Brian Houston, interview those under the bus, not the abusive bus driver!

Crashed Bus

Dear Brian Houston,

To interview Mark Driscoll, the man who led “the most abusive and coercive church” that Mars Hill Board member Paul Tripp has ever worked with, while ignoring those that Driscoll abused, is to minimize the abuse and re-victimise those who were viciously and deliberately harmed by him.

Seven years before Mark Driscoll resigned his position without repentance, Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were treated shamefully and abusively.

As we look back, the evidence is clear that these two elders, along with a host of other abused voices, were voices of clarion warning. They predicted the eventual collapse of the church if the folly of avoiding accountability were to be allowed to run to its course.

Mark Driscoll has never reconciled with these men. The so-called “pastors” who took over the remaining 11 congregations have never reconciled with these men. Acts 29 leadership has never reconciled with these men.

Basically, the shunning is still continuing while these many men leading congregations bearing both Driscoll’s and Acts 29’s DNA, and still in an insidious way led by Mark Driscoll, claim that it is “all about Jesus.”

Jesus is all about reconciliation. Yet these men, including Mark Driscoll, simply will not reconcile and name the abuse that was meted out to hundreds of families that went to Mars Hill Church and was personified in how Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were treated.

Brian Houston, please interview Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.

Do not interview the bus driver who boasted about the bodies under the bus. Interview those under the bus.

From under the bus,

Rob Smith

Do not interview the bus driver 1

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.

The log in the Mars Hill Church defender’s eye!

 

 

 

Mark Driscoll log in the eye

I received this comment after the Hyenas and Lions post from a few days ago. This is the type of accusation that one gets when one stands up for justice. I have had many caring people who have written similar appeals to me. What they do not realise that their appeals contain deep accusations and implications that probably has not occurred to these writers.

So for those of you who have been the target of such, I will post my thoughts. Here is the comment from Diane:

Just get over it, already!

It seems no matter what is said, or done, it’s never enough for those of you who feel either yourself or others have been hurt and/or mistreated. Guess what? Welcome to living in a fallen world. Move on. Do something positive for the Kingdom. God sees and knows all, he is big enough to bring about His plan, His discipline. He can and will make all things right, in HIS time.

You are tearing down and prejudging the pastors who will be leading these churches before they’ve even begun. It will never be enough for the likes of you who seek the destruction of those who have been affiliated with Mars Hill. You set yourself up as judge and jury and seem to think only you know what should be done to bring all to account. As John Piper has said, (paraphrased) God is doing a thousand things in situations where you can only see, maybe three. I find the whole anti-Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill movement to be hypocritical and self-serving. You are acting no better than what you accuse them of.

These pastors have wives and families you are affecting. They love Jesus, they are pursuing what God has placed on their hearts to do; to love their flock and lead them. Your words are caustic and judgmental and you set yourself up as God. You will be held accountable for your words and actions as much as Mark Driscoll, his.

You are so deep into trying to get even, you can’t see anything good coming from all this. God is able to bring good from all things.

Let God do his work, in his time and in his way.

Find something productive, God-honoring, loving and kind to do and be a part of.

You will never find the satisfaction you are looking for concerning this. No matter what transpires, it will never be enough or what you deem right.

Bitterness will/does rule in your heart. And, the world will see, and think there is no difference.
Is there?

Philippians 4:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Here is my response to Diane:

Diane, lets start with the verse you quoted.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

So we are encouraged to 1) seek truth, 2) be honorable, 3) seek justice, 4) pursue that which is lovely, 5) do that which is commendable, 6) seek excellence, and finally 7) think about that which is worthy of praise.

You quoted this verse after making the following accusations and assumptions:

Accusation #1: Regardless of what is said or done, it is never going to be enough for those of us who feel mistreated or hurt.

This is an assumption that you cannot prove. If you had been paying attention, when Mark Driscoll resigned I called for us all to return to Mars Hill Church and participate in bringing healing. This was highly criticized by many (on both sides) and shortly thereafter we were told that the church would dissolve. There is much that needs to said and done that has not been said and done. For a church that has been identified as the most abusive and coercive in recent history, very little has been said by the leaders (including the pastors of each campus) and almost nothing to identify the abuse and to address it with repentance and restitution.

Accusation #2: I am tearing down and prejudging the pastors who will be leading these churches before they have even begun.

I am certainly not prejudging these men, and they are not leading churches that are “yet to begin.” They are churches that are currently a part of Mars Hill Church and the pastors are the very men who participated in creating the most abusive of churches in recent history. I am able to judge their past actions and call them to account. I have known several of the men for years. At what point am I able to judge their character and call them to action? You are judging mine and you do not know me from a bar of soap. If in fact they are about to attempt to bury the sins that they were complicit in and “move on,” and God withhold His blessing for such, then it is an act of kindness to call them to a different path. Don’t forget that “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kiss of an enemy is death.”

Accusation #3: I seek the destruction of those affiliated with Mars Hill Church

Wow, that is quite a strong accusation. For it to be true I would be seeking my own destruction, because I am affiliated with Mars Hill Church, as are many of my friends. Some who have left and have been destroyed are people whom I am assisting in one way or another, including financial or emotional support. Some of those participated in the slander and abuse of me and my ministry. I harbor no bitterness toward these men, and have withheld stories of their abuse because it would further harm them. In more than one case I have chosen to not pursue them as they are vulnerable, weak, and struggling in the aftermath of their abuse (both given and received). Some of the details of abuse would add credibility to a lawsuit, yet I choose not to use the details as they would harm people, even though they would make a civil case more solid. I am not a heartless man. I am a man who seeks justice, mercy, and humility.

Accusation #4: I set myself up as judge and jury and seem to think that only I know what should be done to bring all to account.

First, you have no way of knowing what I think. I am wired in a certain way, and would have likely made a very good attorney for either the prosecution or defense as I do have a strong sense of what is right or wrong. That does motivate my thinking, and it may be because I was raised in a home where Philippians 4:8 was frequently meditated upon. I think the more one lives in God’s word, the better sense of knowing what is right is likely. However, If you read the email that I sent the elders calling for a fair trial for Paul Petry in 2007, you will see that I do not set myself up as judge and jury. It is probably more fair to say that I set myself up as an advocate – seeking to present my case to a judge and jury. In the current matters, seeing that dialog with the leadership has been vigorously opposed by Mars Hill’s leadership (including the pastors that are currently pastoring the eleven campuses) the judge and jury has become the larger church through social media. You are a part of that process in your engagement here. In fact, you are acting more of either a judge or a juror in your comments than I have, which is a reaction to my advocacy. Since I and others have been calling for an redress of the many grievances that have become apparent, thousands have become judge and jurors, with many voting with their feet and leaving Mars Hill Church.

Accusation #5: I am a part of an ‘anti-Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll” movement.

Calling out for a just response to the abuse emanating from Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll is exactly the opposite of being anti the church or the man. I am absolutely for Mars Hill Church and for Mark Driscoll. The leaders of Mars Hill Church have decimated their own church rather than deal with the abuse. Mark Driscoll, rather than put things right and take responsibility for his actions, abandoned Mars Hill Church like an abusive father does his children. These men are anti-Mars Hill. And some of these men are continuing to “pastor” the same church with new names. They are not for Mars Hill Church. They want nothing to do with Mars Hill Church.

Accusation #6: Such a movement is hypocritical and self-serving.

If seeking justice for those who have been shunned and falsely accused through slander and libel is hypocritical, then so be it. If asking for transparency from a church that has received millions of dollars of my and other members’ and former members’ donations is hypocritical, then so be it. Sadly, you just made the accusation without saying how those of us who you are accusing are being hypocritical.

Accusation #7: I am acting no better than what I accuse them (the lead pastors) of.

My post was one of questions, not accusations. Will they act like hyenas and stay quiet about the questions of abuse and fraud, or will they stand up like lions and insist on closure for the members and former members of the church? I think I am acting better than these men, as I am willing to risk my comfort and reputation to stand up for what I believe to be honorable, truthful, just, and worthy of our attention. These men do not seem to be willing, thus my post which was written in an attempt to prick their conscience.

Accusation #8: I have set myself up as God and my words are caustic and judgmental.

One of the things that has been characteristic of this struggle has been that those of us advocating for justice have been truthful and clear. Mars Hill leadership, including the men you say are pursuing what God has put on their hearts, have been either silent or non-truthful when they speak. Many have pointed out the spin and the lack of information that we have received. Often the words are by people who do not even identify themselves (as in your case). Those of us that are advocating are doing so with clarity and in the open. We can stand behind everything we say and are willing to be corrected. When truth hurts, as it sometimes does, I can understand that truth may seem to be caustic to those who do not want to hear truth.

Accusation #9: I am trying to get even.

This a repeated accusation, even from the 21 elders that brought charges against Mark Driscoll. What an unfair accusation as you have no way to prove it even if it were true. If I were trying to get even I would have done so years ago. The abuse I and my dear wife and family suffered occurred years ago. I had moved on until I heard about the repeated abuse of many members and ex-elders last December. To stand up to stop abuse and to call for accountability has nothing to do with getting even.

Accusation #10: I cannot see anything good coming from all this.

How do you know what I see? I see an immense amount of good coming from all of this. God is good and I truly believe that “all things work together for good those that are in Christ Jesus”. Much good will occur as the evangelical church begins to fully process how a leading mega-church can say in January that 2014 will be “our best year ever,” and then the entire church is gone in disgrace less than twelve months later. It is most heartening to see James MacDonald quit the Mars Hill BOAA and hastily run back to his own church and very publicly put matters right with the elders he threw under the bus a year earlier. The days of domineering leadership are over. We have only just begun to see the good that will come from all of this. The various campus pastors are all promising their members better accountability. That is good. If they have the courage to call for full transparency before December 31, that will also be good.

Accusation #11: I will never find the satisfaction I am looking for in this matter.

As an advocate, the satisfaction that I am looking for may allude me. I seek justice and transparency. As long as the existing elders are prepared to continue to bury the truth the odds of justice occurring is diminished. However, I must say that there has been a lot of satisfaction already. 15 of the 22 elders who treated Paul Petry and Bent Meyer with such disdain seven years ago have confessed their sin and sought forgiveness. I believe we will see most of the remaining men do the same. It will be a moment of deep satisfaction when I hear that Bubba Jennings (lead pastor of MHC Tacoma), Tim Smith (lead pastor of MHC Portland), A.J. Hamilton, Jamie Munson, Tim Belz, Tim Quiring, and Bill Clem see the depth of their sin against Mars Hill Church and the men they placed on trial and finally confess their sin.

Accusation #12: Bitterness rules in my heart.

I certainly do not feel bitter. This is something that totally unprovable and a frequently used “sin” to throw at people when you do not have an actual sin in mind. It is even more frequently used against people who are seeking for a wrong to be made right. Seeking justice for another does not make the advocate bitter. What a pathetic accusation to use when someone is seeking to defend those that have been hurt.

I am sure I could analyze more – but the main point here is that your call to me is full of accusations, most unfounded and impossible to even defend. The abuse and sin within the Mars Hill camp is clear. Have you written a single word calling for their sin to be dealt with as you are doing with me?

Please do not feel like I am condemning you. I am not. You have taken the time to reach out and I do appreciate you doing so.

You have said God will make all things right in His time. I totally agree. I also am aware that God will frequently use His servants to accomplish making things right. I hope to be one of those servants.

Satan is known as an accuser. He also uses people to carry out his ends.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Rob Smith

By their leaders’ own words, Bellevue Church is simply Mars Hill Church continued…

Lipstick on a pig

In announcing the formation of Bellevue Church, Matt Rogers (who sat on the board that did not want Mark Driscoll to resign and deems him to be qualified for ministry) said the following:

“This Bellevue church is known around the world for the way you have served and loved one another and the broader church of Jesus Christ.”

So, world, this is the same church.

Other than the fact that Mark Driscoll has resigned, what has changed?

We will know what will change by what has been confessed and corrected. Other than an “unhealthy culture” there has been almost nothing confessed and no transparency forthcoming.

The dissolution of Mars Hill Church means that Bellevue Church has no need to answer questions that its own members and donors have. As Matt Rogers said, “We are establishing a new 501c3 corporate entity, creating new bylaws, selecting a new name, establishing a new structure and setting up new financial accounts.”

Bellevue Church is moving forward with the only two active members of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability (Matt Rogers and Dave Bruskas) and the only remaining Executive Elder (Dave Bruskas). These men are the only elders who have the answers to the many questions being asked by us donors or members.

Rather than answer the demand for transparency, their choice is to dissolve Mars Hill Church in an apparent attempt to permanently bury the truth, and then merely continue the same church with a different name.

So the many questions that still trouble donors or members are not likely to come from these leaders of Mars Hill Church/Bellevue Church. These questions are well articulated by the best source of telling the truth emerging from the dark bowels of the Mars Hill Church inner leadership sanctum, Dr. Warren Throckmorton. He has outlined the questions that hound Mars Hill Church and will hound Bellevue Church and its leadership as they continue to fail to provide transparent answers.

  • Question: How exactly was the Global Fund money spent? Over $10 million was raised. Where is that money?
  • Question: What were the salaries, compensation and severance package deals made for Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner?
  • Request for transparency: Release the Driscoll Investigation Report.
  • Request for transparency: Release the many ex-elders and ex-employees that signed onerous NDAs.
  • Questions about Paul Petry and Bent Meyer: Now that 18 witnesses to the firings and trial of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, and the removal of eldership and shunning of Paul Petry, have profoundly born testimony and established the violent sins of the church against these men:
    —–        When will they be exonerated and restitution be made?
    —–        How will this testimony impact the sinful actions of A.J. Hamilton, Tim Smith and Bubba Jennings, all elders in good standing at Mars Hill Church?
  • Question: How will either Mars Hill Church or Bellevue Church process the charges of deception leveled by Mars Hill Church elders against Michael van Skaik and the other members of the Board of Advisors and Accountability?
  • Question: What charges will be brought against Dave Bruskas for his role in the various scandals that have humiliated Mars Hill Church?
  • Question: Matt Rogers has said that those who have accused Mark Driscoll (such as those that participated in the August 3rd protest) were slanderers. Will Mars Hill Church or Bellevue Church call for Matt Rogers to clearly explain his accusation of slander? Who were the slanderers, and what was the nature of their slander?

Or are the new leaders of Bellevue Church, who are the current leaders of Mars Hill Church, hope that all these questions disappear with the so-called dissolution of Mars Hill Church?

A.J.Hamilton, Tim Smith, Bubba Jennings and Bill Clem – 18 witnesses reveal your sins against Paul Petry.

Four pastors that have not repented

Now come 18 men who are bearing witness to the enormity of their own sin of participating in the firing, trial, disqualifying as elder, and the shunning of Paul Petry, and the firing and trial of Bent Meyer. These 18 witnesses have now publicly acknowledged their complicitness in false accusations and slander against two inncocent 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 now bear witness to the sins of the four 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 Bubba Jennings.  Bubba Jennings is the pastor of Mars Hill Church Tacoma.

Pastor Tim Smith. Tim Smith is the pastor of Mars Hill Church Portland, who recently fired Mark Dunford of the Noble Nine within hours of the call of the Noble Nine to discipline Mark Driscoll.

Pastor A.J. Hamiliton. A.J. Hamilton pastors at Mars Hill Church Huntington Beach.  He has not talked to Paul Petry since 2007, and recently told me that Paul was “fine” and had a great community around him. He completely dismissed the sin that 18 of his colleagues have now attested to.

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.

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

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

For the men that pastor Mars Hill Churches, at least until January 2015, the current bylaws allow any two elders to remove them from membership. Except for charges against the lead pastor, it seems that the current bylaws do not lay out how to handle charges against these men.

But at least the charges would be in line with 1 Timothy 5:19-21. Two or three witnesses are required. In this case, we have 18.

Mars Hill Church, are you listening to your own? Release the report on Driscoll!

hello

This following is from a former Mars Hill elder and extracted from the comment section of Warren Throckmorton’s latest blog post regarding the proposed changes at Mars Hill Church.

A few interesting things to note that may help people understand why so many contrary reports are coming out, and why any change is going so slow:

1. Mark owns the rights to many things at Mars Hill including his sermons. He’s insistent they take them down (and they’re more than happy to oblige). But a complication is that Mars Hill will now have to do a whole redesign of the Web page while also recognizing there will most likely be more redesigns in the near future.

2. They’re seriously considering filing bankruptcy because of the amount of debt facing the church.

3. Ballard may become the “hub” once again. In fact, it might be the only church left with the name and legal ownership of Mars Hill.

4. Several of the LP’s on the BOE felt Mark was disqualified. In fact, they felt it was obvious once they heard the stories. Unfortunately, they chose to “submit” (read: cowardice) to the overseers and read the collective statement. They violated their own consciences in doing so, but many of them are still submitting to the false view of “submission” to leaders that Mark taught.

5. Several more elders are set to resign. They are disheartened with the cowardice they see displayed by the LPs.

6. Lastly, people should insist – INSIST the BOE release their findings. Every CG leader at every sync should insist on this. Every member should demand this. Every LP (but specifically those on the BOE) MUST be asked why they did NOT declare Mark DQ’d. They are violating their own consciences and most of these men will not be able to stand up and answer pointed questions about something they themselves do not believe. In particular, talk to Ed Choi, Alex Ghioni, Miles Rhode, Alex Early, and even (surprisingly) Tim Smith and AJ Hamilton.

This is VERY important. Especially if you are a CG leader. They cannot handle more people leaving and they realize that now more than ever they are going to be held accountable by the members. So stay. Pray. And don’t stop demanding transparency and answers. It is having an effect. [emphasis added]

The “Noble Nine” pastors in the fiery furnace at Mars Hill Church. No wait! There are ten!

1-19-Martin-Luther-King-ftr

“You must do right because it’s right to do right…”
“I am 38 years old, but I am dead if I do not stand for justice…”
“You may lose your job…”

Powerful words of encourgement from a great preacher.

three-men-in-fiery-furnace-39474-tablet

“Ultimately you must do right because it’s right to do right. And you got to say ‘But if not…’
“You must love ultimately because it’s lovely to love.
“You must be just because it’s right to be just.
“You must be honest because it’s right to be honest.

“This is what this text is saying more than anything else. And finally, you must do it because it has gripped you so much that you are willing to die for it if necessary. And I say to you this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

“You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand.

“Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice. These boys stand before us today, and I thank God for them, for they had found something.

“The fiery furnace couldn’t stop them from believing. They said “Throw us into the fiery furnace.” But you know the interesting thing is, the Bible talks about a miracle. Because they had faith enough to say “But if not,” God was with them as an eternal companion.

“And this is what I want to say finally, that there is a reward if you do right for righteousness’ sake.

“It says that somehow that burning fiery furnace was transformed into an air-conditioned living room. Somebody looked in there and said ‘We put three in here, but now we see four!’ Don’t ever think you’re by yourself. Go on to jail if necessary but you’ll never go alone.

“Take a stand for that which is right, and the world may misunderstand you and criticize you, but you never go alone, for somewhere I read that ‘One with God is a majority,’ and God has a way of transforming a minority into a majority.

“Walk with him this morning and believe in him and do what is right and he’ll be with you even until the consummation of the ages. Yes, I’ve seen the lightning flash, I’ve heard the thunder roll, I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing trying to conquer my soul but I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on, he promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone; no, never alone, no, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.

“Where you’re going this morning, my friends, tell the world that you’re going with truth. You’re going with justice, you’re going with goodness, and you will have an eternal companionship. And the world will look at you and they won’t understand you, for your fiery furnace will be around you, but you’ll go on anyhow. But if not, I will not bow, and God grant that we will never bow before the gods of evil.”

____________________________________________________________________________

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 5, 1967. The title, “But if Not”, comes from Daniel chapter 3, verse 18.

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.