold This Sin Against Them

May 17th
1 Peter 3:13-22 / John 14:15-21
Why Do You Love Jesus?

May 24th – Ascension Sunday
Psalm 47 / Luke 24:44-53
Scripture Is Fulfilled Once Again

May 31st – Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-21 / 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
Given to Spirits or Given To The Holy Spirit

Pastor’s Weekly Update


I pray that you and your family are well and dealing with our staying at home in positive ways!

June Freeman will be creating a Newsletter next week for Claybanks UMC and is in need of your input. Would you please send her articles (in cut and paste form if possible) by Tuesday, April 28th. Her email address is June is taking over the secretarial duties from Mechelle Schneider. Thank you, Mechelle, for serving as our Secretary at Claybanks these past couple of years!

I will be leading the Mears, Shelby, and Claybanks Worship Service on the radio and web this Sunday the 26th. I am in need of a walking stick. Does anyone have one that I can use as a prop in my message?

I continue to contact our church family through all the different possible ways of communicating during this unusual time. If there is a need that you have become aware of please share it with me by phone or email.

Our conference and district are staying in contact with us as pastors multiple times per week. I will be sharing some of these communications in our newsletter next week.

Peace and stay safe,


From your Pastor


Let me begin with a devotional thought. Back in February just prior to the beginning of Lent I was made aware of a new devotional book written by Adam Hamilton called “Living Unafraid”. Adam released this book back in November 2019 and I had committed to do an additional devotion during the time of Lent so I ordered the book. It was in such demand that I had to wait and until the middle of Lent before the book arrived. Not knowing how Covid-19 would affect us so dramatically I believe it was one of those “God things” that intersect my life. I have found it very comforting to use during this time and I have just completed the book and have committed for an amount of time in the future to reread and further meditate upon how God works in our lives during difficult and trying times.

From chapter 14 “Living Unafraid” Isaiah 43:1 – 3a “But now says the Lord the one who created you, Jake, the one who formed you, Israel; do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not consume you. I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Adam noted that while we may not have a journey that takes us into floods and fire there are other overwhelming circumstances that are part of our life’s journey. Adam says that notice that God does not say “if” you pass through he says “when” you pass through I will be with you. A long time ago as I was growing as a Christian and my prayer life became stronger and stronger I learned that as I prayed through difficult situations that I needed to pray for God’s STRENGTH to get us through the floods and fires of our lives. My prayer during Covid-19 has been that we will recognize the strength that God has given us and that as Isaiah says he will be with us through this difficult and trying time as we all journey to get to the promised land. During this time as Reba and I stay in our home and are protected by where we live in Michigan as we isolate and stay safe I think about those who have been directly touched by Covid-19. I worry about those who have lost loved ones and are not able to have a funeral in the traditional sense that we are so used to having. I am concerned and pray for those who have fragile members of their families and are in a constant state of worry. I lift up those who struggle now financially because of loss of employment and the delaying time because of an overburdened system as they look for financial assistance from a number of possible sources. For those family and friends that cannot visit and connect closely with those that are in nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, jails, and any place were restrictive measures have been put in place. My prayers are wrapped around those who have other illnesses that are not being attended to because of an overloaded health system. I pray for what is to yet to come and yet to be seen and experienced. I pray for openness and understanding as we give up some of our personal rights and privileges for the good and protection of our sisters and brothers. I pray for strong leadership in all levels of our government. I pray for the world beyond our country’s boundaries. I ask God for strength in so many, many areas of our lives…..
God did not will the Covid-19 virus upon us. It is part of the ecological system that is beyond our complete understanding. Because of this my prayer is and always will be that God will give us the strength and understanding to realize tomorrow is not a promise, it is a gift and that we need to recognize the changes that have come into our lives and take what is good and build upon it for a better tomorrow. We are not alone and it is through our journey with Jesus Christ that we will find peace within our hearts and through the guiding the Holy Spirit our tomorrows will be better than our todays.

During these past weeks, I have been taking time to call our Claybanks United Methodist Church families. It is been good to connect with so many and talk about how they are experiencing life as we stay at home and stay safe. One of the questions that I have been asked many times by those that I have talked to is what can we do to help others. My first answer is to stay home to stay safe and do not pass on Covid-19 to others. To pray for the needs of others is something that all of us can do. Depending on our gifts and skills some of us will be called upon to assist others to help address immediate needs within our community. I know all of us can prepare now to be of assistance when restrictions are lifted and we can better respond to the needs that will be all around us. Next week I plan to communicate to you some of the resources that are now and will become available to us.

There is now a need for us at Claybanks United Methodist Church. In talking with those who are part of our financial structure of the church we recognize that because we have not been in church for over a month now and will not be in church in the immediate future our financial position is slowly changing. We know that during this time you have been setting aside your normal giving with the plan to put your donations in the plate when we come back to worship together again. But because of the extended time, the finance committee of the church is asking that you send your donations in the form of checks to our PO Box 104, Montague, MI 49437. We ask that you prayerfully consider doing this on an ongoing basis so that we can meet the financial responsibilities that are ongoing as part of our church operation. Thank you and may God bless our giving and sacrifice.

I close this communication to you with a prayer beginning from Adam Hamilton’s book “Living Unafraid”.

Lord, help me to be grateful for what I have, to remember that I do not need most of what I want, and that joy is found in simplicity and generosity. Give us the strength that will see us through this time and the times ahead knowing that you are always with us knowing that your hands reach out and guide us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Easter Service Online

Dear Claybanks United Methodist Family,

It is my prayer that you have been able to be blessed by many of the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship experiences online. Reba and I were able to share in a few and look forward to Pastor Anne Rigler as she broadcast from Mears United Methodist Church tomorrow Easter Sunday at 9:15 am. To find the Mears worship webcast just go to their website at Mears United Methodist Church and click on the link or tune your radio to 100.5 FM. We are also going to be a part of Bishop Bards Easter worship which can be found at at 10:00 am. I also will be looking for opportunities to celebrate Easter with many of the TV broadcasts.

Let us celebrate that Jesus has Risen! Alleluia! in so many different ways on this Easter Sunday.

Until we gather together at Claybanks United Methodist on a Sunday not to far in the future be blessed!

Pastor Gary

Bishop Bard Easter Service and Holy Week Video Links

Claybanks UMC Family Members,

With us not being able to meet together the Michigan Conference has worship services for us on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter for us to participant online in. This is the communication I received with the needed information for you to participate. Reba and I will be worshiping through these and other worships experiences to make our Holy Week a special, unique and holy time. Mears and Pastor Anne will also have on the web Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter services.

Blessings, stay home and safe,


Easter Service with Bishop Bard
Videos for use by your church during Holy Week or beyond

Online Holy Week Worship Services

Dear Clergy and Local Church Leaders:
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Per our email to you on Monday, we are pleased to make available to you three videos produced for Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday Service 2020 – 36 Minutes –

Rev. Lisa Batten of the Michigan Conference and her family guide us through Maundy Thursday. Through beautiful music, reflection, and meditation, we prepare ourselves for the journey to the cross and celebration of the resurrection. As you gather with those in your home, consider having these elements available to participate:
– Candle and lighter
– Pitcher of water, bowl, and towel(s) for foot or hand washing
– Food to share in a symbolic meal (bread, crackers, or fruit)

Good Friday Prayer Walk – 23 Minutes

Take a virtual walk this Good Friday with the members of Court Street UMC in Flint MI and their pastor, Rev. Jeremy Peters. Take a deep breath and journey with Pastor Jeremy as he walks through the City of Flint and shares the Gospel of John. Remember, with him, and recall the darkest day in our Lord’s life.

Christ Has Risen! An Easter Worship Service with Bishop David Bard – 45 minutes