Congregants Accuse Elders of Forcing Out Pastor Who They Say Wanted to Stay in Pulpit ‘Until His Last Breath’

Calvary Chapel Melbourne officials are trying to contain the fallout from the handling of the longtime pastor and founder of the mega-church’s departure from a leadership role with the congregation.

The church’s board of elders announced during Sunday services that longtime, influential Pastor Mark Balmer, 77, was no longer lead pastor and would be given an extended sabbatical.

“This has been a long conversation with Pastor Mark. He created this transition plan for the church,” said Bill Beck, church administrator for Calvary Chapel Melbourne.

He said the board of elders agonized over the decision.

“As time went on, it became increasingly obvious that he didn’t want to talk about it,” Beck said. “The elders wanted to have that conversation. The elders came to the unanimous decision that he needed to step down. There’s just no good way to do it. We love Pastor Mark, we honor him. But it is the elders’ job to hold church leadership accountable and to do what’s best for the church.”

Balmer, who left work in pharmacy to found the congregation nearly three decades ago, did not attend the service for the announcement and has not spoken about the matter publicly.

Church officials were hoping to meet with Balmer to further discuss his role with the congregation — one of the largest to meet in Brevard weekly.

Before the pandemic, the church and its campuses in West Melbourne, Sebastian and Viera drew at least 10,000 people to its weekly services.

“Our hope is he will make a statement to the church. He didn’t agree with the decision. The elders felt it was in the interest of the church that it was time for him to accelerate his transition plan,” Beck said.

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Source: Florida Today