Dalton Jantzi

Ontario Mennonite minister and community development worker credential removed

In 1995, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) found Dalton Jantzi (b. 1945) responsible for “sexual boundary violations” against nine people, including both children and adults.

MCEC had reportedly terminated Jantzi’s credentials in the early 2000s, but public documentation in 2015 honored him for 40 years of ordination. In March 2019, at the request of a victim of Jantzi’s abuse, MCEC issued a public apology and clarified the status of Jantzi’s ministerial credentials: They had terminated his credentials for disciplinary reasons in October 2001 but did not publish the termination.

In a Canadian Mennonite article about the MCEC apology and clarification, pastor Tim Reimer says Jantzi began attending Danforth Mennonite Church in 1995 and participated only as an attending member for five years. At the end of that time period, Jantzi requested restoration of his credentials, but MCEC instead terminated them. Jantzi then began serving in leadership roles at Danforth Mennonite: In 2003, Jantzi was listed as committee chair of Danforth’s voluntary service unit — a leadership position working with young adults who reside on church property while working in service jobs. He has also served as elder, preacher, worship leader, song leader, delegate to the MCEC annual gathering, member of the “The Caring Network,” adult Sunday school leader, and children’s Sunday school leader.

In his position as a children’s Sunday school leader at Warden Woods Mennonite Church in the 1990s, Jantzi groomed and sexually abused children. One of these victims, who was abused by Jantzi when he was nine years old, submitted a first-person account of the abuse to the Canadian Mennonite in April 2019. They declined to publish it.

As of publication of this post, Jantzi was volunteering with two community organizations, as board secretary for St. Clair O’Connor Community (associated with Danforth Mennonite) and as a volunteer with the Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care, both of which serve children as well as adults. When MAP contacted them to inquire about Jantzi’s status, representatives from both organizations reported being unaware of his history of sexual misconduct. As of April 2019, Jantzi had been removed from the websites of both organizations.

As of 2019, Jantzi continued to serve in leadership roles at Danforth Mennonite Church.

Detailed description

In 1995, Dalton Jantzi was found responsible for nine instances of “sexual boundary violation” as investigated by Mennonite Conference Eastern Canada (MCEC) after “persistent rumors and accusations” from the Warden Woods Mennonite Church of Scarborough, Toronto. The nine instances involved three children who reported “backrubs or kissing that made uncomfortable,” as well as adults who reported “french kisses, hugging with sexual overtones, touching a breast.”

One of Jantzi’s victims from the Warden Woods church told MAP that two of her children disclosed being abused by him when they were under age 10. She filed a police report in the mid-1990s with the North York Police Department, including names of additional children she and others suspected may have been harmed by Jantzi, and alerted MCEC that she had done so.

The police investigation remains open and there is no time limit for reporting. Anyone who has seen, suspected, or suffered any type of sexual misconduct by Dalton Jantzi at any time, past or present, can report to the North York Police Department.

Dalton Jantzi was employed by MCEC as a development worker and chaplain in the high-rise public housing building at 15 Tobermory, Toronto. He eventually established and pastored the Black Creek Faith Community Church, which met in the building. This housing project, with tenants from low-income families, was located in the Jane and Finch Street neighborhood of Toronto.

After a period of paid leave during the church investigation, Jantzi returned to work under a two-year probation that barred him from being alone with minors or individual women and from contacting victims. He was required by the church to continue therapy and help pay for the investigation and victims’ counseling.

In March 1997, MCEC’s leadership commission changed Jantzi’s ministerial status from “pastor in a congregation” to “minister in specialized ministry.” The commission lifted his probation but upheld the restriction on his contact with women and children and stipulated that “he not lead or assist in leading public events except as related to the specific ministry setting in which he is employed.”

Jantzi appealed the decision, but a committee appointed by the MCEC executive board unanimously upheld the restrictions and recommended Jantzi “take a complete break from professional ministry for several years” and not be considered for full recredentialing “sooner than five years after he began therapy” in 1995.

Muriel Bechtel, former MCEC conference minister, told MAP that she remembered Jantzi’s credentials were removed sometime during her tenure, between 2000 and 2005. MAP could find no documentation of this. Instead, a program document from MCEC’s Annual Gathering in 2015 shows Jantzi was honored for 40 years of ordained ministry. Henry Paetkau, conference minister at the time, presented the milestones at the gathering.

Current MCEC Church Leadership Minister Marilyn Rudy-Froese confirmed to MAP in January 2019 that Jantzi’s credentials had been terminated for disciplinary reasons, but said she could not access the date or documentation of the termination.

Jantzi has continued to serve in church leadership roles over the years at Danforth Mennonite in Toronto: voluntary service unit chair, elder, preacher, worship leader, song leader, greeter, delegate to the MCEC annual gathering, member of the “The Caring Network,” adult Sunday school leader, and children’s Sunday school leader. As of publication of this post, he was also volunteering with two local organizations, the Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care and the St. Clair O’Connor Community, both of which serve children as well as adults.

One of Jantzi’s victims from the Warden Woods church, concerned that Jantzi continues to serve in leadership roles with vulnerable populations, wrote to MCEC on January 23, 2019, asking them to publicly clarify Jantzi’s status, because the only public record honors him for 40 years of ordained ministry.

Rudy-Froese responded to the victim on February 4, saying MCEC would print a correction in its annual report in April 2019, but denying the victim’s request to publish it in the denominational magazine, the Canadian Mennonite.

On March 28, MCEC published an apology and correction on its website. Rudy-Froese sent a copy of the apology to the victim and MAP, along with a timeline of MCEC’s official actions, noting that they had also submitted the apology to the Canadian Mennonite.

The MCEC timeline says Jantzi requested restoration of his credentials in April 2000, and between April and October of 2000 MCEC “initiated conversations with various groups regarding recredentialing.” One year later, in October 2001, Jantzi revoked his request. The leadership commission then terminated his ministerial credentials and “decided not to publish this termination in the Canadian Mennonite.”

On May 8, 2019, the Canadian Mennonite published an article about the MCEC apology on its website. It included a response from Danforth Mennonite pastor Tim Reimer, addressing his decision to allow Jantzi to serve in leadership roles. Danforth Mennonite is closely associated with the St. Clair O’Connor community center, where Jantzi served as a board member until approximately March 2019.

On the same day of its article on the MCEC apology, the Canadian Mennonite declined to publish a first-person account submitted to them by a victim who was abused when he was nine years old by Jantzi.

In his account, he says,

I have been asked what were the lasting consequences of Dalton’s actions, and I know that I rejected God for many years, but it went so much deeper than a spiritual wound. After Dalton put his hand on my bare bottom, I began to question the intentions of everyone I knew. … Dalton taught me that the most likeable, loving, and interested people are the most dangerous.

Church-related positions

  • Development worker, chaplain, and pastor, employed by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, in the 15 Tobermory Street high-rise public housing project, Toronto, Ontario, 1980–1995
  • Committee chair, Mennonite Voluntary Service unit (associated with Danforth Mennonite Church), Toronto, Ontario, June 2003–?
  • Attends Danforth Mennonite Church, Toronto, Ontario, where he has participated as elder, preacher, worship leader, song leader, greeter, delegate to the MCEC annual gathering, member of the “The Caring Network,” adult Sunday school leader, and children’s Sunday school leader.

First-person accounts

Documentation

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