Our Stories Untold
Eight members of Virginia Mennonite Conference have filed an official complaint with the conference asking that pastor Duane Yoder’s credentials be put under review for breaches of trust.
A letter distributed to the Lindale Mennonite Congregation in March of 2016 revealed that Duane Yoder withheld from his congregation for more than a year and a half a report made in 2014 by Lauren Shifflett of her sexual abuse at the hands of Luke Hartman. At the time of her report, Hartman was serving as vice president of Eastern Mennonite University.
The letter states, “Someone from our congregation contacted SNAP about an abusive relationship [involving Luke Hartman] that was brought to our attention in August 2014.” At the time, Hartman was known to be a close friend and ministerial colleague of Yoder’s. Hartman first met Shifflett when he served as her youth Sunday School teacher at Lindale while Duane was pastor.
The published accounts by Shifflett and her sister Marissa Buck, include a detailed report of grooming, sexual abuse, stalking and threats of violence by Hartman. The March congregational letter further claims that Yoder had been “involved in walking with the victim.” But Buck describes Yoder’s behavior as an attempt to cover up and minimize the abusive details while discrediting Shifflett’s story to others. We believe the sisters’ accounts. They are similar to others we receive from Mennonites and former Mennonites across the US and Canada.