Pastor John Schouten, founder of VGF Church, the largest church in Licking County, Ohio, has parted ways with his church after he was confronted with what was described as a “wrong, evil, and illegal” sexual sin he committed more than 30 years ago before he became a Christian.
The Newark Advocate reported that the church leaders were notified of the allegations against their pastor in an email during the summer and struggled with how to handle the situation. Schouten, who previously admitted to abusing drugs and cheating on his wife, Marilyn, during the early years of their marriage, has routinely talked about the wayward life he lived before becoming a Christian.
Church leaders told the congregation in a recent email that Schouten offered to resign once church leaders were told of his actions but they did not accept it. They chose instead to place him on paid administrative leave while leaders made a decision.
Mark Weaver, the church’s designated spokesman who also attends VGF, confirmed with The Christian Post on Friday that Schouten’s sin involved only one accuser. He said the church consulted with an attorney who advised them that because the incident happened more than 30 years ago, the statute of limitations has passed. They did not move forward with any legal action as a result.
“The incident in question happened well before John Schouten was a Christian. He was married but he had not come to Christ. He came to Christ several years later. And of course he became a pastor several years after that. He’s nearly 60,” Weaver told CP.
When asked if the illegal sexual sin could be classified as rape or sexual assault and if it was a one time or repeat occurrence with the same person, Weaver said: “We described it the way we described it so we can protect the privacy of the person involved.”
The Advocate said church leaders brought in a professional mediator to meet with the elders and Schouten to see if they could reach an agreement about how to handle the situation, but they could not agree on whether he should return to the pulpit.
In their email to the congregation, elders said they believe Schouten “has been fully forgiven by God” but they were concerned about how he handled the issue after he became Christian.
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Source: Christian Post