Sojourners Donor Spotlight: Barbara Clark

By Ariana DeNardo 8-06-2015
Barbara Clark
Barbara and husband Andrew at a prime bird-watching spot in Kerala, India. Photo via Barbara Clark

Name: Barbara Clark

Hometown: Pendleton, Oregon

Occupation: Food bank volunteer; retired teacher; traveler; adventurer; Ecumenical Advocacy participant; eternal learner.

Church affiliation: Presbyterian

Heroes: Mitri Raheb, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, and husband Andrew.

Relation to Sojourners: Sustainer’s Circle monthly donor

I Sojourn Because: I would like to bring more peace and more justice to those around me who suffer.

Influenced in her early 20s by the civil rights movement, Barbara learned about Sojourners during the time that she and her husband served in Tanzania with the Peace Corps. Experiences interacting with folks diverse in religious belief and race during this time profoundly influenced her understanding of faith and social justice. She shares that her life has been influenced by Catholics and Mennonites, pagans and Methodists, Anglicans, Quakers, Hindus, and Buddhists: “At the core, a lot of us on the planet are looking for the same thing: to get along with one another, to have enough to eat, [and] to be able to live with some measure of safety and security.”

While raising her children, both biological and adopted, Barbara moved back to Oregon where she began teaching at community college and with a Corrections facility at a medium security prison. Here, she witnessed the systematic racism done unto Hispanics and African-Americans as they were literally incarcerated away from their families and support systems. Barbara continues to be an advocate for social justice as a participant in the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a national gathering of Christians with a shared tradition of justice covering such topics as gun violence and mass incarceration, where she is committed to bringing back inspiration and information to her friends and neighbors in Oregon.

Nowadays, Barbara spends her time volunteering with the homeless population of Pendleton at the food bank, striving to serve others in a way that affirms each person’s dignity. She has travelled all over the world to become educated on other world conflicts, spending time in Palestine/Israel, India, Europe, and Kenya, as well as travelling with “Voices from the Border and Beyond” to visit Sanctuary Movement churches, Border Control, and other facets of the immigration story in Mexico and Guatemala, passionately believing that “the policies that our government creates create a lot of suffering for a lot of people, without our generally ever realizing that’s what happening.”

As Barbara works in her own community against systems of exploitation, what gives her the most hope is the next generation.

“New technologies allow young people to be aware of the joys, sorrows, sufferings, and privileges of the Other.”

Barbara is truly a witness for shalom in her community, and we’re so glad we get to partner together in this work!

Ariana DeNardo is the donor services assistant for Sojourners.

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