The Rev. Obie Clark is pastor at Wallins Christian Church in Harlan. While you may not know him that well, chances are, if you've lived in the Danville area for any length of time, you likely have heard of - and probably shaken the friendly hand of - his twin.
The Rev. Odis Clark is pastor at Indian Hills Christian Church, a post he has held since February 1976.
The people in this town who know Clark the best recently honored him with a 30th anniversary celebration that featured the Rev. Wayne Smith, well-known retired pastor of Southland Christian Church in Lexington, plus numerous local pastors, and many friends, family members and parishioners. Nearly 300 people attended the March 5 celebration.
In an interview after the event, Clark continued the reminiscing, reviewing his life, his pastorates and what he hopes will be his legacy at Indian Hills. But he stressed that he still is building on that legacy.
"I plan on preaching here until I retire, and I'm not sure when I will retire," said Clark, who will be 62 in June.
Born in Franklin County
It was June 23, 1944, when he and Obie were born in Franklin County to the late Waldien Clark of Danville and the late Leonard Clark. The family moved to Shelby County where they lived on a 400-acre farm. After high school, the twins went on to get formal ministerial training at various colleges - Odis' resume includes Louisville Bible College, Kentucky Christian University and Cincinnati Christian College - and also pursued their performances on the Christian youth concert series.
In 1966, the Clark brothers were called to become co-pastors of Mount Eden Christian Church in their home county. Clark noted that this year marks not only his 30th anniversary as pastor at Indian Hills but also his 40th anniversary in the pulpit.
During their co-pastorate, the Clarks helped form the Salt River Men's Fellowship in Shelbyville which helped establish five new Christian churches in Shelby, Nelson and Anderson counties.
"Obie and I alone held more than 100 revivals and other evangelistic events to create interest in forming these new churches, and there were many other pastors also doing the same thing," he said. "And the churches we planted back then now are thriving. One of them, Shelbyville Christian Church, now has more than 800 people attending Sunday services."
The Clark co-pastorate ended when Obie Clark got married and left Mount Eden to pursue his own pastorate elsewhere, leaving his brother behind at Mount Eden.
In 1972, Clark was called to a Christian Church in Irvine and then received what would become his third and last call - to Indian Hills.
In the meantime, Clark had gotten married, in 1968, and he and Sharon, a veteran registered nurse who currently is supervisor of the nursery at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, had three children - Dr. Jonathan Clark, a Danville physician; Brian Clark, director of marketing for the Asphalt Institute in Lexington; and Amy Wise, public relations coordinator for Elmwood Inn Teas of Perryville. The Clarks also have seven grandchildren.
Attendace, baptisms up
When Clark started his pastorate at Indian Hills, attendance at the main Sunday service was averaging 130 to 140. Average attendance so far in 2006 is 337. In addition, more than 1,000 people have made "public decisions" over the last 30 years, and nearly 30 people were baptized last year, the highest number during Clark's tenure.
The number of ordained people serving the church also has greatly increased. There now are three full-time ministers, one part-time minister, and a choir director.
While the growth at Indian Hills over the last 30 years has been impressive - a growth that Clark put in the context of an explosion in the number of congregations and parishioners of the Christian Church and Church of Christ on a national basis - more important than the numbers have been the people behind them.
"I have been so fortunate, so truly blessed to have been on a pilgrimage surrounded by a loving family, and we've been surrounded by a loving congregation of super people, super Christian people," he said.