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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

My Dynamic Duo

Pastors Clark and Norwood - My Dynamic Duo

To be memorable and to have dramatic impact, informational detail must function actively within the dynamic of a story. Tim O'Brien

Have you ever needed a super hero in your life? Someone to champion your cause or to fight for you? I have been blessed with two such people. It is my pleasure to introduce you to my dynamic duo!

I am going to break tradition and use their names in this blog post. It is important to me because we hear so much about what is wrong with pastors, but not enough about what is right. In addition to my current pastor Pastor Monte Norwood, these two help mold and support me when I needed it the most. They were both blessed with wonderful wives who helped them, just the way it was designed.

On the left is Pastor James I Clark Jr. There is a celebration for his 80th birthday today in New York which regrettably I will miss. I was directed to his church when I was in college. Christ Temple provided me with a solid Bible based foundation that has served me well throughout my years. One of the most wonderful things Pastor Clark taught me is that it was okay for me to defend myself. Pastor was familiar with the challenges my sister and I faced with my mother and how we were trying to balance honoring our mother and staying sane. One day in the back of the church he assured me that I could, in a respectful way, defend myself. It was such a great relief and it started me on the road to defining who I was as a young woman.

His wife is a no nonsense accomplished woman in her own right. She was one of the first woman vice presidents of an insurance company. I often think about her holding her meetings with the same deference she held meetings at the church. You had better come prepared. I love that she raised us this way and I see the benefits in my professional life. With her own three children to raise she always had time for us. She believes in being prompt and loves the Lord more than life itself. We don’t speak often, but I know I am in her prayers…and can this woman pray! When we held all night prayers at the church, I would try to get as close to her as possible. We would start around 10 pm and the objective was to keep praying until 5 or 6 a.m. She was a master at this. There were casualties (folks who had fallen asleep)all over the sanctuary but she was still going strong. She would pray the most intimate prayers. Not just bless this one or that one. She knew things about them that would help with the answer to the prayer, their mother, cousin, brother and remembered to thank God before moving to the next person. She taught us how to use an index card to write our prayer list out. Inevitably we won’t get through the whole card during the night praying these very intimate prayers. This lesson/experience is still one that I treasure to this day. She would still be going strong at 6 am!

Pastor Matthew Norwood (on the right) assumed responsibility for us when we moved to Atlanta. Pastor Norwood would come to New York to hold a one week revival at Pastor Clark’s church each year so even though he is 20 miles away from where we ended up living, he was the natural selection. To me there is no substitute for being comfortable with the church you become a part of. The Norwoods were so welcoming, it really felt like home.

When things started to deteriorate between my husband and me, we got a surprise visit from our pastor and his wife. I had gone out to walk the two little ones after dinner and when I got back, their car was in the driveway. My first reaction was “Uh oh”. They were both kind and open, stating that if we had some concerns or needed to talk, they were available and could help us with some counseling. My husband, not wanting to “face the music” assured them that things were fine. He convinced no one of this delusion. My first lady gave me a look as if to say, if you need me, I am here, regardless of what that fool is saying.

Not long after that, she invited me to lunch and I shared the whole ugly story. He was gone by this time and it was a matter of getting ready for single parenting. She and her family stayed close, ready to do whatever needed to be done to help. When I had my youngest son, it was her children who ferried my visiting family back and forth to the airport. A group of church ladies came over one day with food, ready to sit or do housework or whatever needed to be done. My first lady come over and brought some butternut squash soup. I had never had it before and didn’t know if I liked it or not, but I drank every drop. She would also include us in the Norwood family/holiday gatherings so we didn’t have to spend holidays alone. Every once in a while she would hand me a check. It was from her personal account and would be such great timing - truly a blessing.

Both pastors and their wives are accomplished in the work of the Lord and the fields of academia. With multiple degrees from Columbia, Morehouse, Spelman just to name a few, they gave us great examples of what to strive for in education. Pastor Clark made sure to help us when my oldest started playing the trumpet and I was paying for his instrument monthly.

You may be thinking “wasn’t this blog supposed to be about the men, not their wives?” That really is the point. When you find your rib, and the two become one, they are an extension of each other. Through the years both of them keep abreast of the fellas’ accomplishments and I know felt the same pride that I enjoy. Thank you my dynamic duo. You have made this journey so much easier because of your prayers and support! We love you dearly!

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