In the wake of controversy at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, a senior pastor has reportedly announced that he is suddenly leaving the church and will be subsequently moving out of state.
Pastor Mike Wilkerson (Mars Hill Church)
"One of our long-time friends and pastors, Mike Wilkerson, has decided to step down from eldership at Mars Hill," Scott Harris, another pastor at the church, wrote in a letter addressed to the church community this week.
He continued, "Mike has been part of Mars Hill for many years, and we are grateful for his leadership, particularly in helping us build our biblical counseling and Redemption ministry across all 15 churches."
Wilkerson, who served as director of biblical counseling at Mars Hill Ballard, became a staff member at the church in 2004, according to Charisma News.
Wilkerson is scheduled to move out of the state this upcoming Saturday -- just days after his departure was announced.
It is unclear why Wilkerson is leaving, though some outlets suspect that it has something to do with the high staff turnover and controversy that has been raging at Mars Hill.
"With so much controversy surrounding Mars Hill Senior Pastor Mark Driscoll in recent months, it may not surprise some that one of its pastors is suddenly leaving," wrote Charisma News.
And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer also went on to mention the many problems the church has had of late, yet neither outlet provided evidence directly tying issues surrounding Driscoll with Wilkerson's departure; at the moment, no such evidence is in the public record.
Warren Throckmorton, a college professor and blogger, noted this week that he finds the announcement somewhat "unusual."
"What seems unusual about this announcement is that the announcement came only a week before he plans to move," he wrote. "Given his level of leadership at Mars Hill (a ministry director – just under the executive elders) and his popularity at the church, it seems abrupt to announce one week and be gone the next."
Wilkerson, who actively posts to his Facebook page, has not mentioned his departure.
As TheBlaze has reported, Driscoll, the church's founding pastor, has in recent months been accused of plagiarism and has been heavily criticized for a book-buying program that helped land one of his books on bestseller lists.
Pastor Mark Driscoll (TheBlaze TV)
In March, TheBlaze reported on an open letter attributed to Driscoll which quoted the preacher as pledging to quit social media for the remainder of the year, while also apologizing to parishioners and admitting he has made mistakes in his ministry.
Much of the lengthy letter focused on the pastor’s purported admission that he has made past mistakes and that both he and the church needed to “mature.” The text went on to say that Driscoll has met one-on-one over the past year with individuals whom he has hurt in an effort to apologize and reach reconciliation.
Again, it is unclear whether Wilkerson left for personal or professional reasons. TheBlaze has reached out to Mars Hill Church for clarification.