Chilliwack pastor facing child pornography charges

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

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

Faulty wiring blamed for Chilliwack barn fire Sunday morning

One civilian injured attempting to extinguish blaze on Ballam Road

GW Graham seniors bow out of football playoffs as juniors move on

The senior Grizzlies fell to the John Barsby Bulldogs in a AA playoff game last Saturday.

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema leads Canada to FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter-finals

Canada has gone 2-0 in the tournament with wins over Colombia and the Korean Republic.

Chilliwack Chiefs rally from three down to beat Powell River Kings

The Chiefs followed the come-from-behind win with a loss Sunday afternoon versus Alberni Valley.

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing starts Monday in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Case of bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during salughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

B.C.’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Mistrial declared in Dennis Oland’s retrial in father’s murder

The verdict from Oland’s 2015 murder trial was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a new trial ordered. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

VIDEO: Young hockey players meet legends in Langley

Eight- and nine-year-olds have close encounter with Dionne, Lafleur and Palmateer

Most Read