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MINNESOTA: Presbyterian pastor resigns after prostitution charge

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Elg was pastor at Red Wing's First Presbyterian Church for 23 years.Pastor Elg's mug (left), along with a shot from happier times.RED WING, Minn. -- First Presbyterian Church of Red Wing leadership has called a special meeting Sunday following the resignation of Pastor Gary Elg.

Elg’s resignation was effective Thursday evening, after he told church officials that he had been arrested on prostitution allegations.

“I have failed you as a pastor and a friend,” Elg was quoted as saying in a letter sent out to church members Friday. “I have crossed some serious ethical and moral boundaries.”

Elg was cited in St. Paul July 24 for allegedly exchanging money for sex with an undercover officer, according to a citation from St. Paul Police Department. He was charged July 25 with misdemeanor prostitution-patron.

He told the regional Presbytery, then local session leaders. The session is the equivalent of a church council.

The session accepted Elg’s resignation in a special meeting July 26. A letter was sent to church members July 27.

Elg was scheduled to be on vacation July 29 and Aug. 5, session member Kris Kvols said, and the church had already hired a pastor to fill in for him. Following his resignation, First Presbyterian will work with regional church leaders to find an interim pastor.

It’s not yet clear when they will hire a permanent replacement for Elg.

“My guess is that the congregation will take its time,” Kvols said. “Gary … has been well-loved by the church.

“This is not a decision that the session or the congregation is likely to rush into.”

During the special meeting Aug. 5 after the 9:30 a.m. worship service, the congregation will vote on a separation package for Elg. The session is recommending up to two months of salary with benefits and paying out the remaining two weeks of Elg’s vacation time.

“We will gather as a family of faith to grieve this news and consider how we will heal,” the letter said.

Elg has served as pastor at First Presbyterian for 23 years.

“This is a difficult time for the church and the Elg family, and we welcome the support and prayers of the community,” Kvols said.

Elg said in his statement that he will be seeking help for “some personal and mental health issues.”

Sarah Gorvin is a reporter for the Republican-Eagle.