Home > Current Events > Shepherd of the Lake (ELCA) loses pastor

Shepherd of the Lake (ELCA) loses pastor

Shepherd of the Lake Church (ELCA) is losing its lead pastor, Peter Strommen, due to health issues, at least partly stress-related, according to a recent article by Lori Carlson in the Prior Lake American, Prior Lake, MN [link].

The church grew rapidly over the period 2003-2006 and moved into a big (60-acre) facility, but the former pastor, Stephen Haschig, resigned in 2006:

The church took many hits, including the 2006 resignation of longtime pastor Stephen Haschig, who disclosed what he called “an improper relationship” with a woman while serving at the church, and the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, which kicked into high gear shortly after the church moved to its new campus. In 2009, the church made major staff cutbacks to keep itself afloat.

This article is chock-full of detail, including the fact that while younger members have continued to attend the church, older members left after Haschig’s resignation:

“The whole point is that our building was built and designed for a very large congregation, one that continued to grow at significant rates after the move in 2004,” Strommen said. “This has largely been true regarding young people, but not so much in terms of adults, because many stepped back after the 2006 resignation.”

Unfortunately this article tries to put the church’s financial problems into the context of the broader recession, when it seems more likely that local problems (see above) are more to blame. The recession is tough all over, but church bankruptcies continue to be the exception, not the rule, and all the cases I’ve seen can be blamed on leadership problems (malfeasance or poor transition plans) rather than on the recession.

Finally, I have to note that while the article refers to Shepherd on the Lake as a megachurch, it doesn’t appear in the Hartford Institute database [link], nor does the article give attendance figures to justify calling it a megachurch.

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