Church, community, school, youth, whatever the venue, it seems that life for Pastor Clarence (Clancy) Howard and wife Kathi revolves around service.
Spending time with them, one cannot help but be reminded of an old chorus that says in part, "if you want to be great in God's kingdom, learn to be the servant of all."By that standard, the Howards define greatness.
On June 6, 1983, Howard
first sermon as pastor of First Christian Church
in Orofino.On June 1 of this year, the congregation and community will honor them as they celebrate 25 years in the pastorate, 25 very busy and fruitful years.Howard
knew from the age of 14 he
was called to ministry.Originally, from Five Mile, an "agrarian" area near Spokane, he received his undergraduate degree at Northwest Christian College in Eugene, OR and completed his Master of Divinity at Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, TN.
As a child, Howard's mother saw to it that he
two younger sisters attended church.She
took them or sent them with a neighbor.One Sunday his
Dad got up and said he
was going to church, and from that day on the family attended church together.Years later, Howard
would learn that his
own example "the way I was living," and that of his
maternal grandfather led his
own father to choose God.
The family attended a small church, "really a community Sunday School", until Howard's parents decided they wanted the children in a larger church.They began attending Country Homes Christian church
mother became the church secretary.As a senior in high school, Howard was the church janitor.
Kathi grew up in Pomeroy, and was baptized at age 11, although she
was ready sooner.It was just a matter of "gathering the courage to get up in front of everyone."She
graduated from high school knowing she
wanted to "get married and have kids," although she
never expected to be a pastor's wife.She
didn't want to go to school, but at her
parent's urging, she
chose Northwest Christian College
"figured the Bible classes wouldn't hurt me."
There, in October of her
freshman and Clancy's sophomore year, the couple met.
Two weeks later, they were invited to Orofino for Howard
to preach and interview at First Christian Church
, a congregation founded in 1911.The next Wednesday he
was asked to assume the pastorate, and gladly accepted.
No sooner was the decision made, than Washington's
governor ended the hiring freeze. Howard
thesis, "The Role of Clergy and Laity in the Northwest Region of the Disciples of Christ," after moving back to the northwest.His
thesis professor went on furlough so he
had an extra year to work on it.His
thesis defense was unique in that he
did it over the phone, something he
says no one at the school had ever done, nor, to his
knowledge, has anyone done it since.Howard
came to serve a congregation who "just try to be ordinary God fearing Christians," he
says, "just trying to do their job," and community involvement soon followed.Six months after their arrival he became involved with FISH, and has served on the board ever since.
The FISH thrift store is run by volunteers who are overseen by a board that makes decisions about day to day operations and allotment of funds.The need for help comes in cycles, Howard
says, often reflecting the seasonal nature of work in the area.