SBC Credentials Committee is a total sham. They are NOT a safe resource for ANY survivor - Jules Woodson
I am so livid at the SBC Credentials Committee right now I could scream!!! A Thread: Yesterday, a fellow advocate and friend, @writer_dee, spoke with Mike Lawson and Stacey Bramlett via a Zoom meeting on my behalf.— Jules Woodson (@juleswoodson11) January 22, 2021
Time after time, the Southern Baptist Convention shows itself to be completely inept, corrupt and dangerous. Caring Well was a sham. As Jules Woodson's tweet thread explains, the SBC Credentials Committee is a sham.
Jules sent an email to lead pastor Steve Bradley at Stonebridge Church in Texas on May 15, 2019. Steve Bradley was the pastor to whom Jules reported being sexually abused by her then youth pastor Andy Savage when she was in high school. Steve did not report this abuse to law enforcement. Andy was allowed to move on to Tennessee where he founded Highpoint Church with Chris Conlee.
Andy Savage resigned from Highpoint and has recently started a new church in Collierville, Tennesee, Grace Valley Church.
Chris Conlee resigned from Highpoint Church and has also recently started a new church in Collierville, Tennessee, One City Church. (It's getting crowded in Collierville, isn't it?)
Jules' letter to Steve Bradley:
15th May 2019
Senior Pastor, StoneBridge Church
One StoneBridge Drive
The Woodlands, TX 77382
Although it has been over 20 years since we last communicated, I have really held out hope that at some point you would have made it a priority to reach out to me. That has not happened, and so I am writing you in an effort to try and bring closure. Despite the fact you’ve had many opportunities to do so, especially since January when I went public with my story, you have made no attempts to personally apologize and right the many wrongs that have caused me so much pain. Your continued silence and lack of integrity in addressing this situation is beyond heartbreaking, not only to me but to my family as well.
Over the past 11 months you have made only two public statements...One was to Channel 2 News in Houston and the other was posted to your website but has since been removed. Both of these statements were retraumatizing as they minimized what happened, were misleading about facts, denied a cover-up, and denied an effort to silence me. You continue to decline to take full responsibility, as well as be held accountable, for the many failures made by you and the church. From these statements it is clear that you either don’t understand the devastating effects clergy sexual abuse has on victims, as well as how the mishandling of such abuse compounds the existing trauma, or you just don’t care...Both of which are extremely dangerous and ignorant positions to take as senior pastor of a church.
Your lack of compassion towards me as I have tried to seek closure and healing for the physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse I suffered as a member of your congregation has been reprehensible. This was my church and you, Larry, and Andy were my pastors and spiritual leaders...I trusted you all. You have no idea the despair, isolation, and self devastation I’ve experienced because I was thrown under the bus, not just for Andy’s sake, but for your sake, and the reputation of the church. Though I, and others, have continued to plea for justice and accountability regarding the ways my abuse was so wrongly handled, it has been to no avail. Therefore, I am reaching out personally with the hope of gaining some understanding and healing for the many ways in which you have failed me. Below is a list of questions I have struggled with for so long and I would very much appreciate you taking the time to respond.
Why did you not immediately call the police when you learned of my abuse?
Were you/are you aware that in the state of Texas, clergy are mandated reporters of child sexual abuse?
Why did you not immediately pull Andy from his position on staff when I first reported my abuse?
Why did you allow Andy to resign instead of firing him?
Why were you not transparent and honest with the congregation that Andy had sexually abused a minor in the youth group?
Why did you, nor anyone on staff, ever reach out to me after I reported the abuse to offer support, help, or to ask me what I wanted and needed?
Why did you allow and/or think it was appropriate to throw Andy a going away party at the church?
Why did you not inform anyone at Germantown Baptist Church about my abuse when Andy was hired on staff there?
Why did you think it was appropriate, and even go so far as to call a meeting with my Mom and Stepdad asking for their blessing, to bring Andy back on staff at the church?
Why, when my Mother and Stepdad adamantly said NO at that meeting, did you not realize that the initial situation remained unresolved?
Why have you and the church not offered to conduct and submit to a third party investigation as Austin Stone did with Larry and Highpoint did with Andy?
Why do you feel you are above reproach and qualified to pastor a congregation when you have repeatedly failed to handle my abuse in a lawful and ethical manner?
Though you have refused to respond to other people’s attempts to dialogue with you regarding the ways you have mishandled my abuse, my prayer is that by reaching out to you personally, you will finally choose to handle things differently. I have been deeply wounded by your words and actions from 20 years ago and continuing to this day. I sincerely request that you respond to my inquiries not only with honesty but with empathy as well.
Jules made a report to the SBC credentials committee about Stonebridge Church and Steve Bradley. She received an email confirmation on January 28, 2020 from then committee chair Stacy Bramlett.
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 8:34 AM
To: Jules Woodson
Subject: Submission Received
Southern Baptist Convention
STACY BRAMLETT, CHAIR
Dear Ms. Woodsen,
Thank you for having the courage to report your concern that StoneBridge Church in The Woodlands, Texas, has mishandled the care for an abuse survivor. We grieve whenever we hear an allegation such as this regarding a Southern Baptist church. We understand how difficult making this report may be for you. Each member of our committee has committed personally to pray for you.
First and foremost, if you know of or have reason to suspect unreported or ongoing criminal behavior of any type, including sexual abuse or other crimes, we urge you to contact law enforcement immediately. Neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor our committee has investigative authority or power; this is properly the role of law enforcement. If calling law enforcement feels intimidating to you, we encourage you to ask a trusted friend to assist you in making this call. If you would like to receive a phone call from an individual trained to assist victims of sexual or other forms of abuse, please respond to this email.
For clarity, the role of the Credentials Committee is to determine if a church is in friendly cooperation with the Convention as described in the Southern Baptist Convention Constitution, “Article III. Composition.” We recognize that is a small part to play in your healing journey and pursuit of justice.
We want this letter to assure you that we have received your concern. We know waiting and uncertainty can be difficult on matters this weighty. We will consider your communication as soon as possible and will get back with you about the status of your report. If you need more information regarding the role of the Credentials Committee please visit our webpage atwww.sbc.net/credentials. In the meantime, be assured of our prayers.
The SBC Credentials Committee
Jules received a letter about the status of her submission from the SBC Credentials Committee chair Mike Lawson on November 16, 2020. He stated that Stonebridge Church was in good standing with the SBC, and they determined that Stonebridge would be removed from inquiry.
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2020, 7:19 AM
Subject: Status of Submission
Southern Baptist Convention
MIKE LAWSON, CHAIR
November 16, 2020
Dear Ms. Woodson,
The Credentials Committee desires to reach out to you personally and inform you of our decision regarding Stonebridge Church. As we have not been able to connect via phone or Zoom, please receive this letter in the spirit from which it was drafted: to sincerely thank you and inform you. Thank you for your patience as we have worked and prayed our way through this process.
First, we wish to thank you. Thank you for being willing to share your story and for drawing attention to the need for churches to make an intentional effort to prevent abuse and to care well for victims of sexual abuse. Thank you for the effort it took to provide us with all the information regarding your abuse. It helped provide an understanding of what you experienced and continue to face as a result. We want you to know that we read and grieved over the information available to us including: your blog, articles, and your interview with the New York Times that we watched in its entirety. We prayed for you and all the victims, and, more recently, for you and your mother as you care for her in these difficult days. Thank you, for your boldness and courage in coming forward with your story. We believe that you and others like you are making a difference in how churches respond to reports of sexual abuse and helping them create intentional policies and practices that will help prevent such things in the future.
Your story has been a particular force in transformative change at Stonebridge Church. In recent years, they have taken significant and extensive steps to improve policies, practices, and procedures to better serve their people. These steps are set up to offer increased protections and improved responses to reports.
Our committee has considered the information available to us regarding StoneBridge Church’s relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. Our committee’s assignment as outlined in SBC Bylaw 8, is to consider the current relationship between a church and the Convention. Neither our committee nor the Southern Baptist Convention has any authority over another Baptist body as stated in Article IV of the SBC Constitution. This committee’s role is to determine if a church is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and make a recommendation to the Executive Committee when we determine a church is not currently in friendly cooperation with the Convention as described in Article III  of the SBC Constitution. At this time, we do not have any information that causes us to conclude that the church does not have a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith, and we have determined that SonteBridge Church be removed from inquiry.
While the nine of us on this committee have a very limited and specific task, we care about you and other survivors. We requested and have been granted access to trauma informed counselors. If you think they might be of any help to you as you continue your healing journey, we will gladly connect you to them. We know that receiving this information may be difficult, and we are sorry for any pain it may cause.
The SBC Credentials Committee
Yesterday, Dee Ann Miller, an abuse survivor advocate, had a lengthy Zoom conversation with the past and present chairpersons of the SBC Credentials Committee, Stacy Bramlett and Mike Lawson. She was very discouraged about it and tweeted her response.
After a lengthy and very enlightening conversation today with both the past and present chairpersons of the #SBC Credentials Committee via Zoom, I am saddened, shocked, and challenged by what I learned that will be especially interesting to #churchtoo participants ....— Dee Ann Miller (@writer_dee) January 22, 2021
The most urgent matter for the #SBC Credential Committee, I told the chairpersons on Zoom today, was to find out how communication had broken down with her after she filed her concern in May, 2019, not getting another personal word from anyone on the CC for 18 months! ....— Dee Ann Miller (@writer_dee) January 22, 2021
This thread traces how the #SBC Credentials Committee’s process and its very existence is structured as window dressing with nothing of substance in the store. Disappointing and yet another trauma checkpoint for survivors to ensure.#churchtoo #AbuseofFaith #AbuseofPower https://t.co/30gShMw02W— Holly Hope (@Holly4Hope) January 22, 2021
The Credentials Committee lied in their decision letter when they stated they had tried to reach Jules by phone and email, but she did not respond. Jules has no record of ever being contacted.
I believe that the SBC from the top down is corrupt and inept in matters of sexual abuse, which makes their churches dangerous. My friend and fellow blogger Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch writes:
Bottom Line: Children are not safe in the SBC and the Credentialing Committee proved it. The SBC thinks it is just fine for a pastor not to report sex abuse as well as to ignore letters from a victim asking to speak to her former head pastor. This sums up, for me, the Baptist faith and practices. Because of this, I do not recommend that anyone bring their children to an SBC church. They love guys who avoid police reports at all costs. They love the pastor who refuses to speak to a victim. They care for the rich and powerful. The little student who gets molested is just the cost of doing business.