Clearfield Community Church's new pastor hopes to reach members at their level

Wednesday , April 12, 2017 - 8:27 PM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

CLEARFIELD — There’s no questioning whether the members of Clearfield Community Church love their new pastor.

The Rev. James Carlson received a 100 percent vote from the members at the end of their year-long selection process. There were 89 other candidates.

Members found Carlson to be a man who fulfilled all the requirements listed in 1 Timothy 3:3, said Don Moyle of Layton, a five-year-member of the church and part of the search committee.

The verse suggests a pastor be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable and able to teach.

“We tried to stress that we needed to get a definite, clear-cut response,” Moyle said of the selection process. “I believe God moved us toward (Carlson.)”

Carlson officially started shepherding Clearfield Community Church April 1. He believes the date to be perfect as it offered him the opportunity to announce that he’s a fool for Jesus.

“Unless I am a fool for Christ, my preaching here will have no power,” Carlson said, referring to 1 Corinthians 1:18 in the New International Version of the Bible.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” reads the verse.

Carlson’s goal is to see that Clearfield Community Church lives up to its name as the church continually reaches further and deeper into the community and meets people at their level.

“When we say we are Clearfield Community Church, we use that label intentionally, Carlson said. “We are here to be a friend to the community.”

He said those who are saved have been made a friend of God. “We should seek to be a friend,” he said.

The Scriptures are full of lessons of being friendly and kind, he said. His plans are to lead his congregation in befriending and praying for those around them.

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At 43 and with young children, Cathy Nichols of Roy said her new pastor’s ideas are fresh and youthful.

A 24-year-member of the church, Nichols said she’s excited for her new pastor’s potential at attracting young families and contemporary music to the congregation.

“He wants to revamp the whole children’s ministry so we have a complete, comprehensive children’s program with worship, lessons and crafts,” she said. “The focus is on young people, children and youth and young adults.”

Nichols said Carlson was “so personable” that he will be able to connect with anybody.

“We like his style of worship,” said Nichols’ husband, Gerald Nichols.  “His sermons are energetic and engaging. ...It will be great for the sheep to have a new shepherd.”

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The church already reaches out to the community in offering its building for numerous types of events from 12-step programs to scouting events.

The congregation also offers a free community meal at 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

Besides efforts to share the gospel, Carlson’s other passion is to lead Christians to ever-increasing spiritual maturity and discipleship.

Carlson’s first pastoral assignment was as lead pastor at Chevy Chase Baptist Church in Glendale, California. He said the name of his former church, which came from the road it’s on, provided for much lively conversation.

In the five years he was there, he was able to increase attendance, new members and baptisms.

One passion Carlson has is reaching people at their level. “I am not a great guy,” he said. “I am a sinner, saved by grace but I believe God has called me to this church.”

He spoke of Christ’s earthly ministry that included much effort to spend time with those who needed to be saved from their sins.

Carlson has a doctorate in philosophy from Fuller Theological Seminary, a master’s degree in theological studies from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Bethel College.

Clearfield Community Church is a small congregation of 175 members and 125 who regularly attend. Affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA, the church is located at 525 East 200 South in Clearfield.

You can reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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