Prominent Black Church in Harlem Accused of Gender Bias in Lawsuit by Woman Seeking Senior Pastor Position

NEW YORK – A lawsuit has been filed against the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, accusing the church and its search committee of gender discrimination. The lawsuit claims that a Yale Divinity School Professor, Eboni Marshall Turman, was denied the position of senior pastor due to sexism.

The Abyssinian Baptist Church, which has been in existence for over 200 years and gained fame as a megachurch, released a statement in response to the lawsuit. They stated that while Marshall Turman and others were considered for the role, she did not meet certain requirements that other candidates possessed.

Marshall Turman, who became the youngest pastor ordained in Abyssinian’s history in 2007, applied for the senior pastor position after the death of longtime senior pastor Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts in 2022. The lawsuit specifically accuses Valerie S. Grant, the chair of the search committee, of behaving inappropriately by asking Marshall Turman questions that were not posed to male candidates.

Grant defended her actions, stating that all candidates were asked a series of common questions and additional questions tailored to each person. She mentioned that Marshall Turman was asked certain questions that other candidates did not receive because she was the only female candidate.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages from the defendants, as well as an injunction against any gender discrimination in the hiring process.

In summary, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem is facing a lawsuit for gender bias, with the plaintiff alleging that she was denied the senior pastor position due to sexism. The church has released a statement defending its decision, highlighting the qualifications of the chosen candidate. The lawsuit specifically accuses the search committee chair of behaving inappropriately towards the plaintiff. The plaintiff is seeking monetary damages and an injunction against gender discrimination in future hiring processes.