Controversial pastor Mark Driscoll announced Sunday that he would step away from the pulpit for the next six weeks to take time for prayer and spiritual reflection as the Mars Hill Church board reviews complaints against him.
Driscoll's decision was made in response to a myriad of accusations from members of the Seattle-based church, who claim he has been abusive and intimidating to staff members.
"I am very sorry for the times I have been angry, short or insensitive," Mr. Driscoll said, according to text of his remarks posted on the church's website. "I am very sorry for anything I have done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention."
Over the past year, Driscoll has been embroiled in seemingly endless controversy; he has been accused of plagiarism, misusing church funds and governing Mars Hill Church in an authoritarian manner, which has 15 campuses in five Western states and says it has a weekly attendance of 15,000.
Grove City Professor Warren Throckmorton first posted an audio clip of Driscoll's 13-minute message announcing his decision. Throckmorton also noted that other elders may resign or are considering it.
During his time off, Driscoll will decide on his next move while the Mars Hill staff review complaints against him. He told the congregation that he would use the time "for processing, healing and growth" and meeting with "mature Christians" for counsel.
"I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men," Driscoll told the congregation," he said.
According to the Seattle Times, Driscoll also said he will not do any public speaking, would delay the publication of his next book and will remain absent from social media during his ministerial hiatus. He said he would do no outside speaking or speak from the pulpit while he was away.
Although apologetic for his actions, Driscoll expressed disappointment in how quick the has been to air his dirty laundry.
"This is one of the paradoxes of being a pastor in the media age: The same media channels that can be used to carry a sermon to virtually anyone around the globe can also be used by anyone around the globe to criticize, attack or slander," he said. "However, another part of it is simply my fault, and I will own it, confess it, and move on from it as God continues to redeem me."
In concluding his speech, Driscoll said that above all, he is genuinely sorry for dishonoring God through his questionable behavior.
"Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I'm deserving of some of these criticisms based on my own past actions that I am genuinely sorry for," he continued.
"God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip, or anything else that is inconsistent with the fruit of the spirit, and I am deeply sorry, genuinely sorry, for the times I have not lived peaceably with all men."