Former Mars Hill pastor James Noriega has posted a public confession online, in which he asks forgiveness from those he hurt during his ministry, and expresses a wish to "personally repent".
In a letter published on his Facebook page, Noriega – who pastored Acts 29 Network church plant Doxa that would become Mars Hill West Seattle – writes:
"I know going public with my confession as a pastor can put me in a precarious place. I no longer want to protect myself because there are some people in the church I have hurt and I want to repent to them and expect the blood of our great Savior to heal them from my sins against them.
"I don't want to just repent here on my FB page but give you access to me so it can be more personal. I believe I needed to 'start' publicly but end more personally."
Noriega insists that he will not criticise Mars Hills as a whole, neither controversial lead pastor Mark Driscoll – who recently announced that he is stepping down from ministry for six weeks while a number of allegations levelled against him are investigated – but will apologise and repent only for his own actions.
"The sins I committed there [at Mars Hill] as a pastor were mine and mine alone...I did not come into Mars Hill Church innocent, I brought sin in with me," he explains.
"I did not get brainwashed, I was a fully functional pastor. I was just comfortable in my sin. I am a self-centered man who doesn't need help from anyone to sin. God have mercy on me."
Apologising to those with whom he was "impatient" with, for his own "heavy-handed[ness]" and for operating "in self-protection at times in confrontation," Noriega pleads with those whom he has crossed.
"Let me ask for your forgiveness. I don't want your hurt from my sin to linger in your soul any longer. I am so sorry. I am so sorry I got in the way of the Cross of Christ in your life. Please forgive me...I absolutely want healing for you; not more hurt. I do love you."
"My hope is that this post does not lead into bantering and that my heart for reconciliation and restoration for those I've hurt does not get lost," Noriega concludes.
"I am ok with being criticized. I just want those people I sinned against to hear my heart for them and nothing else...this is an invitation for you to reach out to me personally so that I can personally repent and ask for your forgiveness. Please message me or ask me if you need my number and I will give it to you.
"My hope is to find those who may be hurting from my sin."
Last month, a group of Mars Hill pastors wrote to other elders of the Church, criticising Driscoll and the "abusive, coercive ministry culture" his leadership has created.
The letter calls for Mark Driscoll to "step down not only from the pulpit, but from all aspects of ministry".