Monday, January 04, 2016

2016, a new year, and the MH re-plants share their respective histories ... or not, an overview of which MH spin-offs have leaders who were on the BoE that was investigating Driscoll


In 1996, a pastor named Mark Driscoll started a new church in Seattle called Mars Hill. Mars Hill Church grew rapidly, and in 2006 decided to plant its very first remote campus, a video location called Mars Hill Shoreline. The pastor who launched the new location, Steve Tompkins, put it this way: “God kept bringing more people to hear the gospel. Even five Sunday services [in Ballard] back-to-back didn’t address our need for more space.”

God did many amazing things in and through Mars Hill Shoreline: people were saved, hundreds were baptized, families were started, lives were transformed. However, there were also many issues that built up over the years which all came to a head in 2014, a year of great difficulty for the church. Facing mounting criticism as the church investigated formal charges against him, Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as vision and preaching pastor on October 14, 2014. Shortly afterward, it was announced that each local campus of Mars Hill would have the opportunity to launch out as their own fully independent church.

After much prayer and discussion, the elder team of Mars Hill Shoreline did make the decision to re-plant Mars Hill Shoreline as Sound City Bible Church. The elders made the commitment to learn from the sins and mistakes of the church in the past while focusing on a fresh vision to help people hear the good news of Jesus all throughout the north end of the greater Seattle area.

Sound City Bible Church is not simply Mars Hill carrying on under a new name. It is a new church with a new elder team, a new doctrinal statement, a new mission and a new set of values. This church has been through some difficult times, but through it all is more convinced than ever that Jesus truly is the one who is worth placing ultimate hope in. We hope and pray that God would give us many years together to glorify God by proclaiming Jesus, receiving grace, being disciples, and making disciples.

Trinity West sort of doesn't have a history page

Some of these churches are starting from scratch and disconnected from Mars Hill so it might make sense to not have a history that states up front the Mars Hill lineage while formally declaring a different set of goals is in order. Now Fairchild was not on the BoE, for those who remember what the Board of Elders was.

But ... if your church says one of its core values is "legacy" then not mentioning a legacy connected to Mars Hill becomes more puzzling.

For those who don't remember, Bubba Jennings was not just on the Board of Elders, he was also an executive elder around the time the 2007 firings and trials occurred.

So he may not only be able to answer questions about investigation into Mark Driscoll from 2014, he is one of the only people who  had a connection to the termination and trials of Meyer and Petry from 2007 that has not publicly recanted/repudiated involvement of any kind in that process.

Redemption in Spokane indicates their story as connected to Mars Hill.

Redemption Spokane is a new church planted in the heart of the Inland Northwest with the mission to see the work of redemption impact Spokane, seeing many people’s lives changed by the power of the Gospel. Our founding pastor, Miles Rohde, and a large number of our original core members had a heart to see a new church planted in the heart of Spokane that would reach the entire region. Originally beginning with the vision of being a church connected to Mars Hill Church, in the fall of 2014 a decision was made to become a fully independent church with our soft-launch in January 2015.

The church building, located on the corner of 2nd Ave and Division Street, has been a bastion of the gospel in Spokane since the first church building was constructed at this important crossroads in downtown Spokane. Having moved into this church building, right in the heart of Spokane, Redemption Spokane desires to continue the legacy of the Gospel being faithfully preached to all.
As a church, we had our official launch at our Easter service in 2015.

For those who may have forgotten ... somebody was on the Board of Elders assigned to investigate Driscoll, if memory serves.

One would already have to have known that the Rainier Valley Church had a Mars Hill history to observe it's still at the Union Gospel Mission site.

Given the obscure but swift disappearance of Willie Wilson from its leadership that this church even still exists at all could seem like a feat of community cohesion.

Choi was also mentioned as a member of the BoE

Former Mars Hill Portland is now Redeemer in Portland and has nothing much to say about its history.  They will, however, be nominating deacons soon (and may possibly have already)


The Elder board of our church currently consists of: Pastor Eric Appleby, Pastor Jon Crist, Pastor Kevin Kelly, Pastor Ryan Mount, Pastor Dan Ortega, Pastor Tim Smith and Pastor Jim Swanson. Two of the Elders of Redeemer Church are also paid staff. They are: Tim Smith, in the role of Lead Teaching Pastor and Kevin Kelly, in the role of Executive Pastor.

God has called all of these men to lead by example and to serve with love, humility and grace, placing care and service to the flock over their own interests. Should you wish to speak to any of our Elders, please email indicating whom you wish to speak with and they will get back to you promptly.


As a new church, we will soon nominate Deacons who will be responsible for taking various day-to-day burdens of service from the Elders, in order that they may focus on prayer, teaching and general oversight of the church. Redeemer Church will have both men and women Deacons, as supported by scripture.

Since Tim Smith was one of the members of the Board of Elders assigned to investigate Mark Driscoll maye an elder can lead by example by answering questions about what was in the report/investigation from later 2014?

or maybe field questions about statements made about Mark Dunford?

Olympia ...

Not a whole ton of history there to share.  Although Mars Hill Olympia was where the Mars Hill Military Mission was once based, which was a ministry that basically distributed Mars Hill authored books to soldiers. The Military Mission was shut down in early 2012 after having been moved, for reasons not necessarily clearly explained, from Olympia to central HQ or thereabouts.   As discussed at this blog, the book distributional aims of the defunct Military Mission could have made sense as an easy way to handle the bulk orders for the bulk order side of the Result Source strategy. 

There are churches that were once Mars Hill that clearly believe it's best to lead up front with the line of descent.  Other chuches seem eager to avoid this still unavoidable element of their history, at least for now. 

For those who don't remember the name of Matt Rogers, who was pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue in 2014 and on the BoE and eventually appointed to the BoAA ...

There's not a lot of evidence he's connected to Doxa Eastside lately. There's no trace of him if you do a search for his name on their site.  Given Rogers' role on both the BoE and the BoAA and what he was willing to say about public criticism of Mark Driscoll a hard reboot without him might seem beneficial.  The hard reboot might also extend to not really sharing much by way of establishing the historic connection between Doxa and the former Mars Hill.
4554 12th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Cross and Crown has left the Ballard site and taken up at what was once the U-District Mars Hill site.
It has, if memory serves, taken on people from the sites that were formerly Mars Hill Downtown, Ballard and the U-District.  As reported a while back by Wenatchee The Hatchet and Warren Throckmorton some of the campuses had been losing attenders or members in the months running up to Driscoll's formal resignation.  Consolidating those who were left at some of the campuses to what used to be Mars Hill Ballard made some sense.  In a way the consolidation process was a kind of mirror to the 20007 dispersion process in which people were sent out to launch campuses for the multi-campus process.  And it's tough to forget that the multi-site approach became appealing as Mars Hill central leadership realized the second campus idea for what became the central headquarters was either impossible or wildly impractical.  In th ehistory of Mars Hill it is worth stressing that when we consult the talks of Mark Drsicoll about multi-site compared to what he published in Confessions of Reformission Rev about a decade ago, the entire multi-site approach was a kind of epic Plan B.

So, anyway, Cross and Crown does not have a very detailed history for itself yet.

Then there's the somewhat shortlived Mars Hill Albuquerque.

Not only does there not seem to be any history for the church you can't even tell who the leaders are as you can with just about any of the other churches, unless you go digging up the sermons.

You can learn more if you fill out a form, though.

So, having reviewed a few of the sites that were once Mars Hill and having noted which applicable names showed up in the Board of Elders ... let's revisit a statement quoted by Warren Throckmorton.

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. [emphasis added] Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.

The elders of Mars Hill Church acknowledge as we’ve gone through all of this investigation, and heard all of these stories, we acknowledge that we have personally led in some of the same ways that demonstrate some of the same ways that Pastor Mark had. And those things require repentance and forgiveness and restoration. We realize that there are ways that we have led as elders in ways that have been domineering, sometimes arrogant and sometimes boastful and at least for my part, I want to say I deeply regret those sins and I ask for your forgiveness.  We want to lead you into the future in a way that displays more grace, more love as we speak the truth to each of you. If there are people that I have offended in ways I have pastored this church, I would welcome that you come to me and speak with me to allow me the opportunity to reconcile with you.

At this time Mars Hill Church is going to move ahead under the Board of Overseers established plan for transition. Pastor Dave Bruskas will serve as the teaching and preaching pastor during an interim period of time until we establish a direction we are going as a church. The Board of Advisors are going to be working in the weeks to come on a plan for moving forward and for how that will unfold, what the next steps are, there are a lot of things to consider. As we discover what those things are, what the spirit shows us, then we want to communicate clearly to you and transparently to you what’s happening, the directions and the changes that will be taking place.

2016 is a new year but even if there's a new man, to borrow an apostolic epistletory idiom, the old man isn't completely dead yet.

No, actually, we can be pretty literal about this. The corporation formerly known as Mars Hill Church is still technically listed as "Active" even today by the Washington Secretary of State website.

It still lists Dave Bruskas as President and Caleb Walters as Vice-President even though Kerry Dodd's been describing himself as President for a while and describes himself thus as of ... right now.

President and General Manager

Mars Hill Fellowship, Inc.
– Present (1 year)
- Keen management to daily operations to guarantee proper handling of all legal affairs and creditor obligations
- Tactical administration to the liquidation of real property and other assets; along with the distribution of net assets
- Recognition for the successful launching of 11 new independent entities by separating the organization from its 15 operating locations
- Appointment as corporate president of the board of directors; as well as promotion to general manager, in charge of leading the transition team in settling the affairs of the corporation toward the distribution of net assets and dissolution

Recognized by who for the successful launching of 11 new independent entities?  Would whoever recognized Kerry Dodd for this clarify for the record they recognized this? 

and ... Caleb Walters is still mentioning he's Chief Operations Officer for the potentially still existing Mars Hill.

Who was on the board of directors since the resignation of Driscoll that seems implicit in Dodd's verbiage?  Who's been on the transition team?  While many a person has assumed that things were "over" the dissolution of the company is the period in which stuff gets sold and assets get distributed.  This was/is the period in which to actually pay more rather than less attention to what may be going on.  Sure, Driscoll's got a church he's aiming to start up but there's no need to forget that Mars Hill hasn't ceased to exist as a corporate entity just because a celebrity threw in the towel rather than comply with a restoration plan proposed by a board.

So as 2016 moves forward we'll get to see which of the 11 spin-offs prospers or not.  It remains to be seen.  They may all make it but we don't know yet. 

Meanwhile, we know which churches seem to feel comfortable enough to explain in their public web presence where they've come from and which aren't yet.

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