The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Beyond BTK

Wichita pastor: Blessings amid 'the muck and mire'

As Michael Clark looks back on his year as pastor to one of the country’s most notorious serial killers, he uses the word “blessed” to describe his life and ministry.

“It just came to me one day—I can’t even say how it happened—that the past year has been a blessing,” Clark says. “We perceive our blessings as mountaintop experiences that lift us up and that we get excited about. The reality is that the truest blessings come when we’re in the pits, in the muck and mire.”

The muck and mire of Clark’s life and that of Christ Lutheran in Wichita, Kan., began Feb. 25, 2005, when detectives came to the church with a search warrant that tied council president Dennis Rader, 60, to 10 murders in the area between 1974 and 1991 (see "After the Rader guilty plea: ‘Take note of what we do with evil,’ urges pastor," August 2005). Rader, who had eluded authorities for 30 years, called himself BTK—“bind, torture and kill”—because of how he murdered his victims. The arrest and subsequent court appearances thrust Rader, the congregation and Clark into the national spotlight.

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