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Excommunication Shocks, Confuses Disgraced Pastor

December 23, 1992|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The Rev. David L. Hocking, well-known former senior pastor of Calvary Church, said Tuesday that he is shocked and confused by the church elders' decision to excommunicate him for failing to show what they called "proofs of repentance" for his encounter with a married woman.

"I'll let the Lord determine whether (the excommunication) was just," Hocking said. "Of course, my wife and I were shocked by it. We don't understand and are very confused."

Hocking, who had a national following through his taped radio sermons, resigned from his ministry in October after acknowledging that he had committed a "sexual sin" with a woman in his congregation. The sin did not involve intercourse, both sides say.

He also resigned from the Orange-based Solid Rock Radio company, which had distributed his taped sermons to about 150 radio stations in the United States and Canada.

In recent weeks, Hocking, 51, had been meeting with a committee of the church's 18-member board of elders to discuss a plan for his moral restoration. Last week, however, those talks broke down, and the board voted to bar him from church membership.

"There was nothing else we could do," said Lance Sparks, the church's pastor of family ministries. "Our backs were against the wall."

While acknowledging that Hocking had ended the relationship and expressed sorrow for the hurt it had caused, Sparks said, the elders were concerned by his "unwillingness to submit to the . . . process by which we tried to help him and his family."

Specifically, he said, Hocking resisted the church's efforts to "help him rebuild his marriage" through family counseling and balked at maintaining a "structure of accountability" to the board of elders and delaying his return to the ministry for at least one year.

"We wanted to assure that there was true repentance, not just from his sexual sins but in all areas of his life," Sparks said. "Repentance is evidenced by a desire to submit to the authority over you; a broken and contrite heart makes no demands and sets no agenda. Our hearts grieved more over this than over his sexual sin (because) it's a continuous act of rebellion, (and) God wants obedience."

Hocking denied that he had been unwilling to cooperate with the elders. His marriage, he said, is stronger than ever. And regarding his eventual return to the ministry, he said: "My church never indicated that they believe in the restoration of ministry. They didn't want me to come back to the ministry there."

The former radio pastor said he had already solved that problem by agreeing to serve as an education minister at the nearby Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, which is unaffiliated with Calvary Church. "I'm not desiring to be a senior pastor," Hocking said. "I just want to teach the Bible."

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