By Lars Walker
A few weeks back I wrote about a matter in the church which I attend, which has drawn national attention. I think it’s appropriate for me to follow that story up now, as our congregation has finished its investigation and the principle figure involved is speaking publicly again.
First of all, to name names, my church is Hope Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, and the subject of the story is our senior pastor, Tom Brock. Pastor Brock fought a long battle with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, over issues like women’s ordination, abortion, and homosexual marriage, before finally encouraging withdrawal from that church body and affiliation with ours (The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations) a few years back. He has a cable television show, and a local radio talk show, in which he discusses religious issues. Through these outlets he has made himself fairly prominent, and indeed (as we have seen) a target.
A local homosexual publication called Lavender Magazine heard a rumor that Pastor Brock was attending a Catholic support group called Courage, a group for men struggling against same-sex attraction. A freelance reporter then posed as a prospective member, attended a meeting, and wrote an article for Lavender, in which he insinuated that Pastor Brock was leading a secret “gay” life. This move has been “viewed by many as journalistically unethical,” according to this AP story on the One News Now website.
Gee, ya think? Breaking the confidentiality of a Twelve Step Program?
Pastor Brock was placed on leave of absence while our congregation conducted an inquiry.
He appeared before the congregation again this past Sunday. He and members of the elders explained that he has been exonerated by their investigation. Among other things they spoke, with his permission, with people in the Courage group in whom he had confided. They can find no evidence that he has been living a secret sex life. They are satisfied that Pastor Brock is celibate, which is all we ask of any man dealing with this difficult problem.
Reports that Pastor Brock was “back in the pulpit” last Sunday are technically true, but misleading. He did occupy the physical space behind the pulpit when he talked, but he didn’t deliver the sermon. He will be preaching again, but not right away. His intention is to resign as Senior Pastor but stay on staff, concentrating on the radio and television outreach that put him in the crosshairs in the first place.
I know Pastor Brock to say hello to. I do not know him well. But I shook his hand on my way out of the sanctuary, and told him he’s a hero to me.
Lars Walker is a Minneapolis fantasy novelist. His most recent novel is West Oversea.