From Conference Minister Dick Barrett
On June 19, 2020, Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA received a complaint of alleged sexual misconduct on the part of Jeffery L. Kauffman which occurred during the time that he was serving as one of the pastors of Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold, Ohio. Jeff served at Zion Mennonite Church from 2011 to 2016. He has not served in pastoral ministry since then, but Ohio Conference continued to hold his ordination credentials in an “inactive” status.
The allegation was that Jeff had been involved in a sexual relationship with an adult female member while he was serving as a pastor of the Zion congregation. Upon receiving the complaint, an investigation was initiated following Mennonite Church USA’s Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure. A team of three unbiased and experienced investigators was given the responsibility of investigating the allegation and reporting their findings to the Ohio Conference Credentialing Ministry Team. After reviewing evidence and interviewing Jeff, the investigative team determined that he had engaged in pastoral sexual misconduct.
On July 22, 2020, the Credentialing Ministry Team convened, reviewed the report and filed a charge of Ministerial Sexual Misconduct against Jeff Kauffman. On Aug. 3, 2020, the Credentialing Ministry Team received a response from him stating that he agreed with the charge. Jeff was fully cooperative in the investigative process and never denied the allegation. Jeff made a formal request to relinquish his ministerial credentials.
Based on the investigative team’s findings and upon Jeff Kauffman’s own admission to the misconduct, on Aug. 6, 2020, the Ohio Conference Credentialing Ministry Team made the decision to terminate Jeff’s ordination credentials due to pastoral sexual misconduct.
Ohio Conference publicly announces all newly credentialed leaders and any changes in credential status for currently credentialed leaders. We believe that being appropriately open and transparent increases accountability for credentialed leaders, congregations and the Conference. This practice also ensures that victims and survivors of ministerial sexual misconduct feel free to report such incidents and are empowered on their healing journey. Ohio Conference will do its best to walk alongside all those who have been impacted.
Ohio Conference holds all pastors to a high standard of ethical conduct. We have policies, procedures and training for all of our active credentialed ministers that promote safe and ethical interactions between the ministers and participants in their faith community. There is a link at the bottom of our home page at www.ohiomennoniteconference.org regarding reporting misconduct and for accessing Mennonite Church USA’s Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.
It is our prayer that all those who have been affected by this misconduct and misconduct similar to this will be able to experience the justice, grace, mercy, love, and healing of Jesus Christ.