The Trial of Paul Petry – Part 1 (and why it was unjust)



On the day before the trial of Paul Petry I learned a few startling facts about how the elders were planning to conduct the trial. I was concerned so I thought I would reach out to the elders and appeal to them.

Here is the email I sent them:

The subject line was : Please hold a fair and impartial trial – from Rob Smith

I included my name as most of the elders knew me, or at least knew who I was. I was not a stranger, and although I had several minor skirmishes with both Mark Driscoll and some of the other elders my reputation at Mars Hill was decent. Decent enough to be on the elder track – something that I did not actively seek out.

My skirmishes were almost always over how the elders treated members that they were trying to correct. I will review on or two of those on a future post. They were warning signs of Mars Hill Church moving in a bad direction. The reason for the skirmish would consistently be the elders or Mark Driscoll kicking back against my concerns. Usually the reaction was not kind.

But we always landed on our feet as brothers and I certainly did not feel rejected or humiliated. A part of that was probably my temperament, and a part was me realizing that the men I were interacting with were young at the post of being an elder and needed time to mature.

So I added my name to the title page in the hopes that they would at least read the email before the trial.

It did have some positive effect. Mark Driscoll told me that while they could not accept what appeared to be good counsel because the email was sent in arrogance, they did change their minds with regard to allowing Paul Petry to attend his own trial.

The trial was on October 15th, 2007. Note that my email appeal was sent on October 14th, one day before. Up until the evening of October 14th, Paul Petry was not invited to his own trial.

On the evening of October 14th, with the schedule of the trial less than 24 hours away, Paul was called by Scott Thomas who informed him that they had changed their minds and he was expected at his own trial.

In other words, Paul Petry, who had hardly slept for several days, was given less than 24 hours to prepare for his own trial.

While the right to a fair trial is embedded in our constitution as a part of a just and fair society, the right to prepare for a defense is also just as fair and just.

Paul Petry did not know what the charges were, and was given less than 24 hours to prepare to defend himself.

That is the first reason that the verdict should be discarded and subsequent shunning ended. We will look at more on the next post.


4 thoughts on “The Trial of Paul Petry – Part 1 (and why it was unjust)

  1. Thank you for starting this blog. I know that it will bring truth and hope to many people who have been run over by the bus.

  2. I really don’t understand the language of a “trial” in a church context… Never have. I understand there are times for church discipline, but never over disagreement about policy but rather explicit sin, objectively defined by Scripture, not leadership. The sin of arrogance is all over the way this was handled by leaders, and I think many at or connected to Mars Hill still sit under a cloud of confusion about what is true. Thank you for sharing this. Perhaps it will help those crushed under the bus of religion. It is good to see that there were those who stood up. Much harder to stand up now, I am sure.

  3. Reblogged this on When Church Hurts and commented:
    Astounding. I’m surprised anyone even knew that a trial was going to take place. It boggles the mind that these events can take place under these circumstances in a church and people are oblivious. As I’ve said many times (and learned from “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by Johnson and VanVonderen) YOU DON’T HIDE WHAT’S APPROPRIATE! If what was happening was appropriate, there certainly should have been no reason to hide it from the person being accused! But then, the same thing happened to me at my previous church . . . I was tried, judged, and condemned and was never told what I had done wrong, either.

  4. Nothing will ever take place from MHC with any form of kindness or reconciliation… EVER!!!
    They are liars, cheats and frauds at MHC and there is nothing anyone can ever do about it. Why hasn’t Mark and the elders been brought up on fraud charges for what he and they have clearly done? Why? Why have they not paid back to the congregation four-fold for their thievery? There are no checks and balances in place for those who extol themselves and claim to be the ‘head of the church.’ (Leaving Jesus Christ out of the equation all together)

    What a joke… thinking any justice will be handed down to any of those thieves that stole from good and caring people. Not just monetary, but, relationships… to the point of not ever wanting to darken the door of a church again.

    They are unrelenting with the shunning which can and has destroyed people. And still, knowing that, they continue anyway with taking joy in hurting others.

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