Additionally, Ortberg said he thought about people who “wrestle with secret, unwanted thoughts and wonder ‘Is there a safe place where I can get help.’” This is a sentiment Lavery shared as well, stating “I have real compassion for anyone trying to treat sexual compulsions with accountability and oversight.”
“Menlo is one of the best and safest places I know, especially for young people, and I deeply regret that my actions contributed to that being questioned instead of being celebrated,” Ortberg told the congregation. He assured the group he is working to rebuild trust and believes the plan the elders have designed to restore him to leadership is a good one. Ortberg says he is talking to the elders about the future (pending the restoration process going smoothly) and that he would like to move into a role more exclusively focused on “preaching, teaching and spiritual formation” while finding people more gifted in “strategic planning and managerial leadership” to take over those parts of his role as senior pastor. Ortberg also offered a warning to the congregation:
Sometimes churches don’t respond well in moments like this. People get divided or they split into factions, and then the unity and harmony and beauty of the church gets threatened. And we know God doesn’t want that. This is not a human organization; this is the body of Christ.
While things might be on a path of reconciliation at Menlo Church, Lavery’s Twitter post indicates there has been a breach of trust between him and his family. Calling the ordeal “personally devastating,” Lavery said it has “broken the trust that once existed between myself and the Ortberg family.”
Ortberg was in the news during Bill Hybels‘ fall out at Willow Creek Community Church. In April 2018, Ortberg posted an article to his blog indicating he did not believe Willow Creek had handled the allegations against Hybels appropriately. Ortberg, who served at Willow Creek before moving to Menlo Church, criticized the leaders at Willow Creek for not seeking outside help when they learned of the accusations against Hybels.