HUDSON – A new senior pastor at Hudson United Methodist Church says he hopes to show young people that the church can be relevant to their lives.
The Rev. Clark Stein has served 27 years in the ministry and is ordained as a Full Elder of The East Ohio Conference of The UMC. Stein's wife Kathleen is an elementary school teacher, and they have four adult children, Caleb, Hannah, Ezekiel and Micah.
"I am passionate about worship and preaching, conveying how relevant the gospel is today," Stein said. "I love to teach others and being involved with adult bible studies. I also practice radical hospitality by opening doors and welcoming all so that they may hear the Bible's call of peace with justice for all," Stein said.
Stein said others told him he should become a pastor years ago, when he was active in the Boardman United Methodist Church in Youngstown and was a member of a singing group that toured area churches.
"I was selling yearbooks in school and started to feel unsettled about that," Stein said. "I made a lot of money at a young age and looked around and said. 'Is this all there is?'"
The more he became involved in his church, the more things changed in his life.
"I would be talking to yearbook advisors going through difficult times with students and I would ask to pray with them and people began telling me I needed to be a pastor," Stein said.
He talked and prayed with Kathleen about a decision toward ministry.
"We both felt I was being led," Stein said.
They packed everything up, including two children at the time, and he began studying at Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio.
"We both worked to get through seminary, and she's been a big support since we started down this road," Stein said. "When we got married, being a pastor was the farthest thing from our minds. Being a pastor's wife is difficult and she handles it gracefully and well."
Stein describes himself as a good listener, a lifetime learner and possessing a real love for Jesus and the Word.
"I care to find safe places for all people," Stein said.
His duties include teaching, preaching, music and planning worship services. Music is a big part of his ministry and life. He met Kathleen performing in the high school musical "Oklahoma" with her. He was the peddler Ali Hakim and she was Gertie Cummings.
"We had fun," Stein said. "We were high school sweethearts and in three musicals together."
Stein said the story and message of Jesus is still very relevant today.
"We find ways to connect people who are unfamiliar with story of the Bible with how the tenets of the Bible can provide life for people beyond the life they know," Stein said. "The overriding principles of love for neighbors, God and appreciation for creation and non-violence are still as important today as they ever were."
The church is trying to reconnect with a generation that is primarily unchurched, Stein said. That's new to the church and more difficult. In the past, Sundays were set aside for worship, but over the years activities and events have torn young people away from church on Sunday mornings.
"We need to figure out ways for people to know church is still relevant even in a rapidly changing culture," Stein said.
First and foremost John Wesley, who influenced the Methodist religion, believed there wasn't a solitary Christian, Stein said.
"This is a caring and loving community of faith and it's important to connect with other people," he said. "We see Jesus in the faces of other people. The hands we hold and the stories we tell – those connections are important."
Stein said that his sermons have been letting people know what is important to him.
"We’ve been talking about community and creation and finding God in one another and the world around us," Stein said. "I tie that to the story of Jesus because that's important to me — the Jesus I knew and changed my life. I think he can change their lives, too."
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org