Mars Hill Bible Church has appointed a new teaching pastor, months after founding pastor and well-known author Rob Bell departed for California.

In an email sent Wednesday to members of the Grandville, Mich., church, leaders announced Kent Dobson had accepted the lead position.

Dobson served as a worship director in the church's early days and has preached as a guest speaker in the months since Bell left. He is the son of Ed Dobson, pastor emeritus at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids.

"It's been 7 months since we began our search for a teaching pastor, and we are so thankful for your prayers throughout this process," church leaders said in the note to members. "As a long-time member and frequent guest teacher, Kent both knows and loves our community."

Dobson will be formally introduced on September 9 during the church's 9 and 11 a.m. services.

Messages left with Dobson and Lee Jager, the church's communications director, were not returned Wednesday night.

Dobson has most recently served as a religion teacher and spiritual life director at Grand Rapids Christian Schools.

He lived for some time in Israel and attended Jerusalem University College and Hebrew University.

He has led pilgrimage trips overseas since 2001, according to his website.

Dobson also has been featured on biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

He resigned from a teaching position at NorthPointe Christian School in 2008 amid fallout from a Discovery Channel program in which he appeared. The program questioned Jesus' birthplace and whether there are truths in the Gnostic gospels, a collection of noncanonical texts.

"Some think asking questions is a sign of lack ...

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