Survivor Group Demands “Accountability” From Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee – Baptist News Global
A group of nearly two dozen people made up of both survivors and advocates gathered in front of the Southern Baptist Convention headquarters on February 21 to protest the alleged mishandling of the sexual abuse and mistreatment of survivors by the SBC executive committee.
The protest was led by Hannah-Kate Williams, a survivor and advocate, on the first day of scheduled executive committee trustee meetings.
In August, Williams filed a lawsuit against the Executive Committee, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lifeway, and several people with ties to those entities. In it, she alleges that there was a “conspiracy” by employees of the entities in question to cover up her allegations of abuse.
The protest also follows reports from Baptist News Global earlier this month of new allegations of mishandling by the Executive Committee of Abuse Claims, and that North American Mission Board Senior Vice President Johnny Hunt and Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary David Allen is expected to share a lecture scene with confession-disgraced statesman Paige Patterson, who was fired from Southwestern Seminary for mishandling abuse cases.
Williams, who attended the protest with his attorney, Brian Kentcalled on the Executive Committee to take meaningful action on the abuse crisis within the SBC, which gained national attention after its reported speak Houston Chronicle in 2019.
A demonstrator held a placard that read: âIntegrity invites accountabilityâ.
By hiding in executive sessions behind closed doors, Williams argued that the Executive Committee effectively shielded itself from liability. Such accountability is not possible “when everything is behind the scenes”, she said.
Another way to be immune from liability, Williams argued, is the oft-repeated call for local church autonomy.
âPrayer without action,â she explained, âis mockery.â
Kent echoed that sentiment and praised the courage of survivors who came forward, “I’ve seen the impact voices can have in changing momentous institutions.”
Kent insisted that institutional leaders facing responsibility involves listening to the voices of traumatized people in these institutions before issuing this call to survivors: “Your voice is powerful…your voice matters”.
Williams emphasized that she was not seeking institutional change out of hatred or malice toward SBC members. “I show up with love,” she said, “because this is my family.”
Williams ended the protest on a triumphant note, saying she and others are âin it for the long haulâ and that, if needed, she is ready to show up at every executive committee meeting.
The SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force is set to present an update to the Executive Committee on Tuesday morning, February 22. During the committee’s opening session on the evening of February 21, key speakers acknowledged the presence of survivors of abuse in the room and welcomed them.
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