I spoke with Dee Ann Miller and she asked that I help to make folks aware of this upcoming retreat which is geared towards survivors. Dee Ann Miller is a survivor of SBC abuse. She felt that there were very few resources geared directly to the abuse in the SBC. The following is the information page she sent me, along with contact information.
SBC Survivors Retreat “Rising to Walk”
to the RETREAT PAGE for Survivors
of Sexual &Spiritual Violence perpetrated by
(SBC) Baptist “Men of God”
After all, who could possibly be laughing when faced with such a serious topic as sexual violence? Yes, you heard me right. I did say “violence,” not “abuse” because I’ve always insisted that the violation of a soul by sexual means needs to be called “violence”. To me, abuse is a minimizing word that I don’t ever like to use in these cases.
I do prefer to laugh at a lot of nonsense, though. Same as I do when there’s an occasional victory over nonsense, which is exactly why I was laughing last fall when Shirley Fessel, a domestic violence-in-a-Baptist- parsonage victim, captured the above image during a Zoom call shortly after I received news that the Executive Committee of the SBC had been forced, by 1000+ courageous SBC pastors, to waive attorney-client privilege.
Laughing is one thing I plan to do a lot during this fall retreat, along with singing and even a little African dancing. A dance referred to in past retreats I’ve led as “The Stomp Dance,” with lyrics as funny and as appropriate as anything we’ll be learning together!
As the oldest survivors’ advocate, extending my advocacy work through writing in 1993, only a few years after losing my missionary career alongside my husband, after discovering in 1986 that the same man who I’d reported as having sexually assaulted me two years earlier had more victims than we could ever hope to know, ranging from ages 15 to 48–including adolescents and at least two male victims, neither of whom were ever reported. Whew! That was a long sentence, but not nearly as long as the horrific story.
As with most stories, the collusion was the worst soul betrayal of all. To this day, my husband Ron and I still suffer from that. The hardest to imagine was having every single missionary-colleague either choosing to remain silent or joining the conspiracy to outright protect the predator. Eventually, we were forced to resign in order to keep our voices and assure that the late Gene Kingsley would not ever have opportunity to assault another national on the mission field, at least. With our stand, we did succeed in that.
Sound familiar? Well, rest assured you are far from alone.
What about the Retreat Program?
If you want to make a few new friends and learn to soar above the trauma, with fellowship unlike anything you are likely to ever be able to enjoy again in ordinary church life, this retreat is for you.
Not only will you be challenged to think outside the box, where you may have felt trapped for years, you will join others as we are challenged to explore new avenues of building community and enlarging our worlds in spite of the church. You will also have free time to enjoy walks or sightseeing, especially as you take in some wonderful historical museums from Topeka to Lawrence. Or visit the site of National Brown vs. Board of Education site, where you will notice parallels to overcoming oppression and disenfranchisement unlike most Americans have ever experienced.
Rest assured, you will not be pressured to share your story. Nor will you be put on the spot at anytime during the program. You will have opportunities to share, however, either in the large group or in smaller ones, with structured activities that yield such opportunities.
Neither will you have to be worried by common triggers. Strange as it may sound, this retreat will have no Bible-reading, no prayers, no traditional hymns, nor rant-and-rave tantrums. Any praise-Jesus testimonies that can make so many of us cringe will be off limits! If that’s what you were hoping for, I assure you this retreat is not for you.
Before arriving all participants, will receive their own copy of Bette Rod’s CD, entitled Pieces. This will allow you to be acquainted with some of her unique songs that I’ll list with the CD, each one to be used during the retreat.
Cost and Registration Deadlines
Funds are being raised, with enough already acquired to pay for meals and lodging for 7 of the 20 who will be soon be registering to come. I’ll be updating those numbers as time goes along.
(Registration starts June 23 and must be completed by September 5).
However, you would do well to reserve a place early, without paying the $75 non-refundable registration fee if you prefer, because on August 15, provided there are still spaces left, the opportunity for survivors to attend from denominations outside the SBC will be announced on Twitter, with their names added to the list of any other non-SBC individuals who are already on a waiting list.
At the last retreat I led in Iowa, a fundamentalist survivor asked a question I had not anticipated. How can I be sure that a person from the LGBTQ population will not be at this retreat? If this is your concern, or if you happen to be a survivor who is also LGBTQ, I assure you that discrimination is something I do not tolerate. This retreat is open to those of all races and sexual orientations.
What about Other Costs?
It’s possible there will be no other costs to you except registration fees. I began reaching out along with other advocates on May 22, asking for donations through https://gofund.me/24fcf92d
Together, I believe we will have enough by the end of June to cover all SBC survivors’ lodging and meals. By August 15, I expect to have enough to assist with transportation for them, as well.
On Aug. 15, if we do not have enough SBC survivors pre-registered, I will begin a second Go-Fund-Me to raise money before the retreat toward all expenses for other participants. Of course, it will help immensely if you assist with this by sharing the donation site with everyone you can think of.
The funding designated for SBC survivors will be kept separately from funds for non-SBC participants.
In the event that we do not get sufficient funds to cover all expenses, SBC registrars will be informed by Sept. 1 to allow you to decide if you are able to come.
Should available funds exceed the expenses for either group of participants, we’ll be doing an extra stomp dance at the retreat! For those funds will be held over for the next retreat, most likely for male survivors, with another to follow for ladies in the spring.
Where Will We Stay?
Unoccupied, historic Air B&B homes have already been reserved for 15 participants. They are within 30 minutes of the venue (pictured below), where we will be spending most of our time and taking all meals except breakfast. Additional lodging is readily available in this peaceful countryside if needed. Attendees will have a private room in most cases. Two rooms in reserved houses have two beds to a bedroom. These will only be assigned to individuals who agree at registration to share a room for a $25 discount on either lodging or registration.
How Will We Get to Lawrence?
If you are flying into Kansas City, you will need to arrive at the airport no later than 3 p.m. on Oct. 7. If you are not an early riser and have more than one flight coming, you may consider the option of staying overnight in KC at your own expense on Thursday, Oct. 6, then joining the earliest party available at the airport for a ride to the retreat area.
Once we have your reservations, a volunteer coordinator will reserve cars based on the lowest cost for the # of people coming in within designated time periods of arrival–most likely we’ll have 2-3 large vans. You will have your lodging assignment well in advance of coming, and the vehicles will be available throughout the weekend to bring you to the venue for each day’s events.
For those driving to Lawrence, you will also have a portion, if not all, travel expense covered, depending on donations. I will provide you with the address for your lodging and the venue in advance, so you should have no difficulty finding us.
The cost of the rented vehicles will be covered before any other transportation reimbursement in the event we do not have sufficient funds to cover everything.
The gorgeous facility where we’ll be meeting is located in the Wakarusa Valley on the outskirts of Lawrence https://www.airbnb.com/trips/v1/ac59c04e-0a03-4baa-b2b4-78f867817329/ro/RESERVATION2_CHECKIN/HM2HQPSWMS
For those who love horses and the romanticized life of old cow-hands, you’ll enjoy staying at the Heartland Ranch https://www.airbnb.com/trips/v1/ac59c04e-0a03-4baa-b2b4-78f867817329/ro/RESERVATION2_CHECKIN/HM98P42YKH
As many as eight will be a half-hour’s drive from the venue, at an old historic home in the lovely, small, college town of Baldwin City https://www.airbnb.com/trips/v1/ac59c04e-0a03-4baa-b2b4-78f867817329/ro/RESERVATION2_CHECKIN/HMSNWZKM9Y
Dee Ann Miller