Although teaching is his profession, Tony Clark is still a pastor at heart.
After working for many years in the Church of England, he gave up his work as a pastor to pursue a career as a university professor. Clark is the new Assistant Professor of Ethics at Friends University and teaches courses in ethics and philosophy.
Even though he is now lecturing instead of leading worship, his concern for people is still evident.
“Tony is a welcome and wonderful addition to our faculty,” said Jim Smith, Assistant Professor of Theology. “He is a first-rate scholar, but even more, he brings a strong understanding of life and ministry because of his 12 years in the pastorate. He brings to our students a great combination of both mind and heart, the academic dimension as well as the pastoral.”
Clark was born in northern England and grew up in Yorkshire. He studied economics at the University of York and later went to Oxford to receive training in the Anglican Church (the Church of England). He was ordained as a pastor in 1988.
He worked at a parish in Manchester and later as one of four chaplains at Lee Abbey Community, a Christian community that ran a guest house and hosted conferences, retreats and children’s camps. While working at Lee Abbey, Clark met his future wife, Antonia.
After serving in the Anglican Church for more than a decade, Clark decided to continue his education. He and his family moved to St. Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. Built in the 1400s, University of St. Andrews is Scotland’s oldest university. There, Clark completed his doctorate in philosophical theology.
He did some undergraduate teaching in practical theology and doctrine and later accepted a short-term contract with the university, teaching classes in ethics and Christianity.
While Clark was working at St. Andrews, a colleague informed him that Friends University needed a new ethics professor.
“He said it looked like a good opening,” Clark said.
In his field, he said, it can be difficult to find permanent teaching positions, so he was excited to hear about the opening at Friends.
Ted Blakley, a friend of Clark’s from St. Andrews, was originally from Wichita and attended Friends. Clark said Blakley’s recommendation was part of the reason he took the professorship.
Clark was interviewed over the telephone in March of 2006, and he later participated in a videoconferencing interview. He also traveled to Kansas for a week-long interview on campus. By then, he said, things were getting “pretty serious.”
Clark taught his last class at St. Andrews in early December of 2006, and four days later, he and his family were in the United States.
At first, it was a bit of a challenge settling into a new country and a new culture.
“It’s an amazing sort of adjustment,” Clark said. “Everything seems very, very different.”
Although Clark had traveled to the United States for conferences on several occasions and had previously done research at the University of Chicago, his interview at Friends University was his first visit to Kansas.
He joked that traveling the busy highway from the airport to Friends was a rather hectic and somewhat overwhelming journey.
He loved the scenic farmland and wide open plains of Kansas, however, and said that he was particularly impressed by Friends’ beautiful campus.
Even though it was a dramatic change, he saw the move from Scotland to Kansas as an adventure. He is also excited about the new opportunities the United States will offer his three young children.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to settle into a different culture,” he said.
Clark isn’t sure how long he’ll stay in Kansas. His visa will expire in three years, after which he will be eligible to renew it for another three years. Clark said that for now, his family is focusing on the present and is planning to enjoy each experience as it comes. He said that Kansas has begun to feel like home.
While at Friends, Clark plans on seeking publication for his doctoral thesis and also intends to conduct research on theological theories.
Regardless of their majors, Clark recommends that all students take an ethics course. One of his personal philosophies is that ethics and faith apply to all areas of life. When people think of ethics, many think of debates on issues such as stem cell research or abortion. Ethics, however, affects every part of life, Clark said.
Taking a course in ethics allows students to explore right and wrong and also gives them a chance for self-examination, he said.
“It gives them the opportunity to reflect, to look back on issues in which they’re involved,” he said. “Ethics touches upon everyone’s lives.”
Clark’s variety of religious experiences has also influenced his views on ethics and faith. He was raised Methodist and attended a Presbyterian church in Scotland, in addition to serving as an Anglican pastor. Exposure to different religious philosophies has helped him shape his personal beliefs.
Clark said he loves teaching and sharing philosophies with students. He enjoys teaching because, unlike research, it provides him with immediate feedback and challenges him to “live in the moment.”
He has met many welcoming and friendly people since coming to Kansas, and he has enjoyed getting to know the students and faculty at Friends.
“It’s been a good experience so far,” he said. “I think we’ve got off to a good start.”
It’s clear that students and faculty have also enjoyed getting to know Clark.
“One of the things that strikes you right away about Tony is his charm,” Smith said. “He has that wonderful British wit and self-effacing humor that lets you know he doesn’t take himself too seriously. We are really blessed to have him here at Friends.”
Freshman Susanna Atkinson heard Clark speak at a recent Faith and Learning session.
“I liked him. He was really nice,” she said. “He seems like someone I’d like to take a class from.”
Associate Degrees • Bachelor's Degrees • Master's Degrees Wichita • Topeka • Greater Kansas City • Online 2100 W. University Ave. • Wichita, Kansas 67213 • 316-295-5000 • 1-800-794-6945