A non-denominational megachurch pastor reportedly stunned his congregation this weekend when he announced that he and his wife are converting to Catholicism.

Image source: Word of Life

Pastor Ulf Ekman told his congregation Sunday that he and his wife are converting to Catholicism (Image source: Word of Life)

Ulf Ekman, pastor and founder of Word of Life Church in Uppsala, Sweden, told parishioners Sunday during his sermon that he and his wife, Birgitta, have experienced a theological change-of-heart, Charisma News reported.

On Ekman’s ministry website a statement titled, “Pastor Ulf Ekman to Be Accepted Into the Catholic Church” provides details on the preacher’s conversion, stating that “a process of many years of prayer and reflection” preceded the decision to embrace the Catholic faith.

“For Birgitta and me, this has been a slow process were we have gone from discovering new things, to appreciating what we have discovered, to approach and even learn from our fellow Christians,” Ekman is quoted in the release. “We have seen a great love for Jesus and a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma.”

The statement went on to explain that the couple found solace and intrigue in the Catholic Church’s “sacramental life,” while also revering what Ekman called “a solid structure for priesthood.”

While his Protestant views had previously led to critiques of the Catholic Church, the pastor said that, after studying the faith, he realized that many of those criticisms simply weren’t valid. The release emphasized that the conversion was the result of “a personal journey.”

“This led us to the realize that it was actually Jesus Christ who led us to unite with the Catholic Church,” the pastor continued.

From anger to sadness and confusion, people are responding to Ekman’s theological switch in a variety of ways, according to the Alethia blog and think tank. That said, it may not be entirely surprising to some, as Alethia’s Andreas Glandberger, who runs Alethia, noted that the pastor has taken “steps toward Roman Catholicism since 2007,” Charisma News reported.

Watch Ekman tell his congregation about the conversion here (go to the 25:00 mark to hear his specific comments about Catholicism).

The announcement comes after Ekman, who founded Word of Life about 30 years ago, announced his retirement in March 2013 as senior pastor at the church. Word of Life has around 3,300 members.

(H/T: Charisma News)

Featured image via Word of Life