Letter by Rob Newman, Overseer of California Re: Removal of John VanDenBerg from the work – April 2023

Dear fellow workers, elders, and friends,

Our prayers are that God will help us make the right decisions as we go forward. We realize that his hand is active. This gives us hope. We are looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming conventions.

We are saddened that it has become necessary for us to ask John VanDenBerg to step aside from the ministry. Recently we have received several credible allegations of unacceptable sexual behavior, including a complaint of inappropriate touching of a minor, which has been reported to the authorities. We want to make sure that all victims and their families feel free to come forward so we can support them in every way possible — they will not be blamed. and their identities will be kept confidential. We also want to confirm again, that sexual abuse in the ministry and the betrayal of trust it represents, will not be tolerated.

These things bring sorrow and concern to our heart, and we think especially of those who are victims. In recent times, when more of these kinds of errors have been brought to light and dealt with, we are left with the feeling that God has brought about a special season of cleansing. and change going forward. In our grief, we are comforted to know that His hand is working a greater work for the good of everyone involved. Once again, we are reminded His name is a holy name, not to be profaned, and this causes us all to deeply search our own heart.

2 Timothy 2:19 ‘Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” We are thankful for the perfect foundation in Jesus. and the comfort of knowing our Father is working in these events and that He is well able to help, heal. and preserve every soul who comes to Him with a humble, contrite heart.

Thanks for your support and input. Elders, please communicate this letter to each family or individual in your meeting soon, in an appropriate way.

Your brother, Rob

10 thoughts on “Letter by Rob Newman, Overseer of California Re: Removal of John VanDenBerg from the work – April 2023

  1. About time. They have known for years. I would hate to have to answer to God for why they have allowed him to remain in the work knowing he has issues with adult women And minors. Oh, let’s keep him in the work and send him to a bunch of countries, that’s a great idea. Wouldn’t want to “ruin his reputation” by outing him. Never mind his victims.

  2. In October, 2019 my wife took employment in Oregon. I have been divorced and remarried. Before remarrying, I spoke with the elder of our meeting and then with George Peterson, the Missouri overseer, who we spoke with for about an hour during Blackwater convention. He approved our marriage request as well as the elder of the meeting. This was in 2013. I sent a text message to Dean Bruer, informing him of my marital status. He replied in a text “Jesus doesn’t approve of divorce and remarriage and neither do we”. When I replied that we had ministerial approval before we were married, and that if approval wouldn’t have been granted, we would not have gotten married. Dean apparently ignored the reply as I never received any further response from him or anyone else in Oregon. I didn’t participate in any Sunday meetings or partake of the emblems per request. Dean had the audacity to condemn me while he was committing criminal acts. This double standard is quite difficult for my wife, who knew nothing of the Truth before meeting me and who made her choice in 2018, to understand as she had a Catholic upbringing. I also was inappropriately touched by a male worker in approximately 1965, when I was 14 years old when he came into my bed during the night and pressed his genitalia against me. I didn’t move a muscle and hoped he thought I was asleep. He left after what seemed like a long time without proceeding any further. I never told anyone because my parents would not have likely believed me. I heard some years later he left the work and got married. I’m 72 years old and the double standards regarding remarriage and sexual predators has to stop. I’m currently in a state that allows me to fully participate in Sunday meetings of which I’m both grateful and thankful. I pray that my spirit won’t get hardened and that God/Jesus will help each and everyone affected by these events.

    • i would like to post just some thoughts.After reading many of these posts there seems to be an underlying problem.The problem does not seem to going away.John the baptist said”and now the axe is laid to the root”.What might be the “root”of this problem?There seems to be an unwritten law that when one enters the ministry”marriage is “forbidden”.But that is not scriptual.Paul in writing to the corinthians said”to those who examine me, do not I and Barnabus have the power to lead about a wife,a sister as other of the apostles,he named those apostles who were sent out into the ministry,Peter being one of them.Jesus himself sent Peter out.His marriage was not forbidden.Jesus gave no such commandmentI am sure when those who are called, head out into the ministry they go with every intentention of being faithful.But not everyone is able to live as a “eunuch”.Jesus was clear in this.It would seem prudent to me that when young workers find they are unable to do this,it might be helpful to them that the ministry might not be a place for them,or permit them to marry a sister worker if it so arises.I know the distraction this might be.But the least that could be done to help them is they should not be made to feel like failures if they cannot control their natural affections and have to leave the ministry.Far better than the mess that has been created(to my mind anyway)of what is being dealt with right now.This was never a commandment of Jesus.I feel so sorry for everyone involved in this “mess”.forbidding to marry(amongst workers) is not a commandment of Jesus.

      • There have been married workers. Has anyone noticed on these websites that overseers are posting, that they aren’t asking for advice, only that we accept their requests?

      • When the incident involves children, this has nothing to do with marriage nor normal behaviors. Married men molest children with same frequency as single men. It may defray some of wrong behavior with adult women, but marriage is no cure for that, either. Many husbands are unfaithful.

  3. We’re getting sermons and scripture quotes instead of meaningful changes. Part of the problem is that workers have been promoted as being sent from God, and who would dare to question or doubt their judgment or actions. Overseers have no overseers. It’s an honor system that we dare not question. Unity is preached but not practiced as evidenced by different rules made by different overseers in different states. I’ve been told that it was only a few eastern states that approved of remarriage after divorce when in truth it’s only a few western states that disapprove. When we went to Virginia I explained our situation to Ray Hoffman and he said that if George Peterson had approved me to participate in Sunday meeting, then he was in full agreement and I was welcome to participate. When we were in New Mexico, Dan Wisecup fully approved as well. We were going to Texas and Lyle Shober approved as well. Who’s to be believed in these matters of seriousness when information is not accurate and information is 8 months plus in being made available? Why the delays? I’m not seeing any responses from overseers to concerns being posted, which leads me to believe that these “forums” are just a means to let victims vent their feelings in the hopes that after being allowed to vent that the victims will then quietly go away and we’ll never be included in problem solving at any level. Why post as “anonymous “? I’ve seen negative actions taken against people who have spoken out.

  4. The workers aren’t posting these to these forums. They are written in their areas and then people that receive them forward them to the Admins of the forums. Likely the workers never get on these sites to read what is being written.
    And BTW I agree with much of what you have written. In my opinion the workers should leave the judging and punishment up to God and get out of His way. My Bible says they are to love, seek sheep, feed lambs and sheep and spread the good news. Not travel the world over living large on the friends dime and dole out punishment to sheep that have a more obvious sin that what maybe their own is! As stated above regarding Dean Bruer reprimanding William regarding being divorced and remarried all the while he was living the life of a monster breaking the law. It’s time for a clean up and I hope the winds of change are nigh

    • This. The chief thought I keep coming back to when I don’t know what to think or feel about all this, is: “Lucky for us, we don’t need to judge. We can trust that our justice system and especially God, has that covered.”

  5. Pingback: Timeline of some key actions over the last ten years – Wings for Truth

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