Clark laments that so many of these little country churches have gone by the wayside, and have been doing so in what he calls the "age of the megachurch."
"At a time when bigger and bigger churches with multiple pastors seem to be built everywhere, it seems the world has forgotten the small, country church," he said. "But the lord has not forgotten the small, rural church, and neither have I."
Clark has more than jogged his memory about pastoring at a small, country church. He's living that memory in real time.
The 65-year-old Danville resident now is serving as pastor of Scott's Fork Christian Church in Garrard County.
"Since I retired as pastor of Indian Hills in February of 2008, I have basically spent my time filling in for pastors all over the country who have been ill, gone on vacation or have been on leave," he said. "I loved what I was doing, but when Scott's Fork expressed interest in having me as their full-time sponsor, I was both delighted and humbled."
Clark received the call from the church leadership to become its pastor on March 15, and he accepted and has been serving as pastor since.
Clark realized, however, he was taking over the pulpit of a church that was hurting. Its longtime pastor, the Rev. Ralph Sallee, who had served at Scott's Fork for 28 years, died on Jan. 22.
"Ralph was beloved by the church and also a dear friend of mine," he said. "He was not only a wonderful pastor but also a very well respected and loved teacher and girls' basketball coach at East Jessamine County High School."
Clark preached at the church on Jan. 25, three days after Sallee had died, and appreciated the congregation's sadness.
"They had lost a man they truly knew and loved and who truly knew and loved them, and I have the utmost respect for their feelings about him and their relationship with him," he said. "That is the kind of spiritual and emotional connectedness that you have at a small church."
History in the church
But Clark quickly added a couple more adjectives to his description of Scott's Fork Christian.
"It is not just a small church, it's also a very historic church and a proud church located in a valley surrounded by wooded hills," he said.
Clark noted that the group of people who founded the church bought land for it in 1887 with the first building being erected on the 36-acre tract not long afterward.
The current church and its adjacent fellowship hall is a handsome, immaculately-kept white structure with modern-style stained-glass windows that is perched on a hill near the fork.
"It is a beautiful building that shows the pride this congregation has, and it will gain even more attractiveness when a steeple is added to it," he said.
Attendance varies, but regular Sunday morning services draw anywhere from 40 or so to the 60s and 70s.
"We had 127 for Easter, and that was a very special service bringing people from all over, including many people who had moved away but wanted to come back to their home church," Clark said.
Clark said he has several ideas about facilities and programs, all of which he said will be discussed with church leaders. "I would like to see us install some chimes that will be sounded before Sunday worship," he said. "What a beautiful, glorious sound that would make in the valley here."
Clark also said he would like to see the church one day have a bus equipped with a wheelchair lift to transport older members or parishioners who don't have their own transportation to and from the church for services and other activities. "If someone can't get here, you go get 'em," he said.
Clark said he also has ideas about programs and activities. But his overall goal is to honor the "valuable tradition" of small churches, and that includes not only doing what he can to keep Scott's Fork a viable church but also to work with pastors of other small churches in the county and region.
"The emphasis has been on the megachurch," he said. "We need to re-emphasize the small church," Clark said. The close-knit nature of the small church was on display at a program at Scott's Fork Christian when Clark and the congregation paid tribute to two parishioners who have been married for 70 years.
"That was a church, a community, honoring two of its longtime members," he said. "The couple were given a silver platter for their anniversary. But they received a lot more than that - true love and friendship from people who really know and care about them."
* * *
SO YOU KNOW
What: Scott's Fork Christian Church.
Where: 3 miles off of Ky. 1355 in Garrard County, in the vicinity of the Buckeye and Mount Hebron communities.
When: Sunday school at 10 a.m., Sunday morning worship at 11 a.m. and Sunday evening worship at 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday evening worship and programs at 7:30 p.m.
For more information: Call the pastor, the Rev. Odis Clark, at (859) 236-4907.