Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mars Hill Church, incorporated 12/22/1995 ... planted October 1996

UBI Number: 601677819
Category: REG
Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit
Active/Inactive: Active
State of Incorporation: WA
Date of Incorporation 12/22/1995
Expiration Date 12/31/2012

Register Agent Information
John Sutton Turner
1411 NW 50th St
Seattle, WA 98107

Governing Persons:
President: Driscoll, Mark
Vice President: Bruskas, Dave
Treasurer: Turner, Sutton
Secretary: Turner, Sutton

So Mars Hill Church was incorporated 12/22/1995 and it's President is Mark Driscoll. This date is significantly earlier than the given date for the planting of Mars Hill.  In fact it's ten months earlier than the start date attested to by none other than co-founding elder Mike Gunn. Maybe incorporation is important enough that it had to be done before the church was planted and that by nearly a year?  

As to the more commonly attested date of the year 1996, here's Mike Gunn's account:

The Harambee story is a bit wrapped up in my (Mike Gunn’s) story. The vision began around 1992 as I began to feel the need to plant a church that represented the diversity of God’s creation, as well as a gospel that centered on God’s glory and not our own needs. I was prompted by the Spirit to engage the culture in a more meaningful and direct way, so God decided to send me and my family on an unknown journey to Seattle to begin a campus ministry for athletes at the University of Washington. This began to hone our skills in apologetics, evangelism, and discipleship, creating a desire to reach the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At that point, Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland and Mark Driscoll entered our lives. My family began attending Antioch in January of 1994, and we started helping the college group, which was run by Mark Driscoll, at that time, a 23-year-old intern recently graduated from Washington State University. [emphasis added]. It became obvious that we had similar backgrounds and ministry callings, so we began to explore the possibilities of our vision (reaching truly postmodern, post-Christian people for Christ), and it became abundantly clear that we were to begin a new work in the city of Seattle.

With the blessing of Antioch and the exodus of about 30 of the students, Mark, Lief Moi, and I began Mars Hill Church in October of 1996. [emphasis added] We watched God work His mosaic miracle as He began to put together the matrix that became Mars Hill Church. The church grew to more than 1,200 people in five years, and because of facility limitations at the time, we were running seven services at three different locations in the Seattle area. One of these was Mars Hill South, which began as an evening service in October of 2001 with about 40 people. During that time it became evident that God was calling us to a different work, and that we needed to plant as an autonomous church. Subsequently, as of October 6, 2002, we became Harambee Church and began meeting at the Tukwila Community Center. [emphasis added]

Driscoll's account of how Gunn sensed a calling to a different work than what Mars Hill was aiming for was recounted here in Mark Driscoll's 2006 book. . 

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006

pages 147-148

I began writing out how I envisioned our church at 3,000-plus people. I chose this number because roughly half of all megachurches have between 2,000 and 3,000 people, and the other half have over 3,000 people, according to a conversation with John Vaughan of Church Growth Today. This means that the 3,000 barrier is the most difficult of any church size to overcome. Therefore, it seemed prudent to push for that goal with plans to reorganize if and when we got over the 3,000 mark.

So I began to reverse-engineer a plan for our church to grow to more than three-thousand people with help from Jamie [Munson?] and Tim [Smith?]. In the end, we decided that what was in the best interests of our our mission to the city was not in the best interests of each of our elders. [emphasis added] I knew God was compelling me to state the vision to the elders. And I knew that the vision would quite possibly split the church three ways between the founders--Lief, Mike, and me.  Nonetheless, I met with our elders to seek their input on the recommended changes, knowing it could undo all that we had worked so hard to accomplish. We spent a lengthy day going over the proposal, and things were tense.

Mike and two elders chose to take their church service out as a separate church plant.  The decision was tough because I genuinely loved Mike, and still do.  He was an older man who had faithfully encouraged and supported me through the toughest times in our church.  But he wanted his own pulpit and felt called to a mission in a different part of the city and would need to be released so that we could each follow the mission Jesus had called us to. Many of our people loved Mike and would leave with him, which meant we might take a hit in terms of leaders and dollars. But it was the right thing to do for the gospel.

Let's get back to Gunn's explanation of what kind of work he believes Harambee was called to.

According to a study published in The Seattle Times (May 2002), the area we are trying to reach has the most diverse demographic of any other region in Washington state. Because of the gentrification of the Central District in Central Seattle, it is predicted that this area will become increasingly an area of color and low-income families. I believe that God has called us to this work; the Bible confirms the need to work amongst the poor and disenfranchised in the world.


Anonymous said...

Whatever the backstory, I find it curious that Driscoll had always referred to himself as "co-founder" but stopped that about a year ago. Now he's simple "founder". Maybe those other two men should be providentially relieved about that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wenatchee,

Ted Dietz here. I can shed a little light on the December 22 issue. If memory serves me right, this was about the time we formally started meeting as a church to prepare for the public launch in October. So I am not surprised by this document. Several people, not just the Driscolls, Mois, and Gunns met during this time. I was one of them. Mark was feverishly trying to recruit leadership, particularly those who had played a role in the college group at Antioch. There were at least 2 other families that considered but turned down the offer but the Mois and Gunns signed on. Mark is fond of symbolism and exaggeration and used to boast that Mars Hill started as 12 people in his living room. This is convenient fiction. There was a core group of at least 2-3 dozen of us... maybe more, and we met in his house, at Antioch, and at Emmanuel Bible Church where we eventually launched Mars Hill publicly. Of that original core group only three still attend Mars Hill to my knowledge.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

ah, thank you Ted. :) That clarifies quite a bit.

Only three still attend? Would that INCLUDE Mark and Grace or are those three people that AREN'T Mark and Grace Driscoll?

You can field that one offline or in an old post where comments go into moderation if you want.