Clark Olson-Smith

pastor × evangelical lutheran church in America



St. Paul Lutheran Church
Clinton, Iowa
Worship Sundays 9:15am

Chair of Iowa Expansion

Quad Cities Interfaith
"creating a more just society"


Walking home from bible study on the Gospel of Mark, electricity went through me.

In that moment, through life in Christian community, I came to know: 

God does not demand I become perfect before God accepts me.
God accepts me first, in order to perfect me.

I was studying engineering and computer science at the time. But I knew I would be serving this God the rest of my life, no matter what I did.

My wife, Sara Olson-Smith, is a pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport. She also leads on  the Camp Shalom board and the alumni board of the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. She quilts too.

Our children are Susannah and Amos.

The evangelical mission is to graciously and hospitably invite the world to the gospel of Jesus Christ as proclaimed and lived in Christian community. ... It happens when people experience a new truth in the life of that community, a truth that is beyond their everyday experience of life.
— Mark Olson, The Evangelical Pastor


I would love to hear from you about where you want to go for the sake of the gospel and how I can help you get there.



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relational, participatory worship

coming home to God & each other

scripture as transforming worldview

whose story are we living?

reverence for 'secular' art, music, writing

finding the holy in daily life

simple, practical plan for following Jesus in daily life

making disciples, starting with our own selves

beloved community

creating justice and equity (race, gender, age, ability, gender identity, economy, ecology)

a relevant, powerful neighborhood presence

yeast, leavening the dough


deeply biblical, evangelical community
“Awe came upon everyone… All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2).

training disciples for daily ministry
“Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” (Luke 9).

sharing love, creating justice in our neighborhoods
“You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in” (Isaiah 58).

Job learned what we all learn sooner or later. Virtue does not suffice. Integrity does not give life. Being right is no substitute for being amazed.
— Walter Brueggemann, "A Bilingual Life," in The Threat of Life


catacomb churches | anacortes, wa

church of the apostles | seattle

house for all sinners and saints | denver

iona community | scotland

slate project | baltimore

the table | davenport, ia

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
...I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
— Paul, Philippians 4

I turn my vision for the future into concrete plans for the present.

I am a biblical dreamer who helps teams get things done. I can make a plan and set the pace toward making ideas reality. I am a strategic-thinker who decides carefully. I am resourceful: I bring useful tools and training. I keep congregations and community leaders on the cutting edge.

I lead change, and I stay steady and focused through inevitable ups and downs.

We're on a mission from God for the sake of the world, and I help congregations and leaders refocus and transform. I am confident, creative, and guided by deep conviction. I am a problem-solver. When others are intimidated, I am invigorated by the challenge.

I build deep, trusting relationships.

I form solid, genuine, and mutually-rewarding relationships. I am warm and approachable. The relationships I form are deep, rather than broad. I trust that we are all called to the joyful, intentional work of building relationships that can receive the gift of community.


From my ELCA Rostered Leader Profile

Areas of Expertise

  1. Preaching / Worship Leadership
  2. Recruit and Equip Leaders
  3. Strategic Mission Planning
  4. Ministry in Daily Life
  5. Building a Sense of Community

Areas of Strength

  1. Community Organizing
  2. Evangelism / Mission
  3. Communications / Media
  4. Conflict Management
  5. Participant in the Larger Church


Quad Cities Interfaith organizes Mental Health Court demonstration project in Scott County

Quad-City Times - "Scott County to get mental health pilot program," June 24, 2016

WVIK - "New Option for Non-violent Suspects with Mental Illness in Scott Co.," June 24, 2016

Faith Leaders Partner with Police to End Racial Bias in Policing in the Quad Cities

Quad-City Times - “Faith leaders in Q-C call for equitable community policing,” October 29, 2015

KWQC 6 - “QC Interfaith leaders come together to discuss racial profiling and community policing,” October 29, 2015

WVIK - “QC Faith Leaders Join to End Racial Profiling in Policing,” October 30, 2015


FAITH LEADERS Rally to extend hospitality to Central American Children at U.S.-Mexican border

Quad-City Times - Letter to Editor: "God’s love has no borders," August 3, 2014

Quad-City Times - "More than 100 rally for 'Love Without Borders,'" August 17, 2014


"Where'd the kid come from?" + 20 September 2015


"We did not choose the Name" + 27 September 2015


Sermon audio

What is to give light must endure burning.
— Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning


e-news articles


Currents in Theology and Mission

Dec 2011: "Gospel by Heart"
August 2011: "Becoming Contemplative Worshipers" 


personal blog



Listen Strong

from a workshop at Southeastern Iowa Synod's "Called Together in Mission," 2013 and 2014...read more about All Saints' Listen Strong campaigns


Evangelizing Outreach Vision

  • affirmed by Rev. Neil Harrison, ELCA Director of Renewing Congregations, as a model for other congregations