The lead pastor at one of the largest megachurches in the state resigned after leaders at the Gilbert church heard he'd engaged in multiple extramarital affairs.
In a note posted on the Mission Community Church website, lead Pastor Mark Connelly resigned after he "confessed to the affairs."
According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, the Mission Community Church is the seventh-largest Protestant megachurch in the state, with an average attendance of nearly 6,200 people.
The church, which has existed since 1995, moved into a new, $10 million facility at Elliot and Power roads in Gilbert nearly four years ago.
"This past week, we received information that Mark Connelly had engaged in extramarital, physical affairs with women," the church says in an explanation on its website. "Mark has confessed to the affairs. In following the Biblical teaching in 1 Timothy 3:2-7, on Monday December 30th, 2013, the Board of Servant Leaders asked for, received and accepted Mark's resignation as Lead Pastor of MISSION."
A sermon posted on the church's website shows another pastor explaining to churchgoers how to deal with the situation of the affairs.
Read the church's entire statement below:
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This past week, we received information that Mark Connelly had engaged in extramarital physical affairs with women. Mark has confessed to the affairs. In following the Biblical teaching in 1 Timothy 3:2-7, on Monday December 30th, 2013, the Board of Servant Leaders asked for, received, and accepted Mark's resignation as Lead Pastor of MISSION.
Effective immediately, former board member and current executive pastor of ministries Gary Sutliff will be interim lead pastor.
As a church whose vision is to do justice, love, mercy, and walk humbly with God, we have offered counseling and mercy ministry resources to Mark, his family and the other individuals involved. We ask during this time that you respect Mark's privacy and give him and his family time to heal.
During this time, we are calling on the people of MISSION and all followers of Jesus to join with us in praying for wisdom and healing. All are welcome to join us this Tuesday, January 7, at 7p in the Worship Center for a time of prayer.
Grace and peace,
Board of Servant Leaders and Staff Leadership of MISSION
UPDATE January 7: Here's a fairly popular YouTube video of Connelly describing a need for more "mighty men" who supposedly protect women: