The head pastor for a Seattle megachurch resigned on Wednesday despite being cleared of any criminal activities in a church investigation, CNN reported.
Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll announced his departure from the church after 18 years in a letter sent to the church’s board of overseers, saying that parts of his “personality and leadership style” had fostered divisiveness within the organization.
“Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill,” Driscoll wrote, according to Religion News Services.
Driscoll, who founded Mars Hill in 1996, was under investigation after a group of 21 former ministers accused him of plagiarism and creating a “culture of abuse” within the organization. A letter accompanying the accusations identified 25 alleged instances of him making inappropriate remarks toward staff members.
But the church said in a statement that the investigation, which entailed interviews with more than 50 sources, had cleared him of “any immorality, illegality or heresy.”
“We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner,” the statement read. “While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”
Driscoll’s resignation comes amid a reversal of fortune for both himself and the church.
As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported last month, not only was he removed from the program at several evangelical conferences, but Mars Hill closed several satellite locations. Driscoll was also caught calling women “penis homes” online using the pseudonym “William Wallace II.”
Executive elder Sutton Turner, one of the church’s top two officials after Driscoll, resigned that same month. And eight pastors who signed a letter calling for Driscoll to give up his leadership duties had recently been fired or laid off.