The pastor of a Pasadena congregation that...

The pastor of a Pasadena congregation that recently dedicated a $20-million, 3,400-seat church--one of the largest in Southern California--has informed members in a four-page letter that he has consented to be nominated as president of another denomination, the Evangelical Free Church of America.

The Rev. Paul A. Cedar, the pastor of the Lake Avenue Congregational Church for the last eight years, indicated he would accept the position if he receives a substantial majority of votes on June 22. The relatively small but growing denomination, based in his home state of Minnesota, is picking a successor to Thomas A. McDill, who is retiring. Cedar would be based in Minneapolis.

The 50-year-old pastor grew up in that denomination and accepted his first Southern California pastorate at an Evangelical Free Church congregation. But he became a Presbyterian when he took a ministerial staff position in 1975 at Hollywood Presbyterian Church and switched to the Congregationalists when beckoned by the Lake Avenue church.

He said he was first approached about the presidency of the 140,000-member Evangelical Free Church after he spoke last June at its national convention at Biola University and the Fullerton Evangelical Free Church of pastor-author Charles Swindoll.


Cedar said he declined the invitation then, but the search committee returned to him, saying that he was the unanimous first choice.

He said “no” a second time in November, one month before the still-unfinished Pasadena sanctuary was first used for a service.

Nevertheless, in a letter to his congregation replete with expressions about “God’s will,” “what the Lord might be saying to me” and “praying and crying,” Cedar wrote that he succumbed after he agreed this spring to meet with denominational officials first in Denver, then in Minneapolis.

If elected, Cedar said he would not leave the Pasadena church until Jan. 1, 1990.


Jehovah’s Witnesses, holding three-day regional summer gatherings, are in San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium this weekend while the Padres are playing out of town. About 37,000 Witnesses in the Los Angeles area are expected daily at Dodger Stadium June 23-25 and July 7-9 for conventions, consisting of lectures, baptisms and dramas conducted in English. The identical program in Spanish is set for July 21-23 at the Dodgers’ home park.

Southern California United Methodists will begin their annual conference on the University of Redlands campus with an 8 a.m. worship service Thursday with Bishop Jack M. Tuell preaching. Pulpit duties in other conference services through June 18 were given to three prominent Southern California ministers: the Revs. Mark Trotter, James Lawson and Faith Conklin.

The 200,000-member Presbyterian Church in America, which formed in 1973 as a separatist movement from mainline Presbyterians in southern states, will open its six-day national convention Thursday at Biola University in La Mirada. About 900 delegates are expected to attend.


Larry Lea, a Texas pastor with a national following in charismatic Protestant circles, will assemble his “prayer warriors” in Los Angeles next week for an “open confrontation with the spirits of darkness,” namely the spirits of violence, drugs and witchcraft, which he discerns are “so vexing this city.” Lea, pastor of Church on the Rock in Rockwall, Tex., has supplied “personalized prayer army dog tags” to recruits on his mailing list and has solicited donations of $50 each from his willing troops in order to send seven tapes of his messages to as many California churches as possible, according to his literature. The “Prayer Army” will assemble, however, about 25 miles away from “the kingdom of darkness.” He has booked the Anaheim Convention Center from Wednesday night through Friday night to instruct people on what to pray for--and against.