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AMBS service to acknowledge harm from Yoder actions

12.5. 2014 Written By: Mary E. Klassen

The Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Ind., board of directors along with the president and administrative cabinet are taking steps to acknowledge institutional responsibility for the harm inflicted by John Howard Yoder’s sexual exploitation of women while employed at the seminary in the 1970s and 1980s, and for seminary leaders’ prolonged failure to intervene effectively.

An extensive historical account of Mennonite Church institutional responses to Yoder’s abuses will be published in the January 2015 issue of Mennonite Quarterly Review.

With a desire to contribute to the larger church discernment process and to own the specific responsibility of the seminary, the AMBS board in their Oct. 23–25 meeting approved a statement acknowledging the pain suffered by women who were victimized by Yoder:

As an AMBS Board, we lament the terrible abuse many women suffered from John Howard Yoder. We also lament that there has not been transparency about how the seminary’s leadership responded at that time or any institutional public acknowledgement of regret for what went so horribly wrong. We commit to an ongoing, transparent process of institutional accountability which the president along with the board chair initiated, including work with the historian who will provide a scholarly analysis of what transpired. We will respond more fully once the historical account is published. We also support the planning of an AMBS-based service of lament, acknowledgement and hope in March 2015.

Seminary leaders are planning AMBS-based gatherings, including a Service of Lament, Confession, and Hope for the weekend of March 21–22, 2015.

All AMBS alumni/alumnae, current and former faculty, board members, administrators, staff and their families are invited to participate.

The weekend will include:

1. Saturday evening, March 21: An opportunity for alumni to visit and reconnect informally.

2. Sunday morning, March 22: An intimate gathering of truth-telling, reflection and prayer for those who were victimized and those who are bearing witness to the experience of others who were victimized.

3. Sunday afternoon service: A Lament, Confession, and Hope for all AMBS-affiliated participants and families will focus on sadness for what occurred, confession of the institution’s slowness to respond adequately to the complaints of women, a pledge to work for prevention of predatory behavior and a hope-filled resolve to pursue ongoing healing.

A group of AMBS administrators, faculty and alumni/alumnae are planning these events. More information will be available in late January 2015.

The AMBS board and administration is committed to cover costs for travel and lodging for Saturday and/or Sunday evening for anyone victimized by Yoder who submits expenses either personally or through a friend.

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6 Responses to “AMBS service to acknowledge harm from Yoder actions”

  1. Thanks for posting your announcement re: JHY with a different visual than the one earlier used!!

  2. Wandalee Kabira says:

    Wondering if AMBS plans a service in March 2015 where these abused women testify to their forgiveness toward JH Yoder?

  3. […] Click here to see the original press release announcement on the AMBS website. […]

  4. […] For full details from the Mennonite Church, read the original press release. […]

  5. […] one another in small groups, organized conferences, built networks and published articles. As Mennonite institutions shape their apology, they would do well to consider how they continue to resist those challenging their complicity with […]

  6. […] one another in small groups, organized conferences, built networks and published articles. As Mennonite institutions shape their apology, they would do well to consider how they continue to resist those challenging their complicity with […]

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