February 9th, 1948 – Dr Clara Lawrence Emanuel was born to Owen and Amabelle Lawrence and raised in the village of Bethesda.
She began her early education at the Bethesda Primary School then moved on to the Antigua Girls’ High School (AGHS). She was one of few children in the community at the time that had the opportunity to attend AGHS as it was still a private institution. She recalls that her parents made much sacrifice to ensure that the school fee ($35) was always paid to ensure that she completed her secondary school education.
Upon graduating from AGHS in 1967, Dr Emanuel taught briefly at Goodwill Academy, known at the time as Henry’s school, then went on to work in civil service. She contributed over forty years of service as a civil servant working in various capacities ranging from Junior Clerk to Permanent Secretary. Her journey in the service began as a Temporary Clerical Assistant with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Social Services in 1967 and some notable positions she would have served in included Executive Officer, Magistrates Division ( 11th March, 1974), Senior Executive Officer, Ministry of Legal Affairs (26th October, 1981) and Acting Permanent Secretary within a number of ministries to include the Office of the Governor General and Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications. Her final stint in the service was as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Sports and Youth Affairs, a capacity in which she served for three years before proceeding on retirement on February 8th, 2009.
Clara would enhance her professional competencies through her pursuit of several tertiary education training to include Management Studies at Manitoba Institute of Management; Training Methods and Skills at National Institute of Small Industries and Extension Training (NISIET) in Hyderabad, India; an Executive Diploma in Public Sector Management from UWI and graduate studies at Simmons College, Graduate School of Management, Boston. USA.
Reflecting on her civil service postings Dr Emanuel considers her most impactful period was as a clerk at the Magistrates Court. Throughout the days’ activities she would come into contact with various individuals who frequented the court and from time to time who would also seek her out for advice which she provided willingly. It was during this time that she recognised her interest in counseling. Though, at the time, she was not able to pursue this new found interest, it was a dream she held close to her heart to be able to help persons in this capacity and some years later when the opportunity arose, she sought to qualify herself for such a role. Through correspondence learning, in 2002, she obtained a Masters in Ministry in Christian Counseling from the Covington Theological Seminary in Georgia and in 2005 received her Doctorate in the same area from the same institution.
Upon retirement from the civil service in 2006, Dr Emanuel began her journey in this new career path working alongside her husband, Rev. Dr Lester Emanuel, in ministry and counseling at the Kentish [Pentecostal Church in Gray’s Farm. Her clients, she indicates, are mostly married couples and her services extend beyond her local church community. On occasion, she has also provided counseling support for the Welfare Division with some of their cases and all counseling services are provided free of cost. She describes the experience overall as a rewarding one: especially when she is able to witness development in her clients.
Prior to her role as a counselor, Dr Emanuel would have also served the church in a number of areas including the Pentecostal Crusaders for about twenty years. Her service in the Pentecostal Crusaders allowed her the opportunity to impact youth development work across Antigua and Barbuda. As the District Commissioner she led a team of Christian youth workers who provided a disciplined and safe environment for hundreds of the nation’s youth. She was elevated to Deputy Regional Commissioner before she retired.
She also served as Executive Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Chapter of Prison Fellowship International and has authored two books: Forty Year of Ministry, Marriage and Much More and Blazing the Trail, Seventy Years of Faithful Witness (1943 – 2013).
Dr Emanuel has been an ardent member of the Pentecostal church community for as long as she can remember having been raised in a Christian household and becoming baptized at the age of thirteen. She notes that it was the examples set out by her parents that helped to shape her approach to life over the years. Her parents always instilled in her siblings and herself that they should always be content with what they have and this is something that she has always held onto.
To ensure that there is continuity in the provision of the counseling ministry Dr Lawrence remains in the mentoring of younger individuals who she hopes could one day take up the mantle.