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September 9, 2020

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Happy Birthday and 35 years of Sowing June 30, 2020

35 years ago on June 30th two days after his birthday and moving into the city of York, Clayton Shenk was ordained as the 4th pastor of Tidings of Peace Mennonite Church.  In faith and tears, he and his wife, planted seeds in the hearts of youth and families.  Today, he is enjoying the fruits of his labor in Heaven.   We which remain, continue to harvest in joy.  Please join us to commemorate his years of sowing for the master, a week from today, Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 7pm on Zoom or Youtube.  The links will be provided after you register below.


Good Friday update

Last year Good Friday was on April 19.  That was the day we got a call from the doctor's office.  The results came back from Clayton's bloodwork.  His PSA was 139 which was an indication of prostate cancer.  I had no idea then what the coming year would hold.  I'm grateful we don't know the future.  One day at a time!  His mercies are new every morning.  Great is the faithfulness of the Lord!
Here is what Clayton wrote in an email update that day:
          "One aspect of this whole journey we must all remember is this - God is not wringing his hands in anxiety at the news.  He knows what is going on, and what his perfect will is for each of us."
Clayton sensed God telling him that he wouldn't die, but he would suffer.  
On Sunday he felt too sick to go to the Easter Sunrise service.  We went to church in time for him to preach.  He announced his cancer news to the congregation.  He said that "cancer" is the most feared word in the English language, but for the devil "resurrection" is the most feared word.  Jesus said, "If you believe in me, you will never die."  From our vantage point now, we believe that must be the interpretation of him sensing God telling him that he wouldn't die.  Clayton is very much alive right now, just not with us.  That's the sad part.  But he's with the Lord.  That's the happy part!
A little update on our lives since I last wrote on March 17:
- COVID-19 - Stay at home order for York County came on March 27.  In a way it feels like a confirmation of the need I felt to step back from involvement in the church and community during this time.  
- Tanya and Wendy's first day working at the Schott Nursery was on March 2nd and their last day was on April 1st - one month!  They thought they would be working there till the end of May, but the difficult decision was made to end their time there because of the virus.  
- Their last day at the nursery in Maryland was on Wednesday, April 1st.  Their first day of work at Harvest Lane Farm in Lancaster was the next Wednesday, April 8th.  My brother found out they didn't have a job anymore, so he called and asked if they could help in their booming business in their store on the farm where I grew up.  They had felt God directing them to set up an online option this past winter. They only had 3 orders until late March.  They were wondering if it was worth it, but now they are praising God that it was ready when they needed it.  Tanya and Wendy are mostly "shopping" for other people, filling orders to be picked up or delivered the next day.  They are working 2nd shift.  The first day they started at 2:00, the next day at 1:00 and today they were asked to come at noon.  Tomorrow is Saturday and they are to be there at 7AM.  They are very busy!
- Autumn is continuing one-on-one time with her student, Larissa, at our house instead of the school.  She picks her up at 8:45 in the morning and takes her home around 1:00 after lunch with us. 
- Hannah continues her homeschooling - another confirmation of our decision to home school her this year.
- Keeshon moved back home with us on March 29.  He didn't want to be quarantined away from his family.  We have enjoyed happy times with him!
- Tamara is disappointed that her only year of school at Tidings of Peace was cut short.  Her work is mostly finished.  Her classes that weren't individualized are slowly starting up again on Zoom.  A virtual graduation is being planned.  She has been washing lots of dishes!!!! She has also been enjoying running with Autumn in the mornings and our afternoon/evening walks on nice days and sometimes working out with the girls at night. 
- Autumn, Tamara, Hannah and I started the GAPS diet on March 4th.  It's designed to be a gut healing diet.  I didn't feel the need for it myself, but decided to do it with the girls.  It takes lots more time in the kitchen.  I'm grateful that all the members of the household have been helping with food preparation.
- I had felt like God was giving the go ahead to plan to hike the Appalachian Trail in June and July.  One day a couple months ago when I was trying to figure out whether we should do it or not, I read I Thessalonians 4 and the phrase stuck out to me, " ought to walk..." .  I know that is very much taken out of context, but it felt like a confirmation at that point.  I also felt encouragement to pursue it from my children and the pastoral team.  I know that many people these days are needing to change their plans.  I haven't given up the vision yet.  It almost feels like things are changing every day.  I'm willing to give it up, if I need to, but if we are going, I need to continue making plans and preparations.  I already made many purchases of equipment and food.  There are a few things I need yet.  Please pray with me that if we are not to go, God will make it clear to us at the right time.  I hold it with open hands.
- The house/garage renovations are on hold.  We filled out the application for an exemption to the Zoning Hearing Board, but the city isn't even accepting applications right now.  Austin said they will let him know when they are again.  In the meantime, we are enjoying the luxury of a large house and yard, especially during this stay at home order!  We feel very privileged.
- Since March 19, Todd and Tanya have been only spending time together outside, trying to maintain a bit of a distance between each other.  The decision was originally designed to quarantine the Poplar St school staff for a time in hopes that school would be starting again.  This makes them even more eager for married life when they won't need to be social distanced from each other.  August 8th is the hoped for date, but a location has not been confirmed yet. Now that there is no hope that school will start again this year, the restrictions have been lifted a bit for this Easter weekend.  Todd came into our house tonight for the first time in about 3 weeks.  That is very happy!  
- I am mostly keeping busy just running a household.  The girls and I sewed some masks this week for our household.  I'm slowly working away at my To Do list, but the days go quickly by.  I'm very grateful to have people around me and plenty to do.  
I'm so grateful that Clayton is not sick during this time.  It would be so hard if he had to go to the hospital and I couldn't be with him.  It's hard to not be able to have him with us now, but it is such a comfort to me that he isn't suffering alone in a hospital.  He is with the Lord and he isn't suffering.  I am grateful that so many people were  able to come to encourage and mourn with us after he died.  It couldn't have been that way if he would have died during this time.  I really appreciate God's timing in so many aspects of all that happened.
God promised to be a father to the fatherless and a protector of widows.  You can pray with me that  God will fulfill this promise in special ways for each of our children.
Thank you!
Mary Lois


February 7, 2020

Friends and family,

After a month of careful and prayerful deliberation, we as a family have reached several significant decisions regarding our plans for my Mother and sisters who are still living at home after Clayton’s passing. We want to make these publicly known so you all can anticipate these changes along with us.

First of all, we have encouraged Mary Lois and our sisters to take an extended time away together in order to facilitate bonding and healing after Daddy’s death. It may intrigue you to know how that has developed. The girls have already benefited from two weeks in solitude during this past month, but are now looking forward to a more significant excursion this summer. Originating as a dream in my mother, they are planning to finish the rest of the Appalachian Trail that was left unfinished by the hike undertaken by Daddy, Austin, Trevor, and me in 2008. They hope to hike the remaining 527 miles from Southern Virginia to Georgia in June and July of this year.

We have also worked hard to find a way for Mary Lois and her daughters to continue living at 882 with the support they need to make this feasible. In order to facilitate this, we are planning for several changes, including Austin and Diane moving their family into the main part of the house sometime in the next year, and the creation of a small upstairs apartment for the others. This has prompted plans for house renovations, which we anticipate starting as soon as March. There will be various opportunities to contribute to this, for those interested. Those details are forthcoming.

Once again, thank-you for your love and prayers for our family as we navigate these waters.
Kevin, for the Shenks


January 25, 2020

Today is one month since my beloved, Clayton, left his body home and went to be at home with the Lord. (II Cor 5:8)

Thank you for your prayers!  God is faithful!
Tanya, Autumn, Wendy, Hannah and I returned last evening from a wonderful two week getaway on a secluded farm about two hours away.  The old farmhouse was perfect for our needs!  Hannah is into "Little Women" right now, so it felt like we stepped back in time into our "Little Women" house.  We were warm and cozy inside and we could go outside for fresh air and take walks in all directions through the fields and woods on the property.  During the week we had a loose daily schedule that gave us an order to the day and a framework for accomplishing the goals for our time away.  We had solo time to read, pray and journal.  We had time to read the comment cards from the funeral and some books that were given to us about grieving, suffering and loss.  The girls copied and creatively illustrated appropriate selected scriptures in their individual blank books while I read to them.  We made pillows from Clayton's shirts, put lots of pictures in photo albums, and wrote thank you notes.  Wednesday of the first week was a beautiful warm sunny day, a good day for an outing.  We visited a nearby state park and saw the stone pyramid memorial at James Buchanan's birth place and then went to see the small house that was moved from that spot to the lovely campus of Mercersburg Academy.  We enjoyed a little coffee shop in that town and a pizza shop later in the day.  We drove to Hagerstown, Md from there to purchase some much needed supplies.  After that outing day we didn't leave the property till last evening.  Austin & Diane and their children did bless us with their presence last Saturday to help us celebrate Hannah's 14th birthday.  I was very grateful when they arrived safely in the sleet and freezing rain.  They spent the night and we enjoyed a special Sunday morning service with them before they returned home Sunday afternoon.  
This morning Kevin and Naomi and their children came for brunch and we spent several hours discussing issues into the afternoon. I am very grateful for the guidance and counsel I'm receiving from my sons who are in consultation with our church leaders. Most days while we were away I spent time planning with my girls.  We listed the people and events we want to prioritize.  We tried to fit all these into our calendar over the next four months.  We realized we cannot fit in everyone and everything we would like to.  We are also looking at the next half year and maybe longer as a time of transition.  My goal is to get back into pouring myself into loving and serving those around me, but it feels like it will be helpful if I can have a kind of sabbatical from my usual involvements during this time. We're still in the planning stage, but there will most likely be some transitions in our living situation that will consume the majority of my time in the coming months. I feel well taken care of by my family and church family and the broader brotherhood—I couldn't do this without the support we have and continue to receive. Thank you!
Part of prioritizing my time may mean less communication with you.  I hope you will understand.  I really appreciate each of you and am so grateful for the support we feel from so many.  We've received many encouraging cards.  My favorites are the ones that share special memories of Clayton.  I often think about Clayton's response to a lady who was bitter that her husband died after 50 years.  She shared with Clayton her disappointment that God took her husband so soon.  He would say that she should have focused on the 50 years she did have instead of the ones she didn't have with him.  Clayton made me a very happy wife and I rejoice in the memories of how blessed I was.  Our marriage was much shorter than I ever imagined.  My life will certainly look a lot different without him.  I now joy in the parts of him that I see in my children and they are a great comfort to me during this time.  I never know what will trigger the tears to spring forth.  It's OK when they do and it's OK when life keeps me busy doing the "next thing".  Thank you for your continued prayers.  I don't know what I'd do without Jesus, my firm foundation who will never leave me!
Mary Lois


January 2, 2020

We have been so blessed with the outpouring of love and support from so many people!  

God's promises are true and our firm foundation.  We thank those of you who have allowed God to use you to bless and encourage us during this very difficult time.  We miss Clayton very much and at times feel overwhelmed with our grief, but we do not mourn as those who have no hope.  And so we continue to press on as we try to figure out what life should look like now.

The girls and are a planning a two week getaway beginning next Friday after Wendy finishes her last assigned shift at her job.  God has provided a place about two hours from here.  We are anticipating a time of mourning and processing together and being given comfort and direction from our Heavenly Father.  

I am so grateful for our four daughters still at home with me.  I know that they will eventually move on and I want them to do so, but for now I will enjoy the time I have with them.  Our sons are committed to making sure we are cared for physically and are also helping to give direction and support in the many life impacting choices their sisters and I will be making in the coming months and years.  I am blessed!

Our church family is also deeply impacted by this loss!  They have been amazing in the many ways they have dropped everything else in their lives and poured out themselves for us over this past week.  They will need to be working through many issues and taking up more responsibilities. 

We appreciate your continued prayer support for all of us going forward. 

Thank you!

Mary Lois


December 27, 2019

This is a special request from our family.... we are asking that any out of the area friends or family not come to TOP this Sunday morning. We would like to use that time to mourn and reflect with our church family. All people that live in the city of York are welcome. Thank you for your consideration.

December 27, 2019

Thank you for your prayers!  We found a place!

  If you are planning to join us at one of the services, and/or want to see the obituary, please read this in its entirety.


Clayton Leon Shenk, 59, died in faith on December 25, 2019 after a painful year long journey with cancer.
He was the son of the late Harold and Barbara Shenk (Saba and Safta).

Born on June 28, 1960, Clayton grew up in southern Lancaster County and graduated from Lampeter Strasburg High School in 1979. Some remember him as Cousin Clayton on the WPTG radio station. Shortly after marriage he moved to York where he pastored Tidings of Peace Mennonite Church for 35 years. He also founded and led Tidings of Peace Christian School for 24 years before retiring in the spring of this year. He loved preaching and also enjoyed teaching and giving tours of Amish Country. His unique sense of humor remained to the end. Though he always made time for others, his family was his first priority. In all of this, his life passion was to do all to the glory of God.

Left to carry on his legacy are his wife of 36 years, Mary Lois (Stahl) Shenk; four sons, Kevin Shenk and wife Naomi of Lancaster, Austin Shenk and wife Diane of York, Trevor Shenk and wife Rebekah of Philadelphia, and Keeshon Washington of York; five daughters, Kelly Kauffman and husband Curtis of Iowa, Tanya Shenk, Autumn Shenk, Wendy Shenk, and Hannah Shenk, all of York; and 10 precious grandchildren, Xavier, Sabrina, Jamian, Amya, Chanina, Tenaya, Sterling, Friedrich, Ariana, and William.
He is survived by four brothers, Dan, Dave, John and Harry; three sisters, Kathleen, Ann, and Sue; and many nieces and nephews.

The viewing will be held at 4th United Methodist Church 1067 E. Market St., York, Pa 17403 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 to 7:00 pm on Sunday December 29, 2019. The funeral will begin at 11:00 am at Genesis Church 1405 Seven Valleys Road, York, Pa 17408 on Monday December 30, 2019. Doors will open at 9:30 am. A meal with time of sharing and reflection will follow the burial.

Those wishing to honor Clayton’s life are encouraged to make a contribution to Tidings of Peace Christian School, 329 East Poplar St. York, Pa 17403, for the new school building project, which was of special concern to him.
More info at


We appreciate the large number of you that were affected by Clayton’s life who will want to come and see him and us at the viewing on Sunday. We plan to take a break between 3 pm and 5 pm. Please arrive by 2 pm if you want to view and visit in the early afternoon, to avoid waiting until the evening.

We invite all to join us at the funeral, laying Clayton’s body to rest in preparation for the resurrection. We are grateful for a facility large enough to accommodate all who want to attend. There will be space for a brief viewing without visitation before the service at the funeral. The doors will open at 9:30 am.

All are also welcome at the meal after the burial, which will include a time of tribute and writing memory cards. We plan to publish and distribute a book of poetry that Clayton composed during the past year. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Thank-you to each and all of you who have and are reaching out with love and support during this time. We anticipate much meaningful contact with many of you in person at the viewing and funeral during the coming week.

If anyone has photos of Clayton to share, please send them to

With Kind Regard, The Shenks