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Mark Driscoll to Make Rare Public Appearance at Evangelical Leadership Conference Thrive

( [email protected] ) May 01, 2015 04:31 PM EDT
Mark Driscoll, the former pastor of the now-dissolved, Seattle-based Mars Hill Church will reportedly resurface for the first time at the annual Thrive Leadership Conference held at California's Bayside megachurch.
''God has surrounded me with some great pastors and friends...And if I could just say anything is that every pastor needs a pastor. And you pastors, your family needs you there to be their pastors.''
Mars Hill Church

Mark Driscoll, the former pastor of the now-dissolved, Seattle-based Mars Hill Church will reportedly resurface for the first time at the annual Thrive Leadership Conference held at California's Bayside megachurch.

According to Seattlepi.com, Driscoll will speak on Friday at the event, which is sponsored each year by Pastor Ray Johnson. In the past, Bayside Church has hosted one of Driscoll's "Real Marriage" conferences.  

The Thrive Leadership Conference is advertised on its website as "North America's go-to conference for pastors and leaders, offering the best keynote speakers, the most workshops, the most inspirational worship, and the most fun - all in the greatest location."

While Driscoll's name does not appear on the conference's list of keynote speakers, Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton has confirmed that he will make an appearance, marking one of the few times the pastor has spoken in public since he resigned as senior pastor of Mars Hill last October.

Last summer, Driscoll, who was accused of plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego during his time at Mars Hill, apologized for mishandling the dismissal of several of the church's formal staff.

Subsequently, he was dismissed from church-planting Acts 29 Network, which he co-founded, and his books pulled from LifeWay's 180 Christian bookstores across the states. Later in 2014, he confessed and repented specifically to "past pride, anger and a domineering spirit" and requested to take a minimum of six week leave of absence from the pulpit.

Just a few weeks later, Driscoll announced his resignation. The subsequent fallout from the implosion of Driscoll's leadership and ministry at Mars Hall eventually led to the church's closure, with its satellite campuses closing, merging with other churches or becoming stand-alone congregations.

As Mars Hill was dissolving last December, Driscoll set up a website advertising his past sermons and lessons and appeared briefly at the Gateway Conference in Dallas, Texas, where he opened up about the struggles his family had experienceed since leaving Mars Hill.

"I've cried a lot lately. It's been a rough season for my family," he said then. "I just want to come here to sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, to repent, to heal, and God has surrounded me with some great pastors and friends," he said. "And if I could just say anything is that every pastor needs a pastor. And you pastors, your family needs you there to be their pastors."

Driscoll is also expected to appear this summer at another mega church gathering, the Hillsong Conference, in London and Sydney, Australia. He is expected to be interviewed at both conferences by church founder Brian Houston, however, a petition drive has been mounted against his appearance.

In April, former Mars Hill executive elder Sutton Turner published a series of reflective articles on the church's downfall, noting that "in our modern day, a church of its size, influence and scope has never failed in such a public way, nor experienced such unprecedented circumstances."

Turner added, "Unless we study the leadership, events, decisions, fictories and failures - the whole history of Mars Hill Church - it may very well be repeated."