The Rev. David Hocking, a Protestant minister who has a national following through his taped radio sermons, resigned as pastor of Calvary Church after acknowledging an affair with a married woman in the congregation, a church official said Thursday.
Hocking, 51, who is married and has three grown children, could not be reached for comment.
During his 10 years as pastor, Hocking's nondenominational Calvary Church of Santa Ana has grown from 1,000 members to over 4,500. His taped radio sermons, distributed by the Orange-based Solid Rock Radio company, are broadcast daily on about 150 stations in the United States and Canada.
In a brief prepared statement Thursday, officials said Hocking resigned Wednesday after meeting with the church's 18-member board of elders.
"His resignation came after his admission to the elders of his moral failure in recent months, resulting in sexual sin," said the church's announcement.
John Crandall, the new acting head of the church, said in an interview that the "sexual sin" was an affair between Hocking and a woman in the congregation.
"He confessed to a sexual involvement with a woman other than his wife," Crandall said. "It was one woman--a married woman--whom he has admitted being involved with. She is from the congregation."
Asked how the alleged affair became known, Crandall responded: "She came forward and admitted to having a physical involvement with him. As we understand it, (the affair) was in the last few months."
Crandall said the woman confessed her affair to church officials last week, when Hocking was on a trip to Israel. When Hocking returned this week, church elders asked to meet with him, and Hocking also admitted the affair, Crandall said. Hocking then submitted his resignation, and the elders on Wednesday unanimously accepted it, Crandall said.
Crandall said the resignation was necessary, but that church officials nonetheless felt pity and sorrow for Hocking.
"Our elders, our leadership, we all feel the same way," Crandall said. "There's not any one of us that want to be perceived as being judgmental. We believe the action he has taken in resigning, and the action we have taken, is required by the Bible, which he has so faithfully preached. We don't do this in a judgmental or condemning sense."
Solid Rock Radio officials said Hocking resigned from that company on Tuesday. In a prepared announcement, the radio company said that broadcast of Hocking's tapes would cease as of today. The tapes are made from Hocking's sermons at Calvary Church.
Crandall said that neither the woman nor Hocking are being expelled from the church. Hocking's professional plans for the future are not clear, Crandall said.
A search will be made for a new senior pastor to succeed Hocking, Crandall said.
Calls flooded into the church's offices on Thursday from congregants distressed by the news about Hocking. A telephone receptionist read the board of elder's brief message to callers, and usually concluded by telling the callers, "Let's pray for one another."
During the interview Thursday, Crandall was asked if church membership might decline because of Hocking's departure.
"That's a hard call," responded Crandall. "David is a very charismatic individual. He has had a tremendous impact nationwide in ministry. And it's no secret that many people are here because of him. So it's hard to assess what people will do, but we would hope that they would not leave."