Some readers have called for a moratorium on reports about John Howard Yoder’s past misdeeds. We acknowledge that continued attention to this issue has caused pain to Yoder’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as to the women who suffered because of his actions.
Yet, new information is emerging that cannot be ignored. Looking at the events of the past with 21st-century eyes, it appears that church and institutional leaders, while likely acting with the best of intentions, took actions that contributed to the ongoing pain. The church now has an opportunity to lament what is past and to seek closure of a difficult chapter in our life together.
As Mennonites try to understand what happened in private more than 30 years ago, we also recognize that sexual abuse is still present today. (See “Intimacy is not an invitation to abuse,”) We, as individuals and as institutions, still find it challenging to know how to respond redemptively to victims and perpetrators.
This is a call for the church to find ways of caring for those who have suffered abuse while at the same time taking steps to make each congregation and church institution a safe place for all. As we grieve, we can accept the invitation to open a new chapter in our life together—an era in which respect and honesty flourish.
—Posted Jan. 2, 2015