By Carl Stagner
Timothy Clarke wears a lot of hats, and not the kind that cover his head. For example, he’s the founder and chief prelate of Berean Fellowship, an international assembly and partnership with pastors of small to mid-sized churches and young pastors, and those new to pastoral ministry. He’s served as president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention. He’s the author of numerous books, including Bind Up Your Broken Heart, available from Warner Press. His title of bishop (also translated in Scripture as overseer or elder) is no misnomer; his spiritual oversight and influence is widespread across the Church of God. Among his numerous other roles, he’s served as senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio—host church for the next Regional Convention (June 19–20)—for the past thirty-six years. But of all the hats Timothy Clarke wears, his favorite are husband, father, and grandfather.
Clarke is the husband of Lady “C” Clytemnestra Lawson Clarke. His adult daughters, Dionesha and Joscelyn are also faithfully serving the Lord at First Church. Some of the most precious moments of Clarke’s life come when he’s spending time—nonnegotiable time—with his grandson Ryan Joseph and granddaughter London Yvonne. Clarke says, “After believer, husband, father, and grandfather, only then am I the pastor of this church!” And that’s no small statement. Considering Clarke is a highly sought-after speaker and the upcoming chair of the General Assembly of the Church of God, he has numerous public roles some might consider more glamorous. But for Clarke, what matters most is his relationship with Jesus Christ and his family. His priorities keep him grounded and steady. So do his daily devotions.
With such a busy schedule and numerous demands placed on Clarke’s time, burnout is a potential pitfall. He’s aware of the danger, and responds, “The first step is to make sure I spend daily time, of a devotional nature, with God. I love to read, and I love sermon prep. But I have to make sure I’m feeding my soul while not in search of a sermon. The other important thing is, because I preach so much, I also listen to preachers—in my car, on the treadmill—I try to get fed myself. I drink from as many sermonic fountains as I can—black preachers, white preachers, some more demonstrative, some more didactic. I’ll even listen to mediocre preaching! But I enjoy it and gain a great benefit from it.”
At First Church of God, known locally as “A City of Refuge,” Timothy Clarke is encouraged by continued blessings and encouraging developments. One of those developments, which has been an ongoing experience, is the church’s generational impact. “I am greatly encouraged by our youth and young adults,” Clarke reflects. “I’m pastoring three generations now. I’ve married couples, dedicated their children, married those children, and dedicated their children. These young adults have grown up and stayed in the church, doing so well. That really excites me.”
Timothy Clarke and First Church of God look forward to welcoming the Movement to their city and campus, June 19–20. Clarke, who is no stranger to the pulpit at Church of God Conventions, will this time address the Church of God on his home turf. Listeners can expect more than a sermon, but an overflow from a deep love for the Lord and the Movement. “I pray every morning for the Church of God,” he explains. “Before I ever ascended to any office, this has been my prayer. I was born into this Movement, and it is the only one I’ve ever been a part of. I pray for the clarity of our vision. I pray for the certainty of our voice. I really do pray that men and women will commit to ministry, and see our work—wherever we are—as a mission field.”
Early-bird registration rates for the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio (June 19–20) expire Saturday, May 19. Register today at www.chogconvention.org!