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Retiree finds second career as minister

By Staff
SECOND CAREER – Clarence Roberts stands in front of Trinity Presbyterian Church, where he will be ordained at 4 p.m. Nov. 10 as a Presbyterian minister. Roberts, 67, is a Meridian Community College retiree. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star.
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Nov. 2, 2002
Everything that has happened in Clarence Roberts' life has led him to the ministry.
The 67-year-old Toomsuba resident will be ordained a Presbyterian minister at 4 p.m. Nov. 10 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Meridian.
When Roberts retired as vice president for academic affairs at Meridian Community College in 1998, his plans revolved around bass fishing and golf.
But like other times in his life, he said, he was "called" in another direction.
He served as a lay preacher in the Presbyterian Church for many years, and began seminary courses before his retirement.
He has since continued his courses, took the required exams and was approved to be ordained by the Committee on Ministry of the Mississippi Presbytery on Oct. 17.
Looking back
Roberts is a native of Northeast Mississippi.
After earning his masters' degree in history from Mississippi State University, he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in South Korea. He planned a military career in the diplomatic corps in Europe.
Roberts and his wife, Hilda, were married in August 1962 and he became business manager at what is now East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
A couple of years later, with an offer to become business manager at what is now Mississippi University for Women, Roberts followed his heart again returning to school at Florida State University.
Roberts and his wife were expecting their first child at the time and there were no scholarships available, but a fellowship became vacant at the last minute to help them through the first year.
Education helped
Roberts continued his education, earning his doctorate degree in college management with an emphasis on community colleges.
He interviewed at a couple of community colleges in North Carolina when he heard of an opening in Meridian. That brought him back to Meridian to work with MCC President Bill Scaggs.
Scaggs, also retired, admires what Roberts has done. He called Roberts "a scholar and a servant, which are skills he employed when we worked together at MCC."
David Wood, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, called Roberts exceptional.
Major achievement
The ordination also marks a major milestone for Roberts.
Roberts landed on a clothes line, catching his chin on the cord. His doctor told him if he had hit the clothes line an inch or so lower down his neck, he would have lost his ability to speak.
When Roberts realized his calling to the ministry, he said it was like the first time he saw Hilda and knew she was the one or the moment he knew he needed to go to Florida State rather than advance his career.
New plans
Roberts has since sold his bass boat, but he still plays golf now and then.
He has served as pastor of Toomsuba Presbyterian Church since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children and five grandchildren who all plan to attend the ordination next week.
Mrs. Roberts said her husband has worked hard and although his being ordained seems like a long time coming, the timing is right.