Mars Hill Church: True religion does not abandon orphans and widows in their distress.

Marc Fulmer with childAgathos Internationaln Logo

This post has taken a long time to write. There are many reasons for it and I trust that each reader will understand as they read it.

In February of 2007, Mark Driscoll preached a sermon about Boaz, who he referred to as the “Dude of dudes.” Toward the end of the sermon, called “Redeeming Ruth – God’s hand in our luck,” at 58 minutes into the sermon, he says the following:

58:48 to 1:04:50.. and I will tell you in conclusion of a Boaz kind of guy who’s doing a Boaz kind of work…and I will give him some, some backup today. His name is Rob Smith. Working with him is a man named Marc Fulmer [pictured above]…they are both members of this church. Rob was a guy who grew up between Africa and the United States of America – he’s been a member of this church for a long time with his family – many of you know him – he’s a great guy – I love him – he’s a dear friend – and he saw the AIDS epidemic in South Africa, in Africa…knowing that about 20% of people are HIV positive and that there are eleven million orphans…and many widows in Africa. And so he devised a plan sort of taking the gleaning principle of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Ruth saying “we need to have a farm that produces a harvest that is an ongoing source of food and life…and on that farm we need two things…we need an orphanage and a church. The church to be the church and love people and raise them and to teach them sexual chastity and raise kids to love Jesus so that this epidemic stops…and also an orphanage so that these kids are loved and have a roof over their head and food in their stomach…and a mother and father figure in their life – that being the pastor as well as these widows. We move in widows and orphans…and we care for widows and orphans because that’s the heart of God…and we do that as the church on a self-sustaining farm sort of taking many of the principles from a book like Ruth. So he started this organization – go to Agathos Foundation.org – or grab paperwork on the way out – and he’s got this concept called “One Church One Village” where a church in the US partners with a church in the village to get a farm…to plant a church…and to open an orphanage…and money goes from us who have the wherewithal, like Boaz, to help…out in the field.

So Mars Hill…we’ve done this in the past…you probably don’t know this…some years ago you all purchased a large piece of land in India that now has on orphanage with 100 kids on it and you purchased the land. So this is kinda what we do… So in Africa we partnered and we have an orphanage there that now has – I think it is – 32 kids and 140 people in Mars Hill give monthly to help support them. What am I saying? Do your part with the people in your life, give to your church, beyond that have a global heart for widows, orphans, the poor and those in need…

I am going to ask you to support some widows and orphans in Africa, We have an orphanage, we have a village…members of Mars Hill have actually moved there to take care of widows and orphans.

My involvement in the last year of standing up and speaking out against the well-documented abuses at Mars Hill Church was never about revenge or getting even. It was not about me or Agathos Foundation, which was the orphan care ministry Mark Driscoll referenced in the above 2007 sermon, which I founded in 2002 and which also was the year Merle and I became members of Mars Hill Church.

For six years after leaving Mars Hill Church I had no public voice. My open engagement in the story began in December of 2013 when I began to hear of the repeated abuse of others at Mars Hill Church. This includes standing up for many men who still will have nothing to do with me. This is partially because of slanderous attacks leveled against me and Agathos after I appealed to the elders to conduct a fair trial for Paul Petry in 2007.

As some are aware, the result of me pleading for a fair trial and arguing for due deliberation when changing bylaws was that Mark Driscoll, in an abusive and vile manner, threatened to destroy me and my ministry. He threatened to make sure that I could never be in ministry again.

In December 2007, Merle and I quietly left Mars Hill Church.

This was not due to the kindness of the elders (who told us we could not leave because we were under “church discipline”). It was because of a backfire in strategy by then executive pastors Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas, who handled my “discipline case.” They did not want us to leave. In attempting to keep us from leaving they recruited the largest donor to Agathos (who was also a large donor to Mars Hill Church) to encourage us to stay. When that donor eventually supported our decision to leave peaceably, Jamie Munson was in a pickle. He could continue the stance that we could not leave because we were under discipline and offend the large donor, or he could let us leave in peace and not offend the donor. So we were “allowed” to leave in good standing. The full story of the endless meetings that got us to that point is a post for another day.

You will want to hear that story.

But despite leaving peaceably – we had crossed a line. To use Mark Driscoll’s oft spoken words, we had “pissed him off.” For merely appealing to Mark Driscoll and a small handful of the lead elders, including the recently repentant Pastor James Harleman (one of my dearest friends at the time), the attacks on my character began. And the attacks on Agathos began.

A little background about Agathos.

In 2002, Agathos began as a ministry to rescue orphans in Africa during the peak of the “out-of-control” HIV/AIDS crisis. Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church were highly supportive of the ministry and gave Agathos favored exposure within the church and throughout Acts 29.

Over time, as we worked we grew from a young start-up ministry learning from our experiences and our mistakes. In early 2007, Agathos proposed a “One Church One Village” model of linking an American Church with an African Church in the rescue and care of orphans. The commitment of the US church was to raise $625,000 over six years for the orphan village it had “adopted”, and the commitment of the African church was to be the hands and feet on the ground caring for orphans in distress.

The first two American churches that committed to this was Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and The Vine Church in Redmond, Washington.  Mars Hill Church committed itself to Kwethu Village in South Africa, along with its 32 children and their caretakers, some of whom were young widows who themselves were impacted by the HIV/AIDS crisis. The Vine Church, led by Pastor Jesse Winkler, committed themselves to a new orphan village to be constructed just south of Ndola, Zambia.

Within weeks of the agreement, Mars Hill Church took over The Vine, and Jesse Winkler became the lead pastor for Mars Hill Bellevue. We were all excited as Mars Hill Ballard took over the relationship with the South African village under Kabyn Vikesland and Mars Hill Bellevue took over the relationship with the new proposed Zambian village. The future for Agathos looked bright, as discussion with executive elder Scott Thomas included plans to have each campus support an orphan village, and each Acts 29 church encouraged to do the same.

The vision for 1,000 orphan villages to be supported seemed possible. It was so encouraging. Agathos was now five years old and many Mars Hill members had been to Africa to visit the children rescued, and many more threw their support behind Agathos. This was usually by committing to $25 per month.

This all happened in August 2007 – one month before the infamous trial of Paul Petry.

When Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were fired, I heard that they were going to be put on trial. Many were asking questions, and it became clear that they were not going to receive a fair and impartial trial. The charges against them were unclear and seemed trivial. They were not going to be allowed to attend their own trials so that they could defend themselves. Their accusers were also members of the jury that would convict them. No witnesses were allowed.

It was clear that the trials would occur in such a way as to have long term bad consequences for the church. So I wrote a private email to the elders pleading for a fair trial. It was not written to defend Paul Petry or Bent Meyer. It was written to protect Mars Hill Church from the long term consequences of an unfair trial. I wrote that an “unfair trial would leave a shadow that would not easily go away”.

I was told that I had sinfully “inserted” myself, and that what I had written was written in “pride” and therefore disregarded. I was told that I should have gone to only one elder, (James Harleman), and that by going to all the elders I was actually trying to cause division among the elders. I was therefore placed under church discipline for being “divisive.”

The elders that dealt with my “case” were James Harleman, Dave Kraft, and Tim Reber. All have since repented of their role in the treatment of Paul Petry. None have addressed their role in my discipline, or their passivity in what followed regarding Agathos.

The last meeting that I had at Mars Hill Church was after both the trial and the changing of the bylaws. At the meeting was Jamie Munson, Scott Thomas, James Harleman, a man who for now will remain unnamed who was a major donor to both Agathos and Mars Hill Church, and the unflappable Will Hofman who supported me as a witness to the discipline process I was placed under by church leaders.

After Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas agreed with the donor that Merle and I should be free to leave the church peaceably, I raised the question about the continued support of Agathos. After all, the “One Church One Village” effort was led by members of the respective Mars Hill campuses. I had little to do with it. The support was widespread throughout Mars Hill Church.

When I asked the question there was a stunned silence for a minute. Jamie Munson then looked at the donor and asked “What do we do about Agathos?”

“We continue to support Agathos!” came the reply.

Scott Thomas, who at the time was the head of Acts 29 and very active in both the trial of Paul Petry and the changing of the bylaws, looked directly at me and said emphatically, “We will never abandon our orphans!” As he said that he brought his hands together and interlocked his fingers.

Intertwined hands 1

It was heartwarming.

Little did these men know that Mark Driscoll had threatened to destroy Agathos, along with threatening to destroy me and any future ministry endeavor.

So the infamous ad hominem attacks began. They had begun earlier at the trial of Paul Petry. It was me who Paul Petry sought out to discuss the “church discipline” wording in the proposed bylaws. This was one of the charges brought against Paul Petry. He allegedly had “violated elder protocol” by allowing a lowly member to see the proposed bylaws. Imagine that! The wording Paul Petry proposed on the rights of a member under discipline was actually written by me.

I had been approved to be an elder of Mars Hill Church. I was the pastor in charge of community groups for the new Mars Hill Wedgwood Campus. I had faithfully served Agathos and Mars Hill Church as a member for the previous five years. Yet it was a crime against the church for Paul Petry to consult with me regarding the new bylaws.

So at the trial of Paul Petry the attacks began. “You have no idea who Rob Smith is…”, stated Mark Driscoll at Paul Petry’s trial, “You do not know him like I know him..”, he continued. “He is the biggest troublemaker in Mars Hill’s history!” And so the attacks began.

And so did the attacks on Agathos. I hear them still today.

Little matter that I had just been approved to be an elder. Little matter that James Harleman had offered me a paid position as an elder at Wedgwood starting in 2008 if I would accept the position. Little matter that hundreds of members were supporting our orphans in Africa, and many could witness the ministry first hand.

None of that mattered.

Not a single elder stood up to ask how I could have been vetted for eldership one week, and be “the biggest troublemaker in Mars Hill’s history” the next. How was it that in February I was a man like Boaz, dude of dudes, and now ten months Iater I was pariah? No elder cared to ask.

Within a few months most of the members of Mars Hill Church withdrew their support of orphans under our care. The emails we received were similarly written. “We have been led by God to support another ministry.” Almost all of them pointed to God’s “leading.” It certainly looked like they had been coached on what to say.

At that time, although I led Agathos, I was not taking a salary from Agathos. We hunkered down and prepared ourselves for the impact of Mark Driscoll’s threat. It came swiftly and with great effect.

In February 2008, less than two months after his promise not to abandon “our” orphans, we received a letter from Scott Thomas. Mars Hill Church was ending its relationship to Agathos. What I did not know, was that Jamie Munson and Scott Thomas had called Marc Fulmer, who leads Agathos to this day, and threatened to pull support unless I resigned from Agathos and Mars Hill Church took it over and re-branded the ministry as a Mars Hill ministry. They proposed to keep Marc – but I had to go. Marc turned the “offer” down and we received the letter from Scott Thomas shortly thereafter.

Letter from Scott Thomas 1

So Agathos lost about 85% of its support.

I recently ran into Scott Thomas and asked him about his promise to never abandon “our orphans.” He was no longer at Mars Hill Church and was himself suffering a level of abuse from the Mars Hill Church leadership. He appealed that he had no say in the matter. He said that his hands were tied.

I recently had coffee with a staunch Mark Driscoll supporter who has chided any criticism of Mark Driscoll and strongly challenged me for every apparent infraction of the last year, yet at the same time vigorously excused or defended every one of Driscoll’s “mistakes.” The supporter said some awful things about me and Agathos, particularly its “misuse” of funds. I asked where he got such information. He had no idea. He had simply accepted the rumors. Rumors that circulated after the trial of Paul Petry. I also have recently spoken to another ministry leader involved in orphan care in Africa. She was warned not to work with Agathos. She came to me in sorrow that she walked away from a relationship with Agathos after that Mars Hill warning.

Ad hominem attacks.

I am sure that there may never be a full recovery when one’s name has been intentionally slandered. That is why God takes such seriously. It is similar to theft. The stealing of a man’s good name has severe consequences, some of which are almost impossible to overcome. That is why it is an awful sin against someone.

Agathos has survived and our children have done well. But it was not easy.

For several years we put ourselves under a good ministry called Pilgrim Africa. This action removed our orphans from the slander we were enduring and we encouraged our remaining supporters to support Pilgrim. In 2009, Agathos then closed its doors and Kwethu Village continued under Pilgrim.

In 2014, Agathos was reborn as Agathos International.

There were two reasons for this. First was that while Pilgrim willingly supported our orphan village in South Africa from 2009 to 2014, their ministry is focused in Uganda, so Kwethu Village was somewhat outside their scope. The second reason was a strong sense that Agathos had always had a broader ministry to the broken and poor in the communities we served. and we felt the need to reemerge and serve that purpose.

So after seven years since leaving Mars Hill Church, Agathos is once again supporting Kwethu Village. Some of the orphans that were rescued by Agathos through the early support of Mars Hill members are now entering university. The stories are amazing! New orphans are being accepted as the village grows.

Because of the intent behind the early vision of Agathos, the monthly support costs are strikingly low. Most support comes from local activity in the village. It is wonderful. Local support and local economic activity pays for most of the costs of the care of the the village.

I encourage readers to consider supporting Kwethu Village with a monthly contribution. We are looking to raise a total of $3,000 per month for the village. As you see the precious lives of children in distress being impacted and stabilized, you will agree that this is a great value for so little per month.

Please consider becoming a monthly supporter of our orphans. The fruit of your support will be eternal.

Agathos International is also committed to creating economic life for the broken in the areas that God has placed us. So we are working to address poverty both in the countries in Africa where we have impacted orphans and the poor, as well as in the U.S. where we are beginning to call successful businessmen and businesswomen to engage the issue of poverty through our “Freedom, Wealth, and Poverty” events that we host in the greater Seattle area.

Agathos is run on a voluntary basis with no salaries being paid on the U.S. side. This allows over 95% of what we receive to go into program. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

Agathos Internationaln Logo

Rob Smith

Mars Hill Church thanks Rob Smith for partnering with them in the gospel in 2014

working together

Mars Hill Church just said “Thank You” for all that I had done for the kingdom of God during the year. This at the same time that they refuse to meet with me.

The letter thanking me was accompanied by my giving receipt for the year. I faithfully gave to Mars Hill Church every week that I attended between Mark Driscoll’s resignation and the decision to dissolve the church (two weeks).

In the letter, which suggests that we can “celebrate 2014 as an incredible year” and says that my gift has helped “sown a great harvest.”

The letter outlines some of what I and other donors paid for in 2014. Here are some of the items:

5 Mars Hill Churches were launched/planted in January of 2104.

5 sermon series were taught from the Bible.

67 evangelists were supported in Ethiopia.

33 church planters were supported in India.

11 independent churches planted in January 2015 (the remaining campuses).

Looking at that summary, the largest number is those who received the least amount of money: the Ethiopian evangelists and Indian church planters. The costs of supporting these 100 evangelists and church planters was about 5% of the deceptively promoted Global Fund, and far less than one half of 1% of the budget of the church.

Missing from the cheerfully worded letter was what happened to the $3 million raised for the Jesus Festival, and answers to questions that I and others have asked about the amount of our donations that paid for massive severance packages for the three Executive Elders, and, who now owns all the intellectual property paid for by my and other donors’ money.

Also glaringly missing was any attempt to take responsibility for the deep systemic abuse that led Paul Tripp to resign his position as Board Director and refer to Mars Hill Church as the most abusive that he had ever worked with.

Also missing was any attempt to reach out to those who were abused, including any comment regarding the still-in-effect shunning order against Paul Petry. To their shame, the leaders of Mars Hill Church want to shut down all operations while still leaving the Paul Petry shunning orders in place, and not retracting their official defamatory statements about him and Bent Meyer.

We may never get answers to our questions regarding the finances, and we may never see justice done for Paul Petry, but seeing that my questions throughout 2014 have been so warmly recognized as being a part of building Christ’s kingdom, I shall keep asking that we see full transparency and a redress of the grievances of so many of us donors and members.

Mars Hill Thanks Rob

Are celebrity Christian authors and their publishers good men, or are they a den of thieves?

Bankrupt 1

As we begin to see more significant signs of the moral bankruptcy of the Evangelical Industrial Complex (as Warren Cole Smith coined it in his excellent book “A Lover’s quarrel with the Evangelical Church”), we will begin to find out which players are good men who have made mistakes they regret and are willing to name and repent of, and which players are money-changers in the temple who need to be exposed for who they are.

Trying to determine whether a celebrity author, or head of an Evangelical organization, is a good Christian who has done something they wish they had not is not as difficult as one might think.  The Bible is quite clear about how we will know His disciples. Several verses come to mind. They have to do with repentance, obedience, and walking in the light. We will determine the hearts of these men and the organizations they lead by how they react to increasing exposure of the corruption that is being exposed. Those that are being defensive and using counter-attacks, especially the ad hominem attacks used so effectively by Mars Hill Church against its critics, are showing their hearts. Surely those who love Jesus and his church first, and desire that the world see a good testimony from within the church, will be quick to be transparent about their sins.

Sin happens, and those that understand the gospel are not afraid to confess it, ask for forgiveness, and walk in newness of life. The church, made up of sinners who have been forgiven, will forgive these men and their organizations, and the evangelical church will be better for it. Those who love themselves and their organizations first (and perhaps who love the money they are making through their devious shenanigans) will not quickly confess their sins. They will attack the inquirer. They will attempt to discredit the people who are asking questions or who are exposing the sin in the camp. This is what we are currently seeing as we witness more and more of the willingness of Christian publishers to violate basic moral principles in order to secure more sales. Plagiarism is excused and minimized. The world has a higher standard when it comes to dealing with plagiarism.

Sales of books are deceptively manipulated by “Christian” publishers. Everybody sees the moral failure of deceptively trying to manipulate a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. So-called Christian authors and publishers are not only lying to the New York Times, but also to the readers who believe the book is of greater value than it actually is. This is both lying and stealing. Continuing to hawk a book for years after discovering that it is based upon a fabricated story is also a violation of the eighth and ninth commandments. This is obvious to anybody. This is a new day for the Evangelical Church. Is Jesus is wondering what happened to his “House of Prayer”?  Will He clean out a den of thieves, unwilling to purge the sin out their own camps, or will he see sinful leaders rush to the cross of forgiveness and walk in the blessed freedom that confession and repentance brings? Thieves, or good men needing forgiveness? We shall see.

ECFA President Dan Busby warns bloggers that making comments angers God.

God 1

After Mars Hill Church members turned to the internet having exhausted all other attempts to dialog with Mars Hill Church leadership, and after Paul Tripp characterized Mars Hill Church as the “most abusive and coercive church” he had every worked with, and after numerous elders filed charges against Mark Driscoll and called for financial transparency (all in vain), guess what the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability was doing?

ECFA was warning that those who criticize the church will anger God.

According to Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), blogging about your local church prevents people from getting to see God.

There is a new wild card today. Until recently, churches did not have to contend with hate websites, scathing blog posts, nasty comments on reader forums, online petitions, or spoof social media accounts. All such attacks on churches and their leaders may be based on scanty facts and occur using code names to hide true identities.

Churches are often left without any positive way to respond to incorrect perceptions—especially in the blogosphere. Attackers generally say they want more transparency, but the more information a church provides, the more it is attacked. This is as close to an unresolvable grievance in God’s work as I can imagine.

Those who make derogatory comments about churches and their leaders apparently haven’t learned what it means to anger God. Want to anger God? Get in the way of people who want to see Him. Want to anger God?”  Link

So while former elders of the church call for financial transparency, ECFA pulls out the “God will be angry at you bloggers” card. To the last day of the existence of Mars Hill Church, ECFA continued to certify the church for its integrity, accountability and transparency while former members, elders, and donors were crying out for answers that were not forthcoming because of the church’s determination to avoid transparency – the very thing that ECFA assured donors they would get.

Dan Busby seems to suggest that all internet bloggers and commenters are haters filled with nasty comments. This even though his own comments were from someone’s blog. Busby gives no indication that bloggers and commenters may have good motives and have been perhaps calling for the type of accountability that ECFA is supposed to certify.

Some of the former members of Mars Hill Church have sought to have financial questions answered, but have been thwarted on every attempt. They have tried to meet in private, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed to ECFA via private letter and via petitions, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed using the internet, not only to be rebuffed, but now warned by Dan Busby that to do so will anger God. Watch out, you pesky bloggers, God will get you!

Sadly, the last resort is to appeal to the civil court. It appears that this is the only vehicle that is left hold the leaders of Mars Hill Church accountable – something that their ECFA certification assured its members and donors of.  Given the brazen lack of accountability that Mars Hill Church leaders have portrayed, one begins to wonder who ECFA is protecting, the donor, or the defiant leaders of Mars Hill Church?

It seems that Dan Busby has gone a long way toward holding bloggers accountable, putting a heavy burden on their backs while failing to hold churches that are not transparent and who abuse their members and donors accountable. Will ECFA slowly lose its credibility, accountability and transparency in the process?

[This is same post as the last one, but with a picture that did not look like God – for our brothers and sisters who felt the other post’s depiction of an angry Moses appeared too similar to a picture of God – a potential violation of the 2nd commandment]

ECFA President Dan Busby warns bloggers that making comments angers God.

Angry God

After Mars Hill Church members turned to the internet having exhausted all other attempts to dialog with Mars Hill Church leadership, and after Paul Tripp characterized Mars Hill Church as the “most abusive and coercive church” he had every worked with, and after numerous elders filed charges against Mark Driscoll and called for financial transparency (all in vain), guess what the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability was doing?

ECFA was warning that those who criticize the church will anger God.

According to Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), blogging about your local church prevents people from getting to see God.

There is a new wild card today. Until recently, churches did not have to contend with hate websites, scathing blog posts, nasty comments on reader forums, online petitions, or spoof social media accounts. All such attacks on churches and their leaders may be based on scanty facts and occur using code names to hide true identities.

Churches are often left without any positive way to respond to incorrect perceptions—especially in the blogosphere. Attackers generally say they want more transparency, but the more information a church provides, the more it is attacked. This is as close to an unresolvable grievance in God’s work as I can imagine.

Those who make derogatory comments about churches and their leaders apparently haven’t learned what it means to anger God. Want to anger God? Get in the way of people who want to see Him. Want to anger God?”  Link

So while former elders of the church call for financial transparency, ECFA pulls out the “God will be angry at you bloggers” card. To the last day of the existence of Mars Hill Church, ECFA continued to certify the church for its integrity, accountability and transparency while former members, elders, and donors were crying out for answers that were not forthcoming because of the church’s determination to avoid transparency – the very thing that ECFA assured donors they would get.

Dan Busby seems to suggest that all internet bloggers and commenters are haters filled with nasty comments. This even though his own comments were from someone’s blog. Busby gives no indication that bloggers and commenters may have good motives and have been perhaps calling for the type of accountability that ECFA is supposed to certify.

Some of the former members of Mars Hill Church have sought to have financial questions answered, but have been thwarted on every attempt. They have tried to meet in private, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed to ECFA via private letter and via petitions, only to be rebuffed. They have appealed using the internet, not only to be rebuffed, but now warned by Dan Busby that to do so will anger God. Watch out, you pesky bloggers, God will get you!

Sadly, the last resort is to appeal to the civil court. It appears that this is the only vehicle that is left hold the leaders of Mars Hill Church accountable – something that their ECFA certification assured its members and donors of.  Given the brazen lack of accountability that Mars Hill Church leaders have portrayed, one begins to wonder who ECFA is protecting, the donor, or the defiant leaders of Mars Hill Church?

It seems that Dan Busby has gone a long way toward holding bloggers accountable, putting a heavy burden on their backs while failing to hold churches that are not transparent and who abuse their members and donors accountable. Will ECFA slowly lose its credibility, accountability and transparency in the process?

God 1

Marching in step with their abusive leadership, the pastors of the 11 Mars Hill Church campus replants remain silent.

marching in step

Jon Krombein, who was an elder at Mars Hill Church for almost eight years, made an impassioned appeal to the remaining lead pastors of the eleven campuses to speak out and call for the release of information that so many ex-members and donors want to see.

These pastors simply refuse to walk in the light.

We need mediation to get the truth. An anonymous donor will match your contribution to help pay for mediation.

Jon Krombein’s challenge went out to Pastors Dave Bruskas, David Fairchild, Ed Choi, Tim Smith, Ryan Williams, Matthias Heusel, Aaron Gray, Bubba Jennings, AJ Hamilton, Matt Rogers, Jason Skelton, Scott Harris, and Seth Winterhalter.

He said that these men know more than they are saying, and that they knew Mars Hill Church had “cooked the books,” yet they remained silent. He implored them to speak openly to avoid their culpability in these matters from hanging over their future ministries.

Jon Krombein’s call was simply ignored.

These pastors are telling their “new” churches, made up of the same members of Mars Hill Church, meeting in the same buildings with the same donor money “seeding” each location for the next three months, and the same leadership (except for Bellevue), that they will not reflect the same bad DNA that brought Mars Hill Church to its knees.

But sadly these men are behaving in the same way that the Executive Elders of Mars Hill Church have behaved. They simply will not answer the questions that us former members and donors have asked. They will not meet. They will not walk in the light.

This behavior was a part of what led to Mars Hill Church being recognized as the most abusive church in recent church history. Yet despite witnessing the results of such behavior, these pastors seem to acting the same way. They have disregarded Jon Krombein’s appeal, just as they refuse to speak to those of us seeking to have our grievances mitigated.

One of those pastors, while completely ignoring Jon Krombein’s appeal, said this last Sunday that he is struggling to see how he and his fellow elders have been complicit in the pattern of sin in the leadership at Mars Hill Church. He seems to not be able to connect the dots, or he is not being honest.

Former donors and members are calling Mars Hill Church executives to come to the table of mediation. This is the Matthew 18 mandate. I urge each reader to consider supporting the costs of such mediation.

If the executives will not come to the table, it would seem to serve the cause of justice and truth to pursue the matter in civil court. If indeed they have “cooked the books” the donors and members have a right to know.

Please support the effort to get these answers. After all, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with on another.” — 1 John 1:7

Mediation will cost us at least $20,000. If mediation is refused, a civil RICO lawsuit that will expose the “cooking of the books” will cost a lot more. Your help will enable these costs to be covered.

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Sermons from Nehemiah, and one worth listening to!

Prosper

In the last sermon at Mars Hill Church–West Seattle, which has now been renamed “Trinity West Seattle” and is off to a new start, Pastor David Fairchild preached from the book of Nehemiah.

The sermon is worth listening to.

Fairchild

It was seven years ago that Mark Driscoll preached from the book of Nehemiah. When he began the series of sermons in 2007, the church was governed by a plurality of elders. On September 30, 2007, Driscoll preached the notorious “I break their noses” sermon, then walked off the podium and within minutes fired Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Within a month, the remaining 22 elders gave up their fiduciary duties as overseers and voted in bylaws that neutered themselves.

Break Their Noses

It was at that time that the walls began to crumble.

The clear contrast between Fairchild’s sermon this last Sunday and Driscoll’s sermon seven years ago, was that unlike Driscoll, who presented himself as Nehemiah, Fairchild does not weave his own image into the story, except for seeking out ways that he and his fellow elders could see their own sin of complicity, and having done so, repent. He promised his members more of this. This is very encouraging.

There are parallels in the story that might be of note.

  • Complicity means that it was not the exiles that brought the walls down, but the very elders themselves. As readers have noted in my writings (to some of their frustrations) I hold the elders responsible for the abusive side of Mars Hill Church more than I hold Mark Driscoll responsible. The elders willingly gave him what he wanted.
  • It was the exiles that, in coming back to Jerusalem, brought hope and effective rebuilding back to Jerusalem. Could it be that there are many “Jeremiahs” that God will use to rebuild the broken church, and they have last names like Petry, Meyer, Krombein, Smidt, Kraft, or Bettger, to suggest just a few?
  • The city that needed rebuilding housed a few remaining and broken Israelites. The vast majority had been scattered as a result of the exile. When God warned Israel of the coming destruction he called Nebuchadnezzar his “servant.” It was God’s plan to scatter Israel, and then rebuild Jerusalem with the hands of both exiled Jews as well as those that never left Jerusalem. What rejoicing there will be when the 11 churches that represent the broken walls of Mars Hill Church, will welcome with joyful arms those who have been shunned, and those who have been calling for the abuse – which crumbled the walls in the first place – to be addressed.

So, dear reader, pray for the rebuilding of Trinity West Seattle, and for the leaders of the other 10 churches that now exist. Pray that they call for and welcome the exiles that could help them rebuild.

So help us God.

Tim Quiring, Tim Belz, Tim Smith, Bubba Jennings and Bill Clem – 18 witnesses reveal your sins against Paul Petry.

5 Unrepentant Pastors

After seven years, an innocent man, Paul Petry, is still being shunned by Mars Hill Church. This the second to last day of its existence as an organization and its leaders still refuse do the right thing.

Shame on the pastors that are still at Mars Hill Church or that are about to pastor in the “new” church plants. What heartless men that they have not demanded the removal of the shunning edict and called for repentance and restitution!

How can it be “All about Jesus” when this glaring travesty, which has brought dishonor to the gospel and to Mars Hill Church, still stands uncorrected?

18 men bore witness to the enormity of their own sin of participating in the firing, trial, disqualifying as elder, and the shunning of Pastor Paul Petry, and the firing and trial of Pastor Bent Meyer. These 18 witnesses have publicly acknowledged their participation in false accusations and slander against these two innocent men. These sins were as serious as the 18 witnesses describe. The sins were devastating not only to the Petry and Meyer families, but the to the church as a whole.

These 18 men bear witness to the sins of the five pastors mentioned above, who, by the very testimony of their colleagues, participated in these sinful acts.

The following men participated in the sinful and harmful acts of 2007, and had the opportunity to share in repenting, yet turned it down. Yet they continue to be considered qualified to be pastors!

Pastor Tim Quiring.  Tim Quiring has returned to be a pastor of Mars Hill Church Everett, which, starting January 1st will be called Foundation Church. Of all of the elders that voted such harsh treatment for Paul Petry and voted in the bylaw change, Quiring had a solid Reformed background. He was one of the older men and his voice would have been heeded. Yet to this day, even in the face of 18 of his fellow elders repenting of the sins against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, he still remains unrepentant.

Pastor Bubba Jennings.  Bubba Jennings is the pastor of Mars Hill Church Tacoma, which, starting January 1st will be called Resurrection Church.

Pastor Tim Smith. Tim Smith is the pastor of Mars Hill Church Portland, which, starting January 1st will be called Redeemer Church.

Pastor Bill Clem. Bill Clem is a pastor at Rick McKinley’s Imago Dei Church in Portland. Clem does not reference his tenure at either Doxa (now Mars Hill Church West Seattle) or Mars Hill Church itself. Bill Clem was one of the older men in 2007, who was complicit in and participated in the sinful actions perpetrated against innocent men, and has gone on with ministry without addressing his actions of 2007.

Pastor Tim Belz. Tim Belz is the executive pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. Belz does reflect his time at Mars Hill Church, and was in active executive leadership when Paul Petry was fired, tried and the new by-laws passed. Like Clem and Quiring, Belz was one of the older men in 2007 whose voice would have had some sway with the numerous young men who have since repented.

I mention these men because they are all continuing to pastor churches as if they had no responsibility for the sins that 18 witnesses attest to.

These men ought to step down from ministry and face just and reasonable church discipline over their well-witnessed sins.

Rick Warren, while encouraging the attendees of the 11 remaining Mars Hill Church locations, referred to them as “new trees” growing from the broken tree. Well, a good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bears bad fruit. So if the pastors of these “new” churches are the same men that threw Mars Hill Church under the bus seven years ago without a shadow of repentance, how will we see anything but the same fruit in their future ministries?

God is not mocked, you reap that which is sown.

Without repentance, Foundation Church in Everett, Redeemer Church in Portland, and Resurrection Church in Tacoma will find that the new tree will be led by the same poor leadership which planted the seeds of destruction that brought the broken tree, Mars Hill Church, to its knees.

At last… a website that clearly outlines the reasons for the demise of Mars Hill Church.

  • sellers

In classic “Inspector Clouseau” style, here is a gift of a website for you if you are still wondering why one year ago Mark Driscoll predicted that 2014 [could be] the biggest year we’ve ever had, concluded the comment to Mars Hill Church with his new sign-off “With a father’s heart,” and yet less than a year later the pastor abandoned his “children” and the church is no more.

Someone has kindly put a website together that outlines all the problems in one handy location. The site is http://realmarshill.us

In a brilliant move that at face value appears to defend the church that Paul Tripp called “The most abusive and coercive church” that he had ever worked with, while it cleverly and clearly shows the numerous scandals that have surfaced – including the numerous former and current elders that have raised their voices.

You will have to look past the glaring spelling errors and poor grammar. But if you read the document carefully, many of the problems are made quite clear.

Sellers 2

With apologies to Peter Sellers, I slam my “pointing stick” while drawing careful attention to the following FACTS:

  1. Mars Hill’s Executive Elders are facing a likely civil RICO lawsuit. After reading this you may want to donate to the mediation fund.
  2. Plaugerism [sic] – I presume the writer is referring to the plagiarism in many of Mark Driscoll’s books, or could mean Mars Hill Church is plagued with issues.
  3. ResultSource, where Mars Hill Church executives spent $210,000 of donor money to deceptively buy a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. Here is copy of the contract.
  4. Mars Hill Church financials and its total lack of transparency.
  5. Mars Hill Church insisting the leaving employees and elders sign NDA and non-compete agreements. Also here.
  6. Mark Driscoll’s resignation, where the man who was trying to create the image of a father walked away from Mars Hill Church rather than face the discipline and reconciliation that true repentance affords the church.
  7. The terrible decision to change the by-laws in 2007, including the unfair firing and trial of Paul Petry, events that 15 of the 22 elders that participated have recently repented of. Even The Stranger got the significance of this decision.
  8. Rob Smith, who was placed under church discipline for asking for a fair trial, and who, along with his ministry to African orphans, was slandered and shamed – as he has been libeled repeatedly on this website as well.
  9. Warren Throckmorton, the trustworthy scribe of the actual facts behind the events that lead to the collapse of the church.
  10. Adam Wygle and Shawn Nickerson, both men who have called attention to the serial abuse emanating from Mars Hill Church, and both whom are libeled on this site.
  11. Welovemarshill.com a website that ex-members put together to try to call Mars Hill Church to make the changes that would save the church.
  12. 18 former pastors apologize to Paul Petry and Bent Meyer and declare their firings wrong and their trials invalid.
  13. Dave Kraft charged Mark Driscoll in 2013 with multiple offenses against the elders of the church.
  14. Tim Gaydos, lead pastor of Mars Hill downtown, whose story is yet to be told, resigns. It turns out that he was one of many stories of outright disregard by the Mars Hill Church Executive pastors of the effort of its elders and the opinion of its members.
  15. Phil Smidt (spelled Schmidt in the post) whose firing moved members and ex-members to raise $50,000 in 48 hours a robust statement of disgust of his treatment. This bold statement resulted in Mars Hill Church throwing out its NDA policy which was replaced by a “covenant” (which was an NDA in sheep’s clothing).
  16. Lief Moi, co-founder of Mars Hill Church, a man who Mark Driscoll often refered to as his closest friend, was removed as a Mars Hill Church elder in a most brutal and humiliating way. I am so grateful this website draws attention to the despicable treatment of a dear man. Mars Hill completely scrubbed any reference to Lief Moi on their website.
  17. The charges that were brought against Mark Driscoll by the Noble Nine elders. These were men that brought charges while elders in good standing at the church.
  18. The charges that were brought by twenty-one former elders, with an additional twenty-one willing to bear witness to establish the veracity of the charges.

So, dear reader who is still wondering what brought Mars Hill Church to its knees, this site should help you get a full synopsis.

The ECFA has purged their web-site of Mark Driscoll, but still certifies the integrity of Mars Hill Church.

ecfa 2

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is still giving its stamp of approval to Mars Hill Church. They correctly show the lead pastor as being Dave Bruskas.

Mark Driscoll has been purged from the ECFA website. There is not a single reference to him. Nothing.

Until recently Driscoll was highly featured in their advertising. An attempt to go to the WayBack Machine to see when the change occurred was blocked. It appears that the ECFA uses robot.txt to block its history to the public.

So some time recently, Mark Driscoll was purged in a similar way to the way that Mars Hill Church would purge any reference about or sermons and writings of departing (and sometimes shunned) pastors such as Lief Moi and Mike Gunn, both co-founders of Mars Hill Church.

But despite the decision to purge Mark Driscoll from its website and advertising, and despite the reality that former Mars Hill board member Paul Tripp has called Mars Hill Churchthe most abusive and coercive churchhe has ever worked with, and despite the numerous financial scandals, the ECFA continues to certify Mars Hill Church’s adherence to transparency, integrity, and accountability.

One might ask why a church would need the ECFA certification, an entity that we now know bases their certification of a church on seemingly little information plus a few statements from the staff of that church. Surely, if a church was doing a good job being transparent with its donors, the ECFA certification might seem rather unnecessary. We now know that it is somewhat meaningless, or, perish the thought, even an indication that the church the ECFA certifies needs the certification in order to overcome its lack of transparency. So that when a donor asks questions, rather than be transparent, the church can merely point to their ECFA certification. This was how Mars Hill Church leadership has repeatedly used the certification.

The ECFA itself has been very non-transparent and slow to communicate with the public about its removal of Mark Driscoll and its continued certification of Mars Hill Church. This despite the church collapsing in a stunning and spectacular way largely due to financial pressure. They have been so slow that one has to ask whether the ECFA was trying to protect Mars Hill Church and not the donors to Mars Hill Church?

When one sees that the ECFA certifies other churches with similar financial non-transparency, like Stephen Furtick’s Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel, one has to wonder what sort of transparency the ECFA is certifying. Both of these churches have been added in the last 14 months, and both have had significant financial scandals prior to their certification where lack of transparency was a factor in the scandal.

Mars Hill Church members, former members, and donors are crying out for financial transparency. Mars Hill Church leadership continues to ignore them, while the ECFA continues to certify the church.

It would appear that the ECFA itself has lost its integrity. What was once a badge of excellence appears to have become a part of the problematic “Evangelical Industrial Complex” that we Evangelicals are now contending with. Rather than the ECFA certification leading to a donor feeling confident about an organization, it now seems that the certification will cause a donor to doubt and wonder.