BRADENTON -- Being ‘hands on’ has multiple meanings for Pastor Everis H. Clarke when it comes to his mission at Mount Gilead Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“I see my role as being attending to the needs of the community, to be a facilitator for their needs,” said the 51-year-old Jamaican native.
“If someone needs a job, I help them search.
“If someone needs money, we supply some.
“If someone is having an emergency, I go out and tend to them.”
If there’s a dish to be contributed to the congregation repast?
Clarke’s on it, too.
Take last weekend’s Thanksgiving Dinner, which the church traditionally hosts for the homeless the Sunday before the holiday’s traditional date.
It was spearheaded by congregant Claudia Henry.
“I was asked to prepare two trays of macaroni and cheese,” Clarke said. “That’s the extent of my culinary skills. That and what we call ‘fried dumplings’ in the West Indies -- you call them biscuits here.
“They’ve sampled them, as well, and were very complimentary.”
No doubt Clarke’s kitchen skills are among those he inherited from his parents.
It is from them he found his calling to the ministry.
Born in Hanover, a parish on the northwest tip of Jamaica, Clarke was inspired by his mother and father.
“My parents were very instrumental because of the life they lived. They were very good Christians,” said the married father of two children.
“Even though my father wasn’t a pastor, he was one of the leaders in the church and I grew up admiring his leadership skills.
“And as a young boy I was able to witness some good pastors who came through my church.”
That Clarke heard the calling was reinforced by the encouragement of people outside his family.
“I was involved in youth leadership in the church and during my young years, a number of individuals approached me and said, ‘You have this ability.’ They said, ‘Go into this.’ ”
Clarke has been at Mount Gilead for four years and one of his followers is First Elder James Hamilton, a congregant for seven years.
“Our pastor is a go-getter, he likes to get things done and his concerns go beyond the church walls,” said the marriage and family counselor.
In fact, Clarke’s goals dovetail with the vision of the church.
“Our desire is to do more for the community in years to come, be better able to reach out,” Hamilton said. “We put our heads together, find the best idea to make things work and he helps make those things happen.”
Like the church’s early Thanksgiving feast.
“It is something we do for the homeless, specifically, but we extend it to the neighborhood, whoever needs it,” Clarke said. “We sent letters out to businesses for donations either in money or in food, and the response from the community was very good.”
By his count, nearly 300 people were fed.
“We also have a food distribution once a month for the needy in the neighborhood,” Clarke said. “All they have to do is give us a call and we supply it.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.
IF YOU GO
What: Mount Gilead Seventh-day Adventist Church When: Saturday - 9:15 a.m. Sabbath School, 11 a.m. Worship Service, 5 p.m, Youth Ministry Where: 1803 13th St. W., Bradenton Call: 941-744-9087