Included on this page is the obituary and family updates in regards to Clayton's passing.
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.
The morning of his death
At 4:47 this morning Clayton went before the judgement seat. He is now free from all pain, insecurities, and fears. He is having so much fun, and he has a mansion in Glory.
A couple of days ago, it was becoming clearer to each of us that we may be nearing the end with him. He has had much pain since he got out of the hospital several weeks ago. We were able to enjoy small moments with him, but he was not fully present. As we all gathered together (the first time all 9 siblings and their families were able to be together since Trevor's wedding), we cherished our borrowed time.
On Sundy it seemed that Clayton was in pain but able to entertain some guests. Uncle Dan and Aunt Lori stopped by and Clayton was being himself, talking about things that didn't matter at the time. He was being selfless, as always. The pastors came to discuss with our family whether or not we should pursue further treatment or call in for hospice. Clayton presented the options and then dismissed himself to bed. Through many tears and tough questions, we all agreed to pursue hospice, and affirmed our desire to do so without conceding that we were "giving up". We wanted to do what we could, but we wanted him to be comfortable too. We wanted the pain to go away.
We all went home and came back in various times the next day. As we arrived Clayton was bedridden but still responsive. We had family time and enjoyed food together. As the day went to night, we all got called in to his bedroom gradually because "it wasn't looking too good". As we surrounded him, he could slightly open his eyes, and barely speak or communicate with us. We used the rest of the evening in grief, but took the blessed opportunity to give our final admonitions to our beloved father. This is a time we will always cherish. Although it was painful to see him like that, he still did his best to make us laugh and love us as much as he could. He understood us.
Again, we split up to our individual homes. Christmas eve came and we began to realize this might be our last day. We consulted with a family friend who works as a hospice nurse, and she told us he is "in his last days". From then on we were by his side all the way. Family friends came by to help babysit and we surrounded and loved him through the day and night. He gradually lost his ability to respond to us, and eventually resorted to lightly swaying his right foot to sway with the songs we were singing to him. When we couldn't sing (because we are an emotional bunch), we played Jimmy Sweigart and the The Easter Brothers. This was so special to him, and for the first time, us as well. The pastors and Mary Lois's parents with her brother and wife and two other brothers from church came to say their final goodbyes. His departure happened so quickly, we wish everyone had this opportunity.
Clayton's breathing became very disturbing, and we as a family prayed and sang through the night. We asked the Lord to bring him to peace and end his suffering. We showered him in kisses, hugs, and more last words. We also shed many many tears. We were taunted with what seemed to be his last breath, until finally, at 4:47 am, we said goodbye to our hero. We wailed for a long time, and then closed the early morning by encouraging and being together.
Today we will be family as we always have been. We will eat together, cry together, and laugh together. We appreciate all of your support however it is given, and look forward to seeing and grieving with many of you in the coming week. For now, we try to rest, as we are sleepless.
On tearful behalf of our family, Keeshon.
The evening of his death
It is Christmas evening, and we are tired. But we want to keep you all updated the best we can, so here is a brief update.
We had several normal Christmas routines, but most of our day was spent being together and mourning. We spent a special time sharing gifts with each other and having some special moments that Clayton prepared for us before he passed. It is truly sobering to know that his love continues to effect us even beyond his death.
Our family continues to be together and are slowly planning the coming week, and also life as we move forward. There are many stressful decisions that we are needing to cast on the Lord for wisdom and discretion. Because of this, we are asking that nobody visit or call us during this time. We do however encourage and appreciate text messages, Facebook messages/comments, etc. In an ideal situation we could have a gathering with all of you, but we are taking time to keep the house a quiet and protected place. Thank you all for your encouragement, we have been reading your kind words on Facebook, email, and our phones and it is truly helping us during this time. We are saving them and storing them to reread later on in life. You are all so special to us. The number of people who have already reached out to one of us could easily have surpassed a thousand by now. Clayton touched so many lives.
We are tentatively planning on a viewing on Sunday evening and a funeral service on Monday. More concrete info will come in the obituary over the next couple of days. We would love to see all of you there, and you are all invited.
Finally, all inquiries to help with food, babysitting, or anything in that regard can be directed to our family friend Marlea. Her number is 717-793-7854.
If you have any questions in regards to the info we've shared today, please feel free to ask us (by text, not by voice) and we will get back to you when we can. There is a good chance that by the time we can answer, the obituary will already have answered your question. :)
To close, a song that became very special to Clayton and our family recently is "Well Done" by The Afters. I've linked their song below. We played it at the conclusion of his life, and he spoke of it being a profound encouragement to him. We hope that will be the same for you all as well.
On behalf of our healing family, Keeshon.