Abusive tactics forced the bylaws to be changed in 2007



Cast your vote

Recent events at Mars Hill Church show that dissent of any kind is not tolerated. Even questioning can get you removed as a member.

It therefore time for all members and ex-members to understand that the bylaws that were changed in 2007 were changed under that same threats and abusive coercion that we have all witnessed in recent days, most lately in the cases of Dalton Rohrback, Phil Poirier, and Phil Smidt, all of whom were terminated because they either questioned or could not agree with one thing or another.

The current bylaws allow for the Executive Elders to simply remove elders at will. This was not, however, the case in 2007 under the old bylaws. But the abusive tactics that we now see commonly used by Mars Hill Church executive elders used were used in 2007 to scare and coerce the men at the time to agree to change the bylaws.

How on earth could Mark Driscoll, who taught that he was one of a plurality of equal elders (and recruited elders on that basis) get the same elders to agree to give up the authority they had and give it all to the executive elders? It would seem to be an impossible task.

In order to change the bylaws, two thirds of the elders had to vote in favor of the change, and that would mean that two thirds would have to agree to bylaws that flew in the face of everything that Mark Driscoll had taught for years. They would vote against the form of church governance that the members had signed up for.

The way Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson pulled it off was crafty and certainly against the spirit of the bylaws. One might make a good case that the way it was done violated the bylaws themselves.

The set up was the ruthless firings of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.

It is common knowledge at this stage of the game that they were primarily fired because they opposed the transfer of power from all of the elders to the executive elders. Petry and Meyer proposed that the Executive Elders be given power by the body of elders in a way that kept them accountable to the elders – certainly a sensible and more biblical approach to church governance, and one that Mark Driscoll taught with great power in the years prior to the 2007 bylaws change.

In 2007, most of the elders were young men. For many this was the best paying job they had ever had, and at the time they were well paid. Average salaries and benefits were rumored to be about $100k per year. As they watched Petry and Meyer get fired and humiliated for just questioning the bylaws, it was clear that their jobs would be on the line if they failed to fall in line with Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson’s wishes.

So twenty two elders voted to change the bylaws in the aftermath of watching two men get fired for resisting the changes. Actually, the truth is that the vote should be recorded as twenty one men voted for the changes, and one man, Lief Moi, voted against. According to Lief, Mark Driscoll wanted to present a unanimous vote to the church, so he demanded a second vote and Lief, who was terminated just months later, realized that his was a lost cause and changed his vote.

So, like so many twists of the truth that we members heard, we were told the vote was unanimous. It was true, but untrue. It was a half-truth.

In 2007, a change in bylaws required a two thirds majority vote. Before the firings of Pastors Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, when the total number of elders was twenty four, sixteen votes were needed to pass the vote. Nine elders could stop the change.

After the firings of the men, which was done in a massive hurry before the vote to change the bylaws, only fifteen votes were needed. It would still take eight votes to block.

So by firing the men ruthlessly, and demanding a unanimous vote, Mark Driscoll and Jamie Munson pulled off two things. They removed two dissenting votes, and demonstrated what would happen to any elder that raised questions or appeared to oppose the change.

Some of us ex-members have spoken to at least twelve of the 24 men who voted on October 2007 to change the bylaws. Some have now stated that they felt shame about their vote, and felt undue pressure to vote against their conscience, while others say they were afraid, and others say that had their been reasonable dialog and discussions and the freedom to dissent they would not have voted the way they voted.

In other words, the way that the Executive Elders won the vote was not with reasonable due process that would certainly be expected in any civic and ethical environment, and we know now, based upon everything that we have seen, that the abusive environment caused the vote to be coerced.

Had Paul and Bent not been fired, they would have needed seven additional elders to vote against the bylaw change in order to keep the church elder run.

Without the abuse, 12 elders would have voted against the new bylaws. Mark Driscoll and his executives would have to give an account to the elders of the church. Instead, we have leadership that cannot be held to account, and hundreds of hurt members and staff have left.

The bylaw change was a violation of due process, and the Mars Hill Church BOAA should recognize this fact and acknowledge the immense damage that has been the result.

The current bylaws need to repealed and Paul Petry and Bent Meyer exonerated.


10 thoughts on “Abusive tactics forced the bylaws to be changed in 2007

  1. they say he’s the senior pastor
    it’s all about him
    I don’t
    believe that
    not for a minute
    the kingdom they’re building
    the one he described

  2. Regarding this comment: “Recent events at Mars Hill Church shows that dissent of any kind is not tolerated. Even questioning can get you removed as a member.”

    With all due respect sir, your comments are simply incorrect. I attend Mars Hill Church, and I know many people — members and leaders — who have voiced concerns about things that have happened, and their concerns were welcomed and heard by pastors and other leaders. I don’t know what else to say: Your comment is completely disconnected from my personal experience at Mars Hill.

    • Tim, Are you saying that you were there when the bylaws were changed in 2007? Have you read http://www.joyfulexiles.com? HAve you visited marshillrefuge.com? Have you done the slightest bit of research? Are you even interested in hearing from scores of members whose stories verify the truth? also, if you are close by, are you interested in having coffee?

    • Tim, have you ever personally voiced a concern or a disagreement with leadership at Mars Hill? There are many many who have experienced exactly what you say does not happen. You can read their testimonies. You say you know many people who have voiced concerns without repercussions. For their sake I do hope that is true. But it is not always true, as attested to by many.

  3. Tim, what sorts of concerns were voiced?

    Were any of the concerns regarding the root issue problems such as:

    1. change of the By-Laws that made the power concentrated in favor of Mark Driscoll?
    2. inappropriate firing of Petry and Meyer?
    3. purchasing a spot on the NYT’s Bestselling List?
    4. having a satellite break the law?
    5. telling former leaders he would “ruin them”?

    Others can add to this list …

  4. Tim I’m so happy for your sake that you’ve had a positive experience at Mars Hill. I wish everyone could say the same.

    Because you trust the leadership and you seem to have a good relationship, would you be willing to ask a few questions on my behalf?

    (1) Is Pastor Mark still all about “blessed subtraction”? If so, how does he line up this view with Jesus’ method (i.e. Leaving the 99 to find the 1 that’s lost).

    (2) What has been done to mend the relationship with the Petry family?

    (3) Does the leadership believe they have a moral obligation to provide financial transparency to the church members? If not, why not? If so, than what was problematic about Dalton’s questions (http://welovemarshill.com/post/87313566528/dalton-roraback)

  5. Mr. Clem;

    A number of men are now stepping forward to speak to the chaos and injustice they witnessed while in senior leadership positions at Mars Hill. Some of these men were deep in the leadership of Mars Hill at the time that faithful elders and members were being undone. How should the larger catholic church embrace the now cast-off senior Mars Hill leadership after these leaders witnessed the wholesale rejection of fellow saints while remaining silent and immobile and participated in this most basic rejection of the Gospel?

    In many professions, (medicine, the military, financial industry) the men who are now speaking up about the crimes against elders and members at mars hill, many of whom actively participated in these crimes or were silent in the face of this injustice, would no longer be eligible to continue to work in those industries (at any level) if they displayed a similar level of incompetence. The elephant in the room is that you and a number of your fellow “pastors” have disqualified yourselves from vocational ministry at any level. An embezzler is not returned to the cashiers position. An alcoholic is not well served by bar tending. Every pastor at Mars Hill with any time in leadership that transverses the period before and after the by-laws change, who stood by and did not speak up, is disqulaified from vocational ministry on the grounds of sloth and cowardice. Every current “pastoral” employee of Mars Hill is ultimately disqualified from vocational ministry due to absolute Scriptural incompetence.

    The beauty of Jesus’ massive Gospel is that ALL of these men ARE included in His Kingdom by Christ’s good name, regardless of their fecklessness or atrophied sense of love for community or justice.

    We will all be made whole in the coming days, but the consequences of our sins are a clear reminder that we each desparately require a mighty Savior. Mr. Clem, you are complicit, as are a number of your peers, in the hard attitudes and actions that were broadcast from mars hill during your time on staff there. I humbly remind each and every man who worked under the culture of Driscoll’s incompetent leadership that the Christ glorifying thing to do is emulate Moses and realize that you no longer are eligible for the land across the Jordan river.

    Very respectfully,

    MAJ Tom Clark

  6. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

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