UPDATE: RALLY START TIME CHANGE
Contact: Ashley Easter FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 06/04/19
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 – June 4th, 2019 – One year ago, For Such a Time as This Rally gathered in Dallas outside the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting to call for decisive action on addressing abuse.
This year, the Houston Chronicle’s three-part series “Abuse of Faith” published in February 2019, underscored the empty promises made by SBC leadership for decades. Despite the urgency of the moment, little has changed with SBC leadership.
For Such a Time as This Rally will again attend the SBC’s 2019 annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama on June 11th, 2019. Rally attendees will gather on the grounds of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center starting at 6:15 p.m. with the speaker program beginning at 6:30 p.m. These times are updated since last week’s press release.
On Thursday, May 30th, Baptist Press reported that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will put forth a proposal to establish a new standing committee. The purpose of the new committee will be to evaluate concerns over church misconduct - including the mishandling of abuse. If successful, this proposal would provide a mechanism allowing the SBC to officially separate itself from a church guilty of mishandling abuse.
The For Such A Time As This Rally has been advised by sources within the SBC that a critical vote regarding this proposal may occur at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, June 11 during the Executive Committee’s report. As a result, we are moving the rally start time to 6:15 PM with the speaker program beginning at 6:30. Rally attendees wishing to hold signs and pray for the SBC Executive Committee and messengers during this time are invited to gather as early as 5:30. Rally attendees who need to attend this potentially important meeting may join as soon as it concludes at approximately 6:15 when the rally will officially begin.
Rally founder, Cheryl Summers said, "Our intention from the beginning was to schedule the rally during a time when messengers and other SBC officials would be able to join us if they wished. When we learned about this important moment that may occur during the Executive Committee's report on Tuesday at 5:30 and may represent a key step forward in addressing abuse with Southern Baptist churches, we knew we needed to change the rally start time."
Rally organizers requested a way to hand out resources and comfort survivors during this year’s annual meeting with a resource room, but the SBC leadership, despite all their promises to care well for the abused, have refused to help. Months of requests and meetings with staff members from SBC President J.D. Greear’s office as well as representatives from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission did not yield results.
Rally founder Cheryl Summers recently traveled to 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.
The For Such A Time As This Rally has identified three ways the SBC can immediately help the epidemic of abuse within its churches. For Such a Time as This Rally has the following goals in mind:
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 pled 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, a pioneering advocate in the SBC for decades, first proposed a denominational database in 2006. Her requests were denied then as well. “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,” Christa said. “As an SBC abuse survivor and as a mother, I stand in solidarity with the For Such a Time as This Rally!”
Rev. Ashley Easter, rally spokesperson added: “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.”
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 (Matthew 19:6, 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
Rally speakers will be available for interviews at the rally site at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11.
Event schedule and additional details can be found at www.forsuchatimeasthisrally.com or the rally’s Facebook Page (@ForSuchATimeAsThisRally).
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 email@example.com.