“Concerning the narcissist- after having been so seemingly incredibly loving and gentle, compassionate and caring- it would be like a light switch had suddenly been turned off and “all of a sudden” they simply did not care. They turned into a cold person, someone without love, compassion, empathy or regard for the subject’s feelings what so ever. It’s like they suddenly and literally stopped being human.” ― Jacqueline Servantess
What I am about to say is something that will be understood by most women and quite a few men as well. All of you remember being *checked out* by some guy. You know what I’m talking about. You are introduced to your new boss and he checks out your backside. What about the guy at the car wash who spends more time focusing on your chest are than on your credit card.? Then there is the professor who gets that grin on his face when you answer a question and exclaims “Brilliant observation!” and asks you to stay after class to discuss your *incredible* perceptions. I still remember a hospital that I worked at in which you would have to check in each morning and be given a pager to register. One infamous pager was the one that landed in the pool with a physician who got pushed in due to his unwelcome advances. One amusing *assigner of the pagers* * would point it out if you got *that* pager which was dried out and fixed by the hospital.
How many of you were warned about *that guy in accounting* who hit on all the women in the office? One complaint from one person should be enough. What if it was more than one person? Then maybe they will listen? Why do we need more than one woman to be heard? And what if having more than one woman complain isn’t enough?
The story I am about to tell is about one woman who represents other women who believed that the lead pastor in their church was involved in sexually inappropriate actions. No, this isn’t about a woman who got raped. It is about several women who became so incensed about his actions that they went to the presbytery who let him off the hook.
Kara Million first wrote her story for CBE International’s blog on12/9/20. Male Headship Wasn’t a Big Deal—Until I was Sexually Harassed by My Pastor
Kara is a PhD candidate in biology which is no small feat. Her husband was finishing seminary and had an internship at a church plant. That church, Hope Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana, is a PCA church and is a member…wait for it…The Gospel Coalition. So what transpired at this church and with this pastor will not be a surprise to readers at TWW.
In Kara’s story for CBE, she gives an overview of her situation. In typical *complementarian* style the pastor, Dan Herron, gave typical lip service of *honoring women. Women, do any of you feel” talked down to” when your pastor claims he *honors women?* Especially when his actions and the actions of the church appear to demonstrate that men run the show and don’t need women giving them input? I know I used to feel that way.
In the CBE story:
The pastor began harassing me when he set up a one-on-one meeting with me out of the blue to “catch up.” During the meeting he verbally abused me and used his body to intimidate me. Then he displayed flirtatious behavior and solicited an intimate “mentoring relationship” with me. Once the pastor realized I would not accept his advances, he began showing up unexpectedly at events, leering at me, cornering me in small spaces, and making unwanted physical contact.
When I avoided him, he went behind my back to my husband and urged him to intervene and make me more receptive to him. When my husband refused, the pastor bullied him at his job, targeted me from the pulpit, and made negative insinuations about my character and mental health.
The church’s provisional session informed my husband that they were well aware of the perpetrator’s “pastoral shortcomings,” but that they believed it was “God’s will” that he remain pastor of the church. One elder even commented that the pastor was a “good-looking guy,” and that women were always looking at him in public. “These sorts of things simply happen to good-looking guys in ministry,” he said. We left the church broken and traumatized.
… Several other former church members shared their experiences of bullying and sexual harassment at the hands of this pastor. I learned that the pastor had made inappropriate comments to other men in the congregation about women (including female church members).
Kara and Abigail contacted the Central Indiana Presbytery for help but to no avail.
Kara and her husband left the church. However, Kara and another woman who had untoward experiences with the pastor decided to write their presbytery about their experience. As time passed, more women would come forward to speak of their own experiences. Their former church was not yet *particularized* which means they didn’t have their own session of elders. That is why they had to go to the presbytery which had the authority to deal with their concerns.
This process lasted for eight months which is indicative of the snail-like responses in many denominations. Of course, the initial response of the presbytery was one of empathy. As time would soon prove, empathy got dumped when it came to dealing with one of those *icky women’s issues.” Things would become tense. Their former pastor preached a sermon about “haters” and “false accusers.” It sounds sadly like my former church which helped to birth this blog.
Although the women asked that their identities be kept anonymous, they would learn that the pastor guessed who they were quite quickly. This caused me to think that he knew whom he had allegedly abused. (I believe the women but use the word *allegedly in case lawyers are looking in.) In the end, nothing really happened with the presbytery which is demonstrative of the general ineffectiveness of presbyteries in dealing with sex abuse, molestation, and abuse.
When the commission finally reached a decision, they told us they believed our claims, but that “a man’s livelihood and vocation are on the line,” and it would be an “injustice” for him to lose his job over this. The presbytery voted not to bring any charges against him; instead, they voted to pay for counseling and sensitivity training for him. No care or counseling was offered to the victims.
To make matters worse, the presbytery appeared positively brain dead when they pulled antics like this.
We were horrified to learn that the meetings would take place at the church where much of the abuse had occurred.
Who knew this PCA church could use phrases like my old Reformed Baptist church. When that church learned early on of the actions of an SEBTS seminary student, they couldn’t quite believe it and claimed that he was simply exhibiting *locker room humor.” (He went to prison for 13 years.) Look what this presbytery told the women.
some commission members dismissed the abuse I suffered to my face as “locker room bravado” and “seventh grade playfulness.”
Good night! Do they go to conferences to learn this nonsense? However, it’s phrases like this that cause me to fully buy into Kara’s narrative.
Dan Herron’s 18-page rebuttal (Yes, I read the whole thing.)
Do you want to understand what kind of pastor Dan Herron was? Character is best demonstrated in times of duress. You know the scenario. A soldier puts himself into the line of fire to save the life of his fellow soldier. I keep hearing about pastors who claimed that they were *called by God* to the pastorate. I know a couple of pastors like this. However, I have also seen some horrific examples of the actions of those who would swear that they were called by God yet act and speak as if they were Michael Corleone ordering a hit on his brother, Fredo. Think I’m exaggerating? One can kill his brother or sister with a gun or with words.
I was provided with a copy of the letter that Herron wrote to the Central Indiana Presbytery. This is an eye-opening letter that speaks to the character of Herron. A real pastor, one called by God, would exhibit love, grace, repentance, and a desire for reconciliation. Such a pastor would speak to the pain of the women who were so concerned that they sought help outside of the local church. As you will see, Herron was not that sort of man.
I will be calling out sections of this letter and evaluating his words through the lens of one who understands abuse. It is the longest letter of the sort that I have ever read. In the end, I couldn’t take anymore.
He declares he knows motives and says the women immature and divisive.
Herron claims he wishes to show meekness and humility but immediately attacks the women. He claims he is going to challenge their motives. Sadly, he takes a godlike stance by saying he knows their motives. He doesn’t and should stick to what he does know. The beginning of his letter is indicative of what is to come. He uses spiritually abusive language to denigrate Kara and the others, calling them divisive for addressing their concerns. He is counter-attacking and he knows it.
If I seem defensive, it is because I have been required to defend myself, yet my desire is to do so with humility and meekness as well as firm holding to the truth. If this letter seems like I am counter-attacking my accusers, I am not. Rather, I am calling their accusations into question by challenging their interpretive lenses, motives, their own characters, and the history of immaturity and divisiveness they have displayed.herron claims that the women came to the church with the intent to harm him.
Herron claims the women came to the church with the intent to harm him and are a bunch of gossips.
It is well known that the word *gossip* is often used in order to prevent open and honest communication between members of a church who are trying desperately to figure out what is happening. Herron seems to feel he is the victim of a plot that began prior to the women arriving at the church. That appears somewhat paranoid and is worrisome. In fact, he believes that the women have been intent on harming him. Why? They simply went to the presbytery for assistance which is part of normal PCA functioning.
This is quite a difficult task since the accusations brought against me are so expansive, vindictive, woven with distortion, exaggeration, and fabrication, and tied to complicated lenses of perception these people brought to Bloomington and have reinforced through gossip with one another while in Bloomington. Further, because these accusations are so incendiary and my accusers’ desire to harm me seems so prevalent, I desire to record a full response for the record.
Herron fears the women will attempt to harm him in the future.
This might appear to be some sort of emotional instability, even paranoia.
(Speaking of keeping a record of his response) a reference should there be any future attempts by my accusers to malign my character, seek to damage my reputation, or attack my ministry. Additionally, for the past several years I have received blows from this group of people, yet have not responded.
Herron questions the motives of his accusers and claims the only wish to end his career as a pastor.
He cannot know their motives so he makes up a few. For example, he says they desire to see him humiliated and even will seek to end his career as a pastor.
Further, it seems clear to me that the motives of my accusers are not for the confrontation of possible sin for the purpose of the glory of God, the purity of the Church, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration; but, for what seems like, the purpose of vengeance, punishment, and desire to see me humiliated, shamed, and punished through censure or ending my career as a pastor.
Herron claims that pastoral tenderness might be lacking in his defense. At least he got this one right.
pastoral tenderness may not be the most prominent feature.
Slander and gossip for thee but not for me.
He levels the typical charges of slander and gossip which are well known to be used by spiritually abusive church leadership. I wrote a post he should read called Slander or an Inconvenient Truth? Slander has been so overused by abusive churches that the word has become almost useless. He claims he does not wish to portray people falsely yet he so does by claiming to know their motives. He doesn’t.
I have not responded in kind to the various people slandering me and gossiping with one another based on their impressions, perceptions, and feelings regarding me and my leadership.
…I do not want to portray people falsely or be a part of generating gossip and slander
He claims he knows the people who have gone to the presbytery and he, once again, accuses them of all sorts of evil deeds, including emotional triangles…Huh?
What in the world is an emotional triangle? He uses this term in several instances in the letter.
I am fairly confident as to who the people are behind these letters. It is highly likely that these people are an extension of the community of anxiety, speculation, slander, division, and sabotage that has been building among a handful of disgruntled young people who have departed the church
…see and understand the destructive emotional triangles that have developed with this particular group
He claims he sought the counsel of leaders to see if he lacked wisdom and if any of his sins played a part in this mess.
But, it’s all their fault. All of it!!
Bloomington, key leaders within Hope in order to be open, vulnerable, and submitted to others around me in order for me to have clarity regarding areas where I’ve lacked wisdom and insight, areas where my own sins may be at play, and in order for me to remain differentiated and present even as I have been slandered, accused falsely, and people have attempted to crush me personally and de-rail the goals of this church plant.H
He claims he confronted one individual of *the group,* claiming that this person was slandering him. It did not go well.
He said he told this individual that he needed to stop the slander in order to be reconciled to him. I wonder why?
we couldn’t really reconcile until he displayed repentance by stopping the gossip and slander. It was in this same conversation that xxx informed me that he and xxx were withdrawing their membership at Hope.
He claims he was told by others about this groups’ slander but he won’t way who!
Several people close to me who also have relationships with those in this group, have shared with me and another Hope leader in confidence about the consistent slander against me in face-to-face conversations as well as Facebook that had been a regular occurrence.
This letter goes on for 18 pages which makes it way too long for this post. I will share few aspects of the letter so you understand the general trajectory if you haven’t already guessed.
It’s her fault.
Since that interaction she has avoided me like the plague— literally sliding along the wall in the hallway whenever I or xxx walked by, staying as far away from me as possible when coming up to receive the Lord’s Supper, leaving rooms whenever xxx or I might be near, etc. This all could also be amplified by her traumatic childhood, childhood attachment disorder and the continued effects of this in her adulthood, as her husband has shared with me numerous times.
He claims Her husband was a failure which caused Kara’s abusive attitude to Herron.
(Chris Baker had a )3-year history of failure in faithfulness in his intern role at Hope. We had to consistently move him to different responsibilities as he failed to follow through in his duties.
…He continued to fail and so we had to continue to reducehis duties. This may be the “punishment” of her husband that Kara Million perceived was because of her negativity and abusive attitude toward me.
…he made comments to this person disclosing his sense of entitlement, lack of concern for others, and callousness to the generosity of others.
He claims this community expected co-dependent enablement from him. Wut?
the slanderous community a handful of former members have created. Included in this is their frustration with not getting what they’ve wanted in the church, added to some possible unwise decisions I have made or possible insensitivities I have had, and stirred into that, their not receiving the co-dependent enablement from me that they’ve come to expect from their relationships (hence their passive-aggressive attack of me through creating a community of slander
It’s all a lie.
all of these have been distorted, exaggerated, or fabricated,
They have accused him of being a bully as well as exhibiting inappropriate behavior.
These words and phrases that my accusers have permitted the Commission to release include: “sexual harassment or exploitation,” “bullying,” “other women have stated their desire to speak up,” “unsafe,” “lurking,” “randomly show up and ambush me in a corner…” “used his body to intimidate me,” “touch and sidle up to me,” “lingering too long,” “blocked my path and refused to move,” “blocked my path before releasing me,” “aggressive and pushy,” “aggressive in tone,” “targeting me,” “I felt objectified and alarmed,” touching almost exclusively young women,” “his body was basically against mine”.
He claims his accusers are not showing Chrisitan love. Also, they are not trustworthy.
He does not look at himself as he makes these claims. It is all about *them*.
This is not Christian love and pursuit of truth and reconciliation for the sake of the peace and purity of the Church.Rather, this is their exercise of power to abuse xxx and I, hold me hostage to their feelings, and seek to bring division to Christ’s Church. This group of people are not trustworthy.
I am only on page 5… there are 13 more pages of this screed which has yet to show one iota of self-awareness by Herron.
I will try to shorten this. He goes on to list names that will prove how wonderfully mature he is.
He seems perplexed why women didn’t want to meet with him alone.
“[the accused] texted me and wanted to grab a coffee alone with me to hear my ideas. I was perplexed why [the accused] wanted to meet me alone.” [the other ministry leader apparently was not invited to the meeting]
He seems aware that he is being accused of stalking behavior but doesn’t understand why.
These are grossly exaggerated with intentionally inflammatory language: “lurking,” “suddenly appear,”“weird voice,” “randomly show up, “ambush in a corner…” What is the lens through which this personis scrutinizing me? I have addressed some of this already in oral testimony.
Other claims of women:
“He leaned in close and used his body to intimidate me… he easily towers over me.” He then started using his body to corner me in small places…”… had been physical while sitting on a couch, and the instance when I had allegedly inappropriately touched someone while in a worship service
He denies all of this, claiming he is a big man.
As I’ve stated previously, I do not recall any of these instances. I am tall, I do tower over a lot of people,I have a physical presence, these are indeed all true aspects of who I am. But, I do not corner anyone,
…Having the 6’2” pastor standing in front of everyone and talking with a person in the 2nd or 3rd row would have been greatly distracting to the congregation, so I chose an alternative as a split-second call. I did not consider how this could be the opportunity to intimidate, exploit, dehumanize, or inappropriately touch this young woman because this young woman wasn’t on my mind at all, unless I may have said, “excuse me” or something in order to speak to this other person.This gross exaggeration of both my actions and my intentions leads me to question my accuser’s experience and interpretation of this situation as well as the credibility of any of her other interpretationsof me because it displays a lens of presumption that unjustly portrays me as physically and sexually
He claims their sins or distorted desires struck a chord with them in some sermons that he preached.
Did this offend him/her because of his/her distorted lens, because my statements may have struck a chord with his own sin, or because I was angry at him? I am not theonly one who preaches about “idolatry” and “distorted desires”. Included in this group would be TimKeller, Jonathan Edwards, John Piper, the pastors of the CIP, and Augustine who originated the concept of “distorted desires” as a paraphrase of “sin.”
He said that *gossip* should not be considered legitimate testimony!
First, this is gossip, and should not be considered legitimate testimony. Second, what does this grasping at gossip communicate about my accusers, their character, and their intentions to malign my character?
He denies making any comments of a sexual nature.
[heard at a coffee shop]: [the accused] stating “I like to go there to see ‘hot moms who work out.”
….I have never said this. Further, who was the person that heard me allegedly saying this, and to whom was I allegedly speaking, and what was the context of the conversation?
He claims he is experiencing spiritual warfare. He is being attacked by wicked people.
This is another abusive tactic. Andy Davis, a Calvinist’s Calvinist, called some friends who disagreed with him on whether women could be deacons “wicked and unregenerate.”
Third, there is the reality of spiritual warfare and an enemy who seeks to sow discord without restoration, conflict without reconciliation, confusion without clarification, and divisiveness. We have been experiencing this onslaught since setting foot here in 2012. And, as the church is finally reaching its goal in becomingparticularized, the onslaught has intensified in its most wicked and deceptive form yet.
He claims he is a visionary leader with a charismatic presence and this is his weakness!
Fourth, one of my gifts and one of my struggles, if unchecked, is that I am a visionary leader with a charismatic presence. As a result, I can communicate, or people can hear, big vision and a picture of the future possibilities that can be beautiful and compelling. I believe them, they believe them, we move forward.
I’ve been learning to not so much change who I am, but to learn to also articulate the challenges and struggle that comes with reality in pursuing a Kingdom-focused goal. I think it is possible that my own weakness in this area has contributed to some of the history of discord and conflict at Hopeas people’s expectations may have been disappointed.
The city of Bloomington is filled with polarizing and intense people who are seeking to infiltrate the church!
Can you imagine the people of Bloomington reading this assessment?
Fifth, Bloomington is a city and culture filled with polarizing and intense people, views, opinions.
…And that we’ll have to engage with the gospel as this culture seeks to infiltrate into the church. This is also a culture that is both being defined more and more by activistic
Wolves are infiltrating the church to sow discord.
God has been sovereignly protecting this church in its embryonic stages from wolves insheep’s clothing who are being used by our very real enemy to sow discord.
Had enough? I have.
So where did it go from here?
Herron and his wife allegedly entered counseling. He also took a year off from the pastorate. I have been told that he is currently seeking a new position in a church. He currently is an Assistant Lab Director at VisionQuest Labs.
We seek to come alongside trainers, coaches, teams, fitness studios, clubs, and athletes in order to provide university-level physiology and performance assessments to assist individuals in achieving their fitness and athletic goals.
Central Indiana Presbytery (PCA)
As is reported at the beginning, the Central Indiana Presbytery blew this off as locker room humor. I have been informed that they didn’t want Herron to lose his job. However, he left anyway. Sounds like a good idea
Dan Herron demonstrates that he doesn’t get it. I don’t think I have ever read 18 long pages of protestations of total innocence while expressing that the people he was called to love were evil and wicked. 18 pages!! I find it difficult to believe that this man ever had the heart of a pastor. It is one of the most narcissistic screeds I have ever read.
I am deeply disturbed that the Central Indiana Presbytery did not see the obvious spiritually abuse thoughts of Dan Herron. Didn’t they read this disturbing letter? I know it was rather long but I read every bit of his tirade. Frankly, I do not feel people who are experiencing abuse in this presbytery should go to them for help.
I think it is time for the Central Indiana Presbytery and Hope Church to get educated in the area of abuse. I have some suggestions.
- Read the Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: They might find many examples in this book in Herron’s letter.
- Read A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing. Much grace is needed for those who came forward.
- Contact a group like G.R.A.C.E to help this presbytery understand how to effectively intervene in abusive situations. They could also help to reconcile the church to those who have been hurt.