Christian Light Publications removes Howard Bean Writings

A friend forwarded a statement that was sent out by Christian Light Publications, announcing that they are removing Howard Bean’s materials, as listed in the following image:

I appreciate the individuals who took time to reach out, willing to hear and confirm the facts with those involved in the case. Thank you.

This is the path to positive change.

To the victims of Mr. Bean, and other victims in the Anabaptist community who were left reeling: You have been courageous to share your story. Even those so traumatized that you could only speak to a select few of us who have walked with you. I trust CLP’s actions will serve as an acknowledgement of your suffering and bring some sense of relief to you, and to all who were struggling with his content being used in their churches.

To Mr. Bean’s wife and family: My heart aches for you. It is beyond imagining how crushing it would be to learn that a trusted family member — in particular a spouse or parent — has carried these hidden sins, when to the family they were kind and loving. This is betrayal. Your suffering deserves acknowledgement.

To the Grace Mennonite and the Mid-West church: Some of you have apologized for mistakes made, and I have passed those apologies on to the victim with whom I am most closely connected. To get it wrong on various fronts the first time you face this kind of thing is understandable, albeit painful for victims. It is forgivable. (The victim with whom I spoke graciously extended forgiveness). And it is an opportunity for you to learn so that you are equipped to handle the next case more effectively. To get it seriously wrong a second time would be inexcusable. I urge you to not only form internal committees to address concerns, but to hire at least one trained professional investigator, along with a minimum of two other individuals to support that investgator on an external investigative committee. There were some well-intentioned mistakes made this round that would have been avoided had such professionals handled the case. I have served on such a committee with a criminal investigator taking lead, and a pastor and myself as volunteer investigators. It brought balance. I would declare a conflict of interest in local Mid-West cases for such a formal committee , because of how despised I am by some Mid-West leaders, thus making my voice ill-received. Even so, I can testify that it is healthy to bring in such a team. We each brought something to the task that the others lacked, leaving much less room for oversight.

For today, I will celebrate this step in the right direction. May it be the beginning of many more steps to hearing the victimized, and holding abusers accountable.

As always,
Love,
~ T ~

©Trudy Metzger 2023

Bishop Howard Bean, Grace Mennonite Church, charged with sexual assault after 40+ years of predatory behaviour

I started the following blog around a year ago, and I am sharing with the permission of the first known victim.

It has been very difficult to write, for many reasons. Mostly, I have written almost nothing since the car crash of 2019. It takes too much out of me, physically, with post-concussion syndrome, shoulder tears and recently diagnosed severe issues in my neck (that finally explained at least some of the severe symptoms I deal with). Yesterday I received many messages asking about Howard Bean. Someone had commented publicly, and former students of Mr. Bean were shocked to learn he had sexually harmed students. Rather than continue to answer privately, I decided it is time to edit this blog and post it. I am heading into a four month stretch that is unbelievably busy. I will respond to emails as I am able, answering questions.

LINK: Howard Bean, disgraced bishop of Grace Mennonite Church, has been credibly accused and charged with sexual assault.

Photos credit of The Map List & Mennonite Archived

Grace Mennonite is a church I recommended in the past when Conservative Anabaptists reached out asking if I know of any safe Mennonite church in Ontario. With a disclaimer that I didnt’ know them well, but they had a strong and clearly defined child abuse policy, I would suggest Grace. (I had a copy of their police at one time, but cannot locate it). I had confidence that abuse allegations would be swiftly dealt with, and victims supported.

I didn’t account for allegations of sexual impropriety coming against the bishop, Howard Bean, who is also a licensed school teacher with access to many children over the years. Some involved I believe have wanted truth. Others have a vested interest in making this go away, and have enabled Mr. Bean as a predator. (Anyone who preys — especially repeatedly — on the innocence of children and youth is a predator).

When I first became aware of concerns, it was a third party report with no evidence or even an incident or alleged victim; only a sense that something was ‘off’. The individual had close interaction with Mr. Bean for several years and didn’t feel safe. There was nothing to report. Nothing to expose. Only a thought to file, and not disregard. But nothing actionable.

In the span of several years of supporting survivors — who, by the way, have an uncanny sense about who is safe and who is not — three mentioned something not feeling safe with Mr. Bean. By 2018, a witness came forward with something they had observed Mr. Bean do, as a teacher, that felt violating. It was not done against them; they had witnessed it.

That witness did not want to be named, but asked if I would look into it. I processed it, and wanted to do something, but I had no concrete evidence; no victim asking me to act. I felt concern and like my hands were tied, all at once.

So I sat in the quiet, knowing there was a strong likelihood of abuse, but having nothing solid allowing me to move forward. Waiting, and pondering, I gathered Mr. Bean’s information just in case it seemed right to meet him, but I never spoke with him.

The challenges when allegations are vague or third party, are many. First, do victims want it addressed? Second, if addressed with nothing concrete, does it work against the case when evidence comes forward? Will people say, “Trudy planted the idea with her vague/unfounded concerns?” So I waited.

And then I had the heart attack in March, 2019, followed in August by being rear-ended at over 120 km p/h, resulting in severe whiplash (for which I am still in therapy). Needless to say, all else fell by the wayside.

The allegations and concerns have since been proven valid, though not the half has been told. The key — and first known victim — was never contacted by the church-recruited investigator. That victim suffered more than anything that has been disclosed so far. It was startling to discover that I had known about it since I was 16…

Only as the details unfolded did the memory resurface. A friend shared some of the ‘story’, processing what was going on. She had been closely connected with the first known victim. As she spoke, the shock hit that, “I know this story!” I said as much to my friend. “I know this story…. but I don’t know why!” And then it came back…

I was 16. A troubled and hurting teenager, living in New Hamburg Ontario. Not one established friend. And then I met two sisters. I have no memory of where or how we met. But I found myself at the older sister’s home, sitting on the floor in front of her, while she sat and nursed her newborn. I learned about giving birth and the afterpains. And I learned her life had been brutally hard.

She shared how a school teacher had sexually abused her for years. He did things to her. He made her do things. Awful and confusing things that scarred and confused her deeply.

As the Howard Bean allegations unfolded, so did the realization that he had worked at the very school where that friend attended, it all came back…. I was, again, 16 years old, sitting with a new mom caring for her infant….

I felt sick. I felt betrayed by a man I didn’t really know. Betrayed. Over. And over. And over. Again.

And I felt like I was a traitor for sitting in silence.

How can they do this? How can they name the name of God, preach, teach on morality, build a name for themselves in Christian community….

How can I sit in silence? And, yet, I have. Mostly because of my accident injuries. I pay a price for sitting at my desk. I pay a price for typing.

I learned on FB yesterday, January 17, 2023, that Christian Light Publications (CLP) still promotes Mr. Bean’s writings, and keeps Pete Peters on staff, while removing books of an author who dared to write questions she has about the afterlife. A facebook conversation where Mr. Bean was mentioned, sparked a flood of messages asking what the deal is. I responded to those messages, and decided to write a blog.

Mr. Bean has been credibly accused and charged with sexual assault. The first known victim is well over 40 years ago, with a string scattered through the years that followed. The extent of the abuse varies among the victims. Numerous students have reported observing the indecent behaviour over the years.

Mr. Bean admitted only to what was brought forward, and each time as more was brought, he acted repentant. He has made excuses. He claimed he did not know that touching a girl’s buttocks was sexual.

That raises many questions.

What is such an ill-informed man doing in classrooms? What is he doing behind the pulpit? How can one so naive and uninformed write books guiding churches, and preach purity to youth? Is he truly this unaware? Or is he simply a skilled manipulator? A liar? Is it such a long leap from sexual assault to lying? I would say they often, if not always go hand in hand, the blatant lying and sexual abuse. Certainly, they are already liars and hypocrites in how they live. Skilled abusers/predators are also highly skilled manipulative liars who know how to groom their church.

It took me two years to find the first known victim. But I found her. I asked if she remembers when we met and I sat on the floor as she nursed her baby, and she told me her story. She did. I asked if she would tell her story again. It matched. And there was more. Not only did Mr. Bean seriously violate this woman’s sexuality, starting before she was even 10 years old, and into her teens, he also violated her by speaking disrespectfully of his wife’s body to her, and commenting on the victims’ clothes and body, among other things. He violated her trust sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. The level of harm done has never been addressed, to this day. Not even close.

I had been told that a woman at Grace Mennonite, who was connected with that first known victim, told key people that the victim did not want to be contacted. When I asked if she would be willing to speak to the committee, she said she would. So this claim also was not true. The victim was very willing to speak *on her terms*, so she would be safe. That is not the same as unwilling. (I do not put blame for this on the committee formed to investigate Mr. Bean’s crimes. It is the responsibility of the person spreading the lies).

For anyone questioning if we can believe the victim(s), Howard Bean admitted to positioning his hands, as the teacher of that first known victim, so her breasts would touch them. He admitted to sexual assault. But that’s the watered down version. He did much more than this, including serious emotional, psychological, and spiritual abuse, and more sexual abuse than he has admitted to.

Mr. Bean is a master at words. He is an author with high standing for good reason. He is skilled. And he is skilled when it comes to responding to questions. When more recent allegations were addressed at a church meeting, he was questioned regarding other allegations, and stated, “No.” When challenged later that this was not true, he responded with an explanation that he understood the question differently than intended.

These are classic highly skilled predator behaviours. When I sat with Dave Denlinger in 2018, I asked, “Did you sexually assault (name withheld) in your car?” He looked me in the eye and said he did not. I was baffled. Having sat with the victim, I was confident she was telling the truth. And then it struck me… He had given her his car.

Did you do ‘x’ to (name withheld) in her car?” His answer, “Yes, I did.”

Lying on a technicality. That is the art of a highly skilled religious predator. (I find they often have a conscience about blatant lying, oddly, given they seem to have no conscience about sexual assault).

Repentant offenders do not protect themselves. They accept consequences. They do not lie, manipulate and deceive. They own their wrongs fully. Not only what is brought forward, and do so before others have to come forward. They set victims free. No lies. No manipulations. No trying to control the narrative. (Interesting fact, Mr. Bean still had power to place a minister as lead in his stead *after* allegations came forward. How does that happen in any Christian environment, that a credibly-accused holds that power?)

I will leave Mr. Bean’s repentance between him and God. What I know with confidence is that he has not yet disclosed fully his crimes. I am confident that if his first known and credible victim came forward with abuse charges — and the students who witnessed things stood with that victim — Mr. Bean would face more charges than he currently has on record.

That victim lives in terror of Mr. Bean and is not ready to face the horror that goes with reporting. I support her 100%. Her well-being is of utmost importance. And, Mr. Bean standing before a judge in this life holds no power compared to standing before God in eternity. While the victim is not ready to go public, she willing to speak one-on-one with safe individuals.

(For those saying Mr. Bean repented. No. Controlling the narrative does not equal repentance. He told his version of the situation to a church leader 40+ years ago *after* there was threat of exposure. He rushed to ‘take care’ of things, going to the victim’s family with a skewed version, which resulted in extreme further harm to the victim. But that is not a part of the story she is ready to tell because of what it would cost her today).

The victim’s justice, and validation of her suffering, will come. Not from (most in) church. Not from those calling her a liar. Not from those (shame on them) calling her mentally unstable.

No, her justice will come on judgement day. Her validation will come from the heart of Jesus; her healing in His arms and with friends and those who support her.

In this life, she carries incredible scars that are painful to hear. and see. In spite of the scars, she is always kind. Always gentle. Always thoughtful. Never — although it would be justified — has she expressed anger or been vindictive. Going to the law would be justified. But that is not what she needs right now. So I stand with her, and bless her.

I pray that Mr. Bean will be truly broken in this life. That he will own all his lies-on-technicality to the harm of the victims and church community, and his manipulations as well as all the abuse. All of it. For the sake of his soul, and for the healing of those harmed. But that is between him and God.

***

The concerns regarding Mr. Bean began as discomfort. Nothing concrete could be found. Many (or most) times, victims are reticent to speak out for fear of suffering further harm or alienation, particularly students. It is highly likely that if those who were concerned had spoken out, they would have been subjected to consequences.

Fellow teachers would, in likelihood lose their jobs for speaking out, or be accused of being divisive and harming school culture. (In church, I’ve seen excommunication as the outcome). Students would be left to face the teacher they don’t trust; his position would likely be protected. Parents would be ostracized. It is not a small price to pay for sharing concerns.

Yet, years later it is clear that Mr. Bean is a predator. He leaned over desks in ways that were uncomfortable. He stood in the path of one of his victims, forcing her to contend with his presence. He reached his arms around one student, making her feel violated. Let me add, she was violated.

Yet, repeatedly, these concerns are downplayed as churches scramble to cover up and protect their image, and the abuser.

It’s time to learn from history, and protect those who are most vulnerable.

Letter to Bruxy Cavey

Bruxy,

My first contact with you was when I reached out to see if you would be available to speak to a group of (roughly 250) women at a conference for survivors of sexual assault and molestation. I wrote the following to you:

I am inviting 4 individuals to make confessions to the women on behalf of men in general, fathers, mothers and pastors. My husband has lived with integrity and honour in my life and will address sexual abuse on behalf of all men. Our lead pastor died of cancer in May and he also lived with the same honour [in my life] on a spiritual level. I come from a deeply religious culture (Conservative–white bonnet–Mennonite) where our family suffered deep abuse so I cannot go back to those leaders. The other pastor I had is not available that night […] So, here I am, asking you if you would consider driving to our church […] to make a confession to a group of women at a conference. It’s not glamorous but it is a great honour. I recognize that I’m asking you to speak in a church when your calling is to minister to those who are sick of organized religion and its politics but so many of us have been ‘spiritually mutilated’–as one young lady said recently–and need someone to stand in the gap. I know you ‘walk the talk’ because three of our neighbours go to The Meeting House (Cambridge) as do some friends who left our church and my former doctor and his family and they all speak with respect and honour of you” (Messenger, August 30, 2010).

Your schedule was full. You did not fill the role. Within approximately two years of that, you violated a young woman’s trust and sexuality.

****

When it became publicly known that there are allegations against you, the shock left me reeling. I had not fully recovered from the allegations against Ravi Zacharias….

I met you and Ravi Zacharias in the hall when we took our youth to Fluid Gathering the first year it was held. There was no one else present; you and he were in conversation.

It was brief, our meeting; nothing memorable …. to you, I imagine. It was but a passing greeting. You seemed to not be the most social person I had met and looked relieved when you could offer a quick ‘hi’ and escape. That did not offend me. I had listened to your teachings which made it memorable for me. I had also heard quite a number of friends speak highly of your teaching style and personality. So I was not surprised when you seemed reserved; I already knew this about you.

Ravi was charming and clasped my hand in both of his. He leaned in and kissed me on both cheeks as he spoke ever so graciously; for one moment I was the only person in his world. I bought many of his books, either hard copy or ebook, and listened/read with fascination.

Starting in 2012 we attended The Meeting House (TMH) when I wasn’t traveling internationally, in ministry to survivors of sexual assault within religious communities. TMH was our place to land while I did my degrees at UWaterloo (overlapping with ministry); a place to sit and absorb teaching with no ministry duties, to avoid burnout.

In 2015 I wrote a second time: “[I]t is ministry that inspires me to write today… Until recently I had a ‘personal pastor’ in [USA], who was my ‘go to’ in the ministry[…]. That pastor is going through a very dark time […] and has retreated completely, not even responding to my encouraging notes. […] I do ministry to sexual abuse victims[…] and find it necessary to have a personal pastor1 with whom to connect, from time to time, with whom I can be honest and raw.” (Messenger, May 21, 2015).

That request led to semi-regular meetings with our site lead who was, from what I could tell, one of the most transparent pastors I had ever encountered. This was a huge support during a time when I had very few support systems in place while doing the hard work of listening to survivors, almost daily. I am so grateful for time he invested in me.

I recall well some of your messages. I can’t say that for a host of pastors, though there are others. But the one thing that stands out most is a statement about interacting with the opposite gender. You talked about acknowledging beauty, and honouring the person as God’s creation, never objectifying or using and dishonouring them. (I don’t remember your words. I only recall what they communicated). You were speaking my language. (My Blog Post on the topic: Every Erection Is Not Lust).

Over the years since you taught that, I brought it up to my husband from time to time, and shared it here and there. Finally a pastor who addresses the subject and honours women….

When allegations against you of sexual impropriety were made public, I felt numb. My heart sank. I held out ‘hope against hope’ that they were not true. If true, I held out hope that you would humbly acknowledge, resign and step down.

You were the third in a series of leaders I had (to varying degrees) respected, who had allegations brought against them. The first was a bishop, Howard Bean, in my former Mennonite affiliation. He had sexually assaulted a young woman when he taught school. I befriended her when I was 17 and she told me the tragic story, but withheld his name. When the story came to light in recent years, I was shocked to learn he had been a church leader in my denomination for years. Ravi Zacharias was second. Both cut to the core, leaving me shaken.

But when I heard the allegations against you, as someone who had attended TMH and sat under your teachings, and someone who works with survivors of sexual abuse… it about knocked the wind out of me. I still have no words for the shock. And how sick I felt telling my husband. The sadness. The sense of betrayal and loss.

When the allegations were confirmed as valid, I read your blog (My Confession). I saw the title and felt a wave of relief: you were owning the wrong committed and harm done. But as I read what you wrote, the sadness and betrayal moved to anger and trembling with grief.

I have worked for over 12 years with sexual abuse victims, and I have also sat with many who have sexually offended. I have heard true ownership. And I have heard self-preservation and blame-shifting or justification. I felt sick to my stomach — and do still as I recall — as you referred to the sexual impropriety as ‘an affair’.

(The following details, to the best of my knowledge, are fully accurate. I wish to be corrected if I have erred in anything). You were 46. She was 23. You a pastor in a large and growing church. She barely past her youth, looking up to a man in a position that (sadly) is often equated as representing God more than any other human; a pastor does lead the bride of Jesus, after all. You, experienced and exhibiting both knowledge and wisdom. She a young mind finding her path, embracing her beliefs, discovering who God is… who you portray him to be.

And you write that it was an affair.

The incredible power imbalance makes your claim so utterly shocking — from a man who has taught against abuse of power against cultures of less power; a man who has taught humble servanthood; a man who has taught sacrificing self for others…. The list could go on and on.

Yes, when I saw you were admitting that allegations of sexual impropriety were true, and especially when I heard of the age and power differentials, I expected you to humbly confess your wrong, own the harm, and free the victim from any responsibility.

Instead, you placed squarely on her shoulders the shame and the blame. You are a man revered to a fault; to some you cannot be guilty no matter what you did. Some defend you still. You have power on your side. You state you had confessed it to God, as though there was no need for any further action to free her from the power of the secret you carried… the weapon you became in her world. And the deception many of us feel, still. You had confessed. You were free. She carried the secret affair, as you called it, with a revered pastor.

The moment you freed yourself further from responsibility with a public ‘confession’ — that sounded like most offenders I’ve worked with, who self-justify and transfer blame — you also sentenced her to more shame, more blame, and more disillusionment with God. At 23 that’s a pretty heavy burden to carry, with life-long consequences. I don’t know her, or where she is in her faith today, but I do know many like her. And I have heard the struggle. If it isn’t impacting her that way, it is impacting others. I know because victims who admired you have contacted me.

My math tells me this took place soon after my request to represent pastors in the acknowledgement of sexual harm against women. You asked me to check with your secretary to see if your schedule is free. Surely you must have known the harm this would do…

If you had taken full ownership in “My Confession”, and stated you abused the trust of someone young enough to be your daughter, and called it pastoral abuse of power and sexual misconduct or sexual assault, it would have freed the young woman and set a noble example for others to also own their wrongs. Is Jesus not enough for that? What would He have called it?

Many of us counted on you to do this… to fully take ownership for taking advantage of youthful naivety. The added betrayal when you called it an affair, after all I heard you teach, shredded any trust that might have been rebuilt.

I have served as an investigator in a case not unlike this, as part of a team along with trained law enforcement and a pastor. I know what is involved and how exhausting it is to be thorough and call it what it is. What I can’t grasp is in what world a pastor at 46 and a youth at 23 have an affair.

If this was your daughter, at 23, with a well-known pastor with your level of power and influence (keeping in mind that influence is power) at 46, would you still call it an affair?

If this was an injustice involving the Indigenous and other Canadians, what would you teach God’s people to do? How would you address the power imbalance? How have you addressed these injustices in your peace teachings?

You have spent years teaching against violence. This is the most insidious of violent acts in the church, to prey on the vulnerable and young, and place the burden of that blame on their back.

Do not think that God will overlook when we, as leaders in His kingdom, take advantage of the powerless. Nor He will take His eyes off of those harmed. Spiritual Abuse and sexual violence to among the greatest harm in religious community. Especially when so intricately intertwined.

Amos 5

Praying, with hope, that you will rename your wrongs, call your actions by the power imbalance that this was (therefore, pastoral sexual abuse/assault), and publicly free her of blame.

There is grace. There is forgiveness. With truth.

Sincerely,
Trudy

© Trudy Metzger 2022

1. This is leftover teaching that I’ve long since abandoned, that each person in ministry must have a pastor under whose ‘umbrella’ they function. While I see the value of having someone with whom we share, who challenges, offers wisdom and simply listens, I no longer believe it needs to be a pastor. Nor do I believe it needs to be a male. In fact, as one pastor after the next after the next is exposed for sexual misconduct, or other betrayal, I find myself wondering how such power was ever given in the first place to such a position. Yes, there are noble and sincere pastors. But it certainly isn’t important to have a pastor over us in ministry. It is important to have strong relationships with fellow believers who can walk with us. I have Tim, for whom I am grateful, but he is also my lover and may just be a little bit biased. Sometimes we need not only our spouse, but a spouse and other mentor or friend who sees our blindspots. In any case, I am not interested in inadvertently promoting beliefs that I once held and now see to be destructive.