St. Paul’s pastor resigns from ministry after prostitution arrest
NEW ULM – A New Ulm pastor has resigned from his ministry at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm after being caught in the prostitution sting conducted in New Ulm last Friday.
The Rev. David Bendix resigned from his position on Friday after his arrest in New Ulm. In an interview on Tuesday, Bendix said he had disqualified himself from serving as a minister, and it was his “moral obligation” to step down. He wanted people to “please understand how sorry I am.”
“On Friday, in a moment of monumental weakness, I clicked on an (internet) ad that I shouldn’t have. I followed up on it and agreed to meet someone at the Microtel, and was arrested,” Bendix said.
Bendix said the congregation was informed Sunday that he had resigned because of something he had done, but was not told of the reason. The church is sending out a letter to the congregation, he said.
Bendix said the resignation was his own decision, that his actions have made it impossible for him to continue in a public ministry.
The Rev. Don Sutton of St. Paul’s said the church has accepted Bendix’s resignation.
“Since both the Wisconsin Synod and St. Paul’s believe such behavior is not in keeping with biblical requirements for spiritual leaders in God’s Church and disqualifies Bendix from continuing in the public ministry, he has resigned his ministry,” said Sutton.
“While St. Paul’s has accepted this resignation, they continue to minister to, pray for, and support the Bendix family.
“St. Paul’s has greatly appreciated Pastor Bendix, his ministry, and his family since coming to our congregation,” said Sutton. “We are sad that he has ended his ministry among us.”
A gross misdemeanor charge of Prostitution – Offers or Agrees to Hire to Engage in Prostitution, was filed against Bendix on Thursday afternoon in Brown County Court. The charge is a gross misdemeanor, but Bendix said, “whatever the legal implications are, my moral implications are far worse. I have sinned against God, and hurt my wife and family, and my congregation.”
“My congregation and the other pastors have been there for me. They have reminded me about love. … They reminded me that a Christian is someone who falls, but is held up by God’s grace. If not for their love and support, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Bendix said it was the first time he had ever done something like this.
“I’m glad God ripped me out of it right away,” he said.
Bendix said he was not afraid for himself, but for his family. He also said he feared that “because of what I did, that people will be disparaging Christianity.”
Bendix said he believes God has forgiven him, that doesn’t take away his responsibility for what he has done.
“Today (Tuesday) is the fourth day of my life of making it up to my family and everyone that I have hurt. … I will do what God asks me to do, but it won’t be (public ministry).”
“I made a grave error in judgment. I just want everyone to know how very, very sorry I am,” he said.