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NY Post
New York Post
6 Jan 2024


NextImg:Veteran pastor lost bid to succeed influential leader at NYC Baptist church over gender: suit

A veteran pastor at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church was rejected in her bid to succeed longtime leader Rev. Calvin O. Butts III because the famed house of worship would “never hire a woman” for the job, she claims in a lawsuit.

Eboni Marshall Turman insisted she was the “strongest applicant” to replace Butts, who died of cancer in 2022 at age 73.

Turman, 42, was the youngest woman named as assistant minister at Abyssinian, and claimed Butts once lauded her as “the best minister I have ever had” and the “smartest.”

But even he felt she wouldn’t land the senior pastor spot because of her gender, she said in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed against the church and Valerie Grant, a member of the search committee assembled to find Butt’s replacement.

Turman was one of 51 vying for the post and made it through four rounds of interviews before the committee told her in September she was not among the final five candidates, all men.

Turman claims Grant grilled her “on topics that her male co-applicants were not asked,” and that Grant and another committee member said Abyssinian would have a female pastor “over [their] dead body,” according to the legal filing.

When Eboni Marshall Turman claimed that she lost out on the Abyssinian Baptist Church job because of her gender, members of the selection committee agreed with her.

Calvin Butts, State University of New York at Old Westbury president and pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

Turman, 42, claimed Calvin Butts once lauded her as “the best minister I have ever had” and the “smartest.” Newsday RM via Getty Images

She wants a judge to award her the job, along with unspecified damages.

Turman “ultimately fell short of some key requirements for the role,” an Abyssinian spokeswoman said, adding, “The church denies any allegations of discrimination and plans to continue to defend itself vigorously.”