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Very big, very unexpected news out of Mars Hill today. Following the sudden, surprise resignation of famously controversial pastor Mark Driscoll, the massive, multisite church he founded will dissolve over the next two months. Each of the 13 churches that comprised Mars Hills' empire will either go their own way, merge with another church or close their doors for good. As Mars Hills teaching pastor Dave Bruskas wrote in a letter to the church today:

"Rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities. This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams."

In the meantime, Mars Hill will sell all their existing church properties or allow them to be assumed by the new, independent churches. Mars Hill will also fire all their existing staff and then dissolve entirely. "Ultimately, the success of this plan, and the future viability of each of these new local churches rest solely on all of us continuing to be faithful in supporting Jesus’ mission through our attendance and continued giving," wrote Bruskas ... Discuss

Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church today dropped his latest bomb on Christiandom when he said that the scientific theory of evolution was not at odds with the existence of God. Saying that, in fact, the Big Bang requires the existence of God. From The Independent:

"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.

He added: "He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfilment.

"The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.

It's a huge move for the Catholic Church, which has often been stereotyped as being "anti-science," but may not do much to win over many of the Pope's conservative detractors ... Discuss

After two weeks of meetings, Catholic bishops did not come to an agreement on a revised official stance on homosexuality. The church leaders also failed to come to a consensus on whether or not remarried Catholics—who had been divorced—could receive communion. The bishops were called to the historic synod by Pope Francis after new polls revealed that the Vatican’s views of family life were seen as dated. However, despite heated discussions that led some to believe that major shifts in how the church actively ministered in the LGBT community were coming, no significant new agreements were forged. Even a revised report on the meetings—which removed several statements from an earlier report that contained positive language concerning gays and lesbians—did not receive a two-thirds vote of support from the group of bishops.

The latest version of the report said that same-sex couples were not “"God's design of matrimony and the family," but cautioned, “Nonetheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.” It’s unclear how close the bishops are to revising their position on allowing remarried divorced church members to receive Holy Communion, as the report only said that they will continue to examine the issue. Following the synod, Pope Francis gave a speech, saying, “The Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost hope.” The more than 200 bishops will meet again next fall to discuss similar issues ... Discuss

Religion News Service is reporting that Mark Driscoll has officially resigned from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll grew famous for his forceful preaching style but had recently drawn controversy for accusations of plagiarism and bullying. He had announced plans to take a leave of absence for six weeks some time ago, before being removed from the Acts 29 Church network he once led. Mars Hill Church reportedly did not ask Driscoll to resign, and expressed surprise at his decision.

“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 in his resignation letter. "I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ." Read the full text of his letter here ... Discuss

We at RELEVANT have not been shy about our feelings on beards, but "revolution on the face" might be a touch strong ... Discuss

Some very troubling reports surfacing from Akron, Ohio, where a televangelist named Ernest Angley has been accused of truly despicable activity, including gross sexual misconduct and forcing members of his congregation to get vasectomies and abortions. Numerous church members have come forward saying Angley wanted to keep people in his church, Grace Cathedral, from having children—people like prominent church member Greg Mulkey, who told reporters “He doesn’t want people to have kids because it would take their time and money away from [the church] ...He really forced people into abortions through scare tactics, as if he were a medical doctor."

A former pastor is also accusing Angley of inappropriate touching, accusations the 93-year-old Angley defended himself from in the pulpit recently, saying “I’m not a homosexual. God wouldn’t use a homosexual like He uses me" ... Discuss

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