Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mars Hill leadership confirms that content from The City has been leaking to "online media", maybe

You can go read the full statement published by Throckmorton over there.  What is striking about the statement is that between the 9 and the 16 there is a common name.

The nine

Pastor Dustin Kensrue – Director of Worship / Worship Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue
Pastor Drew Hensley – Lead Pastor at Mars Hill U-District Pastor
Mark Dunford – Pastor at Mars Hill Portland
Pastor Ryan Kearns – Director of Community Groups/Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue
Pastor Ryan Welsh – Pastor of Theology and Discipleship
Pastor Adam Ramsey – Director of Student Ministry / Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue
Pastor Cliff Ellis – Director of Biblical Living / Pastor at Mars Hill West Seattle
Pastor Gary Shavey – Pastor of Biblical Living at Mars Hill Bellevue
Pastor James Rose – Pastor at Mars Hill Ballard

The sixteen

Pastor Tim Birdwell
Pastor Ed Choi (Board of Elders)
Pastor David Fairchild
Pastor Aaron Gray (Board of Elders)
Pastor Bubba Jennings (Board of Elders)
Pastor Alex Ghioni (Board of Elders)
Pastor Matthias Haeusel
Pastor AJ Hamilton (Board of Elders)
Pastor Scott Harris
Pastor Drew Hensley
Pastor Thomas Hurst
Pastor Donovan Medina
Pastor Matt Rogers (Board of Elders)
Pastor Miles Rohde (Board of Elders)
Pastor Tim Smith (Board of Elders)
Pastor Matt Wallace
Pastor Ryan Williams
Pastor Seth Winterhalter

So it would appear probable that the content was leaked in a way that suggests the MH account looks solid, that the conversation was not necessarily one that was intended for public consideration but that has been made public.  What is interesting is a set of statements made in the material published by Throckmorton.

... Last week, some current elders brought forward their concerns about the integrity of Pastor Sutton Turner and Michael Van Skaik (our BoAA chairman) as well as Pastor Mark Driscoll. There was some discussion of these concerns privately, but then last week these elders brought forward their questions/concerns on our Full Council of Elders group on The City that remain unresolved. Unfortunately, in recent months it has been proven almost everything that goes on that City group is leaked publicly to online media. We simply do not know who is passing these private conversations along to the media, but the fact is, it keeps happening.

Your elders are deeply grieved over the manner in which this has happened. In particular, we are grieved because 1 Corinthians 6:1–8 gives us a very clear (and even stern) command that when we have grievances against one another, we are to work them out in such a way that non-believers are not invited into the discussion. This passage shows us that even in cases of serious wrong or disagreement, God wants us to exercise appropriate discretion. We are terribly sorry because this is incredibly distracting and harmful to the cause of the gospel. Please forgive us for our division and lack of unity. We know this hurts all of you deeply and we are eagerly working toward the unity that we have in Jesus.

The pastors have apparently seen fit to simply describe "online media" in a very general way and to refer to any leaks, it seems as including non-believers as "invited into the discussion".  Non-believers can open the Bible and say it's "buy-bull".  Non-believers have already been discussing MH since the dawn of MH.  The Bible is also filled with things such as previously secret correspondence made available for public consideration, most notably David's instructions to Joab to have Uriah killed at the front lines of battle.

In fact content from The City has been finding its way to "online media" since as far back as the Andrew Lamb disciplinary case was covered by Matthew Paul Turner.  The City has been bleeding information for more than two years now.  Mars Hill leadership has expressed regret that content from the Full Council of Elders group has been hemorrhaging information for a few months but information from The City has been bleeding out on to online media for years.

Since many leaks in the past from The City were materials that may have only been made available on a campus by campus basis, and were not at the level of the Full Council of Elders, there was some possibility that Mars Hill leadership could try to ferret out the source of the leaks but it was not necessarily a church-wide crisis of information security.  The leaks from the Full Council of Elders group on The City clearly represents such a crisis.  What little has been said in recent news coverage about the dismissal of Mark Dunford invites the question as to what the specific reason for dismissal was "rebellion" or "defiance" would not in itself be much of a reason but is it possible Dunford was dismissed as a suspesected mole?  Would Mars Hill be willing to confirm or disprove this possibility as a matter for the record? Dismissals at Mars Hill might be done "at will" but when the rubber hits the road dismissals and terminations are always with some kind of cause. 

When James Noriega vanished from eldership at Mars Hill, for instance, it wasn't announced to the public in any way and there wasn't even a note the employment period ended but Wenatchee The Hatchet saw that his name vanished from the list.  On the other hand ... Jamie Munson's name vanished from the public listings and content from The City conveyed to Wenatchee The Hatchet showed that Munson was still listed as "Pastor Jamie Munson' as recently as about June 2014.  On the other hand, it's been conveyed to Wenatchee The Hatchet there's no sign of Jon/John Phelps on The City and yet Mars Hill leadership recently announced that Phelps has been a longtime member.  So, clearly, content leaked from The City can be taken as information that may be of some use but that not even content from within The City itself may necessarily fully indicate what is going on or what may be considered accurate beyond all doubt.

After all, at one point in 2013 Mark Driscoll conveyed in a letter on The City about Mars Hill "We are not a wealthy church".

There's some room for debate about that.

Meanwhile, should want an overview of some posts at Wenatchee The Hatchet that have featured content leaked from The City ...

 What is relatively new would be leaks from the level of the Full Council of Elders, not leaks from The City at other levels in the organization. 

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