Mark Driscoll from a video statement July 21, 2014
"If I’m real honest with you, at first it was just a little overwhelming and a bit confusing. We, and I were not exactly sure what was happening and so it took a little while to sort that out... As well, one of the things that has been complex is the fact that a lot of the people that we are dealing with in this season remain anonymous. And so we don’t know how to reconcile, or how to work things out with, with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are [emphasis added], and so that has, that has made things a little more complex and difficult as well."
Then in 2015 at the Thrive conference Driscoll said the following:
Transcript | Mark Driscoll | Thrive 2015-05-01
See Links to Timestamps at the end of this doc. [these omitted here]
And I don’t want to take this opportunity to talk a lot about me, I want to take an opportunity to serve you. We had an eight year conflict that really went public the last year, but it’s been eight years, and some of you struck shepherds know what that’s like. By the time everybody else knows, you’ve already been dealing with it for a long time. [emphasis added]
So somehow something changed between 2014 and 2015. Mark Driscoll went from saying for himself and the leaders of Mars Hill that they weren't entirely sure who people were to reconcile with because things were done anonymously on the internet to telling people at the Thrive conference there was a conflict going back to 2007 that had been ongoing for eight years. We'll have to get to two aspects of the initially quoted comment from Driscoll. Were all the parties anonymous, first of all? And were the parties making their grievances known through the internet or were they availing themselves of other avenues? There's a third element introduced by the Thrive narrative, which was Driscoll's claim that there was a conflict that lasted eight years that "really went public the last year". It didn't go public in 2014 or 2013. It was publicized by the Stranger in 2007 the year it happened, and Joyful Exiles was up as of March 2012.
But we can even set that off to one side. Consider, if the 2007 re-organization and firings were the controversy Driscoll was alluding to, whether or not it could be considered an eight year continuous conflict. Driscoll didn't exactly sound like he thought it was a conflict anymore when he said "There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" in October 2007, did he? As the saying goes, you can't eat your cake and have it, too. Either Driscoll knew who these unnamed parties were going as far back as 2007 or some other date, or he didn't.
Then there's the fuzziness of that "we" in the "we're not entirely sure who they are. Who was that "we"? Back on March 9, 2015 Justin Dean was willing to publicly taunt someone over the failure to produce a lawsuit, said failure to produce a lawsuit having lasted more than a year. A screen cap and quote from Justin Dean's March 9, 2015 comment can be found here:
"... you haven't produced a lawsuit in over a year. In fact no one has filed a lawsuit."
No prize for who Dean was taunting, the marvel of that taunt was that it showed, in March 2015, that Justin Dean knew there was the possibility of a lawsuit and he knew of it being a possibility for more than 12 months before March 9, 2015.
That timeline fits with about April 2014.
Posted by Sutton Turner on May 5, 2015
During the past twelve months, an online petition calling for “greater financial transparency from the leadership of Mars Hill” was started and has since been signed by 507 people. While some of those who have signed the petition may have been donors to Mars Hill Global, the overwhelming majority (98%) of signers never gave to Mars Hill Global.
On April 4, 2014, parties whom were led by a former Mars Hill member sent a legal request for the preservation of documents to Mars Hill Church. This type of request normally proceeds a lawsuit, however a year has passed since Mars Hill received the legal notice. [emphasis added]Then in August and again in December, these parties threatened legal action against many of the former MHC leadership, including myself. They charge that former leaders misappropriated funds with regards to Mars Hill Global. There are however a few facts to consider:
4. The leader of this potential legal action has not been a member of Mars Hill Church since 2007. He is a CEO of a non-profit that participates in Africa, and Mars Hill once supported this non-profit. There are now four remaining potential plaintiffs listed in the most recent threat of legal action sent in December 2014
That "recent threat of legal action" sent in December 2014 may or may not have been ...
the law office of Brian Fahling
December 24, 2014
Frey Buck P.S.
1200 Fifth Avenue, Ste. 1900
Seattle, WA 98101
Re: Jacobsen, et al. v. Driscoll, et al.
I have expressed to you since our first conversation regarding this matter last spring,
above all else, my clients’ desire to have their claims brought before a Christian mediator. ...
Last spring, in this case, looks like the spring of 2013.
In other words, Justin Dean seemed to know from the earliest contacts from Fahlings office who he was dealing. Sutton Turner even mentioned the date former members of Mars Hill sent a legal request to preserve documents with the mention of a potential suit. Sutton Turner knew since at least April 2014 that parties led by a former Mars Hill member had concerns.
Even if Mark Driscoll had insisted on using a royal 'we' to say "We're not entirely sure who they are".
Scott Harris sent Wenatchee The Hatchet a certified letter on December 4, 2013 that said, "I have seen a few of your blog posts regarding Mars Hill Church. I would love to sit down with you and talk about them."
That's not even counting an unsolicited email from another campus pastor from about October 2013. A campus leader that could send a certified letter in 2013 to Wenatchee The Hatchet, who had stopped renewing Mars Hill membership around 2007 (and let's keep in mind that at this point Mars Hill attendance was in tens of thousands across the western US) how plausible is that that Mars Hill leaders couldn't work out who to reconcile with from among their own former elders and deacons, exactly?
Take all the statements from Mars Hill leadership in the last six years and other correspondence quoted above and read them as a continuous arc and it seems impossible to reach the conclusion that Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner or Justin Dean had no idea at all who they might have been dealing with. It's not like Brian Fahling didn't send letters. It turns out from Fahling's correspondence some kind of overture of interest in mediation was made as far back as the spring of 2013. Now Mars Hill leadership was certainly at liberty to decide they didn't WANT to meet for mediation but to say at any point in the last two to three years "we're not entirely sure who they are" comes off like a bold-faced lie.. The cumulative statements of guys like Justin Dean and Sutton Turner seem to indicate they knew pretty well who they were opting to not deal with. Driscoll himself couldn't have invoked references to a conflict from 2007 if he didn't have some idea there were parties involved whose time at Mars Hill even went that far back.
So if by the account of none other than Sutton Turner it was possible to know who the interested parties were who had concerns about Mars Hill as far back as April 2014 how on earth would Mark Driscoll not know who those parties were? Why would the secretary of the corporation know something and not pass it along to the president? To put it another way, if the secretary knew why would the president not know? If the PR head of Mars Hill knew why would the president not know? If Driscoll could say in 2015 that a conflict that happened 8 years prior only became public in 2014 then even if we set aside the impossibility of that claim being true based on matters of public record, wouldn't that in itself imply that Driscoll did know some of who these people were? That knowledge, if corresponding to whatever reality is, makes it all the more impossible for Driscoll to have honestly said "we're not entirely sure who they are".