Howard G. Bean

Ontario Mennonite bishop and school administrator resigned on finding of groping

Howard Bean (b. 1950), a Mennonite minister and bishop, school teacher and administrator, and author from Ontario, Canada, reportedly sexually violated multiple girls over a period of several decades. In 2021, a committee of church leaders, in consultation with a professional third party, “validated beyond a shadow of doubt” allegations showing a pattern of groping children prior to and throughout Bean’s role as teacher and principal at Fairhaven Christian Day School in Milverton, Ontario. The committee concluded that Bean’s “conduct occurred throughout most of the [more than 30] years of teaching at Fairhaven.”

In August 2020, the Fairhaven school, associated with the Fairhaven Amish Mennonite Church, received a letter of concern from a person who identified themselves to the committee and reported having witnessed Bean touching students during sports. When these allegations reached Oasis Mennonite Church, Kitchener, Ontario, and Grace Mennonite Fellowship Church, New Hamburg, Ontario, where Bean was a minister and bishop, members formed a committee to investigate. Bean then resigned from teaching at Fairhaven, retired from his bishop role in the Midwest Mennonite Fellowship, and agreed to stop preaching, teaching, or being involved in any of the children’s church programs at Grace Mennonite for six months.

In October 2020, Bean reportedly acknowledged “sexually touching a female minor” who was a student of his at the time, approximately 40 years ago, but said he had “understood this to be cleared and taken care of at that time.” In the documentation received by MAP, it is unclear if this abuse had ever been recorded by the school.

Regarding the new allegations, Bean wrote a letter to three Amish Mennonite congregations in which he said, “I don’t recall the incidents, but I don’t doubt that the touching happened. […] I am sure that I did not have any questionable motive.”

The church committee then made a formal public plea for victims to come forward by whatever method they wished, including through a third party of their choosing. In the following months, multiple former Fairhaven students reported witnessing or experiencing physical contact by Bean such as “com[ing up] from behind and cup[ping] [a female student’s] buttocks with his hand.”

In June 2021, after consulting with an unnamed third-party professional, the committee presented their findings to the Grace Mennonite congregation. Citing the church’s child protection guidelines, and saying, “we desire healing for the victims which we think can only come through true repentance and acknowledgement of wrongdoing” by Bean, the committee acknowledged the pain felt throughout the church community, and stated, “we believe that this [pain] can be greatly mitigated by being totally open and honest about what has transpired.”

Bean later acknowledged “inappropriately touching some students.” He did not, however, admit that the touching was sexual. He stated that he didn’t know the motivation for his actions and that he “possibly may get help from a professional experienced counselor.”

Bean indicated that he had not attended church for two weeks, but the committee appears to have invited him back to corporate worship. The documentation received by MAP does not indicate if Bean’s attendance was restricted at any point, or if congregants were consulted on his participation.

MAP reached out to several men whom a confidential source indicated were members of the Grace Mennonite committee for more information about the policies and procedures used to process the case. Steve Martin responded on behalf of the group, reporting that, “to our knowledge the organizations that Howard has worked with have all either been advised of the situation or are in the process of being advised.” Martin asked for additional time for the committee to discuss whether they would share further information.

After MAP followed up, including a request that victims be notified of the opportunity to contribute to MAP’s post, Martin responded that the committee is continuing to work with all the relevant parties to ensure their written policy is followed. He described the third party professional as well respected and unbiased. “Beyond that we have no further comment at this point,” he said. He did not share the written policy, name the third party, or agree to notify the victims of MAP’s post.

Both Oasis Mennonite and Grace Mennonite are affiliated with the Midwest Mennonite Fellowship, where Bean was moderator and editor of the group’s Midwest Mennonite Focus periodical for four decades. Bean wrote hundreds of articles, dozens of Sunday school quarterlies, Christian school curriculum, and at least nine books published by Christian Light Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Bean exhibited books and curriculum for Christian Light Publications at North American homeschool conferences for at least two decades.

Bean was also a long-time teacher and administrator at the Maranatha Bible School, Lansing, Minnesota, affiliated with the Midwest Mennonite Fellowship. (Pete K. Peters, also on MAP, was principal at Maranatha Bible School in 2000–2004 and 2006–2008.)

In 2022, CTV News Kitchener reported that Bean had been arrested and charged in Stratford, Ontario with “Sexual Assault on a Person Under 16 years of age” and “Sexual Interference.”

In 2023, the board of directors of Christian Light Publications posted the following statement:

Due to credible allegations about the personal life of Howard Bean, Christian Light is no longer selling any books he has written. Christian Light takes sexual abuse seriously and has not accepted any new materials from Howard since 2020. Christian Light is working toward replacing Sunday School material that Howard has written.

Church-related positions

  • Minister, Grace Mennonite Fellowship Church, New Hamburg, Ontario, 1978–2020
  • Bishop, multiple Midwest Mennonite Fellowship churches, Ontario, 1983–2020
  • Moderator, Midwest Mennonite Fellowship
  • Teacher and principal, Fairhaven Christian Day School, Milverton, Ontario, approx. 1980–2020
  • Teacher, assistant principal, or principal, Maranatha Bible School, Lansing, Minnesota, 1981–1996, 1998–2009, 2011–?
  • Editor, Midwest Mennonite Focus, 1981–2020
  • Author for Christian Light Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia

Documentation

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