May 21, 2024

Authors of recent books about church abuse will speak on panel

Indianapolis church will host book event on “The Power of Truth-Telling”

Event will center survivors’ stories of abuse in faith-based environments and consider how the Church is reckoning with such abuse


In an event called “The Power of Truth-Telling,” Sarah Stankorb and Christa Brown will appear together to talk about their recent books. Stankorb is the author of Disobedient Women: How a Small Group of Faithful Women Exposed Abuse, Brought Down Powerful Pastors, and Ignited an Evangelical Reckoning. Brown is the author of Baptistland: A Memoir of Abuse, Betrayal, and Transformation.

The event is free. Please pre-register:

Baptistland and Disobedient Women will be available for purchase from sales partner, local bookstore The Whispering Shelf, with book signing to follow the author panel.


Crowne Plaza Downtown Union Station (Conrail Station Room), June 10th, 2024. The room will open to the public at 2:30 PM; author discussion will start at 3:00 PM.


In addition to Stankorb and Brown, the event will feature Rev. Evan Bever and Rev. Laura Harris-Adam, from First Baptist Church of Indianapolis, as moderators for the discussion.


Generations of girls and boys were raised believing that obedience and submission were the way to please God. This religious conditioning has often been exploited by predatory pastors, with unthinkable acts of abuse committed under the power of religious authority. Again and again, as survivors have sought help from churches, they have been ignored or had their abuse covered up.

One survivor, Christa Brown, who has been dubbed the “Mother” of church abuse advocacy, has been calling out for decades within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, which is gathering for its annual meeting in Indianapolis. Brown was met with revictimization and vitriol from SBC church and denominational leaders. Yet she persisted. And an army of survivors began speaking up.

As Brown explains in her newly released book, Baptistland: “It began with just wanting to tell the truth about my own small story. But truth-telling has a way of snowballing.”

Through her bestselling book Disobedient Women, Sarah Stankorb details the stories of church abuse survivors and the slow rise of a chorus standing against the abuses of power. “To question their leaders was to question God,” Stankorb writes, revealing the leap required for survivors to challenge church leaders. Brown is among the many women featured in Stankorb’s book.

You are invited to hear from these two women who have brought truth and a megaphone for others into the worldwide discussions of how faith can sometimes be used as a weapon.

Rev. Evan Bever explains why FBC-Indianapolis is supporting this event:At First Baptist Church, we know that every religious community is vulnerable to these patterns of abuse. Acknowledging these painful truths is often the first step toward holding abusers accountable, helping survivors heal, and – hopefully – preventing abuse in the first place.” Further, Rev. Laura Harris-Adam states: “We’re so pleased that we have this opportunity to support Christa and Sarah’s work, and to help share these stories with our neighbors.”


Rev. Evan Bever, [email protected], 317-846-5821.

About Christa Brown: Named as one of the “top 10 religion newsmakers” of 2022, Brown has persisted for two decades in working to peel back the truth about clergy sex abuse and coverups in the Southern Baptist Convention. As one of the first to go public with substantiated child molestation allegations against a Baptist minister and documentation that others knew, she has consistently demanded reforms to make other kids and congregants safer. She’s a retired appellate attorney and author of a prior book called This Little Light.

 About Sarah Stankorb: Author of the national bestseller Disobedient Women (Worthy Books/Hachette), the award-winning Ohio-based writer. Stankorb’s work has appeared in publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, O Magazine, Marie Claire, Vogue, Longreads, Glamour, VICE, Catapult, Slate, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Newsweek, CNNMoney, GOOD Magazine, Salon, and more. She writes about religion, politics, feminism, health, technology, and the public good.

 About First Baptist Church of Indianapolis: The members and friends of First Baptist Church of Indianapolis (American Baptist Churches USA) have been worshiping, learning, and serving together since the congregation was founded in 1822. Seeking to follow the teaching and example of Jesus, First Baptist Church (FBC) is guided by the values of inclusive diversity, justice and peace, health and wellness, and effective collaboration. Located on the northside of Indianapolis, FBC welcomes anyone who comes and longs for a safer, happier, healthier community for all.