Gary Elg, Red Wing pastor, busted in St. Paul prostitution sting, resigns

Elg's mug (left), along with a shot from happier times.
Elg's mug (left), along with a shot from happier times.

SEE ALSO: Judge reprimands priest convicted of crime for having consensual sex with adult woman

What would Jesus do? It's a question pastor Gary Elg apparently forgot to ask himself on July 24.

That day, Elg, the sole pastor for 23 years at Red Wing's First Presbyterian Church, was arrested for allegedly trying to give an undercover St. Paul cop money for sex. He was cited the next day, and resigned from the church the day after that.

Elg's arrest was apparently part of a prostitution sting at a hotel or motel in St. Paul, but authorities won't say exactly where because of "officer safety reasons" and because the business is cooperating with law enforcement, according to the Pioneer Press.

On July 26, Elg, 60, called a special meeting at the church, during which he offered his resignation. His offer was accepted.

Elg was pastor at Red Wing's First Presbyterian Church for 23 years.
Elg was pastor at Red Wing's First Presbyterian Church for 23 years.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that Elg, reading a written letter during the meeting, told his congregation: "I have failed you as a pastor and a friend. I have crossed some serious ethical and moral boundaries."

"I apologize for my inappropriate behavior that has led to [my resignation]," he continued. "I will be seeking therapy and healing for my life and for the good of my family."

The Post-Bulletin got some reaction from First Presbyterian member Ian Sheerer.

"It certainly can be [stunning] and has been," Sheerer said. "Gary has been our pastor for 23 years. Widely, the response has been an outpouring of love for Gary and his family... as we go through the various stages of grief and mourning."

Even though he resigned in disgrace, the First Presbyterian congregation will meet this Sunday at 9:30 a.m. to vote on a "separation package" for Elg. According to the Pierce County Herald, Church leadership has recommended giving the former pastor up to two month's salary, with benefits, along with paying his two remaining weeks of vacation.

Elg has been charged with a misdemeanor. He's scheduled to appear in Ramsey County court next month.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >