CANCELED: Rally against child sex abuse planned outside church


UPDATE (2/16/19): 

The rally that was planned for Sunday at the Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church has been canceled, according to the organizer. 

The organizer said the reach reached out to them about the rally Saturday moning and informed them that Paster Buckson had been terminated. 

7News received the following statement from the rally’s organizer: 

I want you to know that the church has reached out to me this morning regarding our rally. I was informed that Pastor Buckson was immediately terminated that day. Currently, the church has turned to outside resources for help during this healing process. And they are willing to work with us to help come up with security and prevention measures to prevent this from happening again. They are planning to put together a workshop in March right before Pastor Buckson’s next hearing. Upon them agreeing to work with us to come up with a solution, we have agreed to call off the rally at this time. 

ORIGINAL (2/15/19):

There will be a rally at an Upstate church where the pastor’s been charged with impregnating a minor. 

It’ll be held outside of Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church in Spartanburg this weekend.

Phillip Buckson is one of three church leaders charged with child sex crimes in the Upstate in less than a week. 

Pastor Lorenzo Washington of Aiken and Peter Cooper – a former youth intern pastor from Alabama – were charged too.

“When you’re in a position of authority and you’re a shepherd over your flock, you’re supposed to protect your flock,” said Shonda Norman. 

Norman said she’s a sexual assault survivor. 

“Being abused from age 7 to 13. I know how it is. I know the traumatic pain it can have on a person’s life,” she said. “Even if we don’t show the scars on the outside, we’re dying in the inside. I went through suicide attempts.”

She said a mental breakdown helped make her a survivor, and she sought professional help. 

“Once I took that stand to forgive and say that I forgive my abuser – I won’t forget but I forgive you – everything changed,” said Norman. 

The Upstate mom created Inspired Inc. to empower women. 

“Broken women, shattered women,” said Norman. 

She plans to hold a rally against child sexual abuse outside the church Buckson leads. 

“Allow even survivors to come out and speak,” said Norman. “It’s time to let people know what happened to you so we can encourage the babies and show them that you’re not alone.” 

The church released the following statement on their Facebook page last week: 

“We, the congregation of Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church are saddened by the recent news involving Pastor Phillip J. Buckson. This news has devastated the Cleveland Chapel community, and the Body of Christ. It is our duty as Christians not to condemn, but to pray for the person involved, and for Pastor Buckson. We ask for the prayers of the Spartanburg community and surrounding areas as CCBC goes through this current predicament.”

Norman said the rally is meant to support the victim in this case. 

“It’s not a reflection against the whole church itself because I know the whole church shouldn’t be held accountable for that – for one man’s mistake,” she said. 

She says it’s time for churches to have a conversation about this issue. 

“And putting a plan of action in place to let your members know okay if this starts to happen this is our plan of action. This is what we have in place to protect our babies,” said Norman. 

The rally is Sunday at 9:30 a.m. outside Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church 494 Oaktree Road in Spartanburg.

7News reached out to the church for comment regarding the rally and will update this story when we hear back. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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