Former Emanuel AME pastor opens up about reassignment

Rev. Dr. Betty Deas Clark does not question the plan she says God has for her. However, the former pastor of Emanuel AME Church admits she is still not sure why she was reassigned to a different church.

The pastor spoke Wednesday night at a Charleston Pride week event. She was invited to speak by the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a group founded on equality for the LGBTQ community.

Clark was the first female pastor in the downtown church’s history, but then was suddenly reassigned churches after visiting Orlando following the nightclub massacre. “It tugged at my heart,” said Clark, “I just could not see how I could not go to Orlando to show love as love was shown to the people of Charleston here.”

Reverend Doctor Betty Deas Clark

Clark returned to Charleston to preside over the church massacre anniversary service and few days later she was moved to Bethel AME in Georgetown. Rev. Eric Manning took over for Clark at Emanuel AME.

Clark says she has not been given an official reason why she was switched out of Emanuel AME, but she does not dwell in the past. “I’m not sure why it happened, and to be honest, I don’t care why it happened,” said Clark, “given the opportunity, I’d go to Orlando today, tomorrow and every tomorrow afterwards.”

The pastor’s focus now is being there for her new congregation that she says is also helping her. “They are so kind,” said Clark, “it’s helping with the healing of my broken heart.”

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