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Youth minister walks path, runs race

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Hewitt encourages teens to rise to their potential

By Becca Owsley

Clark Hewitt not only keeps himself spiritually fit as an associate pastor at Grace Heartland Church, but also physically fit by competing in triathlons.

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Hewitt and his wife, Angela, have lived in Elizabethtown about 20 years. Originally from New York, Hewitt came to Grace Heartland Church after seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary.

“Twenty years into it and I don’t want to go anywhere else. The community has been so good to us,” he said.

At Grace Heartland, he oversees the student ministry. After 19 years in his role as a student minister, he now sees the teenage children of former students in his ministry.

Hewitt’s original plan was not to go into church ministry. His goal was a career in sports medicine or to go to medical school.

“God absolutely took hold of my life and picked me up on a mission trip between my junior and senior year of college and made it abundantly clear that was not the plan for my life and I could follow it if I wanted but I wouldn’t be satisfied,” he said.

He finished his undergraduate degree in biology and then went on to seminary.

“God shaped this plan that he had for me that I was completely unaware of,” he said. “I gave my will over to him and all of a sudden this path opened up and this wonderful relationship with E’town began.”

The future is in good hands, he said.

“I absolutely am a fan of the potential of teenagers,” he said. “I have seen remarkable things from teenagers.”

He said having hope in what teenagers will grow into 20 years from now is what keeps him going in the ministry. He can see what they are capable of.

“The impressive thing about Clark is the humble way he personally disciples other individuals,” Grace Heartland lead pastor Jeff Noel said. “The genius of his ministry is how he personally mentors other students and men to be better Christ followers.”

Volunteers in the student ministry also are important. Some spend decades serving kids and investing their lives with kids, Hewitt said.
These adults can be serious but also silly and goofy, getting down on a middle schoolers level when they need to, he said.

“They might be a rare breed but they’re a lot more fun than the rest of the population,” Hewitt said.

Next year, Hewitt’s youngest son also will be in the youth group.

“It’s kind of wild to have your kids in student ministry,” he said.

Cherise Mingus, a former member of Grace Heartland’s student ministry, is thankful for Hewitt’s leadership.

“It has been years since I was involved in youth ministry, but I can say without a doubt that I live my life in service to others because he modeled the way,” she said.

She described Hewitt’s outpouring of encouragement as “contagious.”

“When I think of thoughtful, genuine individuals that encouraged me during my teen years, Clark Hewitt comes to mind,” Mingus said, adding he is passionate about his community.

When he’s not working in ministry or spending time with his family, Hewitt is training for triathlons, sometimes 15 to 16 hours a week.
He said he got back into triathlons when he woke up one day and realized he wasn’t as healthy as he was when he was younger.

“Getting back into something I used to love was a good goal for me,” he said.

He started with the goal of finishing a long race and then each year became more competitive, he said.

Hardin County has a growing community of triathlon runners, he said. Everyone involved coaches each other and shares each other’s wisdom. It would take a person 10 years to gain that much knowledge on their own, he said.

At 43, he jokes his participation in triathlons is a “healthy mid-life crisis.”

“It’s safe, it’s healthy and a great way to take back some of the health we’ve lost,” he said.

This year, he is going to try to participate in three to see if his body can recover from one race to the next.

For Hewitt, 40 wasn’t the start of going downhill and he feels he can continue to live a healthy lifestyle.

One of his goals is to race at least 50 Ironman Triathlon events and still be competing as an 80-year-old. He wants to see if his body can hold up to that many events.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Getting to know Clark Hewitt

  • Favorite cycling team: Team Sky
  • What he’s listening to: Imagine Dragons
  • Favorite book of the Bible: James
  • Favorite family activity: Kansai take-out and a Redbox rental
  • Family: Hewitt and his wife, Angela, have two sons, Carter and Graham.
  • Favorite race venue: Lake Tahoe, Calif.
  • Other hobbies: He plays drums and bass guitar.

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