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Pastor admits to stealing sermons. Updated: 9/6/2004 11:22 AM. By: Associated Press. CHARLOTTE, N.
-- The senior pastor at one of Charlotte's best-known churches admitted that parts of some of his sermons, broadcast on Christian radio programs, were stolen from others. The Rev. E. Glenn Wagner of Calvary Church resigned, admitted that depression led him to plagiarize sermons the past two years, and asked for forgiveness in a letter read Sunday in his absence at four worship services.
"On a number of occasions, when I felt literally empty and devoid of any creative ability, I used material from the sermons of some of my brother preachers," Wagner's letter said. Gary Hubler, clerk of the lay leaders who oversee the church, said Wagner's plagiarism was first detected two weeks ago. That's when a church elder heard a radio sermon that sounded like something he had heard Wagner preach. In his letter, Wagner, 51, cited "a downward spiral, emotionally and mentally, which left me very tired and discouraged and fighting a losing battle with depression.
". Billy Graham's father, Frank, was one of the church's founders, which began in 1939 as Bible Presbyterian. Calvary has become an independent, evangelical congregation known for its $39 million pink complex and 6,000-seat sanctuary in south Charlotte. The church draws an average of 3,000 people to all of its Sunday services. Wagner was credited with increasing weekly worship attendance by 1,000. Wagner came to Calvary in 1997 from suburban Denver, where he had worked as a vice president and minister-at-large with the Promise Keepers, a Christian men's movement. He was accustomed to preaching to thousands at Promise Keepers events in stadiums and arenas.
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At Calvary, his job was to help energize a church dealing with paying its bills and filling the three-tiered sanctuary. Church leaders have not said how many of Wagner's sermons used unattributed material from other pastors, or which ones. They are studying the text of Wagner's sermons going back two years. The church has suspended the distribution of tapes with Wagner's sermons from that period.
None of Wagner's sermons from the past two years will be used on his show broadcast on Christian radio stations. In his letter, Wagner said he had tried to resign two years ago, but that church elders wouldn't accept it. Instead, they gave him time to rest.
Well, what a mess this is! I've never done it, but I know that the practice of either stealing sermons wholesale or buying them from a sermon service "ready to go" is pretty common. I know this, because there are several businesses in the US who make a profit providing this service--I've gotten their junkmail from time to time. Alexander MacClaren, the great Scottish contemporary of Spurgeon, was supposedly on holiday in the south of England, and stopped into an evangelical chapel to worship. The pastor did not notice his famous guest, who'd arrived briefly before the service, and told his audience, "because of the press of pastoral business this week, I've not had time to adequately prepare, so I am going to preach one of Dr. MacClaren's sermons. ".
On the way out, the very embarrassed young preacher recognized MacClaren, and said, "I hope you don't mind me using your sermon, I did properly attribute it to its penman. ". MacClaren is reported to have said, "Young man, if you're going to preach one of my sermons as poorly as you did that one, please don't attribute it to me. ".
What do ya'll say? If this standard were universally applied, there would be a lot of openings in pulpits by next week. [ September 07, 2004, 11:23 PM: Message edited by: Major B ].