Hi there! I am Mathew Clark.
Until recently I was the Dean of Research at Regents Theological College in the village of West Malvern, Worcestershire, United Kingdom. I was responsible for the promotion and maintenance of the Postgraduate Research programmes there (MRes/MPhil/PhD), I supervised all levels of research, and I taught a number of undergraduate models.
On February 28th 2018 I entered retirement after 45 years of ministry, 34 of which were as lecturer, research supervisor and leadership team member of denominational Pentecostal seminaries. We now live in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – 50 miles from my hometown Durban. My full professional CV can be found at https://clarkmsdr.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/cv-ms-clark-august-2018.doc )
I was born in Durban, South Africa, whence I left in 1970 to attend Theological College in Johannesburg. My early life was spent mainly on the truly golden beaches of Natal province, or wandering the green hills and krantzes that climb so magnificently just behind the coastal sprawl of the city.
I am the husband of a stunning green-eyed redhead whom I first met in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in January 1973 – her name is Valerie and she is the most important person in my life. We were married in 1975 and she joined me in local church ministry first in Rusape and then in Gwelo (now Gweru) in that country until 1980. In the earliest years of our marriage she travelled shotgun with me (rifle pointing out the window of the car) as we traveled the rural district roads of war-torn Rhodesia. She endured with me the perils and terrors of ambush, landmines and RPG rockets as we sought to bring hope and comfort to the brave farmers and miners who lived deep in the African bush.
I lectured theology at Auckland Park Theological Seminary in Johannesburg for 24 years before moving to the UK in 2007.
God granted us two lovely and intelligent children: Ralph, who is a botanist and environmentalist; and Jacqui who is a biokineticist. Both are in South Africa – we now live just a mile up the road from Jacqui, while Ralph is 150 miles away in Harrismith, Free State province. They each produced a grandson for us, Jacqui and Mat’s Sam, and Ralph and Nadine’s Kurt. Amy was born to Jacqui in April 2018, a month after we had retired to South Africa, and Daniel was born to Ralph and Nadine a month later.
I am an IT analyst and programmer by secular profession, but most of my professional life has been as a Pentecostal pastor, theologian and teacher. I have taught theology and offered ministerial training in many countries in South and Central Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.
My qualifications include a three-year College Diploma in Theology, a BA in Biblical Languages, a postgraduate BD, and 2 DTh degrees – one in Systematic Theology and another in New Testament. My areas of interest are Biblical hermeneutics, Pentecostal theology and contextual theologies. I have a special interest in all aspects of non-Western Pentecostalism.
My personal interests include science, surfing, reading sci-fi, playing golf (easier in Africa than in the UK climate!), anything to do with aircraft, mountain hiking, watching rugby and cricket, and whatever else has grabbed my interest for the moment.
During my lifetime I have been a pupil, student, computer programmer/analyst, soldier (with a period of active combat duty in the Rhodesian bush war), cargo checker on the docks in Durban, letter-sorter in a large Post Office, local church pastor, elected denominational leader, college and university researcher and lecturer, college administrator and (for a short while as trouble-shooter for emergency reasons only!) a college campus principal. I have rarely worked within my own cultural milieu (White English-speaking South African) and therefore have a strong interest in all aspects of cross-cultural communication and work. For most of my life I have worked among Afrikaans-speaking South Africans, and among Zulu and Shona people, Indians, and lastly the British – the toughest of them all!
Personality-wise, my Myer-Briggs type is INTJ, usually I am phlegmatic in temperament but in leadership settings I edge into the choleric (normally when called upon to fix a disastrous situation the more political and populist types find no joy in tackling.) My Clifton Strengthfinders keynote themes are Learner, Analytical, Focus, Command and Strategic. Apparently my major strength as a teacher is an acerbic style and a rather weird sense of humour – not my opinion, that is what the students say…
I am still not sure how I landed up in ministry, I remain a physical scientist and IT analyst at heart, but crazily enough as a theologian I still prefer the teaching and training aspects (ministry) to the research, conferences and publishing bits (academia.) This is probably because of a combination of a strong commitment to Pentecostalism (which generally prefers doing to thinking) and my studies in political theologies (the aim is not to understand the world but to change it!) I enjoy presenting sessions and seminars on the relationship between science and religion – both to Christians and especially to secular audiences. Some of the most fun I have had is debating angry neo-atheists online in various forums – mercilessly grading their posts according to academic criteria, since they claim so insistently to have a monopoly on being “scientific.”
My pet hatreds are anything boring (especially people, sermons and conference papers), final editing of manuscripts, and unfocused committee meetings. Lack of professionalism in those who claim to “lead” me (indeed, any claim by the mediocre to be my “leader”) also gets my goat and has sadly been all too prevalent in recent years – not just for me but for so much of church life that has been blighted by recent authoritarian paradigms. I have the right psychological disposition and personal history to join the new “church refugees” called the Dones – those who have walked away from the church to save their faith, not because of losing it. So far I have resisted it, I refuse to believe I cannot still make a difference.
I love anything (anything at all!) that is well-constructed; magnificent scenery, and any warm winter day on a sub-tropical beach with good surf. And a well-written book, particularly if it is hard SciFi.
(The header photo is of me on Mushroom Hill ridge in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa – my favourite spot on earth. The range in the background is the Cathedral Peak Range.)