Overlake Christian Church
The church's purpose statement is to: Love God, Love People & Serve the World. Weekend services for adults, students and children are considered the main venues where the Love God purpose is fulfilled. Life Groups (small community groups and support groups) are viewed as the fundamental way the church shows its love and concern for people. The church's Serve the World purpose is accomplished through various initiatives (throughout the Pacific Northwest and the world); the primary of which are centered on HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and orphan care through fostering and adoption. The church also has a major focus on assisting unhoused people and single mothers in the Puget Sound region.
The Lead Pastor is Mike Howerton, who was the "Next Generation" pastor at Saddleback Church (pastored by Rick Warren) in Orange County, California until 2004. Howerton has authored three books, Ride of Your Life, Glorious Mess and Miles to Cross, and was a contributing author to another entitled, The Relevant Church. The church is governed by a volunteer board of elders.
Overlake Christian Church began in Kirkland, Washington in 1969 with a handful of former attendees of Bellevue Christian Church. James Earl Ladd, then president of Puget Sound College of the Bible in the nearby city of Mountlake Terrace agreed to serve as a temporary, part-time pastor/preacher until a replacement could be found. A pastor from Enid, Oklahoma, Bob Moorehead, was invited and became Overlake's Senior Pastor in January, 1970. During the nearly thirty years of Moorehead's tenure, weekly attendance at the Kirkland church campus grew from less than a hundred to more than 6,000. He resigned in 1998 amid allegations of sexual impropriety, mostly related to the 1970s, that he had touched or fondled male members of the congregation. The elders of the church exonerated Moorehead in the results of their initial investigation, but a year after he resigned they withdrew their support, saying they had discovered new evidence that showed he "did violate the scriptural standards of trust, self-control, purity and godly character required for the office of elder and pastor." As a conservative Christian, condemnation of homosexuality had been a major theme of his preaching.
In 1997, the church moved to a new 250,000 square foot (23,225 m²) building on 27 acres (110,000 m2) along Willows Road NE in Redmond, Washington. After Moorehead's departure in June, 1998, the senior pastor's role was filled by Rick Kingham, a former Vice President of Promise Keepers, who led the congregation until February 2007. Mike Howerton, already on staff as a teaching pastor, became the church's lead pastor later that year.
In addition to the Bob Moorehead scandal, the church was again under public investigation in 2007, when $75,000 taken up as an offering from church members and visitors for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was instead used to pay church expenses, including salaries for pastors. Bob Senatore, then chairman of the board of elders, stated that the church has borrowed from restricted funds before, but the money ultimately was donated to disaster victims. However, some church members have stated that the money was only donated after congregational pressure.
Overlake Christian Church has founded eight other churches in the area, the largest having more than 3,800 Sunday attendees.
- Northlake Christian Church, Bothell
- Christ Church of Federal Way, Federal Way
- Christ's Fellowship, Kent
- Evergreen Christian Fellowship, Issaquah
- Northshore Christian Church, Everett
- New Light Christian Church, Seattle
- Coal Creek Chapel, Bellevue
- Canyon Hills Community Church, Bothell
- Tu, Janet I. (December 13, 2007). "Overlake church leaders: Usher took up to $100k from plate". Seattle Times.
- Love God // Love People // Serve the World // > Our Purposes
- Militch, Steve; Foster, Heath (May 18, 1998). "Moorhead resigns as pastor he denies charges, but says they hurt Overlake ministry". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. A.1.[dead link] Cite error: Invalid
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- MacDonald, Sally; Miletich, Steve (May 21, 1999). "Elders Now Say Moorehead Is `Guilty' Of Misconduct". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- MacDonald, Sally (November 28, 1997). "Church Is A Vision To Behold -- Overlake Christian's New $37 Million Building In The North End Of Redmond Is Open For Business". The Seattle Times.
- Tu, Janet (February 22, 2007). "Church borrowed from disaster donations".
- Maynard, Steve (May 18, 1998). "Shock of resignation felt in 'daughter' churches too, eight other churches have 'family ties' to Bob Moorhead's Overlake megachurch". The News Tribune. Tacoma, Wash. p. A.10.