Pastor Lyle Ball to retire from United Methodist churches

CHASE — With all the folks Pastor Lyle Ball impacted in the Chase and Baldwin communities through the years, people have reached out to let him know his service at Chase United Methodist Church and Covenant Community United Methodist Church in Baldwin has been so appreciated. 

Ball's last Sunday as a UMC minister will be June 12. He has served in Chase for the past 12 years and in Baldwin for the past seven years. Along with pastoring the two churches, he also has been active the past few years with Lake Fellowship Ministries, (comprising area churches to ecumenically reach out to the community.)

Ball also helped form a youth group in Chase in December 2012, mentoring and spiritually nourishing young people through the years, watching them grow up and begin their own families. 

On Sunday, June 5, during his last time leading the youth group at the Chase United Methodist Church, nearly 40 people came together — past and current youth group members, parents, a couple of ministers, and others he influenced through the years, to celebrate Ball and how he touched each of their lives. 

Pastor Connie Shoemaker, of Chase Fellowship Church, led the group in prayer and blessing, thanking God for the memories and good times with Ball and his wife, Janet. 

After a potluck meal, each person in the room shared a special memory or a way Ball influenced them. Several present mentioned how much they enjoyed the community Christmas Eve candlelight services and the Easter passion play hosted at the church in Chase — always in conjunction with parishioners from Chase Fellowship Church and other local churches. 

Nilda Avery, a missionary with Youth With a Mission, who travels back home to Michigan once a year with her husband, Arvid, spoke of how Ball had a way of uniting the whole community. 

"We came back and heard about Lyle when he first became pastor here. With his smile, embrace and generosity, the way he united all of us, we are going to miss him because of all of that," she said. 

Steve DuBreuil, whose kids went through the youth group, said Lyle had been there for his family through good times and hard times. 

"I appreciated the Christmas Eve services, and I remember when the kids would ask questions at youth group. Someone asked Lyle, 'Why do you always feed us junk food?' I always remember that," he said. 

Among other memories on the humorous side, was when one of the youth, Brandon, actually thought Ball's name was "Youth Group" for a couple of years.  

Shoemaker spoke of Ball during the Lake Fellowship Ministries meetings. 

"I remember one pastor saying, 'Lyle doesn't say a lot, but when he does, (you) listen,"' she said. She thanked him for all the times he joined in activities with Chase Fellowship Church. "Thank you for letting us be a part of your life." 

Ball's wife, Janet, recalled the first community Easter play. 

"I remember the first play, seeing all of you guys in this building, and learning you were all related somehow. You accepted us into your family," she said. 

Ball said he really appreciated his years with everyone. 

"It's been interesting, and I learned a lot in my time here," Ball said. "It's been fun working with the kids, and I made a lot of friends with the parents. It's been fun seeing all of the kids grow up. I will miss the friendships. We will be back up here to visit."

Ball thanked everyone for coming and said he wasn't expecting the gathering.