Dissident Lutheran Pastor Offered New Church Post
Lutheran officials say the church will not honor a congregation’s request to be served by a dissident pastor who has been suspended and could be defrocked.
“The executive board of the synod is taking the position that a pastor under suspension cannot receive a call,” said the Rev. Edward Kappeler, assistant to Bishop Kenneth May of the Western Pennsylvania-West Virginia Synod of the Lutheran Church in America.
The Rev. Daniel Solberg, brother of actor David Soul, is to be installed as associate pastor at East Liberty Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh next Wednesday, the day before delegates to a Lutheran convention vote on whether he should be deposed from the ministry.
Solberg is a member of the Denominational Ministry Strategy, a group of clergy who use confrontational tactics to bring attention to the problems of the unemployed. He was suspended last May as pastor of Nativity Lutheran Church in suburban Allison Park for activities related to work with the DMS.
Called by Congregation
East Liberty’s congregation voted 61 to 5 on May 11 to ask Solberg to be its associate pastor, said the Rev. Philip Long, the pastor and a DMS member.
“The congregation came to the awareness that Dan has a ministry to do here,” Long said.
Long said the congregation wanted to call Solberg before Lutheran delegates cast their vote at the synod convention meeting June 5-7 at Thiel College in Greenville.
“We feel it is particularly important because he faces a defrocking,” Long said. Now “he will be going to the convention with a call.”
But Long said he also recognizes that the call will not prevent the synod convention from defrocking Solberg.
Long said the bishop or his representative must preside over the installation. He said the congregation hasn’t received an answer about whether the bishop will attend.
“If no one shows up, as far as we are concerned he will be installed,” Long said.
Kappeler said a pastor must be called by a congregation in cooperation with the bishop. He also said the church’s constitution states the call of a congregation is terminated if a pastor has been disciplined.
Two Lutheran church committees have recommended to synod delegates that Solberg be deposed from the ministry.