John Ortberg, senior pastor of the nearly 4,000-member Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California, exhibited “poor judgment” when he knowingly allowed a volunteer who confessed to having an attraction to minors to work with children, church elders said. Ortberg is now undergoing a period of restoration.
In an email that was sent to church members on Jan. 21 and shared with The Christian Post by the church, Beth Seabolt, chair of the congregation’s elder board, said Ortberg was asked to go on personal leave from the church on Nov. 22, 2019, while an investigation of concerns raised by a third party was conducted.
“In July of 2018, a person serving in the Menlo Church community came to John and shared in confidence an unwanted thought pattern of attraction to minors. The person assured to John’s satisfaction that the person had not acted on the attraction and sought John’s support. John believed the person and provided prayers and referrals for counseling,” Seabolt said in the email.
Despite the confession, however, Ortberg “failed to take the required steps to prevent the person from volunteering with minors at the Menlo Park campus and did not consult anyone else at Menlo Church about the situation,” the elder board’s chair said.
She noted that as soon as the church was made aware of the concern about the volunteer, they informed their denomination and brought in an independent investigator but did not find any misconduct in the Menlo Church community.
My statement on Menlo Church and my father; I won’t be reading replies to this but I’m grateful to the friends and chosen family who have helped Grace and me through the last few months. pic.twitter.com/elT9I7v9u6
— Daniel M. Lavery (@daniel_m_lavery) February 2, 2020
“Nevertheless, the investigation showed John exhibited poor judgment that was inconsistent with his responsibilities as Senior Pastor,” Seabolt said.
“John fully understands the Board’s concerns regarding his handling of this situation. John is saddened by the potential risk he now realizes he brought on the Menlo community and wholly agrees that he did not handle this matter consistent with his responsibilities to Menlo Church and the Board’s expectations of him. He deeply apologizes for his action and decisions, and is committed to the safety and integrity of our community and to ensuring that such a situation does not arise again.”
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