What really matters is John Ortberg's review

After revelation: Megachurch pastor John Ortberg resigns

Pastor John Ortberg, who led Menlo Church for 17 years, will step down in August. His son is drawn to children - but he knowingly let him continue to work with them.

By Nathanael Ullmann

His silence brought him down: unlike Bill Hybels, the pastor and author John Ortberg did not actually or alleged personal sexual transgressions that led to his resignation. It is the lack of initiative at the wrong moment and the resulting breach of trust.

As early as July 2018, the pastor of the mega-church in the California Bay Area is said to have learned that his younger son was sexually attracted to children. Ortberg prayed for him, recommended advice to his son. But otherwise he was not active. He did not inform the council of elders or the community about the confession, nor did he withdraw his son from volunteering with children and young people.

Older son intervenes

This went undetected until November 2019. Then Daniel Lavery, also a son of Ortberg, contacted the community. He says a Menlo Church volunteer confessed his attraction to children. His father also knew about it, but did not do anything. The fact that this volunteer is the youngest son of the pastor remains hidden from the public at the time.

The council of elders calls in an independent investigator to review the matter. John Ortberg is also given a temporary leave of absence. His son resigns from volunteer work. But after the investigations, Ortberg will be reappointed to his office in the spring. Everything seems as usual.

New insights

Until Lavery spoke again on Twitter in June. He doubts the thoroughness of the investigations. This time he publicly names the volunteer as his brother. The council of elders and John Ortberg had not made this information public until then. In addition, the allegation is loud that the investigator did not speak to children or their parents with whom Ortberg's son had worked. The trust is finally broken. Ortberg offers to resign.

“I feel tremendously sad about this because I love this church and have dreams for our future. I consider the 17 years as a pastor here to be my greatest joy in the service, ”he wrote in a statement. However, it was a difficult time for parents, volunteers, staff and others. He believes that the unity Menlo needs is most likely through his departure.

Talks with his youngest son gave no indication that he was a danger, he also writes. In fact, at the current point of view, there is no evidence that Ortberg's son acted out his pedophile tendencies.

Three reasons to leave

In its communication, the council of elders names three reasons for its decision to accept Ortberg's resignation. First, his poor judgment led to pain and breach of trust. Second, the time to complete the new investigations and regain confidence would delay Menlo Church's mission. Third, the pastor needs the time to come to focus on healing and reconciliation in his own family. A transitional pastor will now be appointed who will temporarily serve as senior pastor. According to The Almanac, this position will be taken over by Eugene Lee. There should also be new studies on the safety of children.

Menlo Church visits 6,000 parishioners in six locations in the Bay Area, California. Around 1,000 children and young people are cared for in the children's services.