Heath pastor admits to relationship with teen 30 years ago

Photo courtesy of the Newark Advocate
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Pastor John Schouten had an interesting position at the VGF Church in Heath also known as Vineyard Grace Fellowship.

Not only did he start the church, but his backstory was unusual for a Pastor. Schouten was a self-admitted former drug addict and adulterer.

He used his background to help teach others that despite your sins you can be saved by Christ.

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But Schouten didn't tell everything. He kept one secret about his past from the church and his congregation.

That change in June of this year when the church received an email from a former student.

That student spoke about John Schouten prior to him becoming a pastor when he was a teacher at Liberty Christian Academy 30 years ago.

"John would have been 25. He started sleeping with her when she was 14, she was a senior when I got there. He got her pregnant while his wife pregnant wife Marilyn was working at the school," said the former student who asked we not identify him.

He said after talking with another student he learned Schouten was the leader of a mega church and he was shocked no one knew of his past.

"I wanted to vomit that I heard that he was a megachurch pastor," he said.

The church said when it confronted Schouten about the illegal act, he admitted to it. He later told the congregation.

"This is not one of the cases where a pastor took advantage of pastoral relationship that's happened in other churches that did not happen here it's still a bad situation," says Mark Weaver who attends the church and spoke to 10TV as a representative of the church and the pastor.

Because of the age of the crime, the church was unable to file charges.

In the end, the church decided it was best the two parted company and agreed to pay Schouten the rest of this year's salary and all of next years salary. So will be allowed to Pastor again? The answer is yes.

"This is a question of forgiveness and whether someone who has committed this sin can be accepted as a leader or a pastor and the Christian faith suggests that if you come to Christ with your sin and ask for forgiveness you are as good a Christian as anybody else and able to teach and preach anywhere you want to," says Weaver.