Chilliwack pastor facing child pornography charges

Congregation informed Sunday of arrest of Main Street Church’s executive pastor

The executive pastor of Main Street Church is facing multiple child pornography charges.

Johannes (John) Vermeer was arrested a week and a half ago and had his first court appearance March 29, facing four child porn charges.

The 58-year-old faces one count each of possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography from May 1, 2010. He also faces the same charges with an offence date of March 17, 2015.

The Progress learned that senior pastor Shawn Vandop informed the congregation about the charges at both services on Sunday at the downtown Chilliwack church. Vandop confirmed that Monday, stating that members of the congregation met the news with “shock.”

“It’s not something that we want to hear or want to deal with but we live in a broken and messy world with a lot of pain,” he said, adding that right from the beginning of the investigation, church staff were co-operative.

“We actually reported this to police when we heard there was this activity on the computer system,” Vandop said.

Once they were able to, Vandop felt it best to inform everyone in the church rather than let rumours fester. He added that it was important they make it clear Vermeer is no longer an employee of the church in case there was any perception of risk to kids as they offer many programs for youth.

“No child in our care is impacted by this situation,” he said. “That’s really important.”

Vermeer was in the news in 2011 when the congregation of Promontory Community Church first purchased the Liquidation World building at Main Street and Princess Avenue in 2011. In 2013, the downtown ministry was named Main Street Church while Promontory one was renamed Hillside Community Church.

In 2014, the two churches came together under one roof at the ever-expanding location on Main Street.

Vermeer has served as executive pastor – an administrative role – for the church since 2009.

• READ MORE: Downtown revival seen in new church

Vermeer was a member of the city’s downtown core task force and was elected to the 2011/2012 Downtown Business Improvement Association board.

Vermeer is also an executive committee member of the B.C. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (BCMB), but as of March 29, 2018, his profile photo and bio are no longer on the www.bcmb.org website.

A Google-cached version of that bio page gives his background at Main Street, stating he has an extensive background in business and post-secondary education. He and his wife Anita have been married for 39 years and have two grown daughters.

When contacted Monday, BCMB director of resource ministries Denis Federau said Vermeer contacted them the day after his arrest to resign from the board.

“Our concern is first and foremost for anybody that is involved,” Federau said. “We are glad that the police are investigating and we have full confidence in the courts’ proceedings.”

Asked if Vermeer would be supported by BCMB or would the organization clean its hands of him, Federau said the former.

“No, we don’t clean our hands,” he said. “What we want to do is continue to support him and his wife by prayer. We are a religious organization so we want to support him emotionally spiritually.

“We want to step out of the way and let the process take place and get to the truth.”

Vermeer is next due in court April 17 at 9 a.m.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

A by-invitation meet-and-greet for Langley Township candidates

Man behind event also organized federal Conservative Party leadership debate in Langley

ELECTION 2018: Val van den Broek is in it to win it

One-term Langley City councillor runs for mayor

Driver of pickup stolen from Langley crashes into car in Abbotsford

No serious injuries in collision on Monday night

North Langley Kodiaks defense dominates in Victoria victory

Five separate Kodiaks players scored touchdowns during lopsided win

Traffic lights going up on accident-prone 16 Avenue in Langley

Work is underway on safety improvements at three intersections along route

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

5 to start your day

B.C. parents sue after toddler dies in unlicensed daycare, vehicle explodes in Pitt Meadows and more

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

Possible shooting on Abbotsford street near Aldergrove

Witnesses report what sounded like 4 shots fired Tuesday evening, but that has not been confirmed

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Most Read