The decision to become a clergyman came by surprise to the Rev. Bradford Clark, who grew up “at arms length from organized religion.” Clark had little interest in the church throughout most of his early years of life and schooling, yet felt passionate about pursuing, in a variety of ways, a spiritual life.

During his 20’s, he went looking for something real. It took him to various countries overseas where he said he went looking to experience something first-hand, rather than continuing to read and study the spiritual teachings and writings of others. “I was looking for something real and authentic, for someone who lived from a deep place of connection,” he said.

He sought it in his travels, spending time in various places overseas, such as Japan, Thailand, India and in Sri Lanka, where he lived for a time immersed in the life and practice of a Buddhist monastery. Clark planned to go into teaching and spent five years studying eastern religious traditions and existential philosophy at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. “I started feeling lonely, however, for community,” he said. “After all those years of graduate studies, I wasn’t finding what I was looking for.”

At 27 years old, Clark realized a life of academia was not what was in store for him. He had a friend who was serving as a Lutheran pastor in Oakland and while on a visit there, “one night it hit me hard and unexpectedly,” said Clark. “All at once I felt profoundly and inescapably called to live in a community of faith serving as a priest in the Episcopal Church.”

It wasn’t long before Clark had completed the necessary requirements and was ordained in Portland, Maine in 1990. His years in ministry began as the curate of St. Alban’s Church in Cape Elizabeth, ME after which he lived and worked within Diocese of Vermont for 15 years before coming to Ipswich.

Clark was contacted by Ascension Church in March of 2006 and says his decision to come to Ipswich was an easy one. “It felt right,” he said, noting that although he loved his 12 years in Arlington, VT that the time had come to begin the next chapter.

“I always enjoy the challenge and opportunity to come at things a little differently,” says Clark, “and I have found kindred souls here at AMC seeking to deepen their connection to that which is real and enduring and full of grace.” Clark enjoys cultivating a diversity of friendships within the local community as a member of the Ipswich Rotary Club, The Dinner Bell, North Shore United Way – and by calling Zumi’s, the popular coffee shop of Ipswich, “The Rector’s Second Office.”