Covenant Community United Methodist Church welcomes new pastor

BALDWIN — This past week, the congregation of the Covenant Community United Methodist Church in Baldwin greeted their new pastor: Reverend Lyle Ball.

Already pastor of the Chase Barton United Methodist Church in Chase, Ball first got the call to become a minister during an Emmaus Walk — a Christian retreat — in 2010.

"A lot of people asked me why I would want to become a pastor at my age," said the 64-year-old Ball. "I got the call while I was on an Emmaus Walk in 2010. Before the walk, I had been monkeying with the idea of becoming a pastor, and during the walk I decided to take action. I was giving a talk on Christian action and I felt God telling me it was time."

Since then, Ball has worked as a minister at Chase Barton as well as the Grand Center United Methodist Church. Following the West Michigan United Methodist Church Conference in June, a yearly gathering of the denomination's local leaders, he was told to continue his service at Chase Barton Church and switch over to Covenant Community Church in Baldwin.

"The West Michigan Bishop and the district superintendents decide where people go based on their gifts and talents; this is where they thought I would do the most good," remarked Ball.

Ball has been married to his wife Janet for more than 40 years and the pair have four children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They will continue maintaining the farm their family owns in Mecosta, although Ball said they will be ramping down their activity there now that he is taking on the responsibilities of the Baldwin church. While he knows leading a congregation is a large responsibility, he said he is more than willing to once again take on that challenge.

Ball has no immediate plans for Covenant Community Church, and said he wants to get to know the new church better before seeing if any changes should be made. He said he does want to increase the church's presence in the community, particularly among young people.

"I believe in the idea of churches without walls," said Ball. "I want to make the church stronger, bring in more people, start some ministries in the community and increase cooperation between the churches in the area."

Ball said the message he would like to impart to the community is a simple one: put your trust in God.

"God has a better way to live and a better way to do things," explained Ball. "The Bible doesn't tell us we won't ever have trouble, but it does tell us He will help us get through it."