The Eastern PA Conference’s South District has a new motto that seems to define its consistent approach to ministry: “Always Faithful.”
“It embodies my vision and hope for us as God’s people,” says the new South District Superintendent the Rev. Evelyn Kent Clark. “We often have our own individual definitions of success, but I believe God honors faithfulness.”
In fact, she believes God “calls us to trust Him, without doubt or fear; and He will use our tenacious, consistent efforts to achieve His will.” Honoring the Lord’s Prayer that “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” she says, is what leads to real success—whether big or small.
Clark formerly chaired the conference’s Order of Elders and was the pastor of two diverse congregations on the South District: New Life UMC in Drexel Hill and Trinity Lansdowne UMC, also known as the Garden Church. Yet, she values her experience of working with clergy and laity in various roles at all levels of the denomination.
Both then and now, she says, “I see God using me to assist leaders to be always faithful and to recognize the need for faithful partnership.” That motto becomes more critical for her as she sees too many leaders being pulled away from their divine purpose by life’s struggles, distractions and compromises.
‘Manifest presence and will of God in all they do’
“My priorities in working with clergy and laity across this South District are to support, encourage and enable them to lean closer into their purpose and calling,” she says, “and to show them they are valued as God’s people seeking to manifest the presence and will of God in all they do.”
That includes discovering new “missional strategies in this new space and time.” That discovery excites her, especially the conversations she is having with clergy and laity who even now are “birthing new ministries to share the gospel and its message of salvation and transformation.”
“As I visit churches around the district,” says Clark, “I am experiencing worship and ministries that break the restraints of COVID-19, including those that are creatively using technology and social media. She values “evangelistic biblical teaching and Spirit-filled, outstanding, over the top worship.”
But she is aware of the challenges posed by a lack of human and financial resources in small, urban, rural and first-suburb churches.
The former secondary-school educator, musician and youth choir director believes youth and young adult ministries are crucial to the “strategic, kingdom-building work of the church.” She also supports efforts across the district, conference and denomination to foster equity, racial justice and inclusiveness, such as that modeled by Jesus Christ.
“Just surviving is never good enough,” says Clark. “We are living in a time when the Church can actually lead the world into a new future, one that is inspired by our spiritual vitality and our excellence in all we do.”