Director of the ELCA Department for Human Resources and Management Services A.C. Stein resigned Feb. 26. The resignation follows his acknowledgement that he purchased a massage with a church-issued credit card on two occasions while in Minneapolis on business.
A Minneapolis television reporter contacted the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as he worked on a story about the owner of Black Tie Escort Services in the city. The owner had pleaded guilty last year to soliciting prostitution and was sentenced Feb. 5.
KARE-TV reported that the name of Stein and the ELCA appeared on lists of credit card charges to the escort service put together by police investigators. The two charges date to 1994 and were for $260 each.
Stein denies that any sexual misconduct occurred on either occasion but recognizes that it would be difficult to continue serving effectively under the circumstances. Stein said he reimbursed the church for the charges, a fact confirmed by Robert N. Bacher, ELCA executive for administration.
In a message to churchwide employees regarding the resignation, Bacher said, "Presiding Bishop [H. George] Anderson and I are saddened to have to share this difficult news with you. I will be working with the bishop and with the staff of the human resources department to provide interim leadership."
Stein, 50, was the ELCA's first employee, beginning his work in Chicago Oct. 13, 1986. An Ohio native, he is a graduate of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.
Stein, an ELCA pastor, and Anderson each told the The Lutheran they had nothing to add to Bacher's statement.
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