Thursday, March 15, 2012

A post-script to my blog entry about former pastor James Noriega

Several of the links, which I note in updates at the original post, which I made reference to in my blog entry discussing a Mars Hill clarification on church discipline and the disappearance of James Noriega from the named elders at Mars Hill, are dead. [more after the jump]

Not exactly a big shock.  Noriega had stopped being a pastor some time as far back as October 2011 if not earlier. Had Mars Hill not publicly stated they let some staff go for "overstepping spiritual authority" I might not have remembered noticing Noriega's name wasn't listed.  That some of the links I linked to have turned out to be dead must assuredly reflect that Mars Hill decided to clear out content related to a man who is not currently a pastor.  Tim Beltz, since the time I posted my original blog entry on the subject of Noriega, has stopped being listed as a pastor at West Seattle campus and is now a pastor at the Downtown campus. 

Since I try to keep as up to date and accurate in my sourcing as I can when I write something, once I discovered the dead links I provided updates in the post, and am writing this postscript to clarify that a few things have changed.  And, in case you didn't read the original blog entry I wrote considering the Mars Hill clarification of discipline and about Noriega's no longer being a pastor, well, now there's a link to track back to from here at the top.

The blog for the West Seattle campus appears to be completely down.  There are still listings for pastors there, though.  Blog entries that appear in Google searches just lead straight to the main site for West Seattle.  If someone got installed as an elder at that campus on June 18, 2011 cached searches show you fragments but the blog entries themselves are gone.

In fact ... all the blog listings for quite a few of the campuses are down.  Google webpage searches being what they are Tim Beltz gets a "Meet Tim Beltz" reference for February 29, 2012 listing in one search engine but you won't find that entry.  But if you Google "Meet Tim Beltz Mars Hill Downtown" you'll find that it's early in the listed results you get for the search.  Just realize that link leads to a calendar.

So Tim Beltz got an introduction in the "Meet X" at the Downtown campus two days after I posted content linking to Tim Beltz as a West Seattle Campus pastor?  Huh?  Was I looking at a dead campus pastor web listing? Beltz sure looked like he was listed as a West Seattle campus pastor the day I posted that blog entry on February 27.  He was the day I linked to the links I included in the earlier blog post.  And cached website archives indicate he was still listed as a West Seattle campus pastor earlier in the month.  So he was apparently still listed there prior to my blog post.  Then, it would seem within days of the linkage I did Beltz went poof from West Seattle.  Of course two days is too fast and must be chalked up to things at which Google is not so hot.

Well, see, if you dig up the cached webpage through a few search engines the February 29, 2012 seems to be for Rob Mayer and Tim Beltz has a time stamp of March 6, 2012. The links are dead but the cached webpage is still there to peruse, after all. Sorry that my information from the February 27, 2012 blog entry turned out to be out of date as of March 6, it seems, but I've attempted to correct things once I found out that the listings changed.  I've made sure to mention that some of the links are dead and what changes seem to have happened that differ.   Things change quickly in the age of the internet, don't they? 

And for some reason every blog at Mars Hill seems to be suspended, replaced by calendars. Bellevue blog is down.  Shoreline blog is down. West Seattle blog is down.  Ballard blog archive is down so you can't even get stuff like a video link to Pastor Tim Gaydos giving instructions on the upcoming Impact Rallies (way back in 2010).  A recent February blog entry for Shoreline about respecting husbands is gone.  Maybe it was up for revision? For whatever reason Mars Hill has shut down, it seems, every campus blog it has had going. Not sure what the incentive would be to shut down every single blog and related archive for every Mars Hill campus in the church network would be.

Well, whatever the reasons for that I at least managed to note that some of the links I linked to are dead.  But hey, at least this is still available:

The sermon where Mark Driscoll refers to James Noriega is still around and I don't know why they'd want to yank down the sermon audio and transcript where Driscoll taught about humility and how he was learning humility from C. J. Mahaney.  Unless Mark felt convicted that the preaching from all of 2007 was so sub-par he doesn't want anyone to hear it.  Well, okay, amen brother, no argument there. It was a bad year for you, sorry to say.

And Pastor A. J. Hamilton's summary of when Mars Hill became a multi-campus church still refers to James Noriega being at Doxa, which became the West Seattle campus.

Hamilton's description of when Mars Hill became a multi-campus church has been around, it seems, for years.  That might just be a reason to take it down, huh? 

So, for the moment at least, the most important two reference points I cited in discussing the rise and then absence of James Noriega from leadership in Mars Hill are not dead links.  Driscoll told the whole English-speaking world about James and A. J. Hamilton filled out the rest of the basic details to establish it was James Noriega from Doxa, which then became the West Seattle campus. For the moment, anyway, those facts are up on Mars Hill web content even if the entire campus blog and blog archive network has gone down. 

And it's not like the absence couldn't be noted here:

Anyone can observe from the current elder listings there's a name missing that Driscoll publicly referred to in his 2007 sermon from Phillipians on humility and that Hamilton incorporated into his history of when Mars Hill went multi-site.  So my apologies that a few links I linked to in the original post are dead. It's a good thing I didn't build my observatioins about a missing pastor just from campus archive links that have gone dead since I posted on February 27, 2012.

UPDATE 03-16-2012 12:47 pm: 

It also happens that there's other reference points to Noriega's history at Mars Hill
[this article is also linked to from Pastor Mark TV if you search for "Noriega"]
... Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission was started by several churches in Seattle during the heart of the Great Depression in 1932. Since then, they have not only sought to offer warm meals and a place to stay for Seattle’s homeless population, but also to show people who God is and how he can give hope in their lives. The Mission has a deep gospel-based mission, and has served thousands of people in the city of Seattle, including many members of our own church and even one of our elders, Pastor James Noriega. They also regularly partner with many area churches, of which Mars Hill is one. In particular, today, between 50 and 75 men, women, and children attend the Downtown Seattle campus, and about two dozen are currently going through the Doctrine class to become Mars Hill members. UGM's president, Jeff Lilley, was recently interviewed for the U-District campus' blog:

In the published article "Pastor James Noriega" in the text above links to the following article by Deborah Bach in The Seattle PI published at 10:00 pm November 25, 2004

UPDATE 3/18/2012

Mark Driscoll highlighted Redemption Groups on February 28, 2012 with a little feature on Mike Wilkerson as one of the men who was important in the development of the Redemption Groups.  James Noriega is not mentioned prominently in this year's entry at Pastor Mark TV even though he was co-leading Redemption Groups for a few years and Mike Wilkerson makes a point of mentioning Noriega's role in contributing to the concepts that went into the Redemption Group materials.

That Noriega played a role in influencing concepts about the ministry is attested by Wilkerson in an article in The Resurgence from January 29, 2011:

What are some friends and influences who helped to shape your thinking for Redemption?

MW: My fellow pastors James Noriega and Bill Clem were there from the beginning, influencing the initial concepts about the ministry and curriculum that would eventually give rise to the book

It is a bit early to know whether or not Mars Hill is divesting itself of any observable public connection between itself and James Noriega.  You could say we won't know for sure until there's a final tally on how many links in this post and its predecessor turn up dead.

UPDATE: 03/21/2012

In the email linked to above "Jamie Munson" mentions in paragraph four that one of the members of the reconciliation team was "James Noriega".