GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WZZM) - Megachuch pastor, Rob Bell is leaving Mars Hill Bible Church to follow a "calling" in Los Angeles.
Bell addressed the 7,000 member congregation at Mars Hill Sunday morning, after word of his departure was posted on the church website Thursday afternoon. The news spread quickly on social media networks, and Bell was a trending topic nationally on Twitter Thursday evening.
Bell paused several times to compose himself Sunday, and said after founding Mars Hill 12 years ago, he felt a "calling to share God's love" in new ways.
He and his family will move to California in the coming months, where he will work on a variety of projects, which Bell said he could not yet elaborate on. Bell says he will continue to write books and speak on national and international tours, but he will not be starting a new church.
Bell addressed "the elephant in the room" referring to the future of Mars Hill after his departure. "You're going to be fine and I'm going to be fine" Bell said.
He wrapped his 30 minute sermon with words of encouragement. "We serve a big God and none of this is shocking to Him. All we can do is embrace a future that is going to be brilliant."
The congregation responded with a standing ovation.
Since founding Mars Hill 12 years ago, the church has grown to one of the largest in Michigan. Bell will continue to teach at Mars Hill through December. Co-pastor, Shane Hipps will continue to speak, along with several guests in 2012.