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The Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman Sues Abyssinian Baptist Church for Gender Discrimination

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Over its 215-year history, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City has earned a reputation as the flagship of the Black church in America.

Based in Harlem, it became a famous megachurch with the political rise of the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., perhaps the most influential of the many men who have led the congregation. Powell, pastor from 1937 to 1972, served in Congress for 26 years.

Among the countless believers making Abyssinian their spiritual home was Eboni Marshall Turman, who came to believe she could become the first woman to be the church’s senior pastor. She rose through the ranks and in 2007 became the youngest pastor ordained in Abyssinian’s history.

After longtime senior pastor Calvin O. Butts III died in 2022, Marshall Turman – by then a professor at Yale Divinity School – was among dozens of people who applied to fill the vacancy.

She was full of optimism that she would be chosen. Instead, she wasn’t even a finalist, and is so convinced that sexism was the key factor that she has now filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Abyssinian and its search committee of gender discrimination.

Along with the church, the lawsuit – filed Dec. 29, 2023 – specifically names the search committee chair, Valerie S. Grant, accusing her of behaving inappropriately by asking Marshall Turman questions and pressing issues not broached with her male counterparts.

“Gender discrimination motivated the decision not to hire (Marshall Turman), a fact discussed openly during meetings of the Committee, including by Grant and another Committee member, who said that Abyssinian would only hire a woman as its Senior Pastor ‘over my dead body,’” the complaint states.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages from the defendants for “lost wages, lost benefits, other economic damages, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and mental distress,” as well as an injunction forbidding any hiring-related gender discrimination.

Continue reading at The Miami TimesTHE MIAMI TIMES

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FM Editors
FM Editors
Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.

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