TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Before I applied to rabbinic school at the Academy for Jewish Religion — California, I knew I had to learn two things: 1. whether I could still study, in my 50s and 2. Hebrew grammar. I could decode the Hebrew letters (sort of), but my vocabulary was limited and my knowledge of grammar almost nonexistent. Fortunately for me, I could solve both concerns in one fell swoop at the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) in San Anselmo, down the street from where we lived. I walked in the first day, a stranger among 17 Presbyterian ministers-to-be who had spent the previous week in orientation to the school, the program and each other. I was welcomed by this one man, with a kind smile and gracious manner and soft-spoken words: Scott Clark.
As the class continued through that semester and the following intensive month for the second semester, we sat next to each other, had coffee, studied together and became good friends. I learned he had given up a career as a trial lawyer in Alabama to heed the call, and had come with his partner (now husband) Jeff to the more open world of the San Francisco Bay Area. He had entered seminary with a stronger faith than most, because he did not know if the Presbyterian Church would allow an out gay man to become ordained, and yet he was there because that’s where he belonged.
Four years later, Scott graduated at the top of his class and has proven to be a fascinating speaker, and continues to be the gracious, soft-spoken, welcoming person he always was. However, his faith had not yet been rewarded with the call to a church. However, SFTS was indeed a place he belonged, as they have hired him into several positions of increasing responsibility, as he now serves as interim Associate Dean of Student Life and Chaplaincy Services (and soon, we pray, without the “interim” before the Associate).
Last summer, as that process proceeded, the Presbyterian Church passed Amendment 10-A, allowing for the ordination of openly gay ministers. Scott’s new job qualified him for ordination, and last October, he became the second openly gay ordained Presbyterian minister, during a joyful service in a church filled with communities of people touched by his gentle soul.
He has also been on the legal team supporting Rev. Janie Spahr, a minister who has been called before the judicial authorities of the Presbyterian Church for officiating at same sex weddings, believing that love knows no gender. His defense of her actions has won the respect of all involved in the process, and the hope is the time will soon come when his arguments sway a majority of the judges. We pray that time will come soon.
Since our first year of study together, Scott has been a guest and active participant at my family seder, celebrating Passover, the Jewish holiday that remembers through ritual, food and family, the Exodus, the redemption from slavery toward freedom to worship as we want.
This March 29 and 30, North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation is blessed to have Rev. Scott Clark come to teach. On March 29, 7 p.m., Rev. Clark and Rabbi Meredith Cahn will jointly lead an interfaith discussion on the Exodus story, what it, means to Jews and to Christians. On March 30, also at 7 p.m., he will be the speaker at our Final Friday Cultural Series, speaking about Shifra and Puah, the two midwives who sparked the revolution. The entire community is invited to both events. Please join us to hear and learn from this remarkable man at the North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation, 7000 Latone Ave., Tahoe Vista. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-414-4985 for information.
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