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SEATTLE -- Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll said during his Sunday service that he will be taking a leave from the pulpit for at least six weeks. The megachurch pastor returned from vacation on Sunday and made the announcement at his 8:30 a.m. service.

"I have requested a break for processing, healing, and growth for a minimum of six weeks while the leadership assigned by our bylaws conduct a thorough examination of accusations against me," Mark Driscoll said.

Some former churchgoers have accused the pastor of bullying and shunning them during their time in the church.

"I hope it's more than six weeks because it's going to take time for him to be able to hear the lord again," former churchgoer Judy Abolafya said. "I think it's wise to listen to the people that have asked him to take a break."

Driscoll apologized to the church in his prepared speech on Sunday.

"I want to say to our Mars Hill family -- past and present, I'm very sorry," Driscoll said. "I'm sorry for the times I have been angry, short, or insensitive. I'm sorry for anything I've done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention."

Thousands came to Driscoll's support on his Facebook page Sunday night.

"We love you Mark," Corey Sudja said. "People all over the world lift you up in prayer."

Driscoll said he will step aside for at least six weeks. He said he will consult a group of advisers about what to do next.

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