James Winfred Clark
Gospel Preacher & Christian Teacher
JAMES WINFRED CLARK
James Winfred Clark was born in Talladega County, Alabama to Raymond E. and Ora Camp Clark. The strong spiritual influence of the Camp family was already great in the Munford community when Winfred was born. His mother's brother was Franklin Camp. Franklin was and is often identified by my family as "Uncle Franklin." Franklin Camp's father and grandfather were both gospel preachers. Being the oldest child and firstborn son of the Raymond Clark family, with the family background that he had through the Camp family, raised high standardsfor my father to uphold. Raymond Clark was one who did not look for one to tarry at a task. I have often heard my father talk of being told to go the store with a responsibility at hand and as soon as young Winfred was on his way his father would say, "Is that you I see coming back?" My father lived this principle until he could not physically do it anymore. Anyone who ever saw my father saw him in a hurry and tarrying very little. If Winfred Clark were still or lying in bed, it was because he was sick. Even when he sat down to do just about anything, he would be shifting around and not sitting very long. He was a person of great energy. He never lacked a fervent spirit.
As a family man, my father loved his wife, Edna E. "Polly" Clark more than anyone except the Lord and His church. He did not just preach the truth on marriage and the Christian home, he lived it. He knew what it took to provide for his family as a husband and as a father. I knew the meaning of being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord from a practical standpoint. There were a few times when I saw my father cry, for he was not one to show his emotional side. I saw him cry the day he baptized me into Christ on January 26, 1970. I saw him cry the day I drove off to go to Freed-Hardeman for the first time. I saw him cry the day we all learned that my mother had cancer. I saw him cry with the pain that cancer brought to his own body. I also saw him cry because he was laughing so hard at things that brethren in the church or family members had said or done. He loved a good joke and was a good sport about being the brunt of some jokes. He enjoyed being around good people, and they seemed to love his company as well.
As a Bible student, he was as a seeker of great treasure. He knew that he would never master the Book, but he would do all that he could to learn what he could. I remember the word on the door of his office when he was the local preacher at the Austinville Church of Christ in Decatur, Alabama. It was the simple word "Study." I remember one night his calling home from the study to tell mother he was going to stay up that night reading the book of Colossians over and over until he had found the key to the book. He would often call preachers from allover to see what they thought about something he was studying, especially Uncle Franklin. After I began to do local, work, he would call me to ask about some point on a verse.
I thought it odd that my father would want my opinion seeing he had been studying the Bible long before I was born. He valued the mind of anyone who studied the Bible, even though he might not agree with his conclusions. His collection of books and cassette tapes of varied writers and speakers would verify that.
He lived by the motto, "I would rather wear out than rust out." His schedule for speaking engagements year after year seemed to be a never ending cycle. Summers were not for vacations; they were for gospel meetings. What vacations we took were what the Clark family called "whirlwind tours," for the work of the church awaited my father when he got home. Even the spring and the fall became full on the calendar. When I was out of school for the summer, he would often take me with him to various congregations while he conducted the meeting for that week. He and I would do several father and son things during the day, but when it came to the evening, it was down to business. He was always interested in the two great loves of his life: the work of the church and the welfare of the Winfred Clark family. There was an occasion when I first started preaching that an opportunity had opened up for me to speak at a certain place. He told me about it before I was called to come and speak. When I did receive the invitation to come, I said I could not come at that time. After turning down the appointment, my father called me to find out how the conversation went. I told I turned down the invitation, and he immediately told me to call the man back and say I could come. I did call him back and say I could fill the appointment. He taught me I could do more than I thought I could. He also taught me, toward the end of his life, that a person can do more than he is physically able to do. Somewhere there must be a balance.
As an elder in the church, he was a respected servant. People looked to him, not just for thoughts on the Bible, but also for advice and guidance on any number of things. Several people have told me my father had as much impact on their lives as anyone they knew. I suspect some people had preacheritis when it came to my father, and maybe elderitis, if there is such a thing. I know my father's weaknesses better than many people who know my family, but I have always known that he had everyone's welfare at heart in whatever he did, said or wrote. There have been many hours that he could not sleep or relax because of some concern either with the congregation at Hobbs Street or with some problem in the brotherhood. He was and is not the only elder to have experienced such, but he knew personally the sacrifices of serving as an elder.
As a teacher and preacher, he was an expositor. He did not know much of the original Hebrew and Greek language, but he did know the English text. He had a way of approaching passages that made the light of truth shine clear. He loved alliteration in the organization of sermon outlines. When he first started this pattern of structuring sermons, he told me that it would be easy to force a point just for the sake of alliteration. He wanted sermons to be structured so that one could remember the points, but not. at the sacrifice of making the truth of the Bible a slave to a good sounding outline. When he spoke, he would be firm and sometimes very loud. He was deaf in his right ear which made it difficult for him to know how loudly he was really speaking. He tried not to let any circumstance hinder him from doing the work as a preacher. I remember him hitting the pulpit one Sunday morning so hard that it broke the skin on his knuckle and caused it to bleed excessively. He quickly reached into his pocket, pulled out his handkerchief, wrapped his hand in it, and finished the lesson without a pause. His reasoning from one verse to another was smooth and analytical. He had good teachers, and he sought to make good teachers and preachers.
If my father could read this article, he would tell me I have said too much. He probably would tell me I should not have written this at all. He did not like the limelight. He never wanted anyone to do for him; he always wanted to do for others. Nevertheless, I have written a small portion of what I remember of James Winfred Clark. He and my mother named me James Winfred Clark, Jr. with the hope that I would one day be a gospel preacher like my father.
JAMES WINFRED CLARK
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13). To a Christian family, there are no more certain or comforting words to contemplate than these. The body of James Winfred Clark rests in a lowly grave in Talladega county, Alabama awaiting the resurrection. The Lord knew when it was time for Winfred Clark to rest from his labors. The Lord also knows the works which continue to progress after his death. He will be missed by many, and such is a compliment to anyone who leaves this life for the life to come. Any grand comment that I may write about him would be embarrassing to him. He never liked anyone to magnify him. Hoping that my father will forgive me for what I am about to write, let me honor him with these thoughts.
1. Preacher's Preacher. I have heard on many occasions my father addressed by this expression. When I was young, I did not really appreciate it. I knew that preachers from everywhere would call him for advice or thoughts on some Bible subject or verse. As I have gotten older and been preaching for twenty years, I found myself talking to him about the same kinds of things that other preachers would ask him. He was constantly interested in the work of preachers, especially my work. Many years ago, he took me into his office after he had learned that I wanted to preach and showed me a drawer full of sermon outlines. He told me that he had enough sermon outlines in that one drawer to last me for twenty-five years. I could hardly read his hand writing and especially his abbreviated comments for illustrations to sermons. I would often ask him after reading one of his outlines, "What does this place or person's name mean as far as an illustration of this point?" I learned that I could take his outlines and get many thoughts from them, but the sermons which I would actually preach had to be my own. He, like Uncle Franklin, knew that there was no substitute for personal study. He often spent hour upon hour in his study reading the Bible and books that aided his study. He was a constant source of pertinent information, and people knew it. I can read his outlines today and still hear his voice in my mind. His sermons were from the heart and easy to understand. Any sermon which was unscriptural or was not supported with Scripture was abomination. It has been some kind of life being a preacher and the son of Winfred Clark at the same time, but I thank God for bringing me into the world into the hands of such a preacher.
2. Powerful Influence. I remember many well known gospel preachers coming into our home. There were men like Gus Nichols, G.K. Wallace, Guy N. Woods, Batsell Barrett Baxter, etc. Many preachers still living have graced our home and aided the church in its work. All the preachers which came into our home respected my father and what he stood for in the brotherhood. My father has preached countless funeral sermons, performed numerous wedding ceremonies, conducted multitudes of gospel meetings and lectures all over the country, and prayed many a prayer for and with others. I heard people talk of my father with the same honor that was given to men who graced our home. I sometimes wondered who they were talking about because I knew his strengths and his weaknesses. I will never forget the expression he used to describe other people to me. He would say, "All men have clay feet." He was including himself and myself in that expression to try to instill humility in my mind. His influence will live on through the lives of people who were touched by his wit, wisdom, and ways.
3. Precious Husband And Father. My sister and I never had reason to question whether Winfred Clark loved Polly Clark. Though words of affection were not spoken as much in our family as in others, we all knew that Daddy loved Mother and Mother loved Daddy. They both demonstrated to us what a Christian home was like and strove to see that our homes would be like the one we were brought up in. He knew how to balance the time between the work of the church and the building of his home. When I was young, he would take me with him to gospel meetings that he was conducting. I would often stand with him at the back of the building after the service and "shake the brethren out the door." He would often use his family as illustrations in sermons whether we liked our private lives being revealed or not. His two worlds were the church and his family. By the grace of God, I was begotten by Winfred Clark. By the grace of God, I was brought up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord by Winfred Clark. By the grace of God, I was led to Jesus Christ by the preaching and teaching of Winfred Clark. By the grace of God, my wife and I were joined in marriage by God with Winfred Clark officiating the ceremony. By the grace of God, I was encouraged to preach and guided in the work by Winfred Clark. By the grace of God, I stood with my wife, mother, sister, brother-in-law, and other family members and friends to see Winfred Clark leave this world to go to a "better country" (Heb. 11:16). By the grace of God, Winfred Clark lives in me and through me.
WINFRED CLARK, OUTSTANDING GOSPEL PREACHER, PASSES
Brother James Winfred Clark passed on to his reward on August 11, 1997, at age 73. He had been a faithful, gifted proclaimer of the Word for fifty-one years. Brethren Bobby Duncan and Tom Holland preached his funeral, which took place on August 13th at the Hobbs Street church building in Athens, Alabama. A very great host of friends were present, including about 100 preachers. Brother Duncan and brother Holland described brother Clark as a "preacher's preacher," a genuine friend and a sound gospel preacher, Biblically balanced. Brother Clark, a native of Talladega County, Alabama, was nephew of the late, beloved Franklin Camp. He and sister Polly (Edna E.) were married for fifty years, as of April 4th this year, and their home was blessed by children: James Winfred Jr. (Jimmy), preacher of thirteen years of the Bethel congregation, Athens, Alabama and Phyllis Bobo, wife of Cecil Bobo, one of the elders at the East Cullman, Alabama, congregation. Jimmy and his wife have three children.
Most of brother Winfred's preaching (over thirty years) was in North Alabama. He was, for a number of years, the preacher at Hobbs Street, where he had served as an elder for ten years at the time of his death. He was, through the years, in great demand from coast to coast in gospel meetings and lectureships, including many times on the MSOP Lectureship. He wrqte much, was co-author of Studies In James, wrote numerous chapters in lectureship books, and was editor of The Expositor, containing many of his sermon outlines. He also was founder and director of the Alabama School of Bible Emphasis, in whom are such teachers as Tom Holland and William Woodson. His son, Jimmy, is now the School's director.
Brother Clark was a "man of the Book," both in his preaching and in his life, reminding us of what Luke said of Christ (Acts 1:1). He rejoiced when people did right. Brother Clark was a lover of God and a lover of his fellow men, especially of his brethren. He was a friend of the truth. We are very grateful for his encouragement of the Memphis School of Preaching. Truly, " ... there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel" (II Sam. 3:38).
-Curtis A. Cates, Yokefellow, Memphis School of Preaching Memphis, Tennessee September 24, 1997
" ... KNOW YE NOT THAT THERE IS A PRINCE AND A GREAT MAN FALLEN THIS DAY ... " (II SAM. 3:38)
Brother Winfred Clark has completed his earthly sojourn, and is now among the faithful dead. He was a personal friend and dear co-worker in the kingdom of God. He was "my preacher" to ones who talked with him regularly, sought his counsel and wisdom, enjoyed listening to him preach, etc. (as Bobby Duncan said, though he represented many). He will be sorely missed. We have mixed emotions flooding our minds. We feel happiness upon this dear brother completing his work for the Master and faithfully enduring to the end. We rejoice over the victory of this grand soldier. We also feel personal sorrow upon the loss of a dear friend and brother.
The memorial service was conducted at the Hobbs Street assembly building this past Wednesday, with a near capacity crowd. Hundreds came from several states to express their respect and solemn tribute to a valiant soldier and powerful influence in their life (over 100 preachers). Bobby Duncan and Tom Holland directed the crowd in sincere tribute and appreciation to one who positively touched the lives of untold thousands. His balanced life as a preacher and friend was acknowledged. His powerful preaching and invaluable help to so many was attributed to his intense personal study of the inspired Word of God. The congregational singing was truly indescribable in each of the six songs - a fitting tribute, and the messages contained in each were superb and most appropriate. To Winfred's precious and faithful helpmeet, Polly - To his children Jimmy and Phyllis (and their spouses) - To his grandchildren (whom he adored) - To each brother and sister and all family members - We express our greatest love and condolences. We shall continue to remember this good family in our petitions before the Father's throne.
-Paul Sain East Hill News Pulaski, Tennessee August 17, 1997
WINFRED CLARK: Evangelist, Elder, Educator, and Encourager
My Margie and I went to Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama, Sunday afternoon, August 10, 1997 to see Winfred Clark. We did not get to see him. Only his family were being allowed to see him. We saw them and some of his friends.
On the next Wednesday, August 13, we attended Winfred's funeral in the meeting house of Hobbs Street Church of Christ in Athens, Alabama. He had served there as an elder for several years, and he served them as the regular preacher for many years.
Bill Latimer did a great job of directing congregational singing at the funeral. We sang: The Christian's Welcome Home; God's Family;. No Tears Up There; The Pearly White City; There Is A Land; and In The Sweet By And By. It was estimated that about 100 gospel preachers were present. We preachers walked in together as honorary pallbearers. With all of us preachers and a big crowd of others all singing together, the Lord was praised in a magnificent manner, and our hearts were encouraged in a very beautiful way, indeed.
Bobby Duncan and Tom Holland, both close friends of Winfred, presented very beautiful eulogies in memory of our fallen brother and long time faithful evangelist. He was also an effective educator of other evangelists.
POINTS BY BOBBY DUNCAN
Bobby Duncan said, "Winfred Clark was my preacher." He said when he was young he heard Winfred preach many times. He said Winfred was an encourager of other preachers. Bobby spoke of what was probably the last article Winfred wrote which Bobby published in Vigil, the journal of which he is editor. He commended the article very highly. I have read it, and I commend it very highly, and intend to publish it in the next issue of The World Evangelist. The article is on the need for balance and not going to ridiculous and inconsistent extremes in our preaching and in our attitudes. Winfred was a good Bible student. Bobby said he believed Winfred could get as much out of a passage of Scripture as Winfred's uncle Franklin Camp could. Knowing Franklin as I did, that was indeed a high compliment!
Brother Duncan spoke of Winfred's good sense of humor. I knew Winfred a long time. I preached in a series of meetings at Austinville Church of Christ in Decatur, Alabama twenty or more years ago when he was the regular preacher there. We had many good laughs together and also talked about many serious matters.
Bobby also talked about how Winfred lived by 1 Timothy 4:16 where Paul wrote to the young evangelist, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrille. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
TOM HOLLAND'S MESSAGE
Tom and Winfred were also good friends. He recited what king David said after the death of Abner. David said to his servants, "Do you know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?" Tom made the statement apply to Winfred who was a prince and a great man in "the Israel of God" which is the church of Christ (Galatians 6:16).
Tom spoke well of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and other Old Testament patriarchs who, according to the Bible, when they died were "gathered unto their people." Those who die are still alive. They move out of their physical bodies and enter the spirit world.
Brother Holland spoke of Paul's statement about his impending death when he said, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand" (2 Timothy 4:6). Tom said Paul did not say "destruction" but "departure." When Paul left, he would still be Paul but in another place.
SYMPATHY TO THE FAMILY
Our sympathy is extended to Winfred's family. His widow, Polly is a woman of faith and courage. The son, Jimmy, is an able preacher and preaches for the Bethel Church of Christ near Athens, Alabama. He and his wife Pam are a great blessing to that congregation. Winfred's and Polly's daughter is married to Cecil Bobo who is an elder of the East Cullman Church of Christ in Cullman, Alabama.
My Margie and I went to the hospital to see Winfred and did not get to. We hope to see him later in that land of no death and no departure. He lived a little beyond three score and ten years and went to live in a "building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1).
-Basil Overton World Evangelist, Florence, Alabama, September, 1997
EDNA E. ‘POLLY" CLARK
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all" (Prov. 31:28-29). When Proverbs 31:10-31 was read at the funeral service of my mother, there could not have been any better section of Scripture found to summarize her. My mother purposefully read the entire book of Proverbs before she married my father. There will never be a time when I shall read Proverbs without thinking about her. Solomon wrote in another place in Proverbs, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband" (Prov. 12:14). Our family life and the work of two preachers James W. Clark and James W. Clark, Jr.), an elder and an elder's wife (Cecil and Phyllis Bobo), and a preacher's wife (Pam Clark) were greatly crowned by this virtuous woman. When she was coming to the end of her days on earth, my sister and I told her that it was okay to leave this world and her living family on earth and go home to be with the Lord. She is now with the One whom she served the best she could and by His grace is with family, friends, and the redeemed of all the ages past who gained the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. There are a few thoughts from Proverbs 31:10-31 that truly come to mind in this tribute.
1. Her Genuineness. "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life" (Prov. 31:11-12). There was and is nothing "Superficial about mother. She sought out the good for her husband, her children and their families, as well as for others. After my father died in August of 1997, she upheld the virtue of his life and work to the very end of her own life. She lived one of the most conscientious lives I have ever known. She would "bend over backward" to keep from doing or thinking something that might remotely seem to be wrong when in reality she had the right. She personified the words, "charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own" (1 Cor. 13:4-5). Her character was trained to serve, not to be served.
When Solomon wrote of the virtuous woman, "She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household." She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness" (Prov. 31:14-15,27), he wrote of a woman like my mother. Mother was a strong advocate of people being fed. She made sure that Winfred Clark had a good meal any time he wanted it. She also made sure that her family and their friends went away full when they left the table. I often saw her be the last person to ''fix'er plate" because she wanted everyone else to have more than enough. She truly looked "well to the ways of her household" (Prov. 31:27).
2. Her Graciousness. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness" (Prov. 31:26). Mother took to heart the words, "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with gait, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Col. 4:6). There were times when difficult matters would be discussed around the table or as a family in private. I remember my mother often saying that we have to watch our attitudes. She had been the recipient of some strong opposition to what my father stood for when upholding the truth. She stood with kindness toward those who had opposed. "Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come" (Prov. 31:25).
3. Her Godliness. "Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, slle shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30). I have often been identified as the son of Winfred Clark, but I have on occasion made the comment that I am as much the son-of Polly Clark as I am Winfred's. My father would not question that at alL There were times when I was growing up that Dad would be gone from home and it would be just mother, Phyllis, and myself. When Phyllis got out on her own, it would be just mother and myself. My work as a preacher is as much due to the encouragement and support of my mother as it was my father. She lifted preachers up before my eyes as some of the greatest men in the world. I was named James W. Clark, Jr. with the hopes that I would one day be a gospel preacher.
They never pressed me to be such, but I have never regretted their dreams. Respect for the Bible and God were paramount. Mother's attitude of faith and readiness, as she knew she was dying, will always be for me one of the strongest living sermons I shall ever know.
-Jimmy Clark Bethel Church Bulletin Athens, Alabama June 6, 1999
Source: The sketches, eulogies and obituary info on this page were taken from Volume 1 of the two volume set, Expositions of the Expositor, by J. Winfred Clark, Produced by Memphis School of Preaching, and published by Sain Publications in Pulaski, Tennessee. Photos courtesy of TheRestorationMovement.com.
Directions To The Grave Of Winfred Clark
Winfred Clark is buried in the Pine Hill Cemetery. Leaving Munford, Alabama on state Hwy 21 go 8.6 miles into the city limits of Talladega. Go another mile and turn right into the cemetery. Go straight, past the offices, until it dead ends to a "T." Turn left and look for a marble walkway on the left. Go up the walkway looking to the right. The plot for the Clarks is the first marker on the right that is faced toward the walk, just past the graves facing the road.