When Rev. Betty Deas Clark, then pastor at Mount Pisgah AME Church in Sumter, heard about the shooting of nine people at a Bible study class at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston a year ago, she said her head was in Sumter but her heart was in Charleston.
Five months ago, she was appointed the pastor at Emanuel, but Tuesday she was reassigned to Georgetown, according to media reports.
A woman who answered the phone at Mother Emanuel Wednesday said the reports were true, but gave no further information. She said Clark was not available for comment.
Media outlets quoted sources as saying that Bishop Richard Franklin Norris of the 7th District of the AME Church reassigned Clark on Tuesday to Bethel AME Church in Georgetown.
Cynthia Neal at the AME district office in Columbia said Wednesday that no information was being given out concerning the reassignment, and she did not know when the church would release a statement on the reassignment.
The shooting of nine people at a Bible study class at Mother Emanuel by a young, self-avowed white supremacist on June 17, 2015, thrust the church as well as Charleston into the forefront of America’s struggle for better race relations. Among those killed in the shooting was Mother Emanuel’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator.
Clark was well received by the congregation according to church members who accompanied Clark to a reception in Sumter in late March.
“The lady is super,” church secretary Rosetta Singleton said at the reception. “We have adjusted so well with her.”
Singleton said Clark had done a lot to help the church heal.
“She is very nurturing,” she said. “It’s almost like having a counselor; in fact, I think she studied psychology.”
Willi Glee, another Mother Emanuel church member, said Clark had been marvelous for the church, which was still healing and trying to find its way.
“She is easy to communicate with,” he said. “People have felt good that they can talk to her.”
Being pastor at Mother Emanuel put Clark under a national media spotlight, she was interviewed by numerous local and national media.
After the death of 49 people is a mass shooting June 12 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Clark made a visit to Orlando to show support for the grieving community, passing up a chance to attend a White House summit on gender equality in Washington, D.C. The summit reportedly included leading figures such as first lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
Clark has been outspoken on the need for the nation to address the causes of gun violence.
She was the first female pastor at Mother Emanuel.