Disgraced Pastor Mark Driscoll to Speak at Larry Osborne’s Conference on “Healthy, Thriving Ministries”; Sponsors Drop

By Julie Roys
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UPDATE: According to Tim Glenn, spokesperson for Compassion International, Compassion had not agreed to be a sponsor for Sticky Teams West 2020, but were probably listed on the website because Compassion had sponsored the 2019 conference. Glenn said Compassion just found out about Driscoll speaking and “doesn’t have an opinion on it.” He said Compassion will make its decision about sponsoring the 2020 conference later in the year.

Mark Driscoll, the disgraced, former pastor of Mars Hill Church who resigned amid allegations of bullying and abuse of power, is slated to headline Sticky Teams West 2020—a “premier leadership conference,” on building “healthy, thriving ministries.” As a result, sponsors are dropping their support of the conference.

The Sticky Teams conference is hosted by North Coast Training, a church consulting ministry led by megachurch pastor and “nationally recognized trainer of leaders and pastors,” Larry Osborne. On Saturday, I tweeted that Driscoll was speaking at the Sticky Teams conference. The next day, one of the event sponsors, Bethel University, suddenly disappeared from the website.

I reached out to Bethel for comment but did not hear back. However, Bethel Seminary Professor Andy Rowell said that Bethel officials told him that they will not sponsor the Sticky Teams conference because Driscoll is a speaker—something Bethel learned on Saturday.

On Tuesday, I noticed that all the sponsors that had been posted to the Sticky Teams website had disappeared. These included Compassion International, GTI Study Tours, and CDF Capital.

Jake Dockter, someone who had complained to CDF Capital about the company’s sponsorship of the conference, forwarded me an email that he received from Nathan Elson, executive director of marketing at CDF Capital. Elson wrote that CDF Capital “had no part in choosing the program participants.” Elson added that when the company “learned of the programming of the 2020 event,” it relayed “concerns to the Sticky Teams staff. CDF Capital is no longer listed on the sponsors page of the website.”

I reached out to CDF Capital for clarification, but have not yet heard back from them. I also contacted Compassion and GTI Study Tours, but have not heard back from them either.

When the company “learned of the programming of the 2020 event,” it relayed “concerns to the Sticky Teams staff. CDF Capital is no longer listed on the sponsors page of the website.”

I repeatedly emailed and called Larry Osborne, the president and founder of North Coast Training, but he did not respond. I also contacted Driscoll for comment, but he did not respond either. 

Osborne, who’s also the lead pastor at North Coast Church, has a history with Driscoll dating back 15 years and served on Mars Hill’s Board of Accountability (BOAA) and Advisors until Mars Hill closed in 2015. In 2014, when the church planting network Acts 29 kicked Driscoll out of its organization for “ungodly and disqualifying behavior,” the BOAA refused to do the same. Since then, Osborne has continued to partner with Driscoll, speaking at Driscoll’s church, endorsing Driscoll’s books, and speaking with Driscoll at ministry events.

Driscoll’s Disqualifying Past

Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill in 2014 after an internal investigation at the church found Driscoll guilty of “arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading . . . in a domineering manner.” But prior to his resignation, Driscoll had already publicly been accused of plagiarism. His church had also admitted that it had used more than $210,000 of church funds to buy Driscoll’s 2013 book, Real Marriage, to put the book at the top the New York Times best-seller’s list.

Driscoll, known by some as the “cussing pastor,” was also known for degrading talk about women and vulgarity. (He once said women were created to be “homes” for men’s penises and that oral sex was biblical.) And in 2016, several former members brought a class-action suit against Driscoll, accusing him of running Mars Hill like an organized crime syndicate—systematically soliciting donations for one purpose, but then using them for another. (This suit was later dismissed because the plaintiffs said they didn’t have the money to pursue the suit.)

Yesterday, I talked with Dave Bruskas, one of three former executive elders at Mars Hill, who now serves as campus pastor at The Village Church Fort Worth. Bruskas said Driscoll refused to go through the restoration plan that Mars Hill had suggested in 2014. And to Bruskas’ knowledge, Driscoll has not gone through any restoration plan since. In addition, Bruskas said that he knows people whom Driscoll has hurt who are not reconciled with him.

“Do I believe Mark is permanently disqualified, no—but presently, yes. If he hasn’t gone through a restoration process, then he should not be serving.”

I asked Bruskas if he believed Driscoll was fit to serve in ministry and he replied, “Do I believe Mark is permanently disqualified, no—but presently, yes. If he hasn’t gone through a restoration process, then he should not be serving.”

Bruskas added that he’s heard Driscoll confess and express remorse for the things he did at Mars Hill. Yet to date, Bruskas says he hasn’t seen evidence of repentance and change. When asked what he thinks about Larry Osborne’s continued partnership with Driscoll, Bruskas said, “That’s perplexing to me.”

Larry Osborne’s 15-Year Relationship With Driscoll and Mars Hill

According to an account in one of Driscoll’s books, Osborne and Driscoll met in 2004 at a Leadership Network event. Then, for the next decade, Osborne served as a mentor for Mars Hill leaders. According to an archived Mars Hill webpage, Osborne was pivotal in helping the church go to a multi-site model, and Osborne “counseled the leaders of Mars Hill Church for many years, providing expert wisdom and experience.”

In 2011, Osborne invited Driscoll to speak at a Sticky Teams conference.  The next year, Osborne tweeted that Driscoll was one of “my fav pastors.” In 2013, Osborne twice interviewed Driscoll, twice preached at Driscoll’s church, and also spoke at Driscoll’s 2013 Resurgence Conference.

Most significantly, in 2013, Osborne also joined the newly-created Board of Accountability and Advisors (BOAA) at Mars Hill. This board included men from outside Mars Hill who had experience leading large organizations and were tasked with “big decision-making” at the church.

This same board approved a “Unity of Mission” statement—a non-compete agreement that Mars Hill enforced on its pastors, paid and unpaid. The agreement forbade pastors from serving within a 10-mile radius of the church should they ever leave. In 2014, a volunteer pastor of community groups refused to sign the agreement and was removed.

The BOAA was also the board that was tasked with reviewing the investigation into Driscoll’s wrongdoing after 21 former pastors at the church brought formal charges against Driscoll. Despite all the allegations both within the church and in the media, the BOAA wrote in a statement after Driscoll’s resignation that “we do not believe (Driscoll) to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.” In addition, the board stated that Driscoll “was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter.”

The BOAA wrote in a statement after Driscoll’s resignation that “we do not believe (Driscoll) to be disqualified from pastoral ministry . . .” Driscoll “was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter.”

Less than 18 months later, Driscoll announced that he was planting a new church in Phoenix and Osborne was named on the church’s website as someone who was providing  “wise counsel” for the new venture.  Then in January, 2018, after Trinity Church launched, Osborne came to Trinity and led a pastor’s cohort for area pastors, taught at a worship service, and spoke at a men’s ministry event.

Also in 2018, Osborne endorsed a new book by Driscoll called, Spirit-Filled Jesus.

In November, 2018, Osborne again preached at Driscoll’s church and the two pastors appeared at a ministry event where Driscoll was supposed to instruct local pastors on how Jesus “maintained emotional and relational health in ministry.” Due to low attendance, the event reportedly “turned into a two-hour chat” where Driscoll and Osborne “riffed about leadership and ministry.”

Just three week’s ago, Driscoll’s newest book, Win Your War, released. Once again, Osborne endorsed it.

Like Bruskas, I’m perplexed why Osborne continues to partner with Driscoll. Of all the pastors to speak on “healthy, thriving ministries,” Driscoll would seem the least qualified to do so. According to Titus 1, he’s not qualified at all.  

Which makes me wonder about Osborne.

Certainly, Osborne’s books and track record at North Coast are impressive. But his continued ministry relationship with Driscoll, and past actions while on the BOAA at Mars Hill, are extremely disconcerting. Is the man who sat on the board that oversaw the implosion of Mars Hill really the man to instruct pastors and church leaders on how to “craft strong stable ministries”?

Perhaps Osborne’s mistakes with Mars Hill could be overlooked if it were just an aberration. But given Osborne’s continued partnership with Driscoll, sponsors shouldn’t just reconsider their sponsorship of the Sticky Teams West 2020 conference, but any partnership with North Coast Training. Likewise, church leaders and pastors may do well to reconsider their participation with North Coast, as well. 

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30 thoughts on “Disgraced Pastor Mark Driscoll to Speak at Larry Osborne’s Conference on “Healthy, Thriving Ministries”; Sponsors Drop”

    1. This last year (or five) has shown why I deeply dislike leadership classes, seminars, and books. When we give a man a pedestal and we risk ripping out their soul. “How did you get to be so well known and prestigious?” should be heard more like “Why did you try to gain the whole world when Jesus said you will lose your soul in the process?”

      I haven’t cleared my shelves yet, but some day when I have nothing else to do, maybe I will. The greatest leaders I’ve known will never write a book– or seek to!

  1. I would call this a “tone deaf” choice by Osborne… but with that history… it seems more like a brazen partnership and denial of any sinfulness. Christian celebrity-ism is incredibly dangerous.

  2. Curious…Does it add to the value of this information to speak disparagingly. Saying “Disgraced former pastor” gives a very negative and personal view of this situation, and does not seek to add to any kind of unity of believers that we see in Scripture.

    This is why I have trouble reading your blog, you seem to write things in such a way that you are above others (at least above those that you are writing about), and that is not the model of humility that we see throughout Scripture.

    1. I say “disgraced” because it applies. Miriam Webster defines “disgraced” as “having fallen from favor or a position of power or honor; discredited.” When 21 former pastors of your church bring formal allegations against you, and a board finds you guilty of patterns of sin that are disqualifying according to Titus 1 and 1 Tim 3, “disgraced” fits.

      I am not above anyone. But I do take seriously the qualifications of elders listed in Scripture and have witnessed the devastation that ruthless and unethical pastors leave.

      1. I understand that people have come against him. However, as believers we are called to not be of the world, and to use disparaging terms to describe someone we are being very worldly in that action. Eph. 4:25-32 tells us to speak the truth in love. Is calling someone a “disgraced pastor” speaking the truth in love, or in a heart of making sure everyone knows how bad he is. Is it possible to still communicate the truth, but do it in a way that is not inflammatory?

        I have read many of your articles (mostly around McDonald) and I have seen that you seem to have a very personal stake at making sure that people see how “evil” these men are. I know that McDonald filed a suit against you and that has rightfully upset you. You absolutely have the freedom of speech and that cannot and should not be taken lightly. However, (I may be wrong here, so please correct me) it seems as if that has caused an uptick in pastoral articles where you have made it your mission to make sure the world knows how evil some mega church pastors really are. The question I would challenge you with is “Is this good for the body of Christ to see so many negative posts about pastors? Is it possible to write some positive posts to show how good most pastors (even megachurch pastors) really are.

        Julie, please understand I am simply writing based on my limited experience of few articles. I do not know you, just what types of articles from your blog get the most traction on my Facebook wall. I am a Christian brother just telling you how I feel things are coming across.

        1. Saddened Pastor, I appreciate Julie’s investigations into these disqualified and disgraced pastors.
          A pastor who has a large church, a nationwide platform, books, and especially teaches leadership conferences should be under the utmost scrutiny. They will influence for good or evil, hundreds if not thousands of other pastors.
          Case in point, our former local mega really followed the Willow Creek model with head pastor as a de facto CEO. The WC Global Leadership Summit was highly promoted every year.
          Our 16-year-old daughter was groped on her way out of the sanctuary. We notified an elder, nothing happened. Followed up with security, nothing.
          Finally, after three weeks of inaction we filed a police report and emailed we had done so to the head pastor, youth pastors and children’s pastor.
          Later we heard they had a crisis control meeting the following morning. It was decided that the brand new associate pastor would take the lead and “handle” us.
          We never got a phone call or email from the head pastor. We attended, served and gave to this church for three years.
          What kind of leadership is this?
          When Christians are treated like “giving units” (that’s a term used at Mars Hill btw), or like they are expendable to the bottom line, the whole system should be burned down.
          Julie, keep shining the light.

    2. Saddened Pastor, on what basis you disagree that “disgraced” is an unfair or inaccurate characterization of Mark Driscoll?

      (“Disgraced” is far more objective than the words I might’ve chosen: disqualified and demeaning.)

      1. Calling out as “Disgraced Pastor” is not right. This should be labeled as simply “Pastor”, or “Former Pastor”. As believers we are called to be different than the world, and this is a very worldly and divisive way to word things. Additionally, even with these things being public many years ago, you (or I) do not know what has gone on since then. We do not know if he has done what he needed to do. Maybe he did not do things the way someone wanted him to, but he sought spiritual advice from another and did what he could…It’s ok we disagree, I just think we should be better than this.

        1. Is there any prominent pastor–church, television, or radio–that you would call disgraced? Bakker? Swaggart? If not, then we’ll probably have to disagree on this point.

    3. Saddened Pastor, I would have used “Deceitful Ex Pastor”. For MD to rob God, use $210K+ of church funds to buys his book so it would be on the NY Times bestseller list is deceitful to the core. On top of that, he will receive book royalties to line his pockets. Looks like you will have your church add to its’ budget to purchase MD’s two new books and attend the Sticky Team conference via 1st class air and penthouse suite. .

      1. How can you say that he is disqualified? There are some men that say he is qualified and some say he is not. I will be honest with you, I had someone recently tell me I was disqualified because of sin in their life. If I were to have listened to that one pastor I would not be serving in the position I am in today. So, if you do not know first hand of the things that have happened and the heart in which Mark Driscoll is serving, can you make that statement? For all you or I know, he was guilty of these things and he has repented and has done what he can do. Many times I have seen people repentant, but others involved refuse to be reconciled and claim “non-repentant”. If you (or Julie Roys) does not have first hand knowledge of these things, I do not feel it is beneficial, or wise to speak in this way. If he is not teaching heresy, then I believe we should leave the man alone and allow God to use or discipline him as needed.

        1. So this is personal for you. Please tell us more about how you were told you were disqualified for someone else’s sin. It’s hard to imagine how this could be the case.

        2. Saddened Pastor-You talk like the white-washed septic tank Pharisees that Jesus insulted so very directly and boldly! You neither believe in making comments in your own name but hide behind a false name, nor do you appear to care about anything dealing with sheep. Only do not called the abusive narcissist leveraging the name of God to make himself rich and famous anything but nice names! You speak like the Devil himself. Driscoll is a nasty, abusive jerk and that is just the truth. Who cares what you think, why do you not go read your Bible if you even have one? Read the whole chapter of woes to the Pharisees. They are not just for a history lesson, but they apply to many of the self-righteous sanctimonious snakes who slither around looking for sheep to bite.
          They likely apply as much to you as anyone else…

    4. Saddened Pastor: Julie Roys is doing the right thing, “the devil exposed is the devil defeated”. Read the article “Despicable Mark Driscoll” and ALL the “sheeple” he abused and abandoned and what did his congregants learn and where did ALL the money go? This has been going on way too long and the Pastors are Wolves, Hucksters, Con-Men, Con-Artist, Hirelings, FALSE Teachers, FALSE Shepherds, Snake Oil Salesmen and have been abusing the people way too long for their own gain. For you to defend this man who was consumed with self and abusive to his wife, wow what sin is in your life that you think M.D., is acceptable behavior? Just go to spiritualsoundingboard.com also and it’s VERY SAD that this has been allowed to go on for so long “as the church goes so goes the world”, IF, the world is corrupt it’s because the church is. Men like this prey on the people but do NOT have a Fasted, Prayed, Word, Repentance and Humility NOT ALL ALL and CONSUMED WITH SELF, being a self-serving organization and NOT SERVING AND LOVING THE SHEEP (people) and bringing out the best in them, their gifts and callings and talents instead of what their $ (money) can do to build this sociopath/psychopath’s kingdom (Google that read). It’s Jeremiah 23:all and Ezekiel 34: church NOT to mention Mark and so many forgot the WOE’S talked about in the Bible. Would consider Mark, Einsteins definition of EVIL (“void and without God). That’s all we need is another dead man in the pulpit preaching to a dead audience served up with lies and dead rhetoric.

      Julie Roy’s is a type of Deborah, Esther, Jael, she is being a TRUTH AND STANDARD BEARER. Sad, NO MEN with Pelatos can bench Mark D. permanently NEVER to be in a pulpit again. The church overall to men like this is a Business and what your time and money can do to build HIS kingdom and NOT God’s. Another false pastor prostituting and whoring God’s name and who he is while the sheep are unhealthy and sick and needing a TRUE SHEPHERD that’s talked about throughout the Bible. Where are the Jehu’s, where are the Elijah’s and Elisha types to say “enough is enough”. Worse, what did all these people learn in M.D.’s church as obviously God had no hand in it. Been rebuking Churches/Ministries why do the women have to call the Nation to Fasting, Praying and Repenting and putting aside ALL THEIR DEAD METHODS, DEAD PROGRAMS AND DEAD PREACHING. Obviously you haven’t read Books on Holy Men, let alone the Good Book=Bible=Word. Why Revival Tarrie-1959 and America is Too Young to Die-1979; Sodom Had No Bible. Apostolic Foundations by Arthur Katz along with “Prophetic Call” and Reality, the Hope of Glory etc. If, you were a Man/Woman of PRAYER and reading your WORD you would be confronting, correcting and REBUKING this situation as David Wilkerson was praying for ARMIES of them 1988/redone 6/2007 “Troublemakers in the Church” written based on ONE WOMAN! So, how much is the “10 Lies, the Church Tells Women” by J. Lee Grady and Lies Men Believe based on your Church. Majority of the people are tithing, attending and celebrating Liars and learning NOTHING but guilt, condemnation, criticism, belittling, berating, shame and abuse to keep you sick and in bondage and coming back for more of the same Dogma! None of the churches EVER grew up in went through the Bible completely once, from birth to death and learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in all the inane, inept churches grew up and collect Books and Articles on Churches/Leaders that abuse! We allowed this False Shepherds to waste our lives and time for what? To build THEIR Kingdom? Sir, how healthy are your people and is it an Apostolic Church which is correct order, TRUE FATHERS give out, provide, take care of, build and create healthy sheep NOT like the Occult that hides sin, lives in darkness, doesn’t live in truth and sweeps sin under the carpet John 10:10 and John 8:44 is more like current false church/leaders. All of the latter behavior, is all the evil, inane, inept, self-serving, self-consumed churches grew up in and under. God raise up more Men & Women like Julie Roy’s, NOT afraid to speak the TRUTH!

  3. blessedbeyondmeasure

    After living 15 years outside the US serving with my pastor/missionary husband in a small international church, I truly don’t understand the phrase used in the article: “craft strong stable ministries.” At what point have we become a people that are hungering to hear what others have to say as we pursue tactics to have a full house on Sunday, in contrast to the time where we remember God’s call just to follow Him and allow Him to be the one who moves in people’s hearts? I remain baffled at the seemingly lack of the pursuit of faithfulness to the call of ministry. As a side note Julie, you are doing a fabulous job in warning the believers; in calling out those who portraying signs of unfaithfulness; and helping to turn our eyes back to the Truth. Thank you.

  4. Once again I find myself agreeing with Julie’s points and tone. I’m all for restoration, but if there has been public sin, there should be public repentance. When there’s no evidence of public repentance, there should be no public restoration.

  5. Saddened pastor, try reading the Qualifications of an elder in titus and Timothy…the first Qualification mentioned is He MUST be above reproach….what is the definition of above reproach???? if he is not above reproach he’s Disqualified from leadership….this doesn’t mean he’s not a True believer, it means he has forfeited the privilege of being an Elder/Pastor…..Moses misrepresented God by striking the Rock twice and forfeited the right to enter into the promised land….and without a Doubt Driscol has brought reproach on the Church and therefore is disqualified…..Julie Roys didn’t write the qualifications for Elders….She’s contending for the Faith and doing what it says in Ephesians 5:11…”Take no part in the unfruitful works of Darkness, but instead expose them.” Keeping silent on this matter is allowing it to continue IMO ….If Driscol is truly born again then Julie is doing him a favor by telling the truth.

  6. Saddened Pastor; from what I read, it seems that you are saying that heresy is the only disqualifier. Paul writes in 1 Tim. 4:16 = pay attention to yourselves and to your doctrine. So there are two things that will disqualify: 1) Bad actions/life style, 2) bad doctrine. The qualifications for an elder / pastor / overseer given in 1 Tim. 3 & Titus 1 primarily deal with actions and lifestyle that disqualify. This is why it is important to have a group of individuals to whom one is accountable. If one has said they are accountable to the leadership of the church, and the church leadership indicates that they have disqualified themselves and sets up a path of restoration, and the disqualified pastor refuses to follow the restoration process but goes off and starts another church without accountability that is a problem (long run on sentence, I know). Repentance, as you know, includes making things right with those who have been harmed. I haven’t seen this happen. What I have seen is duck and run. If these pastors hurt churches, they need to have congregational meeting and the pastor acknowledge the wrong and ask forgiveness of the church. I have seen this happen only a few times. There cannot be repentance if there has been no acknowledgement of the wrong done. 1 Tim. 5:20 states that sinning elders (pastors) who continue to sin are to be rebuked “in the presence of all so that the rest may stand in fear.” I also serve in the church world, and having read some of these tragic situations, has caused me to examine my own life and share with the church leadership some of these stories so that if they see me starting to go down this path, they need to confront me – first privately, then if I continue, publicly. I don’t want to end this way!

  7. I recent modern times we have allowed a “profession” such as clergy to move to an “occupation”. The historical value of a profession is autonomy of its members while also coming under the authority and policing of itself. The original professions were doctors, lawyers, pharmacist and clergy. All other occupations were just that, occupations and not a profession meaning a profession is a group that self regulates. The groups that have retained this authority are doctors and lawyers and to a lesser extent pharmacists. Just think of when a lawyer breaks the law…they are barred from being a lawyer. Their license is taken from allowing them to practice In the future. These individuals are brought in front of their peers for hearing and Discipline. For clergy this is a big gap as I see the MacDonalds and Driscoll’s, etc do bad things with no recourse or oversight by the authority that made them clergy in the first place. The profession should remove them from practice further but that authority has been taken as they are now practicing as an occupation not under the oversight of a profession. The Elders simply do not have the authority to take their ability to practice and the pastor ends up moving down to the next city. Society would be much better off to return clergy to a profession where there is accountability to their peers. In such cases, the MacDonalds of the world would lose their ability practice and be forced into non-clergy roles as to limit their harm to the greater society going forward.

  8. Is there a sectarian spirit among Christians that must be addressed? Should we be more gracious within the Church? Perhaps.

    But Christendom today has a far greater challenge. Spiritual maturity and godly discernment, which should characterize God’s people, is embarrassingly lacking. There would be no need for these (sometimes sensational) expose blogs to exist if we had more Acts 17:11 and 1Thess 1:7-8 believers amongst us.

    There is nothing more powerful and God-honoring than the truth, spoken in love. Let us not neglect either side of that balance.

  9. Seems you have zero grace and your page is full of negativity…Driscoll repented for his behavior and committed to be different. Obviously not good enough, so you won’t be happy until he is not invited to anything to speak. The Spirit is not with your efforts–you are working with the adversary to tear down others. Try using your gifts for the good of others not sensational journalism with the desire to hurt. We have real enemies in the world–Driscoll is not one of them.

    1. Defend an absolute snake. Driscoll is certainly one of them. Have you ever read anything that Jesus said to to Pharisees! It is just not for them. It is for our narcissistic leaders too. If you think he repented, then you do not know what that looks like. How about giving all the Mammon back that he conned sheep out of? Give us a break…

  10. Disgraced! What is it with you and that word. First Pastor Mark stepped down even after an investigation was conducted that cleared him. Secondly he repented and stated that he was thankful to the Lord for bringing him through this process which grew him. It’s absolutely disgusting to see you abuse your position and influence to tear down others in the body of Christ. Your articles wreak of vindictiveness and demonstrate a clear lack of mercy and grace. Thankfully your personal misguided views don’t speak for God. He reestablished Pastor Mark into ministry and his new church is thriving. May God forgive your foolish speard across many articles and renew your mind with His word.

  11. Using the dictionary to justify your use of this word doesn’t clear you from your unloving comments and lack of grace in your statements. You were hurt and I can understand that but that doesn’t give you the right to hurt others back by utilizing your words to further degrade someone else over and over again. Jesus would never ever treat someone like that. Some much needed time in prayer and fasting is needed on your part Julie to get your heart right. I am extremely grateful to see how the Lord has placed Pastor Mark back into ministry because His calling is without repentance. Praying for you my sister to use the gifts that God gave you to honor Him and build up the church as you speak the truth in love.

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