Category Archives: Pastor’s Ponderings

April 11th Service

Sunday, April 11, 2021
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Second Sunday of Easter
Holy Humor Sunday
*Indicates to stand as you are able

Welcome and Announcements

*Praise Song…..”Just a Closer Walk with Thee”………TFWS #2158



In this place, among these people
God is worshipped, God is praised
We have seen the signs and wonders;
The lost are found, 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
Leader: Joy is loose,
All: In the wiggles of the children.
Leader: The whispers of the young at heart,
All: The smiles of adults.
Leader: We praise God for this glorious day.
All: Let the praise break forth in silly ways.
Leader: Joy and praise fills our hearts and in our songs.
All: Let the laughter be deep, for we are God’s people.

*Gloria Patri…………………………………………………UMH 70

Opening Prayer
Humor Time

*Hymn…………….”This Is The Day” (2 Times)……………UMH 657

Prayers of the People – Joys and Concerns

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

The Offering of Our Gifts and Ourselves

*Doxology…………………………………………………….UMH 95

Prayer of Dedication

*Hymn….………………..”Christ Is Risen”…………………UMH 307

Sharing of the Word
Old Testament Reading:…..Psalm 133….Page 501
*Gospel Reading: ….…John 20:19-31…..Page 883

Message by Pastor Gary Peterson
Peace Be With You!


*Hymn…………..…..…”I Come with Joy”………..……….UMH 617

More Humor


Postlude – Please be seated

Calendar and Announcements

Thursday, April 15
1:00 p.m. – UMW Meeting
Sunday, April 18
9:15 a.m.  Adult Sunday School
10:30 a.m. – Worship
Jim Tanis Leading the service
Tuesday, April 20
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Church Clean-up
Newsletter deadline
Sunday, April 25 – Shalom Sunday
9:15 a.m.  Adult Sunday School
10:30 a.m. – Worship
Denise Schuitema Leading the service
Tuesday, April 27
4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Alternate Church Clean-up

Claybanks United Methodist Church is located at 9197 56th Ave., Montague, MI 49437.
Our mailing address is P.O Box 104, Montague, MI 49437.

Pastor Gary Peterson can be reached at either 231-869-3373 (Home) or 616-644-5520 (cell). His email address is 

Our office telephone is 231-923-0573 and our Office email is 

Look us up on the web at

Pianist – Suzanne Bellrichard
Liturgist,  – Konnie Grant
Ministers – All People As We Live The Good News

Pastor’s Ponderings

During this past year with Covid – 19 the most difficult part of my work as a pastor has been being a part of a funeral or memorial service. Claybanks United Methodist Church has lost two dear members of our congregation and a son of one of our congregation’s family. I have been asked by some of our members how and when are we to grieve? My love for all as your pastor is to be a supporting person in the grieving process for family, friends or anyone who grieves with the loss of someone. The restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on pastors and churches have created what I would describe as the most difficult situation in church life and my role as a pastor.

Grief is a healthy emotion, designed to help us deal with loss. One’s level of faith affects the outcome of the grieving process but neither the need to grieve nor the time required to do it can be measured. Spiritual leaders of the church, like everyone else, encounter their share of grief and loss. Friends are lost. Important people in their lives and in the life of the church can never be measured or replaced. Covid-19 has created a separation from family and friends and as pastors our world has changed significantly in how we are able to come beside those who grieve. We as pastors so much want to be with those who grieve in a significant way.

We all need to express our pain and grief in a loss of a family member, a loved one or a friend. We as humans are not meant to suffer in silence, without emotion, but we must grieve in a very meaningful way. In John 11:35 Jesus has come to Lazarus’s grave and it says Jesus began to weep. So, they said, “See how he loved him!” Jesus in his human nature wept at the loss of his friend Lazarus. The son of God knew that sorrow is passing, and that joy is forever, yet it did not prevent him from standing in his grief when that was the emotion that arose in him.

Appropriate grieving involves expressing the pain of loss, not burying it. We are not able, without expressing our loss, to move on or replace the lost with something new. When we grieve together it takes place in community, not just in the solitude of a few. Grief helps the healing and time alone does not heal. God heals.

As your pastor and a member of the Claybanks United Methodist Church Family I know that we have not grieved the way we should have been able to during this past year. It is my promise to you, and to the families that have experienced loss, that we will have, when the time is right and Covid-19 no longer can hold the grip on us, a Memorial Service where we the community of faith can grieve and express our love as we gather round those who have lost loved ones during this past year. When we can gather cannot yet be determined so let us promise each other that in God’s time, we as the community of faith, will gather to celebrate the lives of God’s Saints in a special time and loving way together. 

Pastor Gary

Pastor’s Ponderings

It Is Well With My Soul
“When peace like a river, attended my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; what ever my lot,
Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

This past Monday evening at 6 p.m. President Biden along with his wife, Vice-President Harris, along with her husband, led our country in pausing to remember and honor over 500,000 lives and souls lost to Covid-19. It has now been a year since we first started to experience Covid-19 with all of its elements: sickness, death and major disruption to the way we live. To be honest with you, there have been a number of times when I could not have said, “It is well with my soul.” By stopping in the midst of our busy world and reflecting as we did on the lives lost, illness and the lingering effects the Covid 19 has had on us it brought me to that moment to recognize, “When peace like a river attended my way.” The sorrows that I have felt oh, so many times during this past year. “When sorrows like a sea billows roll.” I realized that I so much needed for us to come together as sisters and brothers to express our deep felt losses together as we were able to do that night.

Covid-19 was in its beginning last spring only a few of us experienced knowing someone who had contacted Covid-19 and became ill. Even fewer would know the loss of a loved one or someone they knew. Now after a year many of us have lost count of those who we know that have had experienced Covid-19 health issues. And for many of us counting those we love and who have died of this disease has been an overwhelming experience of loss. “The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trumpet shall resound, and the Lord shall descend even so.”

I find it very difficult to respond with honesty sometimes when someone would ask me how I am. I answer fine, okay, how about you? Yet, I truly have a difficult time saying, “It is well with my soul.” I, like most, struggle with the vast amount of illness and death that we have experienced in our families, in our community, our country and around the world. My heart breaks when I hear the losses added each and every day from illness and death. I shed tears of sorrow and anguish over the callousness that at times has become a part of our society and, yes, even for me, I try, along with you, to return to some kind of normalcy.

It is because of my belief in our Lord Jesus Christ that I am comforted. From verse three where it says “Not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.” It is only when I turn my whole being over to our Lord that I recognize that, “The trumpet shall resound and that the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul.”

I find that my soul is healing when I see us continuing to follow the guidelines and practices protecting the health of everyone. As we continue to receive the vaccine and, at present, as the numbers continue to decline, that my soul and my being becomes uplifted. We will make it. It is my prayer that all will make it.

Thank you, God for sending your Holy Spirit to dwell with us, guide us and comfort us. May we recognize that your Son Jesus Christ knows our humanity, our sickness and our loss and cared so much for us that He is the light of the world and will be with us as we continue to struggle in these days. AMEN

Pastor Gary

Worship and Lenten Updates

To Claybanks United Methodist Church Family
We missed being together for our Worship on Sunday February 7th. We felt it necessary to cancel our worship service for safety reasons related to weather for all our church family. We look forward to gathering safely this Sunday February 14th for worship. We will be combining much of our planned February 7th service (1st Sunday Communion, scripture, revised message and reading) with our planned worship as we honor Jesus’ Transfiguration which is this Sunday February 14th. So, see you then weather permitting as we gather safely under the guidelines for Covid-19.

2021 Lenten Practices
Lent begins on Wednesday February 17th. We will have an Ash Wednesday Service at 7:00 pm at Claybanks United Methodist Church to begin the Forty Days of Lent. We will also begin an Adult Sunday School Class on February 28th. Class will begin at 9:30 am to be held in the Fellowship Hall. It will conclude at 10:15 am so that the class and others entering church for worship service can do so respecting the Covid-19 practices we as a church have held to so carefully. Our Adult class study will be returning to the class that was started last year for Lent and could not be completed because of suspension of gathering together in the beginning of Covid-19. On the 28th we will spend our class reviewing parts of what we studied last February using the series “Passion Play” presented to us by Bob Fuquay. All are invited for this fresh new start!

Available in the Fellowship Hall beginning Sunday February 14th
Please pickup;
“With Your Whole Heart Family Devotionals and Activities for Lent”
Lenten 2021 Calendars “Daily Scripture and Reflection for the Sacred Season Calendars”

For the Children on Sunday February 14th
“Lenten Pop-Up Calendars”

Pastor’s Ponderings

God’s name is important. It has power. It has meaning. We must be careful when we use it. A couple weeks ago angry, armed people carrying many different flags, including Confederate flags and Jesus flags forcibly overpowered capital police forcing Congress members, aids and others working in the capital to flee for protection and their lives. Some of these people carrying flags, Bibles and crosses beat police officers and lives ended. They removed many items from the walls of our government building, broke glass, beat down doors and dishonored many of the sacred places and items that our capital building held in trust for we the people.

We all saw what happened. I do not need to retell the whole story. Except for this part: as I continue to look at the footage and read about what happened I see gallows, crosses erected, carrying of crosses and Christian flags, I see people caring Bibles and then the prayer that was offered by some inside a chamber by those who laid siege on the building praying in the name of God.

There is much more than just a political point of view that disturbs me from that day. From my Christian point of view I found it incredibly dismaying and asked myself, “How can people do these things?” How was it, “That many people could do these things in the name of God”?

What happened on that day will go down in history and was an accumulation of many things that have gone wrong in our country. Christianity has taken on a nationalism and the Christian faith for too many people has become American and America is only a Christian Nation. Many organizations have hidden behind a, “Religious” banner to justify what they are doing.

Jesus did not come for a few or one particular nation. Jesus came for all people. For us to believe that Jesus is only, “An American” which has become the theme of so many groups as, “American Nationalism” which really goes against everything that Jesus has taught us through scripture. The heart of Jesus would have had nothing to do with hatefulness and violence that we have seen become part of our life in America today. Jesus would have nothing to do with disenfranchising millions of people because of the color of their skin, the country they may have come from or their religion. The discrimination that we allow to grow in our country today is not, “WWJD -What Would Jesus Do”. To do this or allow this is racism. When someone attacks another person because they are somehow different than themselves it is racism. When someone sees themselves as privileged and others as not having worth it is racism. All of what our Jesus stood for is summed in LOVE FOR ALL. 

There were many individuals and different groups that stormed our capital on January 6, 2021. It is only recently that I have become aware of one such group and philosophy and that is “America First”. This group or belief comes from white Christian nationalism who see themselves coming from white demographic supremacy over others. 

For me as I view much of what we have before us in video and see protesters kneeling at a cross before they entered our capital building, carrying signs that say, “Jesus 2020”, a Bible held at the chest of an invader as they push through the capital doors and the person next to them carrying a poster that says, “Jesus Saves” I have to question the role that we as a church and as individual Christians have allowed with acceptance and become, “These things in the name of God”.  They are not of God. All of God creation is in His image and likeness and that includes His heart.

Join me in continual prayer for our nation, its people, our leaders and our religious institutions as instruments of peace.  AMEN!

​​​​​Pastor Gary

Claybanks United Methodist Mid-Month Update

January 2021

Good News Breaking – given the relatively lower rate of Covid-19 infection and the continued vaccination in Oceana County and our Claybanks Community with much prayer and discussion the Worship Design Team and the Administrative Council of Claybanks United Methodist have decided that we can return to in-person worship on Sunday January 31st at 10:30 am.

The Claybanks Family did a very good job last fall in following the guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We will continue to wear face coverings, do social and physical distancing and clean facility diligently. More good news; because we have done a good job of distancing in our facility we will return to singing softly during worship while wearing face coverings. As we return please be aware of all safety concerns and look for possible new guidelines. For those who are not quite yet ready to return to in-person worship please know that you are loved and welcome when you feel most comfortable in returning.

Lent begins on Wednesday February 17th and we will have an Ash Wednesday Service at 7:00 pm at the church.

As understandable with not meeting during November, December and now for most of January our giving support to meet the needs of the church has fallen off. We ask that you give some prayerful thought in assisting your church as we continual to meet church expenses. Donations can be sent to the church P.O. Box 104 or placed in the Offering Plates when we gather once again on January 31st.

Our Nomination Committee is working on filling a number of open volunteer positions of the church. Should you wish to fill a specific positon or know of a church family member that would be willing to serve please contact one of the Nomination’s Committee members or Pastor Gary. Openings are: Church Secretary (Preparing bulletins and newsletters), Financial Chair, Christian Education Director, Chair of Missions, member for Trustees and a member for Nominations. We continue to look for someone to assist in worship with our audio and visual presentation. Our Nominations Committee will be meeting on Sunday February 14th after worship to consider your nominations.

We have received letters of appreciation for our mission support of Trinity Lutheran Community Food Pantry (we assisted in feeding 220 families during the holiday time with the canned good you provided and the pantry was able to purchase 1400 pounds of food from Feeding America with your financial contributions), Love In The Name of Christ and Child Evangelism Fellowship in 2020. These missions will be supported once again in 2021. Even with Covid-19 we as a church have been able to make a positive difference in people’s lives in 2020.

Prayer concerns: Inge Dalbke Family, Our Nation, those touched by Covid-19, Food Banks and our church.



Pastor’s Ponderings

Looking To Find Grace

Almost all of 2020 is behind us and in just a few days a new year will begin- 2021. 2020 has had its long shadows which at times have been difficult to overcome. Early in 2020 we began to hear the term “Covid-19” and we did not fully understand how it was going to affect our lives so dramatically and take so quickly the earthly lives of so many. Covid-19 created much sickness for so many and lingering effects on health which are still being measured and sought out. Our daily routines have been affected and adjustments have been made. As our life continued on with many alterations we still feel the many obligations that must be satisfied and standing on the sidelines at times has been very difficult. Many in our community, country and around the world have felt the losses of lives near them, loss of employment, and the struggles of putting food on the table, paying the rent or mortgages and the utility bills. Our social life has changed dramatically as we only gather in small groups, social and family pods, wear face coverings, keep a social distance and practice many other health-related activities to protect our families, loved ones, friends and our community. We interact in new ways such as in Zoom meetings and Facetime. We spend much more time with our phones in conversation, checking our messages, working with email and spending more time in Facebook than ever before. While all these possibilities for interaction have allowed us to stay in touch with each other, we miss the personal direct human contact that we have experienced throughout our lives which now has become very limiting.

It is possible that the absence of these things has limited the inertia that we bring to a new year and may be sweeping away the excitement we have when a new year approaches as it does beginning in January of every year. Let us not forget what Scripture tells us – that “God’s grace is sufficient” and that is essential in our lives. God’s grace is transformative in the renovation of our hearts and minds as we look to fulfill the expectations of a new year. We know as followers of Jesus Christ that He will never leave us alone or forsake us. Let us not dwell so much on what we have lost during 2020 but look at how 2021 can move us to the better places for our lives. May we learn to respect and appreciate life lived more fully, appreciating the small things that we see and do, thanking God for what has been provided to us by recognizing that God’s grace was sufficient to get us through this past year and we will experience the abundant sufficiency of God’s grace in 2021. Yes, we all know life will be different as we go forward.

Our families may be somewhat different, for sure our gathering in church worship as we enter a new year will be different for a period of time, other activities will still need to be adjusted. Yet, it is through the love that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ that we recognize the grace that Jesus will provide us is more than enough grace for the living of our lives more fully in the upcoming year.
Blessings and stay safe until we can gather together once more safely in community and let’s stay in contact with each other. Happy New Year!

Pastor Gary