Mark Driscoll announces his new church in Phoenix with a high-powered group of Christian leaders behind him and a glaring gap in his bio: the name of his last church.
Mark Driscoll finally made it official: He’s starting a new church in Phoenix. The culmination of a comeback that has been gaining steam over the past year, the former Mars Hill pastor announced the news of The Trinity Church on Monday by email, Twitter and a new website.
In a folksy video on the site, which begins with a “howdy” from Driscoll, the pastor said he and his wife, Grace, sitting by his side, were “hoping, trusting, praying, planning and also a little” — he made a jokey grimace — “worrying about planting a church here.”
Driscoll also noted that he was “healin’ up” in his new home. And his bio on the site refers to the Driscolls recently facing “the most challenging year of their lives,” one that prompted the pastor to take a year off.
But aside from those remarks, there’s no reference to Driscoll’s troubled and controversial history at Mars Hill. Indeed, there’s no direct mention at all of the megachurch he presided over for 18 years in Seattle, until snowballing allegations of plagiarism, emotional abusiveness and misogyny led him to resign in October 2014.
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“It’s the elephant in the room,” said Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College who has diligently chronicled the Mars Hill saga on the Christian website Patheos.
The absence is all the more strange because Trinity’s website lists two other former Mars Hills’ staffers, Andy Girton and Brandon Anderson, as associate pastors of the new church. Their bios also neglect to say where, exactly, they once worked.
If it’s too controversial to name, the Mars Hill history doesn’t seem to be holding Driscoll back. Throckmorton pointed out that the pastor has assembled “a pretty high-powered group” behind Trinity.
Robert Morris and Jimmy Evans, two megachurch pastors in Texas, are on Trinity’s governing board. Larry Osborne, a California church leader and a onetime member of a board of advisers that was overseeing Mars Hill, occupies the role of “wise counsel” to Trinity.
The Phoenix church’s site also lists some two dozen other Christian leaders in Arizona and around the country as praying for Driscoll’s new venture.
Brian Jacobsen, a Mars Hill deacon turned critic, said he found it odd that so many people would publicly declare their support for Driscoll, although Jacobsen noted that one name listed Monday morning on the site was gone hours later.
Driscoll appears to be eliciting support with a humbler persona than he was known for at the height of his fame and power, when he declared that people needed to either get on the Mars Hill bus “or get run over by the bus. ”
When Grace Driscoll told her husband on camera that she was looking forward to hearing him preach again, he replied: “You made me cry. I was not expecting that.”
Others wanting to see Driscoll return to the pulpit will have to wait for details. The pastor said only that the church will start sometime in early 2016. “Where you gonna’ meet?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t know yet.”