ROB BELL (above), the megachurch pastor from the United States who was a headline speaker at this year’s Greenbelt festival, is to leave the Mars Hill Church he founded in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it emerged last week.
Issuing a statement on its website, the elders of the church announced, with “deeply mixed emotions”, that Mr Bell would be leaving at the end of the year.
He is moving to Los Angeles to pursue his writing career and other projects. “It’s come time for my family and I to take another leap into the unknown”, Mr Bell told the Mars Hill congregation on Sunday.
He described the relationship he had experienced with the church as a “beautiful thing”, during a 45-minute talk on Sunday, before he left the stage to a standing ovation.
Mr Bell and his wife, Kristen, founded the church in 1999, and it has since grown to include a congregation of about 10,000.
Earlier this year, Mr Bell’s book, Love Wins, provoked fierce criticism for its views on hell (News, 21 April). He plans to bring out a companion publication to Love Wins in November, which will coincide with a North American speaking tour called Fit to Smash Ice.