Sunday, August 11, 2013

where are they now? Mars Hill pastors from 2007 and what they're up to now, part 2 Scott Thomas

Next on the list is former executive elder Scott Thomas.  There's been quite a bit of blog posts keeping track of what he's been up to since he was head of the EIT that oversaw the removal of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry from eldership at Mars Hill

Then there are these old posts.

Scott Thomas' departure from Acts 29 in light of his role in the 2007 MH firings
Scott Thomas is officially Pastor of Ministry Development at The Journey and ...
The transition of Scott Thomas from Mars Hill/Acts 29 to The Journey
Where are they now? A Scott and Derrin Thomas follow-up
Scott Thomas at The Journey?  Maybe?
Scott Thomas and Ray Ortlund Gospel Coalition connection?  Well, we'll have to wait and see

Here's a sermon Scott Thomas preached on November 11, 2012

This is another sermon Thomas preached. Having quoted from this one earlier:

Well, good morning.  It's great to see you and be with you. My name is Scott Thomas, I'm the newest pastor at The Journey.  I oversee pastoral development, and so I oversee all of the different sites, the campus pastors, and such. And I also reach out to the church-planting, the missions, serve on the executive leadership team. And so I have quite a bit that we're doing and I'm glad to be here with you.

I most recently came from Seattle. We just moved here. In fact we just moved into our house on Monday this week. ... We came from Seattle where I served as President of the Acts 29 Network for the last six years. ... Also served as executive elder of Mars Hill Church. ... 

But what took place was Acts 29 was relocating down to Dallas. ... I sensed this was going to take place for about a year. 
Is there any sign of his role at The Journey in his LinkedIn profile lately?
No.  Scott Thomas managed to be President of Acts 29 Network from April 2006 right up to roughly a week or two after the publication of Joyful Exiles in March 2012.  He doesn't even list his role at Darrin Patrick's church any more.  A handful of sermons are still available at the moment to testify to the role he briefly played there. 

Scott Thomas is significant because Jamie Munson informed Paul Petry that Scott Thomas would head the investigation

If they decide to go the investigation route an elder taskforce will be formed and led by Pastor Scott Thomas with the assistance of Pastors Dave Kraft, Gary Shavey and Steve Tompkins. If you have anything to add to the investigation please send the etails or questions to Pastor Scott Thomas

From emails sent by Jamie Munson in October 2007

... If they decide to go the investigation route an elder taskforce will be formed and led by Pastor Scott Thomas with the assistance of Pastors Dave Kraft, Gary Shavey and Steve Tompkins. If you have anything to add to the investigation please send the etails or questions to Pastor Scott Thomas. ... [we'll get to Kraft, Shavey and Tompkins some time later]
... In lieu of resignation as an elder you have elected to go through the process outlined in the Mars Hill bylaws regarding an investigation into your status as an elder and potential removal. This is independent of your employment status. A task force headed by Pastor Scott Thomas is conducting the investigation. He will contact you regarding your opportunity to discuss your eldership status with the task force. ...

Paul Petry wrote to Scott Thomas and the EIT on October 10 with the following:

Just wanted to confirm that the hearing originally scheduled for October 29 has been moved up to this Monday October 15, and some clarification regarding the hearing on Monday.  When you started the meeting this morning, you said (I am paraphrasing here, I know) something to the effect that tthe reason the taskforce wanted to meet with me in person today, instead of just giving me questions to answer, was because it is difficult to discern a person's heart in the matter from just a written statement.  So my question is, will I have an opportunity at Monday's hearing to present my statement to the elders in person and to answer any questions they may have?  Also, will the elders submit their votes by secret ballot?
Scott Thomas replied as follows:

All four of us agree that we adequately heard your response to the charges/accusations and yor 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.

So Paul Petry was told that his presence at his own hearing would not be necessary.  Scott Thomas stated that he, Dave Kraft, Gary Shavey and Steve Tompkins all agreed that Paul Petry did not need to attend his own trial. 

Here are references Petry makes to Scott Thomas' activity and statements prior to and during the investigation process from Paul Petry's statement for his trial.

... I only received an e-mail from Pastor Scott that he was heading up the Investigative Team, and later, an official employment termination letter from Pastor Jamie. ...

Pastor Scott told me that I could submita a astatement, adn that it would be submitted along with the findings of the investigative taskforce to all the elders on my behalf. I would have preferred to address you all in person to testify on my behalf so you could perhaps hear my heart - but Pastor Scott informed me that I am not allowed to be present at my "trial", nor would I be allowed to testify or to personally answer any questions you may have. When I asked Pastor Scott if I could be provided with the findings and conclusions that the taskforce would be presenting to you, so that I could specifically respond to them, he told me that was not possible. I have not been provided a list of who my accusers are, nor the names or testimony of corroborating witnesses - let alone being able to question any witnesses or face my accuser(s). ...

It is important ot note that Pastor Scott was also one of the four Executive Elders who sat in the room the night of September 30, when Pastor Bent and I were "terminated".  And, that previousto that, on September 11, Pastor Scott approached Pastor Bent and me as we were eating lunch in a nearby park and told us, "If you men do not agree with the new bylaws that are being proposed, then you need to resign." This was more than two weeks before the September 26 deadline for submitting comments regarding the proposed new bylaws. 

... When Pastor Jamie asked if I was accusing him of hiding the final draft, I said no and I followed up wthe question by asking what was negotiable, and what was not negotiable. Perfectly legitimate questions in the context of any board meeting.  When Pastor Scott confronted me the next day and said he found my questions to be very offense to Pastor Jamie, I immediately went and spoke to Pastor Jamie and apologized for causing him offense and that I intended no offense and asked him to be patient with me.  He said he would, and I thought that was the end of it.  He did not bring it up again.  That evening Pastor Scott suggested that I had offended all the elders and should write a letter of apology to all theelders, but this seemed "over the top" to me making it a bigger issue than was warranted.

On October 11, 2007, days before the trial, Scott Thomas informed a member of Mars Hill Churchm "A team of elders just concluded a conciliatory process with these two men."  That Scott Thomas replied to a question about the termination of two pastors of Mars Hill from his Acts 29 Network email was a puzzle in itself.  The email Scott Thomas replied to was sent to per the written statement Jamie Munson gave about who to contact and where.  But Thomas' reply came from his Acts 29 Network email.  This is not a mundane detail. 

Thomas' role as the head of the Elder Investigative Taskforce is significant because given everything Petry has stated it looks like Scott Thomas informed Meyer and Petry in mid-September that if they didn't agree with the bylaws being proposed they should resign.  Why two of roughly 24 men "should" resign for not agreeing with bylaws has never been explained to this day. 
While Scott Thomas is no longer President of Acts 29 or at The Journey his publications are still available as resources at Acts 29 Network.

Per Mark Driscoll's February 7, 2012 statement

7 February 2012

Dear Acts 29 Members

We're excited about the future of Acts 29. In a recent letter to the network, Pastor Mark Driscoll detailed some changes to the network leadership that will position us to plant more churches and make more disciples. We've posted the letter below. February 6, 2012 Dear Acts 29 Members, This letter is intended to provide some clarity about where we are, and Lord willing, where we are going. I hope you find it encouraging, compelling, and unifying. Under the leadership of Pastor Scott Thomas we just completed our most amazing year of God’s grace yet. In the US alone we are now over 400 churches! This is a wonderful gift of God. I want to sincerely and personally thank Pastor Scott for juggling so many duties so graciously. Our prayer is that this tremendous momentum continues, ...

You won't be able to keep reading because by now that's all there is to read.  The link to "Keep Reading" just bumps back   The letter was discussed where it referred to Scott Thomas back here.

So, for sake of review, Scott Thomas seems to have been a prime mover in the termination process, not merely present at the event, not merely the head of the EIT as appointed by Jamie Munson, but also someone who made statements to Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in September telling them that if they did not agree with the new bylaws that they ought to resign.  Why Munson and company selected Scott Thomas to head the EIT remains to be explained.  If what Scott Thomas was in charge was, as he claimed in an email to a member, a conciliatory process then what was the deal with Mark Driscoll's October 1, 2007 statement "There's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus ..." ?  Scott Thomas was president of Acts 29 at that point and seems likely to have known what Driscoll said at that address.  Driscoll said that they'd fired two guys for the first time in the history of Mars Hill and that the guys weren't on mission so they were unemployed.  Munson insisted the terminations were not a political move to get more support for the bylaws and in the sense that 2 of 24 could not have turned the tide that is true, but it also rendered the terminations completely unnecessary for that same reason, didn't it?

Taken together the cumulative evidence of Scott Thomas' role in Mars Hill in 2007 does not suggest he was heading up a conciliatory process so much as a kangaroo court. 

It's worth noting that Scott Thomas gets a name drop in a footnote in Confessions of a Reformission Rev, over on page 198

Confessions of a Reformission Rev, page 198, Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
From the footnotes to Chapter Zero: Ten Curious Questions

2. The following discussion and the categories of traditional and institutional, contemporary and evangelial, and emerging and missional churches summarizes the work and ideas of Scott Thomas, who is a friend, an Acts 29 board member, and the pastor of the Encounter Church in Colorado.

In case it wasn't clear by now it's impossible to consider the terminations of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry from employment at Mars Hill Church in 2007 without considering the role Scott Thomas played in Mars Hill Church and in Acts 29.  Of all the men in eldership at Mars Hill Church in 2007 Scott Thomas' role is arguably most easily documented.  If Mars Hill Church wants to take A Call For Reconciliation seriously then discussing Scott Thomas' role in the 2007 termination and trial process will be difficult to avoid.  Scott Thomas is apparently tackling a church plant in Nashville, TN. 


Unknown said...

Mars Hill Church no longer runs as a church but a corporation. Mars Hill #1 goal is to promote Mark Driscoll and not Jesus Christ. In the last 18 months or so 11 of the 14 lead pastors have left Mars Hill, only Shoreline, West Seattle and Portland have not have not had a lead pastor leave. It is a sad time for all who call Mars Hill home.

Andrew O'Brien said...

Jeremiah, do you call MH home?

Anonymous said...

"In the last 18 months or so 11 of the 14 lead pastors have left Mars Hill, only Shoreline, West Seattle and Portland have not have not had a lead pastor leave."

Well, Thomas Hust is still at Bellevue, right? Oh yeah, but there were at least two, maybe three just before him, right?

Whatever happened to the upcoming young visionary Bellevue lead pastor in this video?

Where is he now?

Unknown said...

Andrew; I withdrew my membership at Mars Hill last month.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a movie along these line?
Los Desaparecidos?

From such a high profile and accolades - to nada.
What became of Chris Swan?

Andrew OBrien said...

Jeremiah - sorry to hear that. Not because I think it was a bad decision or your analysis is off, but because it must be hard to leave a place you once liked. Are other people at MH feeling the same way? Or are you the only one who has reached that conclusion?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Tompkins has been at the same campus for so long it's surprising nothing happened to him. Tim Smith is still at Portland.

If Fairchild is still at MHWS it's useful to keep in mind that Doxa was originally an A29 church plant that Bill Clem and James Noriega were at and they're both gone now. Fairchild may still be at WS but he wasn't original.

For Bellevue in 2007 Jesse Winkler was the name that comes to mind but he's far down the list for this series of posts.

Jeremiah Kendrick, can you name which 11 of 14 left in the last 18 months? Clem and Gaydos are the most obvious cases. Early was just recently, as was Holcomb. Which others?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Ah, Bogardus, nearly forgot him. Wasn't he one?

Unknown said...

Andrew; no I'm not alone in leaving Mars Hills was around 14,000 people a Sunday at the end of 2012 and now is around 11,600. Most of the pastors who left did leave over the corporation management style that took full effect about 18 months ago, moving for a 5 day work week at 10 to 12 hours a day, to 6 day work week at 12 to 18 hours a day. And when you question this as a pastor or member like I did and many ex-pastors you are told to resign and leave Mars Hill for not being in full submission to Mars Hill's 3 executive pastors, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas and Sutton. Turner. Most of the ex-pastors are bond by non-disclosure agreements and will be sued by Mars Hill for ever thing they have if they talk about it in public. I pray for a heart change form the 3 executive pastors and for all the ex-pastors and ex-members forced out of Mars Hill to land in a Christ centered church.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Justin Schaeffer, from Shoreline: Gone.

Read his departure letter. Sounds so much like many others, doesn't it?

"Planting, growing, and shepherding the flock at our church in Shoreline, WA for the last 7 years have been some of the sweetest and most challenging years of my life. We’ve...gone through a refining elder process, graduated from a master of missional leadership program (ReTrain)...seen hundreds of people baptized, cared for hundreds of church members, and made deep and wonderful friendships. We are saddened by the idea of leaving our family, friends, city, and church family that we love so dearly..."

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Didn't spot Schaeffer's departure. Did spot the departures of Firstenberg, Harleman, Toulouse, Holcomb, Gaydos, Beltz, Little, Echols, Thomas, the big send-off for Munson, Clem, Bogardus, and Noriega not all documented in equally direct fashions. Any others that have left in the last 18 months?

The tagged posts here will look mainly at those who were elders in 2007 when the firings of Meyer and Petry took place and there's at least twenty more to go. While the mystery of what happened to Chris Swan can get touched on eventually that might have to be in another post.

Not everyone signed non-disclosure agreements but those that didn't were reportedly cut loose without any severance pay. As stated at Joyful Exiles at the time Meyer and Petry were canned nobody had apparently thought to insist on non-disclosure agreements as a precondition to severance pay.

Anonymous said...

Adam Sinnett

Anonymous said...

To answer the third poster's question, Chris left to go plant a church in San Diego, and presumably is still with Acts 29. Here's a link that might be of interest.

Anonymous said...

Scott Mitchell from Everett.

Anonymous said...

Many of the elders you mention were not Lead Pastors. I am waiting for Jeremy to back up his claim of 11 of 14 lead pastors in 18 months leaving.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Yes, well the list that Wenatchee The Hatchet is working from (per four posts) is the group of men in place in 2007. Virtually no one mentioned in subsequent discussion fits that group to begin with.

But it's also true that there don't seem to have been that many lead pastors who've moved. On the other hand, the handful that did leave recently are significant and the number of executive pastors who seem to have been cut loose seems to big it could explain why there's an "ongoing" listing for all the executive pastor job openings even for campuses that technically have that role filled already.

Anonymous said...

Matt Jensen
Samuel Choi
Tim Gaydos
Bubba Jennings
Scott Mitchell
Bill Clem
Justin Holcomb
Alex Early
Nick Bogardus
Chris Swan
Adam Sinnett

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Can you expand a bit on what the new list refers to because several of those guys were absolutely not pastors at MH in 2007. Is it a list of guys who have left (voluntarily or otherwise) from leadership in the last 18 months? Wouldn't Steve Mulkey need to be on that list?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

And isn't Jennings poised to launch MH Tacoma still?

Anonymous said...

It's a list of the most recent "lead" pastors to leave MH. Don't believe the spin that any of these guys were "sent out," as they might have you believe. And yes, switch Mulkey with Jennings.

Also of note, several of the key central staff leaders have left recently. House, Holcomb, the guys... to name a few.

On Scott Thomas, you're kidding yourself if you think "Joyful Exiles" had anything to do with that. There's much more to that story than an admittedly bad story from 2006-7.

If you haven't noticed, it's a Mark Driscoll rampage (and now Sutton Turner). Get on the bus (do what you're told and kiss their feet) or get off the bus (and get run over, as we know from the Joyful Exiles stories).

As soon as you realize that the Mark Driscoll that exiled Paul Petry and Bent Meyer is the same Mark Driscoll that is pushing away almost every single leader at Mars Hill, the sooner you'll understand what's going on. At the end of the day, he pushes people away who do not continually praise everything he says and does.

The MH thing isn't the same conspiracy you make it out to be; it's not a group of people drinking the same kool-aid. No, this is a controlling, charismatic dictator, who destroys anyone who gets in his way. There's nothing special about Joyful Exiles. They may have been one of the first, but they've certainly not been the last.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

You've stated what is possibly the single most conspiratorial explanation about the history of Mars Hill anyone has ever made, recent anonymous.

Scott Thomas vanishing within the weeks after the publication of Joyful Exiles might be mere correlation without an explanatory cause but what are the odds you'd say someone will or can speak on record under their real name about that?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

To bring things back to the actual topic of the post some more, Scott Thomas' role in the 2007 process was what it was. Calling what looks like a kangaroo court a "conciliatory process" still looks like deceit on Scott Thomas' part if a person reads the documents at Joyful Exiles. If Thomas was already on the way out for other reasons that's not outside the realm of the possible but it would need a bit of evidence, wouldn't it?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

From a February 7, 2012 letter written by Mark Driscoll:

With Pastor Scott’s encouragement and the board approval, this means I am resuming the presidency of Acts 29. I want to invest every resource and relationship at my disposal to serve our church planters. Consider this primarily the “Prophet” board. This board is not closed and other men may join it in years to come. This board will be meeting soon in California, long before our annual retreat, so that we have a clear battle plan for the next season of Acts 29.

That period lasted all of, what, two months, if that. Then shortly after that Matt Chandler would end up stating that Scott Thomas told him one weekend he felt released from leading Acts 29, the weekend after Joyful Exiles went up. If that's all coincidence the coincidences do admittedly seem to stack up. Alternate explanations of whether Joyful Exiles going up had anything to do with Scott Thomas' departure from both Mars Hill Church AND Acts 29 could benefit from additional information, ideally people able to make statements on record with their names. If nobody's game for that then so it goes.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

The real estate series should eventually get to Olympia now that the name Steven Mulkey has come up but that's for some time later.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Let's suppose for a moment there is a dictatorship. The people who bolstered that dictatorship at critical moments in the history of the empire are worth noting.
Dictators always get where they are with allies.

A study of Stalinism, for instance, that only focuses on Stalin would be woefully inaccurate history. In fact if the proposal is true the consideration of the underlings under the dictator who implemented the wishes of the dictator becomes more rather than less important, wouldn't it?

If you're game, most recent anonymous, to explain what you consider the real reasons for Scott Thomas' departure/ejection from MH leadership was you're certainly welcome to post a new comment.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Scott Thomas was the Ernst Röhm to the führer Mars Hill?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...


Literally could not stop laughing for a minute or two seeing the ER reference. The reference is both esoteric and macabre and, well, WtH sometimes has an esoteric and macabre sense of humor.

KD said...

Adam Sinnett has been pastor of Downtown Cornerstone Church in Seattle for the past 9 years. Excellent preaching