Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Family, friends honor ailing Deacon Franklin Clark

Bea L. Hines
Bea L. Hines

The Consolers, a local husband and wife gospel duo, used to sing a song titled, May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me. I thought of that song April 9 when family, friends, former students, church members and his Alpha Phi Alpha “brothers” paid tribute to an ailing Deacon Franklin Clark.

It was a moving and and befitting event, held at The Church of the Incarnation in Liberty City, where his life-long friend and classmate, the Rev. J. Kenneth Major, is pastor emeritus. Major also served as the master of ceremonies and kept the audience laughing with tales of Clark as the two of them were growing up.

The tribute day was organized by one of Clark’s most famous former students, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Winston E. Scott, a NASA astronaut who said he had met presidents and other famous people throughout his life — President Bill Clinton was there to welcome him at his last landing after some time in orbit — “but I can’t think of but a few people who have had the influence on me that he [Clark] has.”

Scott then read a few paragraphs from a chapter in his book, We’ve Got To Study Arithmetic, in which he mentions Clark and the impact his former teacher had on his life. “I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him, than to put him in my book,” Scott said.

He remembered, too, how Clark used to walk with a fast gait and had a larger-than-average energy level; how Clark used to sing to and with the class and of his fondness for riddles. “We all liked and respected him. He used to tell us, ‘I’m a skinny piece of leather, but I’m well put together.’ And he always told us to answer questions with a complete sentence.” Scott then quoted Clark’s favorite poem by an unknown author:

“If a task has once begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”

The program was filled with tributes and music. Clark’s godson, Minister Cecil Andrew Duffie, prayed, while Clark’s nephew, Michael Bethel, sang the befitting My Tribute. His niece, Linda Bethel Burke, welcomed the guests, saying, “My uncle was a mentor to many, and not just to his peers and family. His spirit today continues to keep us lifted up.”

One of the warmest moments came when Dr. Mary Hylor sang one of Clark’s favorite songs by Gladys Knight, substituting the “you are the best thing that ever happened to me” to “Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Hylor, Agnes Morton (Clark’s classmate) and Roberta Daniels, Booker T. Washington High School Alumni president, later led the audience in singing BTW’s school song. Clark graduated from the school in 1955, and he and Major often refer to it as “BTW University.”

When Lola, Clark’s wife of 48 years, spoke, she said jokingly, “This man is going to kill me ... He had a seizure just before we left home and as soon as he felt better — while we were still trying to get it together — he said, ‘Come on, lets go.’”

Through it all, Clark sat smiling as he recognized his many friends in the audience, some of whom were moved to tears when they heard his still-strong tenor voice harmonizing. They sang the school song and Clark joined his Alpha “Brothers” in singing the Alpha Hymn.

Clark and his wife are the parents of Jeffrey, Darryl, Terrance and LaShandra; the grandparents of Jefferey and Jujuan. His mother Fannett Clark Lyons, now 102, attended with Clark’s sister, Rosemary Clark Bethel.

Other guests included Clark’s classmate Juanita Manuel Mond, who flew down from Atlanta to be here for the occasion and members of the class of 1960 from Tucker Elementary School in Coconut Grove, where Clark taught fresh out of college.

When it was time for his remarks, Clark said jokingly, “If you want to do this same thing next week, please do.”

MATTHEW HOVDE ORDAINED A PRIEST

Warm congratulations to the Rev. Matthew Hovde, who was ordained to the priesthood on April 2 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Hovde is the youngest of three children of Robert and Cynthia Hovde. He entered formation with the congregation in 2007, and professed first vows in July 2012.

Prior to his ordination as a transitional deacon, Hovde has served in many areas of the church, from Music Ministry at Holy Cross House to hospital chaplaincy at the Center for Social concerns at Notre Dame and as assistant director in Old College from 2014-15. He earned his masters of divinity from the University of Notre Dame in 2015.

Recently Hovde reflected on the charisma of Holy Cross and how his understanding of it changed, as well as his hopes for life in Holy Cross.

“I see being an ‘educator in the faith’ as central to Holy Cross,” he said. “Throughout my time in formation, seeing Holy Cross in university work, parish life, serving the homeless, and many other apostolic works, have all formed how I understand our community. They all seem to revolve around this notion of being educators in the faith.”

Hovde served his first Mass as a priest on April 3 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. He will celebrate a Mass at his home parish, St. John Neuman, on a date to be announced.

SYNAGOGUE ACQUIRES SECOND TORAH

The community is invited to the Waterways Shoppes at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 17, to join the celebration as Young Israel of Aventura dedicates it new Torah.

According to information from Young Israel, the Torah (the Five books of Moses) has been read aloud at synagogue services since about 450 B.C. Unlike modern books, a Torah may not be mass-produced or digitized. Each of its 304,805 letters must be painstakingly hand-written onto a scroll, which makes every Torah a special treasure.

The “Hachnasat Sefer Torah” celebration that will be held marks the acquisition of the synagogue’s second Torah. The festivities will be at the Waterways Shoppes, 3575 NE 207th St. in Aventura. The parade will start from the marina at the intersection of Country Club Drive and Northeast 34th Avenue, where members of the synagogue will march and dance with the Torah to the Waterways Shoppes, where the synagogue is located.

Morris Wertheim, who donated the Torah in memory of his late wife, Frances, will lead the procession, which will take place on the anniversary of her death. After the procession reaches the synagogue, members of the audience will be invited to help write the final letters in the scroll, making the Torah “kosher’ or fit for use.

To reserve a letter, contact Young Israel’s Rabbi Chaim Albert at 786-234-0627.

FIRST NIGHT SEDER ON APRIL 22

The community is invited to Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom’s first night Seder on April 22. The Seder will begin with candle lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat at 7:30 p.m., followed by the traditional Seder at 8 p.m. Rabbi Manuel Armon and Cantor Irving Resnick will officiate and the choir will sing.

To hold your space, you must RSVP by April 19. The cost is $45 per adult; $15 per child ages 13-17 and $10 per child ages 8-12. If you wait until April 20 to RSVP, the price goes up to $50 per adult, and $55 per adult a the door.

The temple is at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami. Call 305-205-3846 for tickets and more information.

BOULEVARD NAMED FOR BISHOP BASKIN

A warm Neighbors in Religion salute to Bishop Billy Baskin, senior pastor of the 41-year-old New Way Fellowship Praise and Worship Church, who was honored March 16 by having Northwest 17th Avenue, from 167th to 183rd streets in Miami Gardens co-designated as “Bishop Billy Baskin Boulevard.”

Elder Clarence Woods of New Way Fellowship and Manor Oliver Gilbert of Miami Gardens presided. Larry Gardner represented Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

Since its inception, New Way Fellowship has offered many services to the community. The honor is befitting Baskin, who has stood firm in fulfilling the mission of the church, which is to serve the surrounding communities to the honor and glory of God.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NEWS SHOTS ON DISPLAY

Before I retired as a Miami Herald reporter, I loved working with photojournalist Tim Chapman, who often saw something in a picture that would make for a great story.

For over four decades, Chapman covered breaking news — from the Jonestown Massacre and Cocaine Cowboys, to the Mariel boatlift and Hurricane Andrew.

Starting April 15, some of Chapman’s life’s work will be on display at HistoryMiami Museum in an exhibition entitled “Newsman: The Photojournalism of Tim Chapman.” The exhibit chronicles Miami’s history from the 1970s through 2012, as well as major regional events and beyond.

The exhibition was curated by HistoryMiami and photographer Al Diaz and highlights Chapman’s career that started at the Miami Herald in 1972.

Stuart Chase, CEO and president of HistoryMiami, said Chapman “archived all of his photos and gifted that prize collection to HistoryMiami. We have chosen the very best that captures Chapman’s range of work, and we know it will be an eye-opening and moving experience for everyone who visits the exhibition.”

The exhibition will on display through Aug. 14. For more information, go to www.historymiami.org/photography

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email bea.hines@gmail.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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