"We recognize these past few months have been challenging," said Beth Seabolt, the church's Elder Board chair, in the Feb. 27 email. "Since our last update, John Ortberg has remained focused on his Restoration Plan and shown great progress. After thoroughly reviewing the input from all constituencies and considering the progressive nature of building trust, and after prayerfully seeking God's guidance, the Board believes John is ready to move beyond his Restoration Plan and prepare for his return to the pulpit."
The board met this week to discuss letting Ortberg return to preaching, Seabolt said. Board members said in a Feb. 5 statement that they had adopted a "restoration plan" with Ortberg so he could "rebuild trust across Menlo Church, including with the congregation, staff, leadership and elders."
Although Ortberg was reinstated on Jan. 24 after his Nov. 22 suspension, he has not given a sermon since mid-November, according to church emails.
Ortberg did not consult anyone else at Menlo Church — at which 6,000 people attend weekly services across the evangelical Presbyterian church's six locations from South San Francisco down to Saratoga — about the situation, a January email states.
The board retained an independent investigator, who did not find any misconduct in the Menlo Church community, according to the email.
On Feb. 2, Ortberg's son, Daniel Lavery, a Slate.com columnist, posted a widely read tweet stating he was the person who alerted church officials to his father's interactions with the volunteer on Nov. 21, which occurred in July 2018.
Lavery did not name the volunteer, but said that he or she shared with him on Nov. 15 that the volunteer had "experienced obsessive sexual feelings about young children" and was seeking out unsupervised volunteer positions with children to treat this obsession. In his tweet, Lavery said he confirmed with his father that his father had encouraged the unsupervised work. Ortberg, Lavery wrote, asserted that the "most important thing was maintaining secrecy over the affair."
The individual in question was a part-time volunteer at the church and has not volunteered at any church events since this issue was raised with the board, said Heather Holliday, the senior director of marketing and communications at Menlo Church.
The board will also consider changing Ortberg's responsibilities to involve a greater focus on "teaching, discipleship and mentorship" while it "discerns alternative means to provide excellent day-to-day operational leadership for Menlo Church," the board said in the Feb. 27 email.
Ortberg did not respond to a request for comment.
This story contains 527 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.