From the Desk of Marie O’Hara
Bolivar, MO 65613
Dr. David Tolliver, Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director and the members of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board
% Missouri Baptist Convention
400 East High Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101 (Fax: 573-635-0904)
Dear Dr. David Tolliver and members of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board:
There is a moment within the darkness of night, in the blackness of night, when the light seems to be entirely extinguished – when the sable night tosses her head of shimmering stars ... and holds her breath.
It is the darkness before the dawn.
“Be still, and know that I am God,” the Psalmist has written.
And, perhaps because I was born at such a pause within the night, this is when I meditate and pray, holding my thoughts in the still of the night, waiting within the timeless abyss of darkness for the first glimmer of dawn ... for the transformation of the First Light.
That darkness, like the night holding her breath, is a time for transformation, for the renewal of Life.
When I was poisoned by pesticides on the campus of Southwest Baptist University on September 26, 1988, I experienced that abyss of darkness in a new way: with lungs burning and collapsing from the inhalation of the misting pesticides and solvents, I struggled, floundering, submerged and drowning in the inky, cold blackness, gasping for air ... for one, warm breath of light.
I still remember the dark, untransformed terror of those moments: they still wake me from restless nightmares.
It has taken years to learn to be still in that darkness, to know that in that last drawn breath, I must wait, wait in the abyss to find the God of darkness, to wait for the dawn.
For it is within that last uncertain breath that I must forgive those who torment me.
Whether it be a taunting worker, who has just disconnected my electricity and, therefore, my air filtration systems, or Baptist neighbors, who spray their yards with pesticides or burn their trash, fully knowledgeable of the consequences for my health, or a sneering landlord, who believes I have had enough chances and enough time, I must draw that last, collapsing breath and wait in the dark stillness, as the muscles that control my breathing cease to function, as dark unconsciousness enfolds me, as the stillness, like the darkest night before the dawn, engulfs me.
I wait, wait within the darkness for the transformation, for the fiery dawn of new life.
For regardless of my fate, I will be transformed – either by the invigorating, fresh light of breath, the aquamarine light breaking like a summer day, or by the Transforming Fire, the Resurrecting Dawn, as I waken into a New Life, a life hereafter.
I must wait in those dark moments, wait for the Light, for the Life ... and I will be transformed.
On April 13, 2010, I wrote to you and the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board regarding the ongoing moral, ethical, and legal issues at Southwest Baptist University and within the Missouri Baptist Convention.
At that time, I indicated our eagerness to engage in mutually constructive dialogue by means of an online educational forum, known as the Educare Forum.
However, in the months since then, I have realized, through a series of difficult incidents, that this method will not be effective or practical; it will not provide a point of transformation, which was my true objective.
For many within the Missouri Baptist community, this can only be understood as an exercise in darkness, with no hope of solace, no coming Light -- only a plunge into the blind, uncomprehending night of terror.
The Children of Light should not be instruments of terror and fear, for does not perfect love cast out fear?
The people of the Missouri Baptist Convention are a sacred people; Southwest Baptist University is a sacred place.
Therefore, once again, because the Missouri Baptist Convention affirms a controlling interest in Southwest Baptist University, I must ask you to preform your sacred duty in assisting to transform this darkness into Light, death into Life -- to oversee, execute, and enforce any necessary and judicious disciplinary action, aiding those who are lost in darkness and injustice.
As previously stated, my concerns involve the harm done to me, my family, and my friends by the employees, administrative and governing officials, and supporters of Southwest Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Convention, who willfully aided, abetted, counseled, and induced the commission of acts resulting in:
• slander, defamation and the malevolent and formulated provocation of hostility, ill-will, and hatred;
• sexual harassment, molestation, humiliation, and discrimination;
• physical injury, intimidation, and abuse;
• multiple instances of actual and threatened retaliation;
• the fallacious invasion of privacy and violation of confidentiality;
• forgery or tampering with academic, medical and other records;
• subornation of perjury and witness tampering;
• obstruction of justice and abuse of/denial of due process;
• financial duplicity, extortion, and insurance fraud,
• and the abuse and negligence of administrative, executive, pastoral, and ministerial functions, privilege and authority.
Additionally, these claims regard the actions of the employees, administrative and governing officials, and supporters of Southwest Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Convention, who permitted, facilitated, encouraged, and rewarded others in:
• the deliberate and repeated infliction of physical damage, pain, and suffering;
• the calculated pattern and practice of the imposition of social, psychological, and spiritual distress, anguish and suffering;
• the coordinated conspiracy to defraud, slander, and cause physical, financial, or other harm in collaboration with officials of the Southern Baptist Convention, and other church officials (both SBC churches and others),
• and the ongoing conspiracy to defraud, slander, and cause discriminatory abuse and physical, financial, and other harm based on disability, religious belief, and/or gender in collaboration with local business persons, community members, politicians, and city, county, and state officials.
Due to the grievous and persistent nature of these concerns, I now ask for a full investigation of these issues -- beginning with an emergency meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board members, which I am requesting convened no later than the middle of September 2010.
Further, I request that these issues be publicly addressed during the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention in October 2010.
Between now and the mid-September meeting, I would like to present a Comprehensive Compensation and Care Package to the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board – a plan which will settle any outstanding claims against the Missouri Baptist Convection, Southwest Baptist University, and the First Baptist Church of Bolivar, Missouri.
To facilitate this objectives, I am asking that Dr. Freddie Pike, who is Minister of Education and Administration at First Baptist Church, Bolivar, MO, be appointed as a Special Envoy to you, Dr. David Tolliver, and to the members of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board.
Dr. Freddie Pike is nobly credentialed and well able to preform this service with graceful aplomb, wry intelligence, and a sense of humor. This week, therefore, I will be in communication with Dr. Pike to organization and coordinate the requisite arrangements.
I look forward to cooperating with you as you preform your sacred duties.
In His Transforming Light, Justice and Mercy,
Resolving the Irreconcilable: Is There a "Soul-ution" for Southwest Baptist University and the Missouri Baptist Convention? [corrected at 8:00 pm] (here)