Turman, a former assistant minister at Abyssinian, claims that she was not selected for the role due to discriminatory practices, as all five finalists chosen were male.
The lawsuit contends that Valerie S. Grant, the former chair of the search committee, informed Turman that she was not among the finalists without the entire committee’s authorization, violating the proper process.
In response, Abyssinian Baptist Church issued a statement denying the allegations of discrimination. The church emphasized its commitment to faith, fairness, integrity, and inclusivity, stating that the search for a new pastor adhered to these principles.
The statement acknowledged that some committee members objected to excluding Turman from the finalist pool, citing gender discrimination, but affirmed that the decision was based on qualifications.
The lawsuit alleges that gender discrimination discussions were openly held during committee meetings, with Grant and another member expressing a reluctance to hire a woman as the Senior Pastor.
Turman also claimed that before the passing of Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, the longtime senior pastor, he praised her as the best and smartest minister but conveyed that Abyssinian would never hire a woman for the senior pastor role.
Additionally, an injunction is sought to prevent future gender discrimination in hiring at Abyssinian Baptist Church.