Calvary Chapel Congregation Stunned After Announcement

News Channel 7 New Mexico/February 20, 2006

Albuquergue, N.M. -- A shakeup at the top of Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque has congregation members wondering what happened.

The congregation, which boasts more than 14,000 members, was shocked to learn that the Rev. "Pastor" Pete Nelson is leaving.

Nelson succeeded founding pastor Skip Heitzig in January 2004. His was, by all outside accounts, a popular stewardship.

An announcement came during morning services Sunday that Nelson would be leaving, but nobody knows why, and worshippers were surprised at the announcement.

"It was a total surprise. I don't know what started it, but whatever, I'm sure we'll go on," said church member Dana Finley.

"It was quite a shock," said Susie Q. Finley. "We'll really miss him, but I'm sure he has good reasons for what he's doing."

"He's always been a good guy," said church member Bob Baca. "We have absolutely no qualms at all, (but were) very surprised with the resignation."

He was a wonderful pastor," said congregation member Joy Arnold. "We're sad that he's leaving, but we know that the Lord has something planned."

"Things change, and in my opinion not for the better," said Ray Bernal, who has been a member at the church for more than a decade.

"(Nelson) didn't give us any clue as to what he's going to do in the future, so I don't know what's going on. I don't know if it's behind-the-scenes or what. Politics, what have you."

"I feel kind of bad about it, but then again, I feel kind of selfish to worry about me," said church member Anthony Smith. "He said to wish him the best if we love him, and I do."

Action 7 News placed several calls to church officials on Sunday and were told its office of communication would issue a statement about the pastor's resignation. No statement was released.

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