Mark Driscoll, controversial founder of Mars Hill Church, today told his flock he is stepping away from the pulpit for six weeks, and will consult a group of advisers about what to do next.
Driscoll made the announcement near the end of the church’s 8:30 a.m. service at the church’s main location in Bellevue, said Kevin Potts, a former church member and a critic of Driscoll who attended today’s service. A short article on the announcement was also posted today on the Religion News Service web site.
Potts said there was a round of applause in the church after Driscoll’s announcement.
Driscoll has been the subject of mounting criticism amid allegations that he bullied or shunned churchgoers and spent church funds inappropriately.
Earlier this month, the Act 29 Network, a nationwide group of churches Driscoll had helped organize, removed Mars Hill Church and Driscoll from its network.
Late last week, news reports surfaced that 21 former Mars Hill pastors called for Driscoll’s removal as an elder. The group sent detailed charges of alleged abuse and intimidation of church personnel by Driscoll. Their letter was first reported by blogger Warren Throckmorton on the faith-issue website Patheos.com.
Throckmorton’s blog today included an audio recording of Driscoll’s announcement.
In a statement to KOMO News regarding the pastors’ letter, the church said :
“We take these allegations seriously and we are thankful that we have a process in place where allegations will be reviewed by our board and our elders. As it is relatively new that these former elders submitted this, at this time we don’t have any information on how long that process will take or what the outcome will be.”