Virginia Conference terminates pastor’s credentials

Nov 6, 2017 by

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Virginia Mennonite Conference has terminated the credentials of a pastor who Mennonite Church USA concluded acted in ways to protect a sexual abuse perpetrator, to the detriment of caring for a victim.

VMC leadership terminated Duane Yoder’s credentials for ministry with the conference on Oct. 24, basing the decision on findings of a VMC investigation team. Before his March 3 retirement, Yoder was pastor of Lindale Mennonite Church in Lin­ville.

An external review found Yoder did not disclose everything he knew about allegations of sexual abuse in 2014.

On March 20, 2016, Lindale pastors and elders acknowledged that an alleged “abusive relationship” involving former Eastern Mennonite University vice president of enrollment Luke Hartman was brought to staff attention in August 2014 when a woman approached Lindale associate pastor Dawn Monger.

Hartman and Yoder met with EMU President Loren Swartzendruber on Sept. 2, 2014. The two men described the relationship as a consensual affair with a 19- to 20-year-old woman from the congregation — diverging from her descriptions of verbal abuse and threats of physical violence. “When asked by Pastor Monger, Pastor Yoder was not truthful regarding what he had reported to the leadership at EMU,” says MC USA’s findings, issued Jan. 14.

Yoder did not contest the findings “by declining to participate further in this process,” according to a VMC statement.


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  • Berry Friesen

    I find your 5th paragraph misleading. To my knowledge, there has never been an external finding that the relationship did not start and continue for some time as a consensual one. It became non-consensual at the end, which is the case for most illicit relationships. Few such couples break-up consensually.

    The Stafford investigation and the MCUSA statement find fault with Yoder’s failure to tell EMU president Swartzendruber and Lindale associate Monger everything about the break-up and related discussions. If full disclosure of that kind of confidential information is the requirement for pastors within MCUSA, then fair enough. But let’s not conflate that “error” with the suggestion that Yoder lied about the origin and nature of the relationship before it turned sour.

  • Evan Knappenberger

    Duane did contest VMC’s process at every point. VMC is not being truthful about that. Ask Duane’s lawyer who was there with him when VMC interrogated him.

    Evan Knappenberger

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