Important Message from Our Founder and Executive Director
Message from Brad Griffith
I have news that it is time for me to share with you:
After this September, I will be stepping away from my work with Clement Arts.
I still love Clement Arts. I am still as passionate (maybe more so) about orphan care as the day this ministry began. I still believe in the power and beauty of creative arts. I love and deeply appreciate the people I get to work alongside in and through this organization. God has given me a great gift in allowing me to lead Clement Arts for the last 7 years.
A lot has changed for Clement Arts since we founded in the fall of 2012. Since supporting our first adoptive family with a Christmas concert, we have gone on to support 25 families with nearly $130,000 in adoption funds raised. We have worked with both local and nationally-known artists to bring excellent concerts, art galleries, and photography events to our community for the sake of the fatherless. We have served around 250 children through our Clement Kids arts education program, including children in foster care and group homes like the Anne Elizabeth Shepherd Home. We have partnered with nearly 20 churches (and counting) to recruit and support foster families through Clement Care's intentional and ongoing foster ministry network.
As Clement Arts has grown, we have brought on the staff needed to support our work. In 2019, we added a Clement Care Director to our team, with Heather Irvin initially serving in that role and Christal Gavin now transitioning in. Amelia Cox began with Clement Arts as a social media intern in 2015 before becoming our first part-time staff member later that same year. Amelia then became our first full-time staff member in 2017, serving as our Clement Kids Director. At each point in that journey, Amelia stepped out with us in faith that God would provide - and He always has.
Now it is time for me to step out in faith.
A lot has changed for my family in the last 7 years as well. We became a foster family and served in that capacity for 5 years. My kids, who were 11 and 13 when Clement Arts started, have graduated high school and began college. Since 2017: we lost my Mom to pancreatic cancer, we adopted our youngest son out of foster care, and our oldest son was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare neuromuscular disease. Throughout this time, I have continued to work and move forward in my "day job."
Personal sustainability always has been an issue I have had to attend to in this journey. Leading an organization is no small thing in this world God has made. But over the last couple of years, I have begun to feel more of my limitations. As much as I love the mission, the work, and the people of Clement Arts, I knew that I was reaching a point of unsustainability. My first commitments in life, under God, are as a husband and a father. If I succeed at all else and fail to love and serve my wife and children, then I will have failed where it matters most.
Some will ask why I don't pursue full-time work with Clement Arts. Let me assure you that if working full-time for Clement Arts was a viable solution for my family, I would do it in a heartbeat. As it stands, however, I have a good job that I'm fortunate to have, and I am able to provide for the needs of my family.
Throughout my 20's and 30's, faith looked like adventure. It looked like taking a pay cut to follow the passions and talents that God had given me. It looked like an Abrahamic call into the unknown for the sake of the gospel. I wasn't necessarily wrong, and God will legitimately call many people to do exactly those things. But what God has been so patient in teaching me (and I so slow to learn) is that most times faith looks like living a quiet life of service to those closest to you. Loving a wife and raising children is no small thing in this world God has made.
What's Next For Clement Arts?
I'm happy to tell you exactly what's next for Clement Arts: very good things.
Very soon, we will announce my successor as Executive Director for Clement Arts. For now, I will just say that I believe we have found the best possible person to lead this organization forward. I could not be more excited about the future of Clement Arts in serving foster and adoptive children and families.
I will continue serving in my current role until after our upcoming Celebration Banquet on Tuesday, September 24. I hope that you will consider joining us for this great event to celebrate what God has done and together imagine a future where even more children's lives are forever changed within loving families.
One thing is guaranteed - Clement Arts will continue to serve the cause of foster care and adoption in Jesus' name.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who has made the last 7 years of Clement Arts possible.
To all those who have served with me on the Board of Directors: your wisdom, humility, generosity, and firm belief in our mission have led us well. I'm honored to know each of you.
To our staff, past and present: you have made the daily work of our calling to be a joy. I'm so thankful for the gifting, love, service, and excellence that you have poured into our community through your work with Clement Arts. You have each been a blessing to me, and I am happy to call you friends.
To our ministry partners: I have been honored to serve alongside you and your churches and organizations. The needs of orphans and children in our foster system cannot be met by any one individual or organization. I have always believed that if Clement Arts would have any success, it would only be in partnership with leaders like you. Thank you for believing that as well and linking arms with me over the years. Good things are happening as a result.
To our donors, volunteers, and supporters: you are the ones who have made this work and these successes possible. Every single one of the milestones listed above, and every one of the unmentioned but meaningful and necessary accomplishments along the way, exist because of you. Thank you, not for believing in Clement Arts, but for responding to God's call to care for the fatherless in response to His great love for us. At Clement Arts, we are humbled and grateful to be stewards of that response. But we are merely stewards. You, dear community, are the life changers.
To the foster and adoptive families Clement Arts has supported: all of this has been for you. Not because you are rescuers, but because through you we see the Rescuer. Not because your family life is neat and tidy, but because through your family we see the Beautiful One. Not because your path is perfect or predictable, but because through your story we see the Hope Giver. Thank you for giving us glimpses of the gospel. Thank you for the humility of allowing us to come alongside and serve you. I hope we have done that well. We are not shocked at your hardships, but we are rooting for you and for your children. And we are better because of that.
To anyone who has attended a Clement Arts event or a Clement Kids class: I hope we have served you well. It has been our heart's desire to do so. I hope you have felt some small inspiration, some nudge toward the beauty and goodness of God. I hope there has been a moment where His love has felt more true, more present, more real. Just know that by your participation, you have helped to make the support of foster and adoptive families possible. Just think: real children's lives forever impacted, and we get to be a small part of that just by attending a concert or a dance class or getting your family pictures made.
That's still a pretty cool idea if you ask me.