Pastor John Ortberg of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, Calif., has announced his resignation from the congregation after a two-week “further independent investigation” into the conditions under which he allowed his son to work with children despite revealing his attraction to them was announced by congregation elders Wednesday.
“In the last days and after a process of mutual discernment with John and in consultation with the Presbytery, it is with great heart that the board unanimously concluded that John should resign as Senior Pastor of our church. He accepted and submitted his resignation last week,” the congregation’s board of elders commented.
Initiatives of Investigation
The pastor was first asked to go on personal leave from the church on November 22, 2019, while an inquiry was conducted into concerns raised by a third party about a then-unrecognized church volunteer.
Earlier this month, Daniel Lavery, a transgendered woman who is Ortberg’s estranged daughter, revealed on Twitter that the volunteer is his brother, John Ortberg III.
By January, without revealing Ortberg’s relationship with the volunteer, believers said their leader exhibited “bad judgment,” but no harm had come to any minor in Menlo’s church community based on the findings of an investigation.
He returned to the pulpit
Ortberg, returned to the pulpit in March and apologized for his “deficiencies” in a letter to the church on July 6. Pressure from blind church members who felt betrayed about the details of Ortberg’s family link to the volunteer, however, forced further investigation.
In the midst of a statement last Wednesday, the elders’ board said that asking Ortberg to resign was based on a “collective desire for healing and discernment.
“Our decision stems from a collective desire for healing and discernment focused on three primary areas. First, John’s poor judgment has resulted in pain and a broken trust among many parents, youth, volunteers and staff. Second, the long period of time required to complete the new research and rebuild trust will significantly delay our ability to pursue Menlo’s mission with the unity of spirit and purpose to which we believe God is calling us,” the board of elders said.
Healing for his own family
The pastor also argued that he needed time to “focus on healing and reconciliation within his own family.
In the hope that Ortberg will address the congregation clearly, his last day in church is Sunday, August 2. He also expressed a statement that he had previously offered his resignation from the church on a few occasions during the saga.
“Over the past several months I have offered to resign in numerous conversations with our elders, if that would help our church. Last Thursday, as we spoke, it became clear that I could not continue my service as your pastor, and I agree that at this time resigning is the best way forward,” Ortberg said.
“I feel a great sadness about this, because I love our church and appreciate the dreams for our future. I have considered my seventeen years as pastor here to be the greatest joy I have had in ministry. But this has been a difficult time for parents, volunteers, staff and others, and I believe that the unity needed for Menlo to flourish will best be served by my departure,” he added.
He asks for prayers for his home
Ortberg stressed his regret at not exercising better judgment over his son’s work with the church, and asked for prayers for his family.
“I want to express again my regret that I did not serve our church with better judgment. The extensive conversations I had with my youngest son gave no evidence of risk of harm, and the feedback from others about his impact was consistently positive. However, for my part, I did not balance my responsibilities as a parent with my responsibilities as a leader. I am hopeful that my departure can mark a new beginning in the ministry of our church, and I will also appreciate your prayers for our family,” the pastor concluded.
John Ortberg is resigning from Menlo Church as the church works to "rebuild trust."