Today a letter from Sutton Turner to the fellow executive elders Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas was posted by Warren Throckmorton (link).
It is stunning. It will momentarily give you some respect and sympathy for the newly-hired-at-the-time Sutton Turner.
There is much to process as a former Mars Hill member reading of the extravagance of eating at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and treating wives to the spa using church funds. But there are two things that stand out.
- The extravagant spenders Sutton was concerned about were not Mark Driscoll or the executive elders. The culture of using the church to further their own personal benefit that was pointed out was at the level of the rank and file elders. These are the same men that are calling for the disqualification of Mark Driscoll.
- Sutton claims that there was a “culture of using the platform created by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church to build a staff member’s own personal ministry”. He seems to gloss over the many times he repeated the Real Marriage Campaign which clearly used church funds to build Mark Driscoll’s personal ministry (and fortune). It is clear that to Turner the ministry of Mars Hill Church and the personal ministry (and the personal inurement that resulted) were one and the same. It reminds me of the reports where Mark Driscoll said to his elders, “I am the brand” (link).
Bear in mind that the elders who have charged Mark Driscoll with various sins and are calling for his head were elders who were employed by Mars Hill Church in 2011 and 2012, and who were using church monies to eat and live lavishly. It is no wonder then, that so very few of these elders have added their names to the repentantpastor.com site.
It would seem that now that this letter is out, we should see many of the elders step up to the plate and show repentance for their misuse of church funds and the neglect of other pastoral duties, including the support of the firing of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, the shunning of the Petry family (which is still in force) and the changing of the bylaws that created this culture of runaway unaccountability.
4 thoughts on “Finally – an ounce of transparency from within Mars Hill Church.”
I was on the staff that went to Ruth’s Chris and gave the staff wives the spa appointment. They were both a part of a staff Christmas “party”. It’s my understanding that the Ruth’s Chris meal was a gift from a generous member and was not paid for using church funds. The spa appointments were a one-time thing for maybe 5-6 wives and were not extravagant. Maybe $40-50 each?
Context is important here. This all came on the heels of a series of major projects over the previous 12 months that led to staff working many, many hours for relatively little pay. I know of someone in particular who worked 60-80 hours per week and made less than $40k that year. I also know of an intern that worked at least 40 hours per week for $0 that year.
So to say that these things were extravagant overspending is to miss the point entirely. These were one-time, small tokens of appreciation for an overworked, underpaid staff.
Thank you for sharing this.
You bring attention to an important fact: both the donors and the staff/volunteers of MHC would be blessed by financial transparency.
It is not in the interests of the Body of Christ to keep such things behind a veil.
The letter from Sutton might have some truth to it, but it seems like a “pass the buck” to others to me. It attempts to take the eyes off of the executive elders who were making all the financial decisions. Any tone of spending would have been set by the executive elders. I wonder how much control any campus eldership has over their budget? Do the local congregations even have ownership of their own buildings? My sense is that all sites are owned, operated, and contolled by the executive elders of MH. Who/what entity owns all the real estate? I suspect that the local campuses will have nothing and no place to meet if the powers to be say so. It all ends up being about the finances. It is so sad.
The fact that you went to Ruth Chris isn’t the problem it’s the fact that you kept it a secret. This all sounds like what brought down Jim and Tammy.