Jan Gleysteen

Mennonite writer and tour guide repeatedly restricted for multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment

Jan Gleysteen (1931–2023) reportedly harassed and assaulted multiple women over many years in his roles as an employee at Mennonite Publishing House (MPH), Scottdale, Pennsylvania, as an owner and tour leader at TourMagination, and as a church member at Mennonite Church of Scottdale and College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana.

In 1994, Gospel Herald reported that MPH had “canceled the tours and lectures of Jan Gleysteen for financial reasons and in response to allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women.” According to the Mennonite Reporter, “sexual harassment charges against Gleysteen at the publishing house were found to be legitimate” in 1993. The paper also reported that:

Gleysteen’s congregation, the Mennonite Church of Scottdale, had already begun working with him over a year earlier on charges of misconduct.

According to pastor John Sharp, the church group concluded that there was “clearly an abuse of power” in Gleysteen’s role as a representative of the Mennonite Church. It also concluded that there was a longstanding pattern of misconduct, said Sharp.

The misconduct consisted of “taking advantage of women who felt gratified by the special attention, as well as forcing unwanted attention on other women,” including inappropriate touching, said Sharp.

Gleysteen reportedly made a statement to his church and employer, saying “I admit that I have failed to realize that in my expressions of friendship and affirmation, I had invaded some persons’ ‘private space.’ To those I have offended … I extend my sincere apologies.” The Mennonite Reporter spoke to Gleysteen and reported that he “would not respond on the record to the findings of the publishing house and the congregation.” In a letter to the congregation, church leaders reportedly stated that “Gleysteen has agreed to: 1) Undergo regular therapy and 2) Meet regularly with an accountability group formed by the congregation.”

Gleysteen soon moved to Goshen, Indiana, where he joined College Mennonite Church, subject to some “behavioral guidelines.” In 2017, church leaders informed the congregation that Gleysteen had been banned from the property, stating:

A person received into CMC membership two decades ago has not abided by behavioral guidelines he agreed to as a condition of his membership. Monitoring and counsel have not led to consistent adherence to the stipulations. … At this time we know of four current female employees of the congregation who have experienced unwelcomed touch and attention from this member.

A 2017 letter from Goshen College to Gleysteen referenced a no trespass order that had been in place since 1995, and reiterated the restrictions:

This letter is to serve as formal notice to remind you that you may not enter the property of Goshen College at 1700 S. Main St, Goshen, Indiana, 46526, or any property owned or managed by Goshen College. Violation of this will result in your arrest for criminal trespass. This reminder follows official communication from Goshen College in 1995 and has not changed.

Pastor Marty Lehman, in a statement to MAP, described how Gleysteen had been violating his behavioral agreement to not touch women at church “for years.” She states, “Our attorney reminded us that we are liable should anything happen with visitors or any of our members — since we knew about Jan but have allowed him to continue to attend church. That was the turning point for us and when we decided he could no longer enter our building.”

A lawyer for Gleysteen sent MAP a letter in 2016 saying that “the claims against [Gleysteen] are completely without merit.”

Gleysteen died in 2023.

Church-related positions

  • Started a Mennonite heritage tour business called TourMagination in 1970 and led tours through the early 90s. Gleysteen specialized as a guide and interpreter at sites of Anabaptist-Mennonite beginnings in Europe.
  • Worked at Mennonite Publishing House in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, for four decades, as artist, illustrator, and editor.
  • Member at Mennonite Church of Scottdale, Pennsylvania
  • Member at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Indiana

First-person accounts

  • I, Anje,” Survivors Standing Tall, Jan. 31, 2018

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