NEWS ALERT: Worldwide Virtual Choir Sings Easter Hymn During COVID-19 Pandemic

Claybanks United Methodist Family,

Miss singing United Methodist hymns? This can help us fill that void.

Pastor Gary


Worldwide Virtual Choir Sings Easter Hymn During COVID-19 Pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of Christians from across the globe, including the United States, Africa, the Philippines and Eastern Europe, are joining together virtually to sing a celebration hymn for Easter Sunday. The Virtual Easter Choir Project will sing Christ The Lord is Risen Today, written by John Wesley in 1739.

The United Methodist Church (UMC) produced the piece as a gift to the world, allowing all people to hear this hymn and celebrate Easter in their homes during this pandemic.

“For more than 2,000 years, Christians have celebrated Easter together. While COVID-19 has prevented us from worshipping physically together in our houses of worship, we wanted everyone to still hear this familiar hymn and sing along and experience the risen Christ,” said the Rev. Junius B. Dotson, General Secretary (CEO) of Discipleship Ministries, the UMC agency that organized the choir.

United Methodists from among the denomination’s 11 million members worldwide were invited to submit a video to be included in the project, and hundreds did – all ages, individuals and families, some singing in their pajamas and others dressed in their Easter best.

The full Virtual Easter Choir video performance will be available Friday, April 10th here:

An invitation to Holy Week from Bishop David Bard

Claybanks United Methodist Family,

This message came today from Bishop Bard. It is my prayer that it brings us into Holy Week closer as United Methodists and Claybanks UMC.

Peace and stay safe,


The Power of Love

An invitation to a reflective Holy Week.

Dear Friends in Christ:

Here we stand at the beginning of Holy Week, that deeply important and profoundly significant week in the Christian calendar that takes us from the raucousness of Palm Sunday with its shouts of “Hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” to the sheer silence of the Saturday before Easter.

Typically, this is a time when the church gathers together frequently. We gather to remember and re-enact the tender moments of a Thursday foot-washing and a shared meal, after which bread and wine were offered as a way to continue to remember Jesus and to welcome his on-going presence with us. We gather to remember the wrenching events of a Friday where there is betrayal, injustice and brutality.

With the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be gathering together this week in person. We are doing our part to contribute to public health and the common good. While we are pleased to help, there is also tremendous grief and sadness that Holy Week will be so different, that we will not be together with water and bread and wine, that we will not hear together the final words uttered on the cross. The darkness associated with Good Friday – “when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land” (Mark 15:33) – that darkness seems to loom over us as we think about Holy Week this year, but let’s think about it together for a few moments.

Holy Week is a remarkable pallet of emotions, from the joy of Palm Sunday with Jesus’ exuberant entry into Jerusalem, to the tenderness and poignancy of Thursday with its foot-washing and meal-sharing and anguished prayers in the Garden, to the grief, sorrow and disbelief that come with the grim death of Jesus on Friday. What an emotional roller-coaster! We may be riding that kind of roller coaster ourselves. In the midst of this pandemic we may know moments of joy and tenderness when we share time with family, when we telephone loved ones or share some time electronically, when we find some simple pleasure that we may have forgotten, when we witness acts of courage by health care workers or acts of kindness from many. In the midst of the pandemic we certainly know moments of grief, sadness, confusion and fear.

As we walk this Holy Week together, walk with all these emotions. It is o.k. to feel what you are feeling. By the grace of God we can take the full pallet of our feelings and create something beautiful, allowing each feeling its place, but not more than its place. Let God’s grace walk with you this week as well. Feel the warm waters of God’s grace caress your roughest edges. Taste the bread and wine of God’s grace, let their saltiness and sweetness be a delight for your soul. Remember, too, that it was this week Jesus taught that what was most important is love, love of God and love of neighbor. Know you are loved, loved by God, loved as someone’s neighbor.

Then will come Easter, which will have something to say about the power of love.

Grace and Peace,

David Alan Bard
Michigan Area Bishop

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