The board and staff of MennoMedia, the publishing agency for Mennonite Church U.S.A. and MC Canada, has issued a statement regarding the continued publication of John Howard Yoder books in light of ongoing discussion of Yoder’s long-term sexual harassment and abuse.
The statement approved by the board of directors reads:
“John Howard Yoder (1927–97) was perhaps the most well-known Mennonite theologian in the 20th century. While his work on Christian ethics helped define Anabaptism to an audience far outside the Mennonite church, he is also remembered for his long-term sexual harassment and abuse of women.
“This book is published with the hope that those studying Yoder’s writings will not dismiss the complexity of these issues and will instead wrestle with, evaluate and learn from Yoder’s work in the full context of his personal, scholarly and churchly legacy.”
When renewed controversy regarding Yoder’s past history surfaced, MennoMedia staff and board discussed issuing a statement, but decided to wait until denominational leaders of MC U.S.A. had a discernment group in place to guide a process towards healing.
“We discussed that the process of healing and reconciliation is incomplete for many of Yoder’s victims,” says Russ Eanes, director of MennoMedia. “Some have asked that we cease publication of his books entirely; others have suggested that we simply go on as before and say nothing. We are opting to continue to make his work available, but are placing a statement from the publisher in the front of all John Howard Yoder books published by Herald Press.”
“John Howard Yoder’s legacy remains painful and complex,” says editorial di-rector Amy Gingerich. “Many have found Anabaptism because of his writings. At the same time, we cannot gloss over his continued abuse of power. By including this statement in our books we are signalling that Herald Press wants to be about reconciliation and healing, not masking abuses of power.”
“At Herald Press we recognize the complex tensions involved in presenting work by someone who called Christians to reconciliation and yet used his position of power to abuse others,” Gingerich says. “We believe that Yoder and those who write about his work deserve to be heard; we also believe readers should know that Yoder engaged in abusive behaviour.”
--Posted on Dec 24, 2013
For more background, see:
Revisiting the legacy of John Howard Yoder (Aug. 19, 2013 issue)
Young Voices blog: Remembering Yoder Honestly (Sept. 29. 2013)
A Theologian’s Influence, and Stained Past, Live On (Oct. 15, 2013)
Young Voices blog: Reflections on John Howard Yoder (Oct. 28, 2013)
"Pastoral letter" from friends in the UK (Nov. 6, 2013)
Church seeks to help Yoder sex abuse survivors (Nov. 11, 2013 issue)