Tuesday, June 10, 2014

a discussion of Jamie Munson's 2007 allegations for why Paul Petry and Bent Meyer had to be terminated and why it wasn't a political move

http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/10-01-2007-email-from-jmunson.pdf
 from Pastor Jamie Munson to the elders of Mars Hill Church on September 30, 2007

Pastor Paul Petry - Grounds for immediate termination of employment

* Continual insubordination and submission to leadership and spiritual authority
* Refusal to Ministry Coaching Program
* Divisive within Mars Hill Student Ministry and undermining of Pastor Adam, Deacons and entire ministry
* Blame shifting to Proxy leadership for misbehavior of children
* Public accusation of Lead Pastor [Jamie Munson] regarding hiding the real bylaw document
* Not following protocol and process for making bylaw comments by contacting church attorney without permission
* Ongoing contentious spirit to leadership regarding changes and direction.

Pastor Bent Meyer - Grounds for Immediate Termination of Employment
* Total lack of trust for Executive leadership and insubordination
* Multiple unfounded accusations from Bent regarding abuse of power, power grabbing and motives of leadership
* Not following protocol and process for making bylaw  comments by contacting church attorny without permission
* Showing unhealthy family favoritism by establishing son Cameron as spokesman for Salts recap meeting
* No communication with elders regarding Cameron's sin and removal of grace group leadership

Some might conclude this is a political move to gain more support for the bylaws as Paul and bent were outspoken critics of the current direction. [emphasis added] This is not the case, the executive team wants to conduct itself in a way that is full of integrity, walking in the light, under full disclosure and in a decisive manner that best serves Jesus and His church through Mars Hill.  If the bylaws don't pass, so be it, we didn't want to wait on what we had determined were necessary and inevitable firings until after the bylaws had been voted into approval because that would have been deceptive. [emphasis added] We made the decision to terminate them now and givem them the option to resign or undergo the full investigation. We have a higher value of being men of integrity than playing politics to swing a vote in our favor.

There's been linking to Jamie Munson these days from Dave Kraft and it's worth revisiting the fact that Dave Kraft was on the Elder Investigative Taskforce that looked into the charges Jamie Munson made as to why Bent Meyer and Paul Petry needed to be fired.  Kraft's long association with Ministry Coaching International (Michael Van Skaik was on the board of directors for MCI in 2007 and has since gone on to be on the MH BOAA) has already been noted.  Because Munson has recently been hinting that he's looking into leadership consultancy it's worth revisiting the beginning of Jamie Munson's time as Lead Pastor and legal president of Mars Hill Church because basically as soon as he was given the role and drafted bylaws that made himself Lead Pastor this termination and trial scenario flared up.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE REASONS JAMIE MUNSON SAID PAUL PETRY HAD TO BE FIRED

What can be ascertained, if anything, about the charges Munson outlined above?
Let's consider them one by one for the two pastors.  For Petry:

* Continual insubordination and submission to leadership and spiritual authority

What does this refer to?  Is this a general opening summary, perhaps?  Which leadership was Petry continually insubordinate toward?  That Jamie Munson had drafted bylaws that made himself legal president and that Paul Petry was engaged to provide comment and feedback on the bylaws can be established over at Joyful Exiles.

* Refusal to Ministry Coaching Program

If this was a project of Ministry Coaching International then even having Dave Kraft appointed to the Elder Investigative Taskforce could have been construed by some as a potential or actual conflict of interest for Kraft.  Conversely, if Kraft was connected to both Mars Hill Church and Ministry Coaching International then by now access to the documents that could establish whether or not Munson's specific allegation was legitimate should have been easy and could theoretically be made available to the public now. 

After all, if it was MCI that did the coaching program Petry was alleged to have refused participation in then the fastest way to defend the 2007 termination of Petry would seem to be to produce all documentation that would establish whether or not Paul Petry was participating in the Ministry Coaching Program if Ministry Coaching International was doing that program.  If Petry didn't participate that would be easy to prove, just as it would be easy to prove if Petry participated.  If Petry did participate who was Petry's ministry coach? 

For that matter, since a Ministry Coaching Program was in place what documentation can be provided by Mars Hill that this existed?  How much did it cost, if it cost anything?  Who brokered the arrangement for the Ministry Coaching Program to happen with Mars Hill?  This particular stated reason for why Petry was to be terminated immediately could be documented and the allegation is specific enough that someone like Dave Kraft (who was with both MH and MCI at the time, it seems) could potentially clarify. 

* Divisive within Mars Hill Student Ministry and undermining of Pastor Adam, Deacons and entire ministry
* Blame shifting to Proxy leadership for misbehavior of children

This would imply that Petry had a role within Mars Hill Student Ministry but whether Petry was actually even in that ministry would be hard to establish. Munson's allegations here state that Petry was being divisive and undermining and blame shifting some kind of ministry leadership for misbehavior of children.  But Driscoll had been saying for years from the pulpit things such as that "headship means it's your responsibility even if it's not your fault". 

And even Munson would have been around at a time when Mark Driscoll said from the pulpit they had no plans to have a childrens ministry because that would unnaturally divide groups of believers that should have fellowship together in church life.  This particular allegation of Munson's against Petry may need to be explained in light of what had already been a drastic change within MH culture, the emergence of youth and childrens ministries after years of leadership saying they wouldn't set those up.  If Petry was considered divisive for not being supportive of a kids ministry or youth group ministry then he was considered divisive for retaining what had been the historically early stance of the Mars Hill elders. 

* Public accusation of Lead Pastor [Jamie Munson] regarding hiding the real bylaw document

What "public" even meant here is impossible to be certain about.  In fact prior to this material being published at Joyful Exiles whatever was being referred to in this particular reason for firing Petry was anything but public.  In fact Munson neglects to even explain what the public accusation that Paul Petry allegedly made even was!  For that matter Jamie Munson didn't exactly highlight that he was then the Lead Pastor.  If Munson believed he was accused of something by Paul Petry in a public setting then what was going on with Munson stating the reasons to terminate Petry after the event happened, and what was the deal with the accuser announcing the appointments of members of the Elder Investigative Taskforce?  In normal judicial settings in the United States the plaintiff doesn't simultaneously have the power to be the judge, select the jury, and appoint all the legal counsel ... or does the plaintiff have that option?

* Not following protocol and process for making bylaw comments by contacting church attorney without permission

So does this one mean that basically Mars Hill pastors employed by Mars Hill Church were not supposed to contact the church attorney without permission? What, exactly, was the protocol and process Munson was referring to?  Where was it written down and published?  This is another case where by now Mars Hill could have easily published for public consideration whatever that protocol and process was. 

* Ongoing contentious spirit to leadership regarding changes and direction.

This, too, is vague.  Munson had been credited by Mark Driscoll with spotting what has since become the Mars Hill corporate headquarters.  There's plenty to read about that in posts about the 50th street building in tagged posts on "real estate and Mars Hill".

What can be ascertained from the cluster or reasons Munson gave for why Paul Petry had to be fired seem to revolve around allegations that Petry disliked the direction he saw Mars Hill Church going in.  This could be a reason a pastor might dislike a few programs but simply dissenting from a number of programs hardly seems like grounds for immediate termination in a church with a plurality of elders.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE REASONS JAMIE MUNSON GAVE FOR WHY BENT MEYER SHOULD BE FIRED

* Total lack of trust for Executive leadership and insubordination

Once more with "insubordination".  Toward whom? The executive elders, which at that point consisted of Mark Driscoll, Jamie Munson, Scott Thomas and Bubba Jennings (if memory serves).  What did that look like?  Apparently this ... ?

* Multiple unfounded accusations from Bent regarding abuse of power, power grabbing and motives of leadership

What were Bent Meyer's actual accusations?  So far these stated reasons from Munson read less like a case with evidence in hand as much as a summary judgment of a decision that had already been reached. 

* Not following protocol and process for making bylaw  comments by contacting church attorny without permission

Once again, it looks as though Munson was claiming that Mars Hill pastors could not even talk to the church attorney without following some kidn of process or protocol for making any comments about bylaws.  Apparently to even do this involved getting permission from ... ?  In what kind of business does an employee get fired for talking to the company attorney without having first gotten permission from no one in particular?

* Showing unhealthy family favoritism by establishing son Cameron as spokesman for Salts recap meeting
This statement is mainly interesting for showing that Munson's vocabulary seemed to be so limited he couldn't even use the word "nepotism".  But plenty of churches have nepotism as a leadership practice.  Wasn't Jamie Munson's own brother-in-law a pastor at Mars Hill by then?  Wasn't it customary for pastors to have wives who were deacons pretty much by default?  It had been this way since as far back as 1999 and 2000, what precisely made Bent Meyer having his son in an associated ministry capacity so problematic for Jamie Munson?  Wouldn't the head of the EIT Scott Thomas eventually go on to work in organizations in which his son also found work?  What made it such a sticky point for Munson that Meyer had his son in a ministry capacity while no concern was expressed about the father/son trajectory of Scott and Derrin Thomas?  It can't have just been that a father appointed a son to a role. 

* No communication with elders regarding Cameron's sin and removal of grace group leadership
This statement seems to presuppose familiarity on the part of all recipients as to whatever that sin was. That's not particularly of interest to Wenatchee the Hatchet as a thing in itself ,but it's interesting to note that Munson's statement supposes universal famliarity with this sin.  It would seem that the earlier statement withstanding nepotism couldn't have really be the main problem Munson had with Meyer ... if it was Munson who was formulating the reasons for terminations rather than someone else. 

What is worth noting about this communication from Munson is that it was Munson, who had drafted bylaws making himself legal president of Mars Hill and Lead Pastor after being given the Lead Pastor role, it seems, by Mark Driscoll, who hammered away at the failure of these two men to respect his authority and judgment.  But even by this time people could have had reasons to doubt whether someone who went from being a waitperson at Bucca de Beppo before becoming a Mars Hill intern and eventually an executive pastor had really picked up as much practical business experience as was sometimes credited to him.

But we're not done just yet.  Munson went on from the numerous reasons given for the immediate termination of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer to saw the following:

Some might conclude this is a political move to gain more support for the bylaws as Paul and bent were outspoken critics of the current direction. [emphasis added] This is not the case, the executive team wants to conduct itself in a way that is full of integrity, walking in the light, under full disclosure and in a decisive manner that best serves Jesus and His church through Mars Hill.  If the bylaws don't pass, so be it, we didn't want to wait on what we had determined were necessary and inevitable firings until after the bylaws had been voted into approval because that would have been deceptive. [emphasis added] We made the decision to terminate them now and given them the option to resign or undergo the full investigation. We have a higher value of being men of integrity than playing politics to swing a vote in our favor.

So Meyer and Petry were outspoken critics of the current direction but firing them was not a political move.  Because Munson just said so.  The executive team, according to Munson, wanted to conduct itself in a way that was full of integrity and under full disclosure and so on.

Like this?

Calling what had happened up until October 11, 2007 "a conciliatory process" doesn't just stretch the imagination, it's demonstrably not true.  Having an executive elder lie to a person at Mars Hill and use an Acts 29 Network email address to convey that false message is not a promising event in what was supposedly an already completed conciliatory process.  What was in fact about to happen was that Thomas was going to present some kind of case with EIT members Dave Kraft, Gary Shavey and Steve Tompkins for why the removal of Meyer and Petry from employment was justified.  Petry had even been informed by Scott Thomas by that point that he didn't even need to be at his own trial.

http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/scott-thomas-10-10-2007-no-show-for-trial.pdf

From: Pastor Scott Thomas <scott@acts29network.org>
To:   Paul Petry
CC: "Steve Tompkins" <
st@marshillchurch.org>; "Pastor Dave Kraft" >dave@marshilchurch.org>; "Pastor Gary Shavey" <gary@theresurgence.com>
Sent: Wednesday October 10, 2007 4:08pm
Subject: RE: Elder Investigation Taskforce


Paul,

The hearing has been moved to October 15. The taskforce was meeting with you to hear your response to their questions in fulfillment of Article III, Sec. E. Today's outcome will be conveyed to the full council of elders for a judgment. All four of us agree that we adequately heard your responses to the charges/accusations and your presence will not be necessary.  We believe that in so doing, we are fulfilling the requirements of the Bylaws. This is something that we discussed and consulted on with the lawyer.  The elders will submit their vote by show of hands.

Thanks,

Scott

So whatever Kraft has said lately Scott Thomas said on Dave Kraft's behalf that Dave Kraft was convinced that he had heard Paul Petry's responses to the charges and accusations that had been made by Jamie Munson and that Kraft did not consider it to be necessary for Paul Petry to be present at his own trial.  That's what Scott Thomas was saying, and he was saying something similar on behalf of Gary Shavey and Steve Tompkins

Kraft, Shavey, Tompkins and Thomas can feel free to speak up any time now as to what all of that evidence was they had collected and why each and every single one of them were convinced that, according to Scott Thomas, that they had adequately heard Paul Petry's response to Jamie Munson's accusations and allegations. 

So we've got a case where the head of the EIT lied about what had happened, saying a conciliatory process had been completed when he'd really just told Petry to not bother showing up to his own trial.  On October 1, 2007 Mark Driscoll shared that there was "a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" and "by God's grace it'll be a mountain before we're done" or something like that.

http://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/preaching-paul_edits1.mp3

Because this link at Joyful Exiles doesn't work (or at MH) you can go here to hear what Driscoll said at the end of the Nehemiah series about how there were some, even in the leadership of Mars Hill Church, that he wanted to go Old Testament on.

There's nothing in what Driscoll said about "we fired two guys" for the "first time" in the history of Mars Hill Church that sounds like there was a conciliatory process going on.  Even if we account for the reality that Mark Driscoll and the leaders let Brad Currah go years before Meyer and Petry were fired in 2007 the 2007 terminations could not in any sense be construed as "a conciliatory process" that was completed by October 11, 2007.

So Munson insisted that firing the two men in leadership who disagreed with the new direction was not in any way a political move but that the firings were "both necessary and inevitable".

And yet how many pastors voted in the bylaws Jamie Munson had drafted once Paul Petry and Bent Meyer had been fired and set aside?  All of them.

In the last few years there has been a narrative presented by MH PR to the effect that the problem in the past was that all the elders had to agree on everything for anything to get done.  This clearly couldn't have been the case if the two men who DIDN'T AGREE WITH the direction the church was going in were fired and the Lead Pastor said the firings were necessary and inevitable.  This looks more like a case where everyone was expected to agree and those who didn't could (and would) actually get fired and then subjected to a trial to underline the point that they weren't on mission.

So there's nothing in Munson's email outlining the allegations against Meyer and Petry that seems to be anything BUT politics in terms of bylaws and ecclesiology.  Munson went so far as to make several of the allegations/accusations specifically about ways in which he felt he was not respected or submitted to by just two of 24 pastors at Mars Hill Church. 

After all of that, if there was really a full investigation there's no reason Mars Hill Church couldn't publish the entire set of documents and correspondence connected to that investigation, is there?  Normally investigations involve the collection of and the consideration of evidence.  At least two members of the 2007 EIT, Gary Shavey and Steve Tompkins, are even still within leadership at Mars Hill Church in some kind of capacity.  Dave Kraft has since moved on but his connections to Ministry Coaching International (if still current) could give him an opportunity, in theory, to verify whether there was any legitimacy to Jamie Munson's accusation against Paul Petry that Petry was refusing to cooperate with the Ministry Coaching Program.  Actually, technically it's been conveyed to Wenatchee The Hatchet that as of yesterday Jamie Munson himself is still listed as a pastor at Mars Hill on The City.  If Munson doesn't at some point publicly address his handling of the trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer then by now it's a lot more public than whatever Munson himself accused Petry of saying seven years ago, isn't it?

Jamie Munson's role in the 2007 termination and trials of former pastors Paul Petry and Bent Meyer is too central to that period of Mars Hill history to be ignored.  In fact Munson's allegations about Meyer and Petry were explicit in listing their distrust and disrespect of him as key reasons they had to be fired.  And yet Jamie Munson himself stopped being Lead Pastor in 2011 and Mars Hill has for some reason scrubbed even the announcement of that transition.  By June 2012 Mark Driscoll was sharing from the pulpit that every single campus of Mars Hill had been running systemic deficits.  Mars Hill sold the Lake City campus at a loss after shutting it down because, as Munson put it, they weren't getting the numbers the expected or hoped for.  If Munson's going to present himself as a leader of leaders in the future there are some really specific events in the history of Mars Hill and a history announced by none other than Mark Driscoll of systematic deficits that began to develop since Munson became Lead Pastor that might need some explaining and context.  Munson isn't even involved in Storyville Coffee any more. 

Munson put a lot of stock in submission and authority but both of these can be earned by demonstrating integrity and competence.  The 2007 firings smell too much like insider politics to persuade Wenatchee The Hatchet the firings and trials were done with integrity, and no matter how many times Mark Driscoll may say Mars Hill isn't a wealthy church why a church that rented the city of Ephesus for a day and had signed a contract with Result Source was running systemic deficits by June 2012 has yet to be fully explained.  Nor is it clear why even since Sutton Turner took over Jamie Munson's "kingly" role that there have been times where Mars Hill still narrowly avoided its own fiscal cliff.  If when Jamie Munson resigned Mark Driscoll stressed that Munson was always above reproach then what's with having lately removed the published public announcement that Munson was stepping down in late 2011?  Given that Munson's publicly shared ideas about how you should keep growing your church even when it's not a good idea it's hard to escape the possibility that systemic deficits at Mars Hill could have emerged while he was Lead Pastor and legal president of the organization from 2007 to 2011.

And so far the documents available to us through Joyful Exiles show that Jamie Munson's first major moment in leadership as Lead Pastor was drafting bylaws that made him legal president of Mars Hill and being part of a team that had two men fired for not agreeing with the direction Mars Hill was going.  This makes it impossible for Mars Hill Church to claim that the trouble in the past was that everyone had to agree on everything in the leadership culture without the proviso that what this really meant in practice was that those men who DID disagree about some things were urged to resign and then, failing their voluntary resignation, they were fired and then subjected to trials. Practically the first thing did Munson did even before he was technically made legal president of Mars Hill Church was participate in the firing of those who didn't respect or trust his authority, by his own account. 

Starting off with two controversial terminations and trials for two pastors at Mars Hill and ending up resigning in late 2011 as Mars Hill spiraled into systemic deficits at every single campus doesn't seem like a sparking track record.  Right now Munson isn't even publicly listed as a pastor of Mars Hill Church and the church has even scrubbed away the 2011 announcement that Munson was stepping down.  At this point, so far as publicly documentable activity goes, if the trend keeps going the way it's going with Mars Hill purging stuff all that may be left of Jamie Munson's role in leadership at Mars Hill might potentially be what has been documented at Joyful Exiles

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