SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- The controversial former pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church officially opened a new church in Arizona on Sunday.
Mark Driscoll’s name is now on The Trinity Church in Scottsdale. He preached two sermons Sunday morning focusing on the Biblical stories of Jonah.
"We tend to think if things go well it's from the Lord and if things are hard it must be from Satan. Let me [tell you] sometimes hard things come from God,” Driscoll said in his sermon, which was broadcasted publically on the church’s website. “Sometimes God will allow us to endure hardship for two reasons: to change who we are and where we are.”
Driscoll left Seattle after multiple allegations of wrongdoing, including that he bullied people within the church. A lawsuit followed with accusations of misuse of funds. Driscoll has called those false and malicious allegations without any merit.
He spoke about the last two years Sunday and mentioned his family.
"Our family is here because of a storm … a storm in our own life and in the middle of it, we prayed and God gave of his word to my wife and myself... at two separate times,” Driscoll said. “We surrendered to the Lord in the midst of our storm so that God could do work in us and move us to this place for mission.”
One of the first things people saw when they pulled in to The Trinity Church was a sign that protester Dee Holmes held in her hands. She’s driven multiple Sundays from her home in Mesa to protest Driscoll’s opening at Trinity. Her sign this weekend referred to “MARK’S EGO, MONEY & POWER.”
"My goal is to catch the people that don't know anything about Driscoll,” she said. “It's been less than two years since he imploded Mars Hill Church in Seattle and here he is starting up another church. This should give people pause."
Dozens of people attended Driscoll’s service, filling up one of the primary parking lots on site. One of them was Paul Beam. He is from Texas and was visiting his father-in-law who lives about 25 miles from Driscoll’s new church.
Beam said he started listening to Driscoll’s podcast three and a half years ago to get through a painful divorce and it’s one reason he wanted to see him preach in person Sunday.
"I don't know the guy personally. But I know that his theology and his teachings that I was hearing in and through those podcasts - they helped me to make a change in my life and they helped me make better decisions,” Beam said. "All I can trust and hope in is God is truly using him regardless of his past."