After coming under harsh criticism for his handling of a sexual abuse crisis at Moody Bible Instititute (MBI), institute president, Mark Jobe, this week presented a seminar on successful crisis leadership.
In the hour-long alumni seminar on Thursday, Jobe explained how he had handled COVID-19 and widespread riots in Chicago.
But he only briefly mentioned the alleged sexual abuse coverups that have shaken his school and issues with the resulting investigation. The crisis received only a couple minutes in the Q&A part of his talk.
A leader should “empathize with the reality of a crisis,” “make yourself visible and present,” and “inspire hope and build confidence,” Jobe said.
However, MBI abuse survivor Megan Johnston said the leadership seminar felt out of tune after recent abuse scandals. Johnston’s maiden name at Moody was Megan Wohlers.
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“It just feels a bit like he’s trying to create a certain look for the school,” she said. “Like they really care about people, when they’ve proven over and over again that they’re not good at handling these sorts of crisis situations.”
Both The Roys Report and Johnston sent questions to Jobe about sexual assault at Moody, but he didn’t answer them during the seminar.
He did announce that Moody would soon reveal an action plan to confront sexual abuse on campus.
On April 15, Moody announced that the third-party investigation by Grand River Solutions into the institute’s handling of sex abuse cases had concluded. According to Moody’s online announcements, approximately 37 people spoke with the investigators.
Johnston said she still doesn’t know how many of these people were sexual assault victims.
In its most recent statement on the abuse crisis, Moody announced that it would not release the full report on its handling of sexual abuse to the public. Instead, the school will publicize only the report’s recommendations and the school’s action plan to resolve them.
MBI Survivors, a group of Moody sex abuse victims, noted that Jobe and MBI’s board of trustees will release the report after the school’s yearly budget gets approved. Budget approval this year takes place on May 13—14.
If Moody makes policy changes immediately after reviewing the report, they will have to be cheap, MBI Survivors said, noting that the year’s money will already be allocated.
“Release the report for internal recommendations from key departments now,” MBI Survivors said. “Let key departments tell you how much it will cost to make the changes needed to keep students safe from sexual violence.”
We are calling on @markjobechicago and @mbichicago board of trustees, to share the Title IX Investigation Report and Draft Action Plan with the key departments NOW. #BeBetterMoody #ChurchToo pic.twitter.com/KwMVckWKoE
— mbisurvivors (@mbisurvivors) April 25, 2021
According to MBI Survivors, MBI’s investigation has lacked transparency or contact with survivors.
“Moody has refused to be in any communication with any victims of sexual abuse after our November 2 Zoom meeting, which has made us feel very poorly treated,” representatives of the group told The Roys Report by email several months ago. “It is already difficult for victims of sexual abuse to come forward, let alone not listened to or respected.”
When MBI provost Dwight Perry first met with sexual assault survivors, he looked like he was falling asleep, Johnston said. Jobe seemed compassionate, but after the first meeting, months went by without communication from the school, she added.
Months earlier, Perry had recommended his longtime friend Charles Lyons for ministry, although at the time several media outlets had reported that Lyons was a sexual abuser. Perry later apologized.
In his conference on leadership, Jobe praised Perry’s handling of the investigation, noting his “extraordinary leadership.”
“It’s better than nothing. They have made good steps,” Johnston said.
However, consistent mismanagement of sexual abuse issues has left many abuse survivors feeling worn down, she said. Some have rejected the faith Moody preaches because they are so tired of its representatives.
“A lot of people who are burned by the church, we kind of become allergic to hypocrisy,” Johnston said. “A lot of them, sadly, ended up saying, ‘This is a God problem and it’s a hypocritical religion.’ My view is, ‘people are terrible and God isn’t.’”
Jackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.