Founded on a history of the art of clowning in the American Circus and a deep theology of the Cross of Jesus Christ, the Life in Christ Circus reframes life for people to see the love of God and to live well in Christ through the healing power of laughter and play.
The Life In Christ Circus is a clown ministry troupe founded in 1977 in St. Petersburg, FL and led by Dr. Dick Hardel (Dr. H.). There are three performing units of the Life In Christ Circus in the United States: Eagan, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska; and Orlando, Florida.
Over the past few years we have established a new unit near Dziegielow, Poland. We are presently working to develop units in Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, and in the Philippines. This has been a wonderful blessing to our ministry.
Traditional circus clowns, at their best, serve up generous portions of the foibles of our own human nature for our amusement. Christ Clowns add a new dimension to the circus clown. They are “fools for Christ: in the best sense of those words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 4: 8-13). With their colorful antics they reveal our human frailties and allow us to laugh at ourselves.
Christ Clowns explode into the humdrum of daily routine with colorful costumes and makeup. They play and laugh with children of all ages. They are tricked and trampled, but never defeated because they stand in the cross of Christ and in the glory of the resurrection.
The Life In Christ Circus has shared the Gospel throughout North America, also in Eastern Europe, Central America, Africa, and Australia.
You will see the Christ Clowns of the Life In Christ Circus bringing this unique ministry to nursing homes, hospitals, children’s hospitals, schools, civic organizations, disaster areas, in congregations, on street corners, in parks or in the malls.
Christ Clowns work with the handicapped, the elderly, and the young—Children of All Ages! They have been on television, in the newspapers, on film, in workshops, at ministry service projects, and countless youth gatherings. They work just as enthusiastically with audiences of two or three as they do with thousands.
- A clown’s faith is a clown’s home.
- Clowns turn faith inside-out.
- Clowns enjoy being attitudes.
- Clowns travel places of faith.
- Clowns discover they are catechisms.
- Clowns hang out with artists of the faith.
- Clowns open people to the Bible.
- Clowns look deep inside meaning.
- Clowns ask, “What does faith look like in you?”
- Christ is the center of Christian clowns.
- It is the Cross in the Sawdust Circle!
- Clowns image the mind of Christ.
- Clowns give thanks for faith.
- Clowns speak inside-out.
- Clowns feel faith.
- Clowns think meaning.
- Clowns hide and peak.
- Clowns speak from heart to head to foot.
- Clowns ask, “What do you see?”
- Clowns do parables.
- Clowns paint pictures.
- Clowns scribble ideas.
- Clowns dance thoughts.
- Clowns reframe life so others can see God’s grace.
- Clowns play Tag, You’re It!
For resources and more information about clown ministry so the STORE page of this website.
Clowning Around the World
The Life in Christ Circus has truly worked with “children of all ages.” From Sunday School programs, to marriage and family retreats, to schools, concerts, nursing homes, stewardship programs, and camps, hospitals, disaster areas, the blind, those who are deaf, autistic people, physically and emotionally handicapped people, cancer patients, weddings, funerals, fundraiser events, worship service the Life in Christ Circus has banked many miles bringing the message of living well in Christ to many people.
There are several clown ministry trainers within the various units. Over the years we have had students graduate from Christ Clown College, and our Clown Ministry Intensives. We have taught at workshops, retreats, classes, both in the U.S. and overseas.
Turnip and Dr. H. have been training student clowns in Poland since 2002. Turnip is in his 9th year being a “resident clown” in Poland and has trained 18 young people to share clown ministry with the people of Poland and Latvia and other countries of Eastern Europe.
At present there are clown teams in the following areas:
- Dziegielow, Glogow (two teams)
- Nysa and Szczecin, Poland
- Riga, Latvia (two teams)
- Talsi and Ventspils, Latvia
- Petrozavodsk, RU
- Musmansk, RU (This team is currently sending representatives on a mission to the south of Russia to start a new clown team there)
- Mogilev, Belarus
- Ukraine (two teams)
- Croatia (two teams)
- Juarez, Mexico
- Fountain Hills, Arizona
- Modesto, CA
This website connects the clowns with you and the rest of the world. If you are interested in beginning such a ministry to your congregation or for some of us to lead a workshop or a performance of the Life in Christ Circus, please contact us.
Pam “Pansy” Hoepner Boss Clown of the Spirit of Joy Clowns
Pansy is a graduate of Christ Clown College at St. John Lutheran Church in Winter Park, FL. She is a veteran Christ Clown. After Dr. H accepted the call to serve as Assistant To the Bishop of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Pam directed the Christian Clown Connection in Orlando (founded by Dr. H and Bev Richardson) for advance training in clown ministry. She worked closely with Jim “Noc Noc” Nocks at running this conference for a few years. When her family moved to Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, she was instrumental at establishing and building a clown ministry there. Her husband, Rick, supported her ministry as was the prop manager and all-around helper.
The Christ Clowns truly reflect and celebrate the Spirit of Joy.
Tim “Happy” Schutz Boss Clown of the Omaha Unit of the Life in Christ Circus
He is a graduate of Christ Clown College. He is active in Clowns of America, International. He is also one of the trainers for the clown ministry school they run for training candidates for becoming Christ Clowns. Tim as a person as well as a clown is as he is named, “Happy” and he makes everyone he sees to experience joy and happiness. Both of Tim and his wife, Jan’s children have also been trained at Christ Clown College. Their family traveled throughout the USA and Eastern Europe with Dr. H to share the Gospel on several Clown Ministry Pilgrimages.
Over the years the Christ Clowns of the Omaha Unit have traveled throughout Nebraska to work with Christian congregations in worship, Sunday school, rally days, picnics, parades, fund raising for mission events, and vacation Bible schools. They have traveled to many other states like California, Montana, Kansas, and Florida to clown with Dr. H. They are a very talented clown troupe with deep passion for the ministry.
For information on the Life in Christ Circus and future Christ Clown College classes being held in the Omaha area contact Happy.
Sid “Turnip” Teske Boss Clown of the Twin Cities, MN Unit
Began clown training in 1993 with Patty Dempsey at Century College completing two 10 week classes including the beginner and advanced classes.
Extended training in Christ Clown College with Dr. Dick Hardel in 1994, graduating in 1995. Attended Clown camp in Wisconsin in 1996 and 1998. Performed on the birthday party and company picnic clown performances for 4 years from 1995-1998. From 2001 and following years, Sid also attended 5 of Randy Christian’s “Next Step” training sessions and a 3 day training session with Mime clown Avner “The Eccentric.”
Sid joined Dick Hardel’s performance team training in 1997. and performed with that team for 4 years, including a trip to perform in Poland and East Germany in 2001. Returned to train in Dziegielow in 2002 with Dr. Hardel and 3 other clowns. From 2001 – 2015, Sid traveled to East Europe 19 times to train for churches and Bible Centers. Karen went along on all but the last 9 trips when her health made it too difficult to travel so much.
The training classes in East Europe were typically 2 weeks, every day for 4 hours or more each day. Sid provided most of the original props and all the clothing for all the clowns. He has been supported generously by sewing teams in Modest, CA, and St Paul, MN and his mother, Burnette Teske. In the last year, the sewing has been done by Sid himself using the same patterns created by his mother and used by all the sewers (I call them sowers).
Sid wants to be a window through which people can see Jesus, that my work will glorify God, not Sid.