James W. Scott
On June 1, Patricia (Pat) Clawson took an early retirement from her position as office secretary for the Committee on Christian Education (CCE) in order to devote her time and energy to the care of her daughter Katie, who has Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has not been responding to treatment.
Pat moved to the Philadelphia area with her husband, Douglas, when he began serving as the associate general secretary for the Committee on Foreign Missions in 2002. Actually, they were returning to the area; they had also lived in Philadelphia while Douglas was a student at Westminster Seminary. Pat became the CCE office secretary when the position opened up in April 2005.
Pat brought to the job more than the usual secretarial skills, such as typing in triplicate at sixty words per minute, taking shorthand, and serving coffee. Having been a pastor’s wife for many years (at Grace OPC in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and then at Grace OPC in Hanover Park, Illinois), she also came with a knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and many people in it. She brought in addition an understanding of self-sacrifice and frugality.
While living in the Chicago area, Pat had been a freelance journalist, writing for no less a newspaper than the Chicago Tribune. This experience was well utilized in her new position as editor Danny Olinger put her to work writing articles for New Horizons magazine. Her biggest assignment was being the coeditor (with Diane Olinger) of Choosing the Good Portion, an inspirational account of the lives and labors of many women who made important contributions to the OPC over the years.
Pat’s administrative skills were put to work as the coordinator of the Ministerial Training Institute of the OPC. She processed applications, reports, and other paperwork, made the arrangements for the intensive training sessions, and handled the finances. For the internship program, she managed both the finances and the paperwork involving interns and churches. Each year, when a list of the interns and families, along with photos, was needed for the Thank Offering issue of New Horizons, she had it all ready.
Her work for New Horizons included putting together the prayer calendar, with contributions from Foreign Missions and Home Missions.
Pat’s servant’s heart was manifest in all her dealings as CCE office secretary. She was—and is—a peacemaker and a deeply caring person. Her love for others compels her to bring the needs of many people before the throne of grace on a regular basis.
When asked what she wanted to be said about her, she replied that she was thankful for the blessing of being able to work with fellow Christians and for the church. It was a privilege, she said, to get to know so many people in the OPC.
And when asked what she didn’t want to be said about her, she couldn’t think of anything.
Pat went about her work faithfully, often while dealing with physical weaknesses. A breast cancer survivor, she also had to fend off colon cancer and battled chronic conditions. Despite an uncooperative hip, she carried all but the heaviest boxes of ordered CCE literature up and down the hall for processing and mailing. This spring—only after the CCE meeting was over—she finally had her needed hip replacement.
When Pat retired, she was one of four women in the OPC office building (out of eight) in the vicinity of six feet tall. I don’t know when I have ever been around so many women I’ve had to look up to!
Pat will be missed at the OPC offices, but she will continue to coordinate MTIOPC from home and write articles for New Horizons. Right now, her ministry to her daughter, fighting for her life, must take precedence. Your prayers for Katie, Pat, and the rest of the family would be much appreciated.
The author is a member of Trinity OPC in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.