“THAT IS A $5 MILLION GIFT.”
Noriega’s process of conversion seems to have started in 1999. He doesn’t seem to have been baptized until June 2004, upon which he’s reported to have been escorted out by a police officer. Months later, however, he’s reported in November 25, 2004 as newly ordained. The article does not mention the organization or persons who ordained him. To that we have to turn to other sources.
Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006
… In the meantime, we also picked up another miracle. This is West Seattle. This is on 35th at the top of the hill in West Seattle as you head toward White Center. I grew up in this neighborhood. This is a church building that is an absolute miracle. I’ll tell you the story on this space. I tried to launch Mars Hill Church in that building ten years ago, and we were rejected, and I’ve always wanted to be in there since. (emphasis added) And what happened was, is we were growing. I went to Pastor Bill Clem, who was leading that congregation. He planted it for Acts 29 Church Planning Network, him and James Noriega, who is the other elder there and I said, “We’re maxed out. You got a fat building, 50,000 square feet, 1,000 seats.:” It’s a bigger building and the one you’re sitting in right now. I said, “Is there any way we to use it?” They said, “Well, we wanna reach as many people in West Seattle as possible. How about if we give it to you and work together?” we prayed about it for a second and said, “Yes.”
That is a $5 million gift. That is a $5 million gift, right? And I don’t know if you’ve been tracking the real estate market, people aren’t giving away a lotta real estate right now in Seattle and so we have – we’ve taken Pastor James and Pastor Bill on staff at Mars Hill. We have taken their members through the Gospel Class and they’re now members of Mars Hill. They’ve been meeting as a core group over there. As we speak, there is $1.5 million of construction going on at the West Seattle campus, with the intention of opening in October in time for our ten year anniversary, and we want to expand over to West Seattle as well. We were thinking, “Well, we can borrow $8 million from the bank. We can spend $3 million and for $11 million, we can open up a 40,000 square foot location.” Well, we can now open more square feet for $1.5 million. So obviously, you take that opportunity.
The two cool aspects of this particular campus is one, is already zoned as a church, so we don’t need to fight use permits. We don’t have to bring it up to code. We can just walk in and use it immediately and it saves us, literally, a few years of permitting. Secondly, the lot that it is on is only zoned for 15,000 square feet of building and it already has 50,000 square feet, and because as grandfathered in, we could use it all. We could never build this building today as it exists. [emphasis added] And the cool thing with this building, a very Godly church that loved the Bible – started this church, built it, their denomination went liberal, dropped the doctrine of the inerrancy or perfection of Scripture and this building went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and was the test case for who owns the church building, the congregation or the denomination. The congregation lost and these people actually bought their own building back, because they refused to drop the authority of Scripture as their value. And so, there were some Godly older saints who paid for this building twice. It then went into decline but there is still a core of these people, like in their 70s and 80s, that are now members of Mars Hill. Grandmas tithing, waiting for us all to show up and fill that thing up again, and they’re praying us in. It’s a really cool God story and what God has done is pretty amazing.
According to this July 30, 2006 sermon from the 1 Corinthians series, Mark Driscoll explained that James Noriega was a pastor with Bill Clem at Doxa, an Acts 29 church plant. Noriega, however, was not ordained until somewhere around November 2004 and Doxa was planted in 2002. Noriega could not have been one of the founding elders at Doxa. Since he was a pastor at Doxa, and Doxa was an Acts 29 church plant, we can at least infer that James Noriega was ordained in and by Acts 29.
We also learn from this sermon that what is now Mars Hill West Seattle had been the property Driscoll wanted for Mars Hill in 1996, at the start of his ministry. He was rejected, he said, from getting that property and it had been a property he’d wanted ever since. In 2006, obviously, he was finally able to grandfather in the property into Mars Hill by approaching Bill Clem and James Noriega. It’s important to note here that the transcript for the July 30, 2006 sermon is wrong by describing Bill Clem as “leaving” that congregation. Go listen to the actual audio of Driscoll’s sermon and you’ll discover he said “leading”, not “leaving”. So the sermon includes what appears to be a factually incorrect statement that James Noriega was one of the elders who founded Doxa and the transcript includes an error of wording that does not accurately convey what Driscoll said in the actual audio of the sermon. Overall, however, the content in the sermon seems to be accurate. Why this $5 million gift was such a big deal, itself, needs some background.