a word from pastor claire

  Welcome to First UMC Graham!  I’m Claire Clyburn, and it’s my great joy and privilege to be the Lead Pastor here.  I’ve been a pastor since 1987 (ordained a Deacon in 1986 and an Elder in 1989) and the Pastor here since July 2019.  Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ through love and service.  Our priority is to create the kind of community where all experience the love of God, to know that you are God’s beloved, and to offer signs of that love to the world.  “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:7) We express our love for God through our worship life.  

Whether you prefer traditional worship or the more casual contemporary style of worship, we invite you to experience worship as an opportunity to express your faith through music and prayer, through exploring the Scriptures and their guiding relevance for our lives today, and to experience the presence of God in our sacramental life together.  You can find out more about our worship life here.  

  Our love is first a response to God’s love for us, which we call grace. As we grow to trust and experience this love, we want to offer it to others.  So our community life together is about being at home in God, at home with one another, and creating a welcoming home for others.  Here at First UMC we do this primarily by inviting you to connect with others.  You can find ways to connect here.

   Our life together is also about service.  We do not exist in a closed loop of our own life.  Such a life is suffocating and does not express the fullness of the gospel. Instead, we want to create the kind of community who takes God’s love to the world in countless ways.  You’ll find some of those ways in other places on this website, specifically here. 

   Our life and ministry is sustained by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness.  To support our life and ministry through your gifts, click here.

   My own way of talking about life together is to say that we Practice Resurrection. By that I mean that as part of Christ’s body, the church, we attach ourselves to the Christ and the way of Christ and it becomes our habit, our way of moving through the world.  So we practice. And the thing we practice is resurrection.  We are looking to the great resurrection, of course.  But you and I get daily practice in learning how to die to and rise up.  We are invited to die to our ego, to our culture’s way of defining us and devaluing us, we daily rise up from our sins, from our past, from our failures, from shame, and live as a beloved child of God in the way of Jesus Christ.  It’s my deep joy to share this kind of “life that really is life” with you.  

Grace and Peace, 

Pastor Claire