- Associated Press - Sunday, December 27, 2015

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) - In the life of the Rev. Dr. Tim McClendon, Christianity and clay are two important elements, and in some ways, they are intertwined.

Around Aiken, McClendon, 60, is best known as the senior pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church, but he also is a talented potter who makes functional stoneware with an artistic flair.

“There is a lot of theological analogy in terms of my faith,” said McClendon, who has preached sermons while sitting and working at a potter’s wheel. “God is the potter, and we are the clay. You spend a little bit of time warming up the clay, putting it on center and opening it up. That is like the getting saved part. But then you spend most of your time shaping it, and that is like the sanctification part, when you turn into someone who is useful to God.”

Creating pottery also is fun and relaxing for McClendon.

“Throwing clay is peaceful, and it’s pleasurable,” he said. “I’ve played golf, and during the first two or three holes I was still thinking about the tension I had before I got there. Then on the last two or three holes, I was thinking about what I had do afterwards. But when you are doing pottery, all you can think about is the clay. You can’t get distracted. Your hands can’t go any faster than the wheel.”

McClendon, who arrived at St. John’s last year, was born in a Greenwood hospital and grew up in Edgefield County - famous for its stoneware. For years, his family has owned the land where Abner Landrum founded Pottersville in the early 1800s and built a kiln that was more than 100 feet long.

“We had an antique kick wheel and my dad worked on it, so evidently someone taught him how to throw clay,” McClendon said. “I probably centered clay for the first time when I was 7 or 8.”

For the most part, making pottery has been a hobby for McClendon, but there was a time when he was selling a lot of what he produced.

“While my kids were in college, I was trying to make extra money, and my work was in the Museum of York County’s gift shop and some other gift shops,” he said. “It has been suggested that I could do it for a living.”

Now McClendon gives his pottery to friends, family members and colleagues in the religious community. This year and in 2014, McClendon donated pieces to the silent auction that was held during St. John’s Apple Fest fundraiser.

“I don’t take orders,” McClendon said. “The only orders I take are from my wife. I’ve made her big salad bowls, bowl sets and things like that. But she’s gotten to the point where she says, ‘Please give it away because it’s cluttering up the house.’ “

Examples of McClendon’s pottery decorate his office at St. John’s. They include a large vase that has the palmetto and crescent symbols from the state flag of South Carolina on it.

“The palmetto is kind of my trademark, and I enjoy doing it,” McClendon said. “I draw it by hand. I’ve used one of my mother’s knitting needles, and I also have a little needle-like tool. I don’t know anybody else who does it the same way.”


Information from: Aiken Standard, https://www.aikenstandard.com

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