The Rev. Jonathan L. Offt, 41, of Cedar Rapids, the senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, was the first person arrested in the operation conducted by the Marion Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, police said. All of the men responded to an advertisement on a website and arranged to meet an undercover female officer who was posing as a prostitute.
Marion police Sgt. Lance Miller said Offt arrived at the meeting place and was arrested when he offered money in exchange for a sex act. Officers in tactical gear performed the arrests.
“After that, he was pretty sullen,” Miller said.
Offt was installed as senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran in 2003. A native of Blairstown, he previously served as a chaplain in clinical pastoral education in St. Louis and Des Moines, as assistant pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Iowa City and as chaplain/administrator of the Davenport Lutheran Home, according to Gazette archives. Offt and his wife had one daughter when his installation was announced.
Offt’s name was removed from the church website Monday afternoon, and the Rev. David Miller’s title was updated from assistant pastor to pastor. When asked if Offt had resigned, a woman who answered the phone at the church offered the following statement:
“Trinity Lutheran Church and School is saddened by the most recent news story regarding Jonathan Offt. The proper authorities are handling the situation. The church and school request your prayers for all involved. We have no further comments at this time.”