Former "angry Atheist" finds a higher calling as head of River Oaks church

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Former "angry atheist" finds a higher calling as head of River Oaks Church. (KTRK)

"Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you," Reverend Doctor Clay Lein recites scripture as he sits in the pews of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in River Oaks.

For Rev. Lein, the passage has personal meaning, perhaps a guiding principal in his life.


"I'm where God wants me to be," said Lein, the rector of the church.

A man of deep faith, he said "I 'm all in or I'm all out."

That is how he is now. However, for years Clay Lein was not a believer. He was focused on career and advancement and on Sundays, he liked to sleep in.

"I had a great plan for my life, it just turns out it wasn't his plan for my life," Lein said as he reflected on his first career.

He was an Atheist with a successful career as an electrical engineer.


"I was arrogant, I was prideful, I was aggressive, I was pushy," he said. However, in following his wife to church he noticed others lived their lives with an alternate focus.

He thought, "They have something different than me, they've got a whole different way of seeing the world than me and it made me very curious."

Lein began asking questions, attending bible study and reading books.

"I was trying to figure it out, like groping forward in the dark because rarely do I get a burning bush," said Lein. He says his journey was like the thawing of winter, "What I get more often than not are little nudges, leadings from people around me, something in my spirit."

He responded to those nudges and gave up his career for seminary, with his wife -- the daughter of an Episcopalian priest herself, with him all the way.


"She had seen enough change in me that it was worth it. That what was different about Clay was profound enough that she was willing to embrace that," he said of his wife's support.

The Reverend openly talks about where he has been and where he is, but in keeping with the scripture from the book of Matthew that guides his life, he has little clue as to what comes next.

"The reality is I don't have the map, I know who does have the map and the process becomes a whole lot of listening to him," Lein said.

In the meantime, he takes to the front of the church on Sundays to preach to his congregation of thousands with the confidence his calling is genuine.

"I know the things that God has worked in me, the ways he has changed my life and the truths about him that have profoundly altered my whole course of life."

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