It’s been a long year, but one constant theme has been that the #MeToo movement, which kicked off with the ouster of Harvey Weinstein in 2017, still has a lot of work to do, and a big part of that work involves the evangelical church. In light of some damning revelations about former Memphis pastor Andy Savage, founding Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary figurehead Paige Patterson and many others, the Billy Graham Center is hosting a one-day evangelical gathering at Wheaton College just outside of Chicago.
Reflections: A GC2 Summit on Responding to Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Violence is bringing together notable evangelical leaders like Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Nancy Beach, Max Lucado and Eugene Cho for seminars on the importance of listening to victims, empowering survivors, dealing with trauma and handling abuse allegations raised in the era of #metoo and its evangelical nesting doll #churchtoo.
Reflections isn’t without its critics. The #ChurchToo hashtag was started by Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch, and they are criticizing the Summit, saying it doesn’t go far enough in dismantling the harmful culture and theology that led to the crisis in the first place. They are joined by a few others who are hosting their own online seminars today. Religion News Service also spoke with Jules Woodson, the woman who was sexually abused by Savage when she was a teenager, who said “this (summit) just seems to me really lacking depth.” Neither Paasch nor Emily Joy were invited to the summit.
The day started with some biblical exposition from Lindsey Olesberg, who spoke on the story of the concubine in Judges 19 who was raped, killed and dismembered. “The story of what the unnamed woman in Judges suffered will be told as long as the Bible is read. The fact it is included in Scripture means the church cannot sweep abuse under the rug to protect churches or reputations.”