The Mosaic Conference Board has called on the Mosaic Ministerial Committee to review conference policy regarding the holding of ministerial credentials for Conference Related Ministries (CRM) leaders.
In September of 2021, Mosaic Conference committed to developing an internal review process in response to allegations of misconduct at Dock Mennonite Academy (Lansdale, PA). Soon after, an official complaint was filed with Mosaic Conference, accusing Dock Academy’s Superintendent, Conrad Swartzentruber, of failing to protect the children in the school’s care. Swartzentruber has been ordained by Mosaic since 2020 and is a member of Plains Mennonite Church (Hatfield, PA).
In accordance with Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) policies regarding allegations of misconduct against credentialed leaders, Mosaic Conference responded by placing a hold on internal investigations. Mosaic Conference then moved forward to contract with external investigators to ascertain whether or not the allegation was founded. According to denominational policies, public communication was paused until the external investigation was completed.
In early April 2022, the external team presented a confidential report to the Mosaic Ministerial Committee that recommended Swartzentruber be charged. On April 7, the Ministerial Committee met to discern whether to follow through with this recommendation. The committee considered the evidence that the investigation team had gathered but, in a contested decision, declined to charge Swartzentruber.
The minutes of the Ministerial Committee then went to the Conference Board on May 16 for affirmation. The Board acknowledged a lack of clarity for the charge and requested additional information from the investigation team. This additional information was reviewed at the July 18 Board meeting, concluding the external investigation process.
In considering the conference process, the Board identified some deeper issues within conference polity and structure that need to be addressed. One of the challenges revealed in the external investigation was the potential incompatibility between leadership of a non-profit organization, with its accompanying legal responsibilities, and the commitment that credentialed leaders make with the Giving and Receiving Counsel process, the primary accountability structure for the Conference’s credentialed leaders. In response, the Board has called on the Ministerial Committee to review the Conference policy on holding credentials for CRM leaders.
Additionally, the report emphasized a weakness in the Conference’s leadership minister structure, which primarily provides accountability to the lead pastor of congregations, leaving potential gaps in support and accountability for credentialed leaders in other roles. This structure was developed by the Leadership Minister Team and will be reviewed and revised in conversation with the Ministerial Committee.
Finally, the report identified the need for a clearer communication plan around misconduct investigations. The process, developed within the wider denomination, mandates a shutdown of communication during an external investigation, yet this lack of communication can create mistrust among members of the affected community, particularly survivors of abuse. The report suggested that often the institution is protected using the “guise of confidentiality.” Conference staff have committed to working with Mennonite Church USA to develop a new policy that honors confidentiality while also empowering survivors and providing transparency to the process.
Both Mosaic’s Ministerial Committee and Board agreed that there were significant flaws in the process. “These kind of processes challenge our system and community because of the infrequency of complaints” reflected Mosaic’s Executive Minister, Steve Kriss. “Policies are created for hypothetical scenarios and then, when a complaint is filed, it often doesn’t play out that way in reality,” he said. “This process was imperfect, and we are challenged now to continue to work at issues of restoration and hope for the many who have been involved and affected.”
The events of the last few months have highlighted the need for Mosaic Conference to continue to adjust and change to more fully “embody the reconciling love of Jesus in our broken and beautiful world.” The Board hopes that these learnings strengthen commitments to healthy relationships, mutual accountability, and the cultivation of safe spaces for the vulnerable among us.
Mosaic Conference takes allegations of abuse or misconduct seriously (resources for Safe Churches). If you have information about an instance of child abuse in your ministry context, please report it by calling the child abuse hotline for your state:
CA: list of phone numbers by county
MD: list of phone numbers by county