After a stressful divorce, Tammera McClendon--ex-wife of Los Angeles pastor Clarence McClendon--is picking up the pieces of her life and using her experience to restore women who have been traumatized by marriage problems.
After 16 years of marriage to McClendon, Tammera says God has given her the strength to go on with her life. "He has birthed a ministry in me as a result of my personal problems," said Tammera, who is 36. She and McClendon now share joint custody of their three children.
McClendon was at one time viewed as one of the most talented young preachers in the Foursquare Gospel denomination. But he pulled his 10,000-member Church of the Harvest International out of the denomination in May and abruptly married Priscilla Delgado, 30, of Los Angeles. The private ceremony, performed on July 22 by Atlanta pastor Earl Paulk, took place in Malibu, Calif., seven days after McClendon's divorce to Tammera was finalized.
According to his ex-wife, McClendon, 35, had wanted out of the marriage for the last five years. "I didn't want a divorce," Tammera told Charisma. "When I finally said yes to Clarence, he asked me to file because it would look bad if he divorced me--which could hurt his ministry."
Clarence McClendon told Charisma in August that he divorced Tammera because she wanted out of the marriage. He also denied allegations of infidelity and claimed that he left his denomination because he felt Foursquare officials practiced a form of racial segregation.
Tammera McClendon, however, denies that racism was a concern. "Clarence shared everything with me before we had marital problems, and he never once said that Foursquare... was racist toward him," she said.
Tammera also claims that her ex-husband told her that God had shown him who he was supposed to marry. She said she then asked him: "How could God show you another woman when you already have a wife?"
In a statement to Charisma McClendon replied: "There were no other relationships." He added that he was under the spiritual counsel of Paulk, Bishop Paul Morton, Mark Hanby, Darrell Hines and Bishop Dennis Leonard, who with the exception of Morton attended the wedding.
Tammera, who lives in Hawaii and receives child support, said she will receive what she calls "fair" alimony payments for the next 10 years. "The alimony that I receive is fair for the seeds I've sown...for 16 years," she said.
The Illinois native is the founder of Esther's Way, a nonprofit corporation designed to minister to troubled women from all backgrounds. During her October No One to Touch My Heart conference in Maui, Hawaii, she plans to offer women spiritual instruction on how to overcome life's challenges as they pursue ministry in the 21st century.
Evie Nelson, a former worship leader for Church of the Harvest for seven years, admires the integrity her friend has demonstrated. "Tammy is a living, breathing example of the Proverbs 31 and Titus woman. She is a godly woman, full of integrity," Nelson told Charisma.
In spite of the recent turn of events, Tammera says she is not bitter about her failed marriage, and she says she has been forced to address the issue publicly because the Lord wants her to talk about her experience and what is happening in the church today. She believes there is a "spirit of deception" that is permeating the body of Christ.
Said Tammera: "God is looking for men and women who will exemplify integrity and truth with His Word as they impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ."
--Valerie G. Lowe