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Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark Becomes Mother Emanuel’s First Female Pastor
Published:
1/27/2016 4:24:44 PM


(l-r) Presiding Elder Dr. Norvel Goff & Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark during her first sermon at “Mother” Emanuel AME Church January 24
 
By Barney Blakeney


Mother Emanuel AME Church, seven months after the June 17 massacre of nine church members including its pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney, has been assigned a new pastor.

Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark January 23 was named Emanuel’s new pastor. She relieves Presiding Elder Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff who served Emanuel as interim pastor since Pinckney’s death.

Clark, a native of Awendaw, is Emanuel’s first female pastor and the first in recent years who lives in the Charleston community.

Leon Alston, chairman pro tem of the church’s steward board, said Clark is the right person for the job and represents a step in the right direction for the congregation that still is healing from the massacre of its pastor and eight members including three survivors.

“Rev. Goff brought us this far and I believe Rev. Clark will take us the rest of the way. Bishop (Richard Franklin) Norris made the right decision. Rev. Clark has the knowledge and experience to help us with our healing. She’s the right person for the job,” Alston said.

Of Clark’s connection to the local community, Alston said, “It can only have a positive effect. She knows people in the congregation and has connections in the community. Some challenges are ahead of us. Among them being to help us and to help heal us. Those challenges are there. Our church will never be the same, but I’m sure she can meet them.”

Rev. Clark comes to Mother Emanuel from Mount Pisgah AME Church in Sumter. She previously was pastor at seven other churches including Greater St. John AME Church on Johns Island, Charity in Huger and Greater Bethel AME on James Island. She has served in several capacities, including president, of the Charleston Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. She holds a B.A. Degree from Limestone College, a Master of Divinity Degree from Erskine Seminary and a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Erskine Seminary.

Emanuel Lay Organization President Dorothy Jenkins said Clark, who preached a heart-warming and encouraging first sermon at Emanuel only a day after being named pastor, hit the ground running by installing officers of the Lay organization.

“It was hard to believe Rev. Pinckney did the exact same thing just one year ago. A lot has happened in those 365 days. Nevertheless, our members look forward to building a better and stronger church as new rays of hope shine through for the future,” Jenkins said.
 

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