Steve Berger

Grace Chapel senior Pastor Steve Berger broadcasts from just outside the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. on January 6.

Steve Berger, the founder of Franklin's Grace Chapel, announced during a service on Sunday that he would be leaving his position as the church's senior pastor.

During the announcement, Berger stressed that his departure was not related to his recent comments about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the associated coverage in the press.

Berger had traveled to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 4, and on the morning of Jan. 6, found himself among thousands of Trump supporters attending the "Save America March" rally - the same rally that ultimately concluded with the storming of the Capitol.

While Berger had returned to his hotel room before the rally erupted into chaos, Berger took to Facebook later that same night and claimed in a video that "for a fact," members of Antifa were identified as masquerading as Trump supporters during the riot.

With no evidence supporting his claims, Berger's comments were widely covered in local media as false or unsupported by fact. Berger saw both support and criticism from his local community as well, with an online petition demanding his firing collecting nearly 1,500 signatures as of Sunday.

Days after his comments, Berger released a statement apologizing for "sharing things that were wrongly reported," but criticized how he was covered by the press.

Berger's departure

"When you announce some change and some transition in the midst of being under the attack in the press, it can make it look like you're responding to that attack and running with your tail between your legs — I can assure you that nothing can be further from the truth," Berger told Grace Chapel church-goers on Sunday.

"There are going to be people who say what they want that isn't based in truth at all; they're going to shape things to their own narrative. I can't control what the media and the press is going to say, but what I can do is not allow them to dictate what God is calling me to do based on how they might respond to it and pat themselves on the back."

Berger went on to share the news that he and his wife, Sarah Berger, would be leaving their roles as senior pastors.

"That being said, the time is right for Sarah and I to transition from the role and responsibilities of senior pastor, to the role and responsibilities of being the founding pastors of Grace Chapel," Berger said. "I need to transition from leading the team, to encouraging, empowering and releasing them to lead all of the rest of us, including myself."

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