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Goossen to present recent research on John Howard Yoder sexual abuse

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Following her landmark study on Mennonite and institutional response to theologian John Howard Yoder’s sexual abuse, historian Rachel Waltner Goossen will present her more recent research at Bethel College.

Goossen is the speaker for the next Friends of the MLA program, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Kauffman Museum (Main and 27th Streets in North Newton).

In 2015, Goossen published the findings of her exhaustive study, “‘Defanging the Beast’: Mennonite Responses to John Howard Yoder’s Sexual Abuse,” in Mennonite Quarterly Review. Shorter companion pieces appeared in Mennonite Life, Mennonite World Review, The Mennonite, Canadian Mennonite and in German translation in Die Bruecke and Mennoblatt.

Based on previously unreleased institutional files, archival documents and interviews with 29 individuals, Goossen’s narrative focused on how institutional culture permitted Yoder’s audacious sexual experimentation as an ordained leader, a faculty member and former president of Goshen Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, and a tenured professor at the nearby University of Notre Dame.

In her Friends of the MLA presentation, “Mennonite Women Challenge John Howard Yoder’s Sexual Abuse,” Goossen will discuss her more recent research on the advocacy of women and their allies who sought to bring Yoder to accountability.

Mennonite women’s resistance and pushback to sexually abusive behavior reveals how victims’ responses, over time, provided a foundation for reforms rooted in justice-seeking.

Rachel Waltner Goossen is a professor in the Department of History at Washburn University, Topeka. She has degrees in history from Bethel College (B.A.), the University of California (M.A.) and the University of Kansas (Ph.D.).

In 2015, she received the Roy Myers Award for Excellence in Research from Washburn University.

The Mennonite Library and Archives (MLA) at Bethel College sponsors these periodic presentations on topics related to Mennonite history and thought.

For directions or more information on the Friends of the MLA or the March 8 program, call 316-284-5360.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015'16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015'16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.