Category Archives: From Pastor Clark

“transforming our neighborhoods” in the news

Last Thursday was a big day for the Quad Cities Interfaith’s Faith Leaders Caucus, which I chair. We held a press conference that received good coverage in local news–newspapers, TV, radio.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Unitarian faith leaders from across the Quad Cities invited a deeper partnership between community, police, and faith leaders–for the sake of greater racial equity.

Participating with Quad Cities Interfaith is one way this congregation does its purpose, “boldly transforming our neighborhoods with hope and love.” I’m excited that All Saints Lutheran Church in Davenport was named in the news across the Quad Cities as making a difference in the community.

Thanks be to God.

Pastor Clark Olson-Smith

P.S. In addition to links to the news coverage, a summary of the statement “Partnership for Vibrant, Equitable, and Safe Communities and Policing” is below.

Here is a summary of the statement, which 33 faith leaders have signed onto, including Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod.

“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. While one among us is suffering, all suffer. Peace is the presence of harmony, equality, mutuality, safety and space where people can thrive, not simply the absence of violence. These principles are at the core of our diverse faith traditions.”

“Justice and lovingkindness for all—expressed in a renewed and active partnership of civilians and police—is the path to vibrant, equitable, and safe communities and policing. But institutional bias and racism undermine good people and good intentions, harming people and whole neighborhoods. This reality calls us, faith leaders in the Quad Cities, to act together for the sake of a more just and loving community.”

There are five specific things faith leaders are asking for.

  • Prioritizing Community Policing,
  • Ending Racial Profiling
  • Requiring Racial Bias, Crisis Intervention, and Diversity Training
  • Recruiting and retaining officers of color
  • Creating independent civilian oversight boards

grief, shame, trauma, depression

It was revelation when I learned I have walked with more than grief only. Shame, trauma, and depression also were part of my journey. Until I learned about them, I might have called my experience of all four by the same name, “grief”–if I had spoken of them at all.

What are these–grief, shame, trauma, and depression?

Grief is a response to loss. The loss of loved ones to death and other losses that may be harder to name.

Shame is a sense of being unworthy of love and belonging. Whenever we label ourselves with, “I am…” statements or hear a “Who do you think you are?” voice, shame is likely lurking.

Trauma is what happens in response to violent experiences, from a car accident to combat to domestic abuse. People who are traumatized “alternate between feeling numb and reliving the event.”*

Depression involves feelings of sadness and loss of interest. But what’s key is the stubborn persistence of those feelings over time–weeks, months.

There is more to say, of course. But here is a start. A seed.

I found words to talk about grief, shame, trauma, and depression with the help of others. Therapists, pastors, friends. The body of Christ and worship itself were sources of strength too.

We all need help naming our truth, because it is hard. The pressure to deny what we really know to be true is strong. 

The good news is, naming truth is truly a new beginning. It’s the start of integrating the lost, forgotten, or hurting parts of ourselves and finding a new wholeness–even if the journey takes years, decades, or a lifetime.

Many psalms are laments. Take Psalm 13, for example. The psalmist names painful the painful realities and questions God, before a new trust in God seems to bubble up out of her. Her lament ends in a song of thanksgiving.


If this post strikes a chord with you, be in touch with me. When I am invited, I walk with people on their healing journeys, as a witness with them and God. Unless it is for a short time, I also refer people to good therapists, so I can be sure I’m not the only one walking with someone.

I know from my own experience that reaching out can often be the hardest thing. That’s why I believe in sharing information and training with all. So the invitation is known, and so each of us can learn new caring skills and also the limits of our capacity to help.

This is a follow up to last week’s post about exploring grief ministry.

Baptizing Amos

Pastor Clark’s son, Amos, will be baptized Saturday, October 31 at 5:30pm worship at St. Paul Lutheran Church. You are invited. Amos will not be in costume, and Pastor Clark will miss All Saints’ Trunk-or-Treat event. But Susannah was baptized the same Saturday before All Saints Sunday, three years ago. And more, it will be near the anniversary of Sara’s dad’s death. His name was Mark, and Amos’s middle name is Mark too. The Bishop will be there, doing the baptizing, and Pastor Clark hopes you will be there too.

exploring grief ministry

The leaders have heard All Saints people invite exploring grief ministry. The Mutual Ministry Team recently invited the Council to take a closer look. And I want to start a conversation with you about what would be helpful for you and this congregation.

Jesus promised that those who grieve will be comforted. That’s why

There’s so many ways All Saints already does and can even more accompany those who grieve on the journey God promised leads to joy.

  • learning events
  • prayer
  • healing worship
  • visiting with the pastor
  • Listen Strong listening “seasons”
  • small group conversation
  • friendship and relationship-building
  • bible study
  • a “hope and healing” garden
  • music
  • something else…

Do one or more of these seem to speak to you or “shimmer” for you as something that may help you with grief?

Has one or more of  these helped you with grief and you feel a call to invest in that to help others?

Let me know. Talk to Julie Schoville, All Saints’ council president.

I myself love to learn. I collect and share resources. Simple information has been healing for me. Plus, many of us have been in situations where we wanted to help, but we didn’t know how. Or we learned later someone was grieving but we didn’t know and didn’t recognize the signs. And others of us have been in situations where we tried to help, but either made things worse or we got overwhelmed, and then we didn’t know what a caring next step would be.

Understanding the limits of our capacity to help is as important as becoming more skilled in recognizing need and responding with care. So this is a broader conversation than one enews.

Let me hear from you, if you have anything to share around exploring grief ministry. Next week, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about the differences between grief, shame, trauma, and depression.

Thanks and peace, PC



Pastor Clark on Reading Week

From Mon Oct 12 through Sun Oct 18, Pastor Clark will be taking time for continuing education. In case of pastoral emergency, call Pastor Karen Ullestad of Zion Lutheran in Davenport at 563-594-9315. Pastor Carl Engstrom will preach and preside in worship Sun Oct 18. Pastor Clark plans to read Holy Currencies by Eric Law, Grounded by Diana Butler Bass, and Rising Strong by Brene Brown, and return refreshed and refocused for making disciples.