Clark Morphew gave religion a voice in the wider world
Metro Lutheran lost a good friend last summer when Clark Morphew gave up his monthly writing assignment for the paper. He knew he had cancer and told me he intended to fight it with all his energy.
Clark succumbed to the fast-spreading disease on Christmas Eve. He was 64.
When Clark's columns began appearing in this publication, we received two kinds of responses from readers. Many wrote or phoned to thank us for continuing the voice they'd lost when he stopped writing for syndication, and was no longer being published, therefore, in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. By contrast, one pastor informed us his congregation would no longer distribute copies of Metro Lutheran "because we're not sure Morphew is really a Christian."
Well, he was a Christian. For years a Lutheran day school teacher, and then an ordained ELCA pastor, Clark finished his salaried career as religion writer for the St. Paul newspaper. After his weekly column was syndicated, a spokesman for Knight-Ridder Syndicate said Clark's column had quickly become one of the four most popular they published. Perhaps the last writing he did that saw publication was a series of daily messages for Christ in Our Home, one of the quarterly devotional periodicals published by the ELCA publisher, Augsburg Fortress (where Clark once worked as an editor).
Here's part of what he wrote in his last devotional essay (for November 30, 2002):
"People won't hear the good news if no one talks about it...but the way we live speaks volumes, too. People see more than you think they see. Your entire life is a witness to what it means to be a Christian. You are the voice of God in the world that surrounds you."
For a communicator, or for any Christian disciple, there could be no finer parting words than those.
by: Michael L. Sherer
I found the "minister's" judgement (referenced in the above commentary) regarding Clark's Christianity both humorous and troubling. Perhaps humorous is the wrong word...ironic may be more appropriate. I really have never known anyone in this life time that preached tolerance more than Clark. How ironic that this "minister" would discontinue the Metro Lutheran for his congregation in such an obvious act of intolerance. Clark would have been amused.
I, too, hold ministerial credentials (in another protestant denomination). If I knew who this "minister" was I would ask him/her where in scripture s/he was given the authority to sit in judgement of any human being. Let us all vow to drive non-Christian attitudes from the pulpits of our churches. I recall that a few months ago I was driving through a very small town in Colorado accompanied by my son-in-law who had been raised there. I saw a small Christian church on the outskirts of town that was in disrepair. I mentioned that it appeared to me that the congregation of that church was really struggling. My son-in-law quickly told me that the minister was a neo-Nazi and that only a few skin heads and KKK types ever attended that church. Let us all beware those who come before us in "sheep's clothing".
A footnote: Clark loved working with the folk at Metro Lutheran. He spoke with me a couple of times about these "good people". We wish them the very best that the future can hold and especially thank Michael Sherer for this commentary. ldm