Rally Press Release 5/29/19
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
Anti-Abuse Rally Planned Outside 2019
Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting
For Such a Time as This Rally protesting abuse within SBC
Birmingham, AL – May 29th, 2019 – In June 2018, For Such a Time as This Rally gathered in Dallas outside the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting to call for decisive action on addressing abuse. With the Houston Chronicle’s three-part series “Abuse of Faith” published in February, the urgency of abuse within the SBC cannot be overstated. Today, For Such a Time as This Rally is announcing it will join the SBC’s 2019 annual meeting, this time in Birmingham, Alabama on June 11th, 2019. Rally attendees will gather on the grounds of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center from 5 PM - 6:45 PM.
Rally organizers have requested appointments with SBC President J.D. Greear which have been declined despite repeated attempts. Rally representatives have met with representatives of President J.D. Greear’s office and representatives from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is overseeing the Sexual Abuse Study Group. In October rally representatives requested a resource room or vendor table be provided for them at the annual convention in Birmingham so rally advocates could provide resources and comfort for survivors. After months of requests, the SBC refused to provide this opportunity to the For Such A Time As This Rally.
Cheryl Summers traveled and visited the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center where the SBC Convention will be held and identified a huge public space outdoors that would be ideal to hold the rally. Rally representatives requested the rally be allowed to respectfully use this space. Despite their statements of purported “caring,” SBC representatives refused access to this large public area forcing the rally to make plans to meet on smaller sidewalks.
“Southern Baptists have promised to make addressing abuse a central theme of this year’s annual meeting. We don’t just want to hear about abuse. We want to see action! We are grateful that more discussion is taking place, but are Southern Baptists willing to prioritize protecting individuals over protecting their institutions? Bold action is required,” rally Founder Cheryl Summers said after she traveled to visit the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center where the SBC’s annual meeting will be held.
The For Such A Time As This Rally has identified a number of other concerns which leads them to believe that despite the SBC’s words, little to no action has been taken to create actual safety changes for survivors. Because of this, For Such A Time At This rally goals remain the same as in 2018:
1. Mandatory training for all SBC pastors, seminary students, ministry leaders, and volunteers on the issues of sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual assault.
2. Establish a clergy sex offender database for the Southern Baptist Convention, including those who are credibly accused, those who have admitted to conduct constituting abuse, those who pleaded guilty, or were convicted.
3. Women should be respected and honored within the SBC. The low view of women has contributed to an abuser-empowering church culture.
Christa Brown, who first proposed a denominational database in 2006, said “I weep when I contemplate how many kids could have been spared the soul-searing trauma of clergy sex abuse if only SBC officials had taken action 13 years ago. As an SBC abuse survivor and as a mother, I stand in solidarity with the For Such A Time As This Rally!"
“Despite this David and Goliath-like feat the For Such A Time As This Rally will continue to raise our voices for justice for victims of abuse. We will not stop until the Southern Baptist Convention becomes a safe place for survivors of abuse, and as of now it is not a safe place ” says rally spokesperson, Rev. Ashley Easter.
Survivors and abuse victims advocates are already committed to driving and flying in from across the country to attend For Such A Time As This Rally 2019. Rally attendees will be peacefully protesting by holding signs, wearing the color red, and standing in front of a large millstone evoking Matthew 19:6.
"If anyone causes one of these little ones-those who believe in me-to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” -Jesus (NIV)
Confirmed For Such A Time As This Rally Speakers include:
SBC Survivor and pioneer advocate Christa Brown
SBC survivor Jules Woodson
Advocate, founder of The Courage Conference Rev. Ashley Easter
SBC survivor Brooks Hansen
SBC Pastor Dwight McKissic
Survivor and S.N.A.P. representative David Clohessy
Survivor and rally founder Cheryl Summers
Event schedule and additional details here. Those interested in rally with For Such a Time As This can visit www.forsuchatimeasthisrally.com or the rally’s Facebook Page (@ForSuchATimeAsThisRally) to sign up.
About For Such a Time as This Rally:
The name for the rally— “For Such a Time as This”—references Queen Esther, a woman who was a victim of sex trafficking and refused to be silent to her authoritarian husband, the king of Persia. Esther’s story shows the courage that is required to speak necessary, hard-to-hear truths (cf. Esther 4:14).
For Such a Time as This Rally represents hundreds of individuals around the country who stand against abuse in the SBC. Rally organizers include Ashley Easter, advocate and founder of The Courage Conference; Cheryl Summers, advocate and domestic abuse survivor and Jules Woodson, advocate and #Churchtoo survivor. For Such A Time As This Rally can be found on Twitter as @SBCForSuchATime, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/forsuchatimeasthisrally and the web at www.forsuchatimeasthisrally.com. For press inquiries and additional rally updates, please contact Ashley Easter at firstname.lastname@example.org.