For the second year in a row, Grace Community Church of Raleigh, North Carolina returned to Miami Springs on their Mission to Miami. The only difference this time is their youth leader, Miami Springs native Clark N. Rinehart, is now Reverend Rinehart.
Rinehart grew up attending local public schools in Miami Springs; Springview Elementary, Miami Springs Middle School, and Miami Springs Senior High School. He was named a George W. Jenkins Scholar, and that earned him a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Miami. While at the University of Miami Rinehart was on the Dean’s list more often than not and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.
“Some of my greatest influences were my teachers at local schools, my parents, and my church youth directors,” said Rinehart. “At the local public schools I had great teachers who encouraged me and told me that I had potential, just like they did for a lot of us growing up. My Gifted/AP teachers challenged me to think critically and cultivated a rich imagination in all of us. My parents were also huge supporters. Their hard work and care for us were big-time influences.”
From birth it was quite obvious that God had his hand on Rinehart. When he was born with spina bifida occulta he faced the obstacle of an eight hour surgery at just three months old. Doctors removed a large tumor that was entwined in the nerve endings of his lower spine. Doctors weren’t sure if he would ever be able to walk. After his six month check-up, his doctor became emotional as little Rinehart got down and walked towards the doctor. Rinehart would go on to show the world that God’s got bigger plans for him than any diagnosis. As a child, Rinehart could be found either at church or on the fields in Miami Springs, as they were both his playground.
After his time at the University of Miami Rinehart made his way to North Carolina where he attended Duke Divinity School and earned his Masters of Divinity. While serving as Camp Director of a Youth Mission Camp in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he met a sweet journalist from Cincinnati. The two were married in October 2012.
Rinehart completed his education at Duke in 2012, and has since been working on completing the ordination process. On June 1, 2014, it became official; Rinehart was formally ordained as a pastor.
"I'm very proud of him and I thank The Lord for giving him a servant heart and a wife who shares his passion,” said Rinehart’s most faithful supporter, his grandmother, Bonny Neal. Neal is also a longtime Miami Springs resident. “When Clark was young he was always very inquisitive and asked a lot of questions about what his grandparents did.” Like many lucky grandmothers, Neal played a huge role in Rinehart’s young life.
Neal spent much of her time as a missionary in Guatemala as she raised her own family. Rinehart’s grandfather was actually Reverend Gerald Neal. The family lived and ministered to the Guatemalan community for 16 years. As irony would have it, the church in Guatemala where the family spent so much of their time was named Grace Church, which just happens to be the name of Rinehart’s church in North Carolina.
“Knowing that my grandfather was a pastor really makes me proud of my family’s history and investment in Central and South America through missions,” said Rinehart. “People encouraged me at a young age, around 16, to go into full-time vocational ministry, but I wasn’t really feeling it. In college though, with the help of friends and other people I trusted, I made the decision to give it a shot. I thought the worst case scenario would be that I would have grown in my faith personally, and learned more about the Bible, I knew that that would be invaluable.”
Rinehart has been involved in one way or another at his church in Raleigh, NC since 2009 and currently serves as the Director of High School Ministries of Grace Youth Ministry, known as GYMSOX. Throughout the year they host worship services and small groups, and do mission work in the summer.
“Our main projects for our Mission to Miami were partnering with Poinciana United Methodist Church for the VBS in the evenings, along with some maintenance and upgrades at the church. And then working with Branches’ Summer Shade program in North Miami. Building relationships and partnering with local ministries/churches/non-profits are our key focal points,” said Rinehart. “The bigger picture is leading the students toward a thriving faith that will continue throughout their lives, not just for high school. We want them to have faith, to grow and thrive and then model the message of reconciliation with their lives as they move through the different stages of their life. Our GYMSOX motto is “Get Your Mind Set on Christ.”
Rinehart plans to pursue a Master of Divinity in Theology and of course we can expect he’ll return to Miami Springs, his home away from home, next summer on another Mission to Miami.