In 2007 Mars Hill leadership violated the bylaws in the month before rapidly changing them without reasonable discussion or dialog. Even though members were required to agree to and live by the bylaws, the leadership failed to discuss new bylaw changes with the members and purposefully kept the new bylaws from the members. One of the charges against Paul Petry was that he discussed the bylaws with a deacon.
Now we find out that the executive elders failed to adhere to their own bylaws in the month prior to the the rapid rewriting of the bylaws. Was this and other violations a factor in needing to change the bylaws in such haste? Was the secret and sudden change in bylaws in 2007 an attempt to remove accountability and hide such violations?
The bylaws of Mars Hill church, prior to the adoption of new bylaws and the firings of Pastors Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, contained a clause which required advance notice and full disclosure to the full counsel of elders before any major decisions were made requiring a vote of the executive elders. This was to allow for review and a brief period for advice and consent from the full council of elders.
Sometime before the elder trials of 2007, a huge major decision was made by at least one or all of the Executive Elders to purchase a downtown Seattle property, the former Tabella nightclub, for almost $4 million. The purchase was kept secret. It came to the attention of members of the full council of elders in late September 2007 only after a Sunday church service when church member asked some questions regarding the real estate deal. The member had questions after reading a story about the deal that was reported in the newspaper. http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/09/tabella_being_sold
Apparently, one or more of the executive elders made the decision to purchase a $4 million property which previously housed a strip club without ever disclosing their intent to do so to the members of the church, or to the the full council of elders – in violation of Article VII, Section B, of the church bylaws.
SECTION B – To ensure that there is full disclosure to all elders, proper notice of all proposals requiring a vote of the full council of elders or the executive elders shall be provided to all the elders at least 30 days in advance, unless a credible emergency exists. Detailed minutes and voting record of each executive elder team meeting, as well as all other elder team meetings where a vote is taken (e.g., departmental, site, ad hoc) shall be published and disseminated to the elders, with records kept on file. The following information shall also be provided to every elder:
+ Annual financial statements from CPA review
+ Annual salaries and benefits list
+ In-house prepared quarterly financial statements
+ Quarterly church-wide tithing/giving report
It was only by inadvertence that the purchase was discovered. The Stranger became aware of the details of the secret multi-million dollar purchase before the church elders were made aware. And just days after the full council of elders became aware, two of its elder members were fired, and a month later the church bylaws were changed which completely changed the governance structure of the church.