El pastor de la megaiglesia asediada John Ortberg renuncia a la iglesia de Menlo

Por Bob Smietana
John Ortberg resigns

John Ortberg, popular autor y orador cristiano, renunció como pastor de Iglesia de Menlo, una congregación megaiglesia en las afueras de San Francisco.

Su renuncia es efectiva el domingo (2 de agosto).  

“He considerado mis diecisiete años como pastor aquí como la mayor alegría que he tenido en el ministerio”, dijo Ortberg en un comunicado. “Pero este ha sido un momento difícil para los padres, los voluntarios, el personal y otros, y creo que la unidad necesaria para que Menlo prospere se beneficiará mejor si me voy”.

En noviembre, Ortberg fue colocado en licencia después de que los ancianos de Menlo Church se enteraron, permitió que un voluntario que había admitido sentirse atraído por los niños trabajara con niños en la iglesia y en la comunidad.

Ortberg se enteró por primera vez de la admisión del voluntario en julio de 2018. No informó a otros líderes de la iglesia ni al equipo deportivo juvenil que el voluntario entrenaba. Los líderes de la iglesia no se enteraron de sus acciones hasta que Daniel Lavery, uno de los hijos de Ortberg, envió un correo electrónico para dar la alarma.

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El pastor volvió al púlpito esta primavera después de que los ancianos contrataran a un abogado para realizar una investigación sobre el asunto.

Pero la controversia en la iglesia estallado nuevamente después de que Lavery reveló que el voluntario en cuestión era el hermano menor de Lavery y el hijo del pastor, un hecho que se había ocultado a la congregación. Lavery, antiguos amigos de la familia Ortberg y otros críticos de la decisión han pedido en las últimas semanas que el pastor renuncie.

También surgieron preguntas sobre la investigación de una posible mala conducta, ya que el abogado que contrató la iglesia no habló con los padres ni con los niños o jóvenes con los que había trabajado el voluntario.  

No se han hecho acusaciones específicas de mala conducta por parte del hijo menor de Ortberg. 

A principios de este mes, un portavoz de los ancianos de la iglesia dijo que su pastor había traicionado la confianza de los miembros y líderes de la iglesia. Reconstruir esa confianza sería difícil si Ortberg permaneciera como pastor, dijeron los ancianos en el comunicado del miércoles en el que anunciaron su renuncia.

También dijeron que la iglesia está organizando una investigación nueva y más extensa.

“Nuestra decisión surge de un deseo colectivo de sanación y discernimiento centrado en tres áreas principales”, dijeron los ancianos en un declaración. “Primero, el mal juicio de John ha resultado en dolor y en la pérdida de confianza entre muchos padres, jóvenes, voluntarios y personal. En segundo lugar, el período de tiempo prolongado requerido para completar la nueva investigación y reconstruir la confianza retrasará significativamente nuestra capacidad para llevar a cabo la misión de Menlo con la unidad de espíritu y propósito a la que creemos que Dios nos llama”.

Los ancianos de la iglesia también dijeron que Ortberg se enfocará en la reconciliación de su propia familia después de dejar la iglesia. Lavery y otros miembros de la familia se han distanciado públicamente desde noviembre de 2018.

En los últimos días de Ortberg como pastor, se dirigirá a la congregación durante un servicio en línea este fin de semana. Se ha desempeñado como pastor de Menlo durante 17 años. Antes de eso, fue pastor docente en Iglesia Comunitaria de Willow Creek cerca de chicago

En su declaración, Ortberg dijo que lamentaba “no haber servido a nuestra iglesia con mejor criterio”.

“Las extensas conversaciones que tuve con mi hijo menor no dieron evidencia de riesgo de daño, y los comentarios de otros sobre su impacto fueron consistentemente positivos”, dijo. “Sin embargo, por mi parte, no equilibré mis responsabilidades como padre con mis responsabilidades como líder”.

Ortberg presentó su renuncia a los ancianos de la iglesia esta semana. La decisión de poner fin a su llamado como pastor debe ser aprobada en la reunión anual de la iglesia, ahora fijada para el 30 de agosto.

En consulta con los funcionarios de la denominación, los ancianos de la iglesia planean traer un pastor de transición. También planean agregar nuevos ancianos en la próxima reunión congregacional. La iglesia está afiliada a la denominación ECO, A Covenant Order of Presbyterians.

“La Junta de Ancianos reconoce que, en última instancia, es responsable de crear un entorno de confianza y respeto mutuo que ha sido duramente probado en los últimos meses”, según el comunicado. “Nos sentimos llamados a brindar estabilidad a Menlo Church en este momento de transición significativa, pero estamos trabajando para agregar voces nuevas y diversas en la junta”.

Esta es una historia de última hora y se actualizará.

Bob Smietana es editor en jefe de Religion News Service.

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12 pensamientos sobre “Embattled Megachurch Pastor John Ortberg Resigns from Menlo Church”

  1. I often pray, “Lord, please don’t let me do anything that could cause someone to move further from you.” There have been so many highly visible mega-church scandals I understand why non-believers think Christians are hypocrites. I don’t think anyone “starts” with the intention of causing harm but one little step away from our calling can be followed by one more little step and another and the next thing you know….Fortunately, God is good, all the time, even in heart wrenching times such as this.

  2. I think pastor John being forced to step down from the Menlo pastorship is actually a needed step, hopefully for himself and for his family. So he can focus on his family’s brokenness before the Lord Jesus. Hopefully, that’s what he will do.

  3. The statement from the current Elder Board is sounding much like those statements of other churches where the Board itself has failed in its oversight. If an Elder Board truly believe its own statement, ““We feel called to provide stability to Menlo Church in this time of significant transition but are working to add new and diverse voices on the board.” where were then as this matter developed and festered for a long time. It is too easy for Elder Boards in churches of this magnitude in scope and influence to excuse their own failures. I pray for Pastor John and it sounds to our ear he has done more to being honest in this response than has those who had oversight.

  4. Richard Cameron

    John Ortberg is a fine, Godly preacher and Pastor. Sure he made an error of judgement, he was wrong, but as a father he wanted to protect his younger, troubled son. The wrong call but understandable. Daniel Lavery sounds like a piece of work. Trying to destroy his own dad. Nice! I hope God gives John and his wife the strength to move on. He has so much still to give the church. God bless him.

    1. Difficult situation for any father. Parents naturally protect their children. This is a difficult situation but God has a way of revealing truth in His timing. I hope no one was physically or emotionally injured in this mistake. God will repair what man has broken. grateful for Julie Roy’s ministry that keeps us wise to these church happenings!

    2. Deana M. Holmes

      I’d just like to remind everyone that we’d know none of this had it not been for Danny Lavery, who is despised by Julie Roys and her fan club. You all would be completely ignorant that John Ortberg was letting his son Johnny work with children he had a sexual attraction to, except for Danny Lavery. But, because Danny’s transgender, he’s somehow a worse person, the most horrible sinner and the cause of the Ortberg family’s problem.

      Danny is NOT the problem. Your attitude towards sexual minorities is the problem and you all need to apologize. Remember, you would know nothing, had Danny Lavery not come forward. And, given the way you all see Danny, it seems to me you wish he hadn’t come forward. *scowl*

  5. We attended Willow Creek when John Ortberg taught there. What a great teaching pastor! In my 70 years of “church” John was the best Bible teaching pastor of all – and his self-deprecating humor was always fun. I am so sorry for what he has had to go through; for the trials he, and his family have been given.

    Certainly John made an error of judgement. However, most of us would probably have made the same one, especially if our child – as an adult – had a history of being truthful with us, and there had been no evidence to suggest he had ever acted inappropriately.

    The issue John’s son (John) is dealing with is certainly genetic – such feelings are not a choice. And yet it appears that John Jr. has sought help outside the family, sought help from within the family, and most importantly, had never acted on those sexual impulses that would have been so destructive to others. A family can be proud of a son like that.

    I pray that God will protect, bless, and walk with the Ortberg family in the days ahead.

    V. Sutton

    1. V. Sutton – I sincerely hope most of us wouldn’t make that same error of judgement for the precise reason you mentioned: this proclivity is not a choice but is more like a compulsion. If you can’t trust the senior pastor and the elder board to put the safety of children first, how can you trust them in anything? JO should have removed him from ministry immediately then dropped to his knees in gratitude to God for bringing it to the light before any transgressions had happened. Instead, JO chose to protect himself, not Johnny, the church or the kids.

      I don’t mean to diminish the range of emotions that JO must have felt when his son confessed this but, again, HE IS THE LEADER. He needed to lead for the good and protection of the congregation especially those kids!

      This is what has maddened me over the past 2+ years as a 12-yr member of Willow Creek. The old saying, “Money talks and BS walks” is so applicable lately as so many pastors have walked away from their ministries under the guise of protecting them, and getting paid, rather than literally practicing what they preach by way of confession, repentance and restoration. It’s beyond disappointing, disillusioning and cowardly. But they all seem to get their payouts and their genteel farewells.

      1. Yes I remember Ortberg at Willow. It was a good time. It seems Pastors and leaders of Christian organizations do not follow the basics. Here are just a couple guidelines:

        1. Do not hire your kids in your ministry. There are tens of thousands of other churches they can work.
        2. Do not have drinking parties on yachts or sailboats

    2. No prayer for the families and children whose trust was violated by John’s “error in judgement?” You really have no way of knowing if the son has ever acted on his pedophilia or not. Prayerfully he did not but even if that is the case not molesting children isn’t a virtue. This is an appalling and truly sad story. No one involved has anything to be proud of.

  6. First of all, in the Word of God there are elders – plural. It seems God never meant for our churches to be led by one man/woman who has been elevated to celebrity status, authors numerous books and makes millions of dollars off of preaching. Paul still made tents as he preached the Word of God and in the synagogues many men spoke and led. The qualifications for an elder outlined in 1 Timothy also includes “manages his own household well.”

    I think as Christians we should re-evaluate how ALL of our churches are organized and run and compare them to Biblical principles.

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