Category Archives: Pastor’s Ponderings

January 21st Service

Third Sunday After the Epiphany

Welcome and Announcements

Special Presentation: Nigeria Well Mission Project

Praise Song “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” Overhead


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
One: Jesus says, “Now is the time!”
All: ​Startle us, God, from our busyness and routines. Show us how very close your Kingdom is.
One: Jesus says, “God’s Kingdom is at hand!”
All: ​Deliver us, God, from faith in our own strength. Free us from the traps of violence, dishonesty, and greed.
One: Jesus says, “Receive the good news from God!”
All: ​Embolden us, God, to trust you anew. For we are as fragile as breath, and draw our strength from your mercy and compassion.

Gloria Patri UMH #70

Opening Prayer

*Hymn “Change My Heart, O God” Overhead

Prayers of the People – Joys and Concerns

Children’s Time – “The Story of Jonah”
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 “Grace Greater than Our Sin” UMH #365


Old Testament ​Psalm 62:5-12 Page 458
Second Reading ​Jonah 1:1-17, 2:10-3:3a Page 752

Message “SECOND CHANCES” Pastor Gary


*Hymn “In Christ Alone” Overhead


Church Life
Sunday, January 21, 2018
​​ 9:45 am – Youth Sunday School
​​ 10:30 am – Worship

Monday, January 22, 2018 – Newsletter Deadline

Sunday, January 28, 2018 ​
​​9:45 am – Sunday School
​​10:30 am – Worship
Office Telephone 231-923-0573
Office email

Pianist​​​​ Megan Schihl
Liturgist ​​ Charlie Pease
Nursery Liz Grossman
Ministers All People As We Live the Good News

Pastor’s Ponderings

How do we welcome younger children into our Sunday school, worship service and activities of the church? Claybanks United Methodist Church is a church not unlike many other churches who love to have children be a part of the church in its many activities, education and worship. We encourage parents, grandparents and community members to bring young people to our church. Yet at times we are concerned about how we can make this happen and be very inclusive with our children.

I, as your pastor, work very hard to be inclusive with all our young children when I deliver a children’s message each Sunday. Our Sunday school teachers and Megan, our Music Director, work hard to incorporate music and education in our Sunday morning programs for them. We do all that we can to include our young children in the many different activities of the church where they can add a blessing to our mission and life as a church.

Recently I received a communication from the Montague United Methodist Church entitled, “The Child In The Pew”. I am including parts of it where it is applicable in my message to you as it can pertain to Claybanks United Methodist Church.

When little children come to the church, adults sometimes wonder why. Actually, bringing children into the sanctuary is something like getting them to eat at a dinner table. Even though their manners are far from elegant, it is done in hopes that, given time, they all begin to feel like parts of the family.

Children giggle, they poke, and they swing their feet back and forth simply because they are children. But, they also sing, pray, and give with us. So, this page is written to suggest that we adults should accept, even value, the children’s restlessness during worship, trusting that they are also learning:
• That it is important to come to this place each Sunday.
• That they belong to this special company of people.
• That the sights and sounds are good, though not always understandable.
• That something is expected of them in this place, and that they may respond in song, prayer, and in offering.
• May they come to know that they are God’s Children and are loved by God and us.

Bringing children to church can be a real exercise for friends, parents and grandparents. But then again, so are many other facets of parenting and the rewards are well worth the effort. While we do not want our children to be disruptive or hamper churches worship, we must always remember that children are members of the church, too. Children should be among the worshiping people. They may not participate in just the same way as adults do, but they are growing in understanding and learning to take their place in the churches family and over time what a blessing it is to see the beautiful changes take place in our young people as they continue to grow.

Young children and worship may have challenging moments, but it is our birthright as Christians to worship. Our satisfaction comes in later years when we see them stand in the midst of the church with a faith of their own.

Pew Tips For Parents And Other Adults:
• Arrive in time to find a good place to sit so your children can see. A spot closer to the front helps in this.
• Let your children choose prior to entering the sanctuary from the many different items that are at our Welcome Table to give them some activities to do while experiencing the sights and sounds in the sanctuary.
• Practice the Lord’s Prayer at home, tell them what is coming next in the worship service and encourage them to come up for the Children’s Moment.
• A pre-arranged signal is good to let your children know when it’s time to settle down.
• Express joy at having children worship with you, especially those who are with other families. Send a smile in their direction every once in a while.
• Give prayers and thanks to God for a child’s presence.
• Invite parents to sit with you so that you may assist with bottles, dropped toys, and teaching children how to worship.
• Just be patient! Give parents some time to settle a crying baby. Give your crying baby some time to settle, too! Don’t rush out of the sanctuary at first sign of a cry. (I as a Pastor love to hear the cry of a new born baby in worship – It means God has blessed us with New Life!)
• Ask your children to tell you when they hear a predetermined word or phrase in a hymn or message.
• Open the Hymnal. Follow along with your finger to encourage children to read music and celebrate worship by singing.
• Prepare your children for worship by telling them before worship begins what is expected of them.
• Most of all, free yourself of anxieties and relax. We are a family of faith and we promise to love unconditionally!

It is when we bring our children to worship that we see the blessings that God has given not just parents and grandparents but to our church community as well. We welcome all the young people into our worship, Sunday school and church activities of the Claybanks United Methodist Church. Someday these children will be the leaders, workers and disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world. It is our responsibility to see that all our resources are available and given to them so that God’s Kingdom can be shared with the world around us.

Blessing for the new year of 2018!

Announcements and Stuff

Thank you!
I am reminded yet again how blessed I am. You, my church family, continue to surprise me with gifts and notes of appreciation as well as verbal praises for the work I do as secretary. I can’t explain how much I appreciate it all and find myself humbled and want to thank you….AGAIN!
So…THANK YOU MY CHURCH FAMILY for the Christmas Present!!!!!!
New Year Blessings!

Nursery Schedule
1/7/2018 – Joyce Twiss
1/14/2018 – Doris Graham
1/21/2018 – Liz Grossman
1/28/2018 – Karen Anderson

Pastor’s Ponderings

The holiday season is upon us with all its splendor, busyness, and time together for so many. Starting with Thanksgiving, we have the opportunity to gather with family and friends and celebrate the goodness that God has bestowed upon us and we have an opportunity to thank God for the many blessings which we have received.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a very busy season starting with Advent and moving through to the New Year. This time of year gives us very special opportunities and times in which we celebrate the goodness of the world around us in so many different ways.

Advent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the birthday of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Advent allows us to slow many things down around us and helps us focus on the reason for Christmas. I encourage you during the Advent season to take time for God, whether it be participating in a daily Advent Devotional, attending our church Advent programs or Healing Blue Christmas Service, attending other special worship services, or volunteering for special activities that help support others from our community in mission; we need to remember that Christmas is a celebration of our Christian faith and Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the life He gave us starting with His birth in a manger.

As busy as this season can get, I want to encourage you to take the time to be with family, friends and in community with other Christians as we celebrate all the goodness and love that we have for each other through Jesus Christ. Look for the opportunities to be with and to share the holiness of the season and remember it is good to give, to receive and to celebrate our love, care and concern for each other. As your pastor, I want to extend to you blessings for the season of the holidays and the special blessing that we receive knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. May the Holy Spirit lead and guide you during this special season as followers of Jesus Christ.

Reba and I pray that you have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Pastor Gary

Pastor’s Ponderings

“I took my walk to Emmaus in February 1996 in Byron Center and sat at the table of Paul”. In the Cursillo movement of the Christian Church that is how you introduce yourself. Little did I know that my Walk to Emmaus in February 1996 would be more than just one little step on my journey walking with Christ. That step was a step taken by me, though the power of the Holy Spirit would engage me in a journey that eventually would take me into the pastor-calling and eventually here to Claybanks United Methodist Church.

If you are not familiar with the Walk to Emmaus, De Colores, Chrysalis, Keryx or one of the other spiritual retreats that are formulated under the Cursillo movement, let me give you just a belief description of how the movement has been intertwined with my spiritual journey.

The walk to Emmaus is sponsored by the Upper Room of the United Methodist Church. There are Emmaus chapters throughout the United States and the world, and their function is to bring 36 pilgrims on a journey through a structure that allows them to walk closer with God through the power of the Holy Spirit as they explore Jesus Christ’s meaning in their lives over a 72-hour period. Basically, the structure brings together people on an extended weekend with many other committed Christians who had taken their walks, and now they are there to see that you have the most beautiful experience possible as you begin your walk to Emmaus. The basic structure has a conference room with leaders, assistant leaders and clergy. A number of talks are given followed by discussion, singing, praying, communion, chapel visits, worship and sharing of how Jesus Christ has become the focus in the lives of those taking their walk for the first time and in those who have assisted on Emmaus weekends possibly over and over again.

After taking my walk, I had an opportunity, in fact many opportunities, to be a part of the journey for many pilgrims. I was able to sponsor Reba, Michelle and many other Christian friends as they took their Walk to Emmaus. My first position was helping set up for a weekend. In fact, I did a number of those during my active time in Emmaus. Reba and I then served on housekeeping duty together. Reba and I then had an opportunity to assist a walk as coordinators for housing, feeding and care of the pilgrims and the conference room staff. Following those experiences, I (and Reba too) was invited to be a part of the conference room as an assistant table leader and give a talk that I remember well on “Christian Action.” It was following that weekend, while riding home with Reba who came to pick me up, that we first had a discussion about my exploration to become a pastor.

After working a number of other walks in different roles, I had an opportunity to be the director of the Emmaus walk at the Grandville United Methodist Church in the spring of 2001. Preparing and leading a walk brought me so much closer to God and that experience continued to influence me. Soon after that walk I began my exploration, the beginning of the process of becoming a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Since that time, I have had a number of opportunities to be in the conference room as clergy and sharing the love of God with the new pilgrims and the staff members on Emmaus weekends.

A number of years ago I was invited to be a clergy member of a Keryx. Keryx is the Cursillo walk offered inside a prison. A number of walks happen in a number of prisons each year within the Michigan correctional system. A close friend of mine has invited me and a number of other lay and clergy to be a part of Keryx number 29 and 30 to be held in the Carson City Correctional Facility this winter. I am thankful to the Administrative Counsel of Claybanks United Methodist Church for allowing me to take part in the two walks offered in January and February of this upcoming year. Training for these walks has begun and require much time, sacrifice and commitment for over 30 men from the “outside” and over 30 inmates inside who have taken walks previously. It is when I get to experience the commitment, love, and concern for the spiritual growth of those who are incarcerated by their fellow inmates and many from the outside that I truly get to see the love of Christ shared by so many. Overcoming the difficulties of maintaining Christian commitment within our prison systems shown by inmates can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I will not be with you for two Sundays, one in January and one in February. In the weeks to come I asked that you pray as we seek leadership for those Sundays that I will be at Carson City. I also will be asking you to pray for the volunteers, the prison chaplain, the inside team and those that the Holy Spirit is gathering together for the walk and prayers for me.
In Matthew 25:39-40 “When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” And Jesus replied, “I tell you in the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” It is impossible these days for all of us to visit those incarcerated yet when we pray for and support different prison ministries we are doing what Jesus has commanded us to do, to visit those on the margins and in need of Christ’s love. Thank you for allowing and supporting me to be part of your fulfilling of Christ’s command. Lives will be changed, and Disciples for Christ made.

Pastor Gary

Upcoming Worship Schedule

November 5th – Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 / Matthew 23:1-12
“Servant Duties”
All Saints Sunday
Communion Sunday

November 12th – Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 / Matthew 25:1-13
“Do Not Let Your Lamp Go Out”

November 19th – Psalm 123 / Matthew 25:14-30
“How Many Coins Do You Have?”

Thanksgiving November 23rd

November 26th – Ezekiel 34:11-16 /Matthew 25:31-46
“I Was In Prison and You Visited me”
Hanging of the Greens


October 8th Service

Claybanks United Methodist Church
October 8, 2017 10:30am
*Indicates to stand as you are able

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Welcome and Announcements

Praise Song “Come, Now is the Time to Worship” Overhead


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
One: Brothers and sisters, we come from many houses. Welcome​to this household, the house of God.
All: ​Here we hear words that revive. Here we experience grace that makes our heart glad.
One: God offers light to our eyes.
All: ​Christ brings wisdom to our hearts and minds.
One: God’s teachings are sweeter than honey
All: ​Even honey dripping off the honeycomb!
One: They are more precious than gold
All: ​Even tons of pure gold!
One: Sisters and brothers, welcome to the house of God!

Opening Prayer

*Hymn “Song of Promise” UMH #707

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 “This is the Day” UMH #657

First Reading ​ Exodus 20:1-20 ​Page 58
Second Reading Psalm 19 ​Page 433

Morning Message Pastor Gary


*Hymn “How Great Thou Art” UMH #77


Office email

Pianist​​​​ Megan Schihl
Liturgist ​​ Bev Grumm
Nursery Bev Grumm
Ministers All People As We Live the Good News