Donn Ketcham, ABWE & the GARBC

Many people don’t really understand why a mission board with such strict regulations and rules that its missionaries cannot dance or drink would allow a man who has broken his marriage vows and conducts himself suspiciously around the opposite sex to continually return to the mission field in the 70s and 80s (where he was incidentally molesting female children–a piece ABWE claims it knew nothing about until 1989).

The first assumption is that it was because he was a doctor, and that probably had a lot to do with it. Doctors are unquestionably given preferential treatment by mission boards, as it is usually assumed they are sacrificing more or somehow working harder than evangelists, teachers and others.

But in the case of Donn Ketcham, one has to understand whose son he was, and the close relationship the mission board ABWE had with the GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches). These ties are unmistakable and unfortunate, for they clearly led to preferential treatment that we can only hope would never have been given to another missionary. We do not point this out to discredit the GARBC, on the contrary we point it out to expose the hidden motives and agenda of ABWE, which relied on the support and money coming in from GARB churches. In fact … it still does. They had every reason to not upset GARB churches, every reason to not upset one of its founders, every reason to not rock the boat by dismissing Robert T. Ketcham’s son.

We plea now with GARB churches for their help. We are grateful for the GARB pastors and leaders who stand with us, but can only ask those who don’t why they do not offer support to the victims of Robert T. Ketcham’s son. Are they so enamored with the last name they cannot bear to see the truth of this matter? Are they so enamored with ABWE that they cannot see the truth about the organization now? How would they respond to victims of abuse in their own congregations?

GARB pastors, you hold the purse strings of ABWE. It falls to you to force them to discipline all involved employees and ministers and shake the rotten fruit from their tree. It’s likely that they did what they did because of a misguided sense of keeping the GARBC happy. Show them now that it is integrity you desire, not secret sin.


Please visit our newly updated TIMELINE, scroll to the bottom, and work your way up to gain a broader understanding of why this relationship and an understanding of history is so important to this story.


About Bangladesh MKs Speak

We are a group of American former missionary kids (MKs) who lived in Bangladesh while Donn Ketcham worked as a missionary doctor there with the mission agency Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
This entry was posted in ABWE's Response, Press Releases, Stories and Discussion of Documents. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Donn Ketcham, ABWE & the GARBC

  1. paulspassingthoughts says:

    Good job on this post. I will repost it on PPT.
    Stay the course.

  2. Peter Waud says:

    I believe that Don K is not Bob K’s son but nephew. ?
    Yours Peter Waud
    Continue to watch and pray for you all.

    • isaiah 618 says:

      Sorry, Peter.

      I regret to inform you that Donn Ketcham is indeed Robert’s son. Whoever told you otherwise was perhaps leading you astray. Or … perhaps they know something we don’t. We have heard rumors that Donn was adopted. Perhaps therein lies the answer. Maybe he was adopted from a sister who had a child out of wedlock, and therefore was biologically not Robert’s? Who knows.

      Really, if YOU (our readers) know, tell us. But for all intents and purposes, Donn Ketcham was raised by Robert T. Ketcham, a key founder of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, and he called him father. Donn is even discussed in biographies (yes, biographies have been written about him) of Robert T. Ketcham, one of the GARB’s most revered leaders until he passed away.

      The man had biographies written about him. And people wonder why we accuse ABWE of playing favorites? Please read our timeline (top of the page, along the icons), if you have not already, and see how ABWE had ties to GARBC from the beginning. Were they lying about Donn to GARB leaders all these years or were they telling them the facts?

      Again, GARBC leaders, we call on you now to hold ABWE accountable for their actions. Please do not send a message that this behavior is tolerated by your churches, because I would like to believe sincerely that it is not. That you would never ever keep police from a confessed child molester. That you would never lie to a group of women and promise them and investigation and counseling (2002) and deliver neither for seven-plus years until you were forced to by a series of strong women who said, “Enough is enough.”

      Please, please, GARB pastors, be men of God and do not tolerate wrong. Do not show favoritism. Do not be blinded by friendships and former ties. Call a spade a spade.

      Rally for the cause of children as you did when you signed your own commitment earlier this year. Do not let ABWE’s sin go unheeded.

      — Tamara Rice

      • Peter Waud says:

        Live and learn.
        Continue in prayer for your important work.

      • isaiah 618 says:

        Note: I’ve “deleted” my speculation about Donn’s adoption and any “out-of-wedlock” connection as it was inappropriate. We’ve heard rumors he was adopted, which may stem from him being born from Robert’s second marriage, thereby only be half-brother to his two older sisters. Either way, speculation doesn’t help. Sorry. – Tam

  3. Peter Waud says:

    But Wikipedia only mentions 2 daughters.?
    Is it his brother Harry Katcham that is meant.?
    Peter again

    • isaiah 618 says:

      I believe the first daughters were from the first wife of Robert. He married twice. Didn’t know about a Harry. Will look into that. Thanks for your attention to the matter, Peter. Seriously. If only everyone cared as much about the facts of this matter as you do. We appreciate you.
      — Tamara

      • isaiah 618 says:

        Note that we will update the TIMELINE with this info asap, but Harry was Robert Ketcham’s brother. And Donn Ketcham’s sisters were from the first marriage of Robert. Robert’s first wife passed away and he married again, then had Donn.

  4. Patricia says:

    I find it very interesting that some of our “spiritual leaders” can not move far enough away from anything to do with ABWE, however their board members, past and present still are associated with formerly approved GARBC agencies, church members and Pastors.

    I hope and pray that the horrific news coming out of PA will wake up some of these leaders. It just is so sad to me that leaders, ( I once respected), lag behind in doing the “right” thing even when they see on news reports that there is no time constraints on dealing with an abuser.

    Never thought I would have this thought process but: maybe it is time we take the model from the WORLD to deal with this issue, because evidently there is a lack of knowledge or desire to follow the Biblical principles. ANYONE that had ANY knowledge and did not do their “due diligence” need to resign from their position of leadership and authority at ABWE and face the legal and ethical consequences.

    Very encouraged to hear that PA has an Att. General that knows exactly how to deal with these issues, I for one would be more than happy to sign a petition as a person that has given to ABWE via supporting their mission and missionaries and was DEFRAUDED by their practices.

    Hmmmm, and now that I am thinking about it, those monies were delivered by the US mail and crossed state lines. Hmmmm, that is right, it can be proven that they portrayed their org. as something it was not, and knowingly defrauded churches and individuals do to the fact that they went into the damage control mode so they would not lose support.

    Just saying if it is ever necessary, I and I am sure hundreds of others would be more than willing to sign on to a petition to start an investigation of the organization or individuals within the origination that made these nonscriptual and unethical, and even illegal choices.

    Waiting on GRACE to submit their report, however, I do NOT think our God is a God of coincidences and for the information to come out at Penn at this time, and for so many at that college to be named, charged and reprimanded for their LACK OF THE RIGHT RESPONSE to a horrific situation, should encourage those that are waiting for justice in this situation.


    • watching closely says:

      I just read that both Joe Paterno AND the president of Penn State were FIRED today, not allowed to retire, not allowed to step aside quietly and discreetly! Hmmmm. What lesson can/should we learn from all this . . . ?

      D. Bos

  5. Pamela E. Bennett says:

    What an excellent idea, I too would be glad to sign a petition. Have you voted on the poll Biblical Accountability in Missions? All I can say is I don’t want my grandchildren around anyone who voted yes on that poll. I find it amazing people voted yes, I know they think yes but to actually vote yes baffles me. Full stop.

  6. No Longer Pretending says:

    I am a non-denominational pastor now, but I grew up in a GARBC church, went to a GARBC college and seminary, then pastored a GARBC church. One of the reasons I am not longer a part of the organization is that they believe and practice the “great man of God theory” – a faulty understanding of how God works in people’s lives – that creates an unhealthy relationship between leaders and followers. The leader is cast as the one through whom God will primarily work, thus creating a “bigger than life” image. Because of the special call of God on the leader, his actions are above question. This approach overlooks the biblical fact that, while God has given us different gifts and roles, He intends to use every person and we are all members of the same body.

    ABWE is part of the bigger GARBC system. It is system that doesn’t lend itself to accountability. In the GARBC worldview Missionary Doctor Ketcham would be considered a “great man of God” by virtue of the fact that he was a) Missionary, b) Doctor, c) Ketcham. It’s not really a surprise – but extremely sad – that there was a coverup of his wrongdoing. To alliterate like all good GARBC preachers: He had the position, the pedigree and the parent to be considered a “great man.”

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