Charleston AME Church Names Woman Pastor for First Time After Shooting

Peter Johnson, Jr. weighs in


The Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine parishioners attending a Bible study were gunned down by an avowed white racist last June, has named as their new pastor, for the first time in the church's storied history, a woman — the Rev. Betty Deas Clark.

In her first message to the church on Sunday, Clark, who according to The Post and Courier was trembling and scared, preached a message about hope.

"In my heart I felt that it was the right word," she said after the church service. "I did not want to dwell too heavily on the past, but I wanted to embrace the reality of the present and the future."

Clark, who previously led the historic Mount Pisgah AME Church in Sumter according to WIAT, said she was a friend of the late state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was among those executed last June.

"I'm sure that to some of my parishioners it's like yesterday," Clark told WIAT.

"It's going to take me some time to sit with the people, cry with the people, talk to the people, then talk to God and ask Him where do we go from here? To be determined by God's will," she said.

In her message, she told the congregation that it would take time for them to get to know each other.

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