Phoenix megachurch pastor Mark Connelly committed a mega mistake when he had affairs with multiple women in his congregation. Pastor Connelly has resigned— and his replacement has offered to help him fix his marriage.
The Republic reported that Executive Pastor of Ministries Gary Sutliff has been made interim lead pastor of Mission Community Church while the congregation chooses a permanent replacement.
“We are committed to helping Mark rebuild his marriage and we have offered all of the mercy and counseling resources of our church to help him and his family through this time,” Sutliff said in a press release. “In addition, we have offered the same resources to the women involved. Our priority right now is helping all those involved, including the people of our church, heal from this.”
The church got tipped that Connelly was engaging in extramarital affairs and released a statement to that effect, My Fox Phoenix reported. Connelly confessed to the affairs and resigned a week after delivering his Christmas sermon.
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Mission Community Church, located in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, claims a flock of over 6,000 people. Though church pastor Randy Thomas said he felt “angry” and a “sense of betrayal” after receiving the news about his friend and Christian colleague, the reaction of churchgoers to Connelly’s misdeeds has been largely one of forgiveness.
“My wife and I will be staying,” church member John Berger said on Facebook. “The board of directors has done a fabulous job in dealing with this tragedy in a godly manner.”
“Mark is accountable for his actions, as he is well aware,” said another member, Brian Kaufman. “My family will continue to love and support his family in any way we can.”
The church began in a high school cafeteria in 1995, before a large, $10 million facility was built four years ago. Connelly has been lead pastor since 2005.
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Connelly has been married to his wife, Kay, for 29 years. According to the Daily Mail, last year Connelly hosted an event at an Atlanta church about what makes a successful marriage, with the invitation stating, “Their past struggles and present challenges put Mark in a unique position to encourage us all.”