Female Members Accuse Leaders of Seattle’s Mount Zion Baptist Church of Abuse of Power

In an emotional news conference tapping into the anger and power of the #MeToo movement, four women said they have been bullied and disrespected by leaders of Seattle’s Mount Zion Baptist Church.

The accusations of the women — who have all held important positions in Mount Zion and include two ministers and a daughter of the late, famed Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney — bring another blow to a storied Central Area church that in recent years has been wracked by division.

“This doesn’t come easy for anybody,” said former King County NAACP President Carl Mack, who flew to Seattle from his current home in Maryland to preside over the Tuesday news conference at the Central Area Senior Center.

He called Mount Zion, more than 125 years old, “the mother of black churches” in Seattle.

Speaking one by one, the women recounted tales of being shouted down, treated with disdain or told to stay away from church meetings after raising questions about issues such as church finances.

The Rev. Dr. LaVerne Hall, who was ordained by McKinney and at one time served as his secretary, said she rose to speak at an Aug. 10 church meeting.

“Sit down,” she said she was told by the Rev. James Stallings, an interim pastor brought in from New York after the previous pastor’s resignation last year.

“Don’t tell me to sit down; I am not your child,” Hall said she replied.

Stallings then rushed at her, according to Hall, 80. She said she was so frightened that she wet her pants.

Stallings did not return messages seeking comment. Harry Bailey, a former interim Seattle police chief who heads Mount Zion’s board of trustees, declined to comment in a brief conversation at the church.

“I just don’t know enough about this news conference,” Bailey said, referring all questions to Stallings, though he was also singled out for criticism by Hall and the other women.

Several of the women and supporters at the news conference called for Stallings and Bailey to step down.

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Source: Seattle Times