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Fallen church leaders not uncommon

October 04, 2001

Lolita Harper

COSTA MESA -- Shock. Anger. Denial. Forgiveness.

All are emotions typical of those who have been affected by actions of

fallen church leaders, such as Keith Page's resignation Saturday from

Rock Harbor Church because of an extramarital affair.

But disbelief? Maybe about the specific people involved but misconduct

by church officials has been so prevalent recently, the act itself is

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hardly surprising.

Tim McCalmont, pastor at Presbyterian Church of the Covenantin Costa

Mesa, said the seductiveness of power, mixed with the deeply emotional

nature of preaching God's word, is a breeding ground for "dangerous"

actions.

"Keith is my friend and he is a gifted leader, but he has fallen and

it's very serious," McCalmont said about the pastor he called "a brother

in ministry."

People hold pastors in a different light and fail to realize church

leaders can stray from God's path just as easily as others, McCalmont

said. In fact, McCalmont guards against the ever-present temptation of

current culture by surrounding himself with people who hold him

accountable for his actions, he said.

McCalmont participates in a support group with other pastors where

they talk about their weaknesses and their temptations. The group of four

pray for each other and address potentially damaging positions, he said.

"Thankfully, I've never fallen in that way, but if they see me in a

dangerous situation, they call me on it and make sure I get out of it,"

McCalmont said.

Today's culture is so loaded with alluring sexual images it is

flat-out dangerous not to be involved in a support group to counter those

urges, McCalmont said. Especially for those in positions of leadership

and power, he said.

McCalmont admits it is very lifting to know his words as a pastor are

reaching hundreds of people and that those same people trust and respect

him. But he said he has to be careful with it.

A pastor is only a messenger. Although the words he may speak and the

emotions he may evoke are life-changing, he must remember it is not his

power that is being projected, McCalmontsaid.

"I go to God all the time to ask him to keep me powerful but only

through him. I have to leave myself out of it," McCalmontsaid. "If you

don't, you are asking for trouble."

And trouble is what a handful of local church leaders have found

recently following admissions and allegations of sexual impropriety.

Last month, a popular Catholic priest was forced to resign from his

Dana Point parish after admitting to past affairs with women. Father John

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