A new addition to Trinity Lutheran Church in
Lansdale is now open, creating a new bright spot in memory of someone who
brightened countless lives.
Church members held a dedication ceremony on Sept. 10 for
the new Clark William Deardorff Pavilion, named for a late church member who
has left a lasting legacy.
“Along with our family and friends, our Trinity family was
by our side, and was so supportive when our son Clark suddenly became so very
sick,” said Clark’s father Curt.
Clark was a lifelong
Trinity member, who helped at his father’s dental practice, played and
coached tennis and lifeguarded locally, and coached the girl’s tennis team at
Gwynedd Mercy High School while working on vaccines at Merck. Readers may
recall Clark’s story: in 2017 he went into septic shock, suffered
multiple cardiac arrests, and “was on every life-support system the ICU had,
and there was little hope for his survival,” Curt said, speaking to Trinity’s
congregation at the dedication ceremony.
“He spent the entire summer of 2017 in the ICU, and over 75
days of that in a medically-induced coma,” he said. Lehigh Valley Hospital
staff, “with God’s help, miraculously brought Clark back to life,” and despite
the amputation of all four of his limbs, Clark was supported by Trinity members
during his rehab, his return to walking, and his eventual homecoming.
“In 2018, Clark’s rehab had many ups and downs, but all in
all he achieved greater independence, far ahead of expectations. 2018 was truly
an amazing year — until September the 5th, when he had what they call ‘a
widow-maker’ — a heart attack suddenly took Clark’s life. Along with our family
and friends, our Trinity family was there for us again,” Curt said.
“Clark was a caring, selfless person, who liked to give
back, helped encourage others, and always wanted everyone to have a good time.
Clark loved having family celebrations under a pavilion — so, almost three
years ago, when Trinity’s manager of buildings and grounds Denny Smith
suggested a permanent pavilion instead of a temporary tent, we jumped at the
idea,” Curt said.
That temporary tent was installed on Trinity’s grounds in
the earliest days of COVID-19, to allow the church to hold outdoor services
with safe distancing and ventilation. It has now been replaced with a
red-roofed permanent structure, surrounded by flowers, with lights and chairs
for gatherings like the dedication.
“We wanted to give back to our Trinity family, and construct
the pavilion in memory of Clark,” Curt said. After plenty of meetings, planning
and approvals, the pavilion now stands, with a spotlight aimed at a red sign
with white lettering reading “Clark William Deardorff Pavilion.”
“We thank you all again for being there for us in our time
of need,” Curt said.
Church Lead Pastor Fritz Fowler led the dedication ceremony,
thanking the Deardorff family for the financial donation that made the pavilion
“We are gathered to ask God’s blessing, as with thankfulness
we dedicate the Clark William Deardorff Pavilion, to the glory of God and in
loving memory of Clark,” said Fowler, as he lead prayers of thanksgiving from
“May faith abide in this place. May love abound in this
place. And may your presence be known in this place. Use this pavilion for your
holy purpose, oh God,” he said. “May warmth and welcome fill this place. May it
be a home for the community, and a haven for the stranger; a safe place for
laughter, for tears, and for wonder, and a center for acts of service and deeds
On the Friday night before the ceremony, Fowler told the
congregation, he was walking his dog nearby and heard a fire call dispatched,
with emergency vehicles howling through the town — and spotted a young lady
sitting in a chair below the pavilion.
“I said, ‘Are you OK? Is everything OK?’ And she said ‘Yes,
I just need a few minutes to sit. The sirens were a little scary,’ she said. So
we had this really holy moment: she said ‘Is that allowed, is that OK, am I
going to get in trouble?’ I said, ‘You’re more than fine! if anyone tells you
that you can’t be here, tell them the pastor has said it’s OK, that this is a
place that you can always come, and sit, and contemplate.”
Trinity church council vice president Teri Lanan recalled
meeting Clark on a church service trip in 2005, and said she still recalled
several traits she saw while he was a crew leader on that trip.
“If I did my math right, Clark was 23 at the time, he was
half my age. And he had quadruple, or perhaps ten-fold, my energy,” she said.
At the end of each day of construction on that trip, the older group members
would congregate on a porch to relax, “but not Clark, he was the kid magnet.”
“Clark had a lot of energy in reserve to burn, and an array
of ideas for entertaining the youth. They migrated to, and surrounded him, like
bees to honey. And he kept them entertained until it was time to retreat to
their cabins for bed,” she said.
“This pavilion you’ve built, Sue and Curt, in his memory
somewhat resembles, or at least reminds me of that summer porch. And when I
look at it, what I see in my mind’s eyes is Clark, surrounded by a slew of
laughing children, young ones, and playing together, and experiencing joy with
one another, as friends, children of God, and brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Lansdale Mayor Garry Herbert added that he thought Trinity
was “one of our closest, and nearest and dearest” for the borough, and the
pavilion was “such an amazing asset in our community.”
Fowler said this week that the pavilion has already been put
to use since the dedication, by Trinity staff having meetings outdoors, and
those interested in holding events at the pavilion can contact the church office at (215) 368-1710.
It’s equipped with electricity and fixtures for a ceiling projector, and is
available to community members for use for weddings, picnics, or events like
of the Animals’ Trinity will hold there, open to any community member
and their pets, at 1 p.m. on Oct. 1.
“The intention is for the community to see this as a gift to
them. The pavilion is an extension of the mission of Trinity: to celebrate
diversity, and connect the community to each other, and to God or the divine,”
Fowler said. “We want people to know how grateful we are to Curt and Sue for
this incredible gift.”
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