Our Exit Letter
Ten months ago at the beginning of April the extent of the abuse crisis in the church was just coming to light. It seemed a sensible expectation to us then, that on the singular issue of Child Sexual Abuse there would surely be universal agreement to condemn such actions, support all victims, and insist perpetrators be removed to reap the due reward of their deeds. It was such an obviously simple choice. Like day or night. Good or evil. Right or wrong.
We were wrong.
As the number of reported perpetrators has surged past 700, the list of victims reaches well into the thousands and stretches back more than 80 years. It is now evident that the historical leadership of this ministry had long known about abusers within the church. They have been participants themselves, or enabled such abusers by moving them, covering for them, minimizing their actions and shaming and belittling their victims. We can afford no respect to them.
The subsequent and current leadership generations of brother workers have been groomed to employ those same tactics in the same manner, incurring the exact same results. By their actions and inactions, they continue to demonstrate their preference to accommodate the presence of pedophiles, molesters and rapists over the safety of the most vulnerable and anyone else. Therefore we must not trust them.
Because of the hierarchical pyramid of power, sister workers and younger brother workers having no say or sway regarding the iniquitous behavior of their superiors, are limited in their response options. Either speak up for victims at risk of being removed from their very calling to preach the gospel, choose to remain in silence and submission, or worst of all, align themselves with the leadership’s way of thinking. We dare not chance to trust them.
Overwhelming evidence, information and victim accounts can be obtained from a forthright discussion with any of the vast number of people who have gained that awareness, knowledge and experience. Or readily researched and verified with minimal effort. For any workers, elders or church members whose motives discourage such endeavors, logic dictates we must be suspicious of them.
Some heed their misguided advice. Some prefer the simplistic mindset of thinking good thoughts and not dwelling on anything negative. Some say they don’t know of anyone affected. Some insist this is all fabricated in an effort to destroy “The Truth”. Some say the workers are taking care of it. Some say they are just going to put this behind them. Some assert that the victims are lying. Some say this happened a long time ago, the past is the past, and we should just forgive. All these and any with similar rationales have effectively identified themselves as willfully ignorant. So what value then is there in any of their opinions or criticisms? Because they have chosen to bury their heads or cover their eyes, we are compelled to disregard them.
This clearly illustrates to us the groups that didn’t do anything, won’t do anything, can’t do anything, don’t care about anything, and don’t want to know anything. If we can’t trust the morality of the church to do right on this most basic humanitarian issue, how can there be any trust?
Who then of the church is there left? Tragically and most assuredly there are more victims, who are, as of yet unknown. For sure any number of virtuous, God loving souls who will truly be appalled should they ever be completely and honestly informed of the full scope of the crisis. Plus many battle worn members who have waxed valiant in fighting for what is right, good and Godly. However those numbers dwindle by the day.
Today is that day for us.
We have opened our home for Wednesday night and Union Sunday meetings for 16 years. We lived on the convention place that Anita was born and raised on for five more. For sixty years this church has been our life. We wouldn’t know each other without it. We love Jesus and all he has done for us. We have not lost our faith. We are not falling away. Our light has not gone out. We are not bitter. We have not lost out. We are not stepping back or aside. We are going forward. We are not victims. We simply choose to stand up for them. We will continue to do so. We cannot idly pretend nothing happened and thereby be complicit in the whitewashing of abuse.
Doug has known Sheri VanDermyden Autrey and her story since 1986 and we applaud her continuing efforts of exposing abuse. We greatly appreciate the work Cynthia Liles has undertaken and are honored to have her friendship. We unapologetically support all that every advocate is doing on behalf of victims and survivors. They will continue to receive any assistance we can provide: socially, emotionally, and monetarily. We encourage everyone to do the same.
The shattered lives of the innocent deserve nothing less.
Doug & Anita (Winberg) McCormick
February 6, 2024