Pastor John Ortberg failed to report a congregant (with tendencies toward pedophilia) who was volunteering and taking overnight trips with children — shocking, but Menlo Church's response is almost worse. When a third party blew the whistle, the elder board kept the affair hidden. Eight weeks later, they told the congregation they had an independent investigation done and no misconduct was found.
What do you call John's actions, if not "misconduct"? How could the investigator have ruled out harm to children in such a short time frame and without speaking to parents? How long was the volunteer working with kids prior to the 2018 confession? Why would the church refuse to answer who did their investigation or what its scope was? Perhaps hiring a high-powered employment attorney to conduct a hush-hush inquiry is not considered "independent" or reassuring by most people?
What the church should have done — and still should do — is admit that this situation requires a professional who understands pedophilia and child abuse. They should apologize for trying to handle things quietly with a lawyer. Menlo Church can afford the best, so they should ask GRACE, the gold standard organization in the church abuse field, to help them find a qualified, independent team to investigate all aspects thoroughly.
I hope the church chooses transparency.
Ruth Hutchins, church member, Sunnyvale