Where Do We Go From Here? What does Larry Nassar and #MeToo have to do with it?

The 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Meeting is over and the Messengers are all returning to their perspective homes and churches with a new vision and fresh insight. Old Leadership is out. New resolutions have been voted on and signed, and it is time for a fresh beginning. A new leader is in place. This new leader, J.D. Greear is younger, a visionary, and prayerfully is going to be a much-needed breath of fresh air to lead future generations, this is my hope and prayer.

He was quoted in an article posted in Dallas News “We have to be clear to Southern Baptists that these things aren’t just immoral, they are illegal,” Greear said Tuesday, referring to cases of sexual assault and other forms of abuse. He also said it is important for women to hold leadership roles within the church. “For us to not bring [women] to the table to exercise influence and wisdom and to lead out is to deprive us of one of the greatest gifts God has given us,” Greer said.

In recent weeks, many have opened their eyes and hearts to the overriding message that the past has not been a good model to follow in regards to the treatment of women as a whole, and like everything in life, there is need for improvement. The #MeToo movement entered the church arena and it was a rising tide that could not be pushed aside any longer. Though many jumped to the defense of Patterson, too many more of us knew the truth and would not let our voices be squashed this go round. 11 years since many clergy sex abuse survivors like Christa Brown pushed hard for a database of sexual offenders within the church, no one listened. Again in 2008, we asked the SBC to vote this database in and to stand against the hidden scourge of the church, they mocked us. A strong voice was ignored and for nearly 12 more years crimes flourished. We asked for help, we wanted you to do the right things to protect our sheep and the shepherds failed us and instead fed us to the wolves and mocked us.

In 2008, TIME magazine ranked Southern Baptists’ rejection of a sex-offender database as one of the top 10 underreported stories of the year.

This article from Christianity Today was a refreshing read 27 years after my own experience with a church predator and subsequent over up by Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines. My personal desire for these changes came years later when I realized the same predator was still preying and that Patterson and Vines still flourished in leadership after knowingly covering crimes.

I am thankful today, for the many that stood in order highlight these needs and push for change. Thank you! I would like to take a brief moment to highlight a few names that have really stood out in support, even in putting themselves “on the line”, especially in recent weeks:

Megan Lively (hero survivor), Christa BrownWade Burleson, Beth MooreKaren Swallow Prior, Suzii PaynterShauw Chin Capps, Mary DeMuth, David Pooler, James Merritt, Kimberlee Norris, Sarah Pullam Bailey, Jake Meador, Ed Stetzer, Russell Moore, Jamie Ivey, Lauren ChandlerJennifer LyellAmanda JonesThom RainerBruce AshfordDanny Akin  to name a few…

Some of these included their signatures with more than 3000 who signed the Open Letter to the Board of Trustees regarding Paige Patterson.

What does Larry Nassar and #MeToo have to do with it?

I also would like to highlight the amazing strength and fortitude that one brave survivor of abuse brought to all of us, as well as laying out a recent platform for these discussions and the power of our voices to be heard.

Rachel Denhollander stood and bravely confronted her abuser, the entire network, and system that allowed Larry Nassar to have access to continue to be the predator that he was. It showed the world the depravity of the human mind and allowed people a moment to connect with sexual abuse survivors that will last for a lifetime. It opened the door further from the #MeToo movement and showed the power of raising your voice and finding the strength to stand against every power that is attempting to silence you.

I will never forget the moment I listened to her impact statement and I remember thinking “if only I could do the same with my Paige Patterson, Vines and Gilyard story”, I remember everything in me rising up for the silence I have carried and I thought that my story needed to be told. From 1991 to present day, I have had a negative impact of the man and bully, Paige Patterson as a stain on my life. I am healed from the burden of the sexual assault of a Pastor, Darrell Gilyard, but the crime covering and the bullying that followed by leadership is not easily dealt with. Although I fully believe that Father makes something good out of everything and that He knows every sin and crime and a time of justice will come, secrets are still very burdensome to carry. So, I thank @R_Denhollander for her leadership and the timing which also (I fully believe) laid the groundwork for the current shake up of the SBC and the ousting of Paige Patterson.

We have so much work yet to do…and many are not yet fully understanding how large this problem is and how many are still silent in their suffering and how many predators are prospering.

I am praying fervently that the tides continue to change and that the experiences of the last weeks do not lose their power to crush these invisible walls of silence and shame. I pray that the church becomes a place that envelopes the hurting, the survivors and at ALL costs tells the abuser that they are not allowed to pillage the flock!

Survivors – YOU MATTER!! Cling to Father and find your voice.

Much love, Tiffany