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Rob Bell Leaving Mars Hill Church For Los Angeles

(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME)

Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, the megachurch in Grandville is leaving to follow a “calling” in Los Angeles.

Word of Bell’s departure was first posted on the church’s website on Thursday:

Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.

The news spread quickly, and Bell was a trending topic nationally on Twitter Thursday night.

He took to the pulpit on Sunday morning and addressed the 7,000 member congregation in attendance.

Bell had to pause several times to compose himself during the 30 minute sermon, and said that after 12 years with Mars Hill, he felt a calling to share God’s love in other places and in different ways.

He and his family will move to California in the coming months, where he said will work on a variety of projects, but did not elaborate on what those projects were. He made it clear that he will still be doing many of the things he had done in the past (writing books, lecturing, etc.), but would not be starting up a new church.

Members of the congregation are worried what the future of Mars Hill Bible Church will be, and Bell addressed that Sunday morning, as well. He told the congregation that they would be fine, as would he.

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.

[WZZM]

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