Mark Driscoll, the former senior pastor of Seattle's Mars Hill Church, has resurfaced. This time he appeared at the Thrive Leadership conference in Sacramento, California in what some observers are seeing as a prelude to a return to active pastoral ministry. Driscoll may be planning to plant a new church in Phoenix, Arizona.
Driscoll was forced to resigned from the Seattle church after allegations of mishandling of funds, plagarism and bullying of staff. Not long after Driscoll's resignation, the church closed its doors.
Speaking at the Thrive Conference, Driscoll referred to Matthew 26:31 in which Jesus quotes Zechariah, saying "I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered". He said he wanted to speak to "struck shepherds", going on to speak of the toll taken on his family by the events of last autumn, which saw him and his family become the targets of protests and hostile media coverage. Among other instances, their drive was blocked by reporters wanting an interview and a helicopter flew over the house to "flush me out", leading his eight-year-old son to believe that they were about to be attacked.
Driscoll spoke of the need to forgive, saying that he had "done a six-month study" on the subject. He also said that he was not claiming to be "entirely a victim", saying: "Sometimes when the shepherd is struck it's because they've punched themselves in the head."
He prayed that God would "send the Holy Spirit to help us forgive those who have struck us and struck our families".