Special Features
February 2, 2007
Rev. Clarke still building, upgrading

Listen to Noel Clarke once, and you would never believe that the first time he preached he was so overcome with fear that he couldn’t finish the sermon.

The scenario of a timid 17-year-old muffing a sermon on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a far cry from the little fire brand, bold faced, tell it as it is, preacher and church planter that this 56-year-old man has become.{{more}}

To mention the Pentecostal Assembly of the West Indies, St Vincent and the Grenadines district without uttering his name will be an insult, because he has been in the heart of it all.

Ministry for Rev Clarke started soon after conversion, within a couple months he was a Sunday School teacher.

“We didn’t have much people back then so when you got saved you had to get involved right away,” he remembered.

But the catapulting came in 1971 when he left his well paying job and journeyed to the West Indies School of Theology, answering the call of God on his life.

“I remember a missionary came and spoke about God’s call on your life and I went to the altar and couldn’t move for three hours. People went home and left me there praying even after church was over,” Clarke told SEARCHLIGHT.

At the time Clarke said that he was earning a comfortable living as a junior roads supervisor and for a 20-year-old was doing quite well financially. Yet he left it all to follow the “voice of the Lord.”

“Bible School was tough, we had to live really rough yet learn,” Clarke said as he fondly remembered the times when the unwritten philosophy was that ministers’ training period had to be made as uncomfortable as possible to “keep them humble.”

On his return from Bible School in 1974, the rest as it is said, is history!

He started giving leadership to the church at Mesopotamia, which he had helped to establish after a senior pastor had quit and backslid, leaving the assembly broken. What a senior man failed to do the little giant did.

“I was installed with one member in the church,” he said, shaking his head, as he went down memory lane with fondness.

When he left in 1982, the church was stable and started to take shape with 30 official members. He then went to establish the church at Layou, planning to stay about five years and moving on, but now 25 years on and he is still there. In his own words, “something just kept me there and I couldn’t move.”

Along the way he went about establishing churches, spreading the wings of the organization. The assemblies at South Rivers, Vermont, Pembroke and Bequia were all pioneered by him. A church was also established at Richland Park but it was later combined with the Mesopotamia assembly which is now known as Kingdom Life Tabernacle, under the leadership of Rev. Stephen Olliverre.

How did he decide where to go, where churches should be established? Simple, “I felt the need, sought the Lord, and went in to the area, preached the Gospel and built the churches.”

Even now Rev Clarke is convinced that more churches should be established and dismissed as nonsense the notion that there are too many churches.

In fact one of his greatest regrets about PAWI in St Vincent and the Grenadines is that more churches were not established sooner in several pockets of communities when they had the momentum. Another regret is that the churches changed too many pastors in the early days.

“We made some bad leadership choices back then,” he said in the outspoken manner which has made him loved, hated, smiled at and frowned at in difference cases.

Rev Clarke has served in almost every office that one could hold in PAWI including that of District Bishop (back then called Superintendent) for 11 years from 1985 to 1996. He has also been on the General Executive of the overall Caribbean fellowship of PAWI since 1985 to present.

He however never needed an official title to function because every Bishop that succeeded him has recognized his wisdom and in times of church disputes, pastoral failure and any other threats to an individual church, Rev Clarke is often called upon to calm the storms, and most times, when Clarke speaks, people listen.

“People know my honesty, frankness and fair approach to matters. I will tell them they are wrong, and still love them,” was his explanation.

As he gets older, coldness has not stepped in, he is still focused on establishing churches and continues to bring in Canadian work teams as he has done for many years to build and upgrade churches throughout the fellowship.

Minister he did and continues to do, but he found time for what he considered his greatest achievement. He married his beloved Dawn 30 years ago and together they have raised two children Noelene, 26, and Andrew, 23, and as he said “and lots of adopted children.”