Saturday, October 12, 2013

Some links for the weekend

EBT cards for Food Stamps aren't working in a number of states.

Don't hold your breath for forthcoming scholarly and biographical work on Shel Silverstein. An author at Slate explains how the current employment of intellectual property by literary estates can and often is used to quell scholarly publication on significant pop culture and literary figures.  Mouse House may make it more difficult come 2051 when Mickey will once again be in real danger of slipping into the public domain.

HT Internet Monk, how Christians became sorta pro-life on abortion but no so pro-life on the deployment of violence.

Scotteriology's Scott Bailey (who recently defended his dissertation, which Wenatchee hopes went well), links to a free e-book on archaeology and the history of ancient Israel. Looks interesting.

And since it'd hardly be a linkathon at Wenatchee The Hatchet without at least one link to Jim West, the reason to check out the free e-book mentioned above is that even West says that you'll have to save up money for THIS one, The Oxford Handbook of the Archaelogy of the Levant. That's in the zone of $180, dear readers.  That's not as astonishing as the prices of some books published by Brill, to be sure, but that's still not cheap! 

Phoenix Preacher has had a few posts discussing Chuck Smith, who passed recently.  We won't link to all of them but Smith's influence is such that it'd hardly be fitting to not at least note his recent passing. 

Monday, October 07, 2013

Chris Pledger as legal officer of Mars Hill Church, some questions about where Pledger was licensed to practice law ... besides Texas

Who are the officers of Mars Hill Church?

For state law purposes, Mars Hill has a president, Mark Driscoll; a vice president, Dave Bruskas; and a secretary/treasurer, Sutton Turner. Mars Hill also has a chief financial officer, Kerry Dodd; and a chief legal officer, Chris Pledger.

The governance statement, whenever it was published, was already old news by May 2012. The above-quoted text was thoroughly absent in the version of Governance that's been available to view this year.  It's worth noting that Sutton Turner, the one described as having "kingly gifts" is legally the secretary and treasurer of the corporation.  So it's worth revisiting the fact that "king" in triperspectival parlance seems to be circumlocution for what other people would call secretary and treasurer. 

So, let's take a look at when Chris Pledger last attended a Sunday service at Mars Hill.
Chris Pledger@ChrisPledger 27 May 12
Last church service . Very thankful for the ministry and mission of Mars Hill and the privilege to have been part of it.
7:26 PM - 27 May 2012 via HootSuite ·
Well, that's literally the day after Mark Driscoll posted this video, replete with some of his children, to announce that Mars Hill Orange County had been served an eviction notice for he was not sure what.

Turned out it was never zoned for long-term use by a church and that this was relatively easy to have found out in advance.  Why it wasn't is not something that can be readily explained, although given the lack of prior investigation into zoning and land use issues for what is now Mars Hill Church corporate headquarters at 50th Street in Seattle ... the oversight in Orange County can be said to not be entirely without precedent.  Maybe Bogardus and company hoped to find an alternate venue before eviction became a risk.  In any event, Chris Pledger's last Sunday service at Mars Hill was literally the day after Mark Driscoll announced that Mars Hill Orange County was given an eviction notice regarding its then-current space.

So ... where did Chris Pledger end up?

In June 2012 the way things read was more like this:
Posted on June 28, 2012
Chris Pledger | Executive Director

Chris Pledger serves as Executive Director of Vintage21 Church. Prior to joining Vintage21, he served as Director of Strategy and General Counsel of Mars Hill Church (Seattle). Chris oversees Vintage21′s central operations and business functions
Today it reads as follows:
Chris Pledger | Executive Pastor / @chrispledger
Chris Pledger serves as Executive Pastor of Vintage21 Church. Prior to joining Vintage21, he served as Director of Strategy and General Counsel of Mars Hill Church (Seattle). Chris oversees Vintage21′s central operations and business functions, including finance, property, communications, technology, and media. His primary role is to steward the resources of Vintage21 and ensure the church’s operations remain above reproach and on mission. Chris has been married to Jennifer for over twelve years. They have three daughters, Addison, Everett and Caroline, and a son, Jack.

So let's review what Pledger says about himself at LinkedIn this week:

Chris Pledger's Experience

Executive Pastor

Vintage21 Church

Nonprofit; 11-50 employees; Religious Institutions industry
June 2012Present (1 year 5 months)

General Counsel and Director of Strategy

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
May 2011May 2012 (1 year 1 month)


Kutak Rock

Privately Held; 501-1000 employees; Law Practice industry
August 2006May 2011 (4 years 10 months)
Corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law
and there's this, it seems.  Arkansas.
So, we've been able to establish that Pledger's last tweeted Sunday at Mars Hill Church was around the same time the eviction notice to Mars Hill Orange County happened.  Likely just a coincidence, that, actually.  Pledger was named in coverage of the Mars Hill Church trademark and logo situation in later 2011. 
Pledger is not currently licensed to practice law in Texas, which was where he was licensed to practice law before he arrived at Mars Hill.
Mr. Thomas Christopher 'Chris' Pledger
  • Bar Card Number: 24007851
  • Work Address: 103 Enterprise St Ste 201

    Raleigh, NC 27607
  • Work Phone Number:
  • Primary Practice Location: DALLAS , Texas
Current Member Status
Not Eligible To Practice In Texas (click for detail) [Let's click on it to find out what it says]
    MCLE Non-Practicing
    A Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Non-practicing Exemption has been claimed. Active members who have not engaged in the practice of law in Texas during the entirety of an MCLE compliance year are eligible to claim an exemption from the MCLE requirements. While claiming this exemption, an attorney is not eligible to practice law in Texas. Active attorneys who remove the non-practicing exemption are immediately eligible to practice in Texas.

    For more information, please contact the State Bar of Texas Membership department at (800)204-2222 ext. 1383

License Information

  • Bar Card Number: 24007851
  • Texas License Date: 11/06/1998
So, perhaps readers can field a question for Wenatchee The Hatchet--when was Thomas Christopher Pledger licensed to practice law in the state of Washington and what was his Bar #?  Was he licensed to practice law in any of the states that in 2011 featured Mars Hill campuses?  So far Wenatchee The Hatchet has not been able to establish that that was ever the case nor, for that matter, whether that would matter.  Is it necessary for church legal officers fulfilling the role of legal counsel to be licensed to practice law in the state in which the church is headquartered, or not? Louisiana and Texas would appear to be relatively given. 

MH PR leaders before and after the trademark situation of late 2011--Justin Dean took over from Nick Bogardus

For sake of review, Stokes & Lawrence, a law firm, issued a cease and desist letter to a church plant on the subject of trademark and logo infringement.  The controversy that erupted led to a public statement by Mars Hill that was made at the following link:

Mention in news coverage discussed Chris Pledger and Justin Holcomb and other names.  A name that did not come up in discussion at the time was who was handling PR for Mars Hill circa October 2011.  Chris Pledger shall be the matter of a separate post.  It is worth revisiting the subject of PR at Mars Hill all by itself. 

By now we have heard of Justin Dean
Per the February 2012 article in Slate:

Before now, Mars Hill’s only response has been posting an excerpt on church discipline from Driscoll’s 2009 book Vintage Church on its website and an opaque tweet from Driscoll. But Justin Dean, the church’s PR and marketing manager, agreed to answer my questions by email to tell the church’s side of the story.

One key element that was not clear in Andrew’s original account, Dean told me, was that the letter was intended to be read aloud, not posted online, and only to a “handful” of people. Instead, the group leader received unclear instructions and posted the letter online, a move Dean insists was not meant to hurt Andrew.

Furthermore, says Dean, only the approximately 15 members of Andrew’s small group, who met regularly and knew one another well, had access to the letter on the City. (Though Andrew was blocked from accessing the City, he says the letter was available to a slightly wider circle, including his fellow security volunteers.) “His case was not shared with the full church and had, until he posted it publicly online, only been known by a handful of people who were involved in his life and cared deeply about him,” Dean said. (Confusing social-media privacy settings strike again!) He added that Driscoll was not involved in the case at all. Mars Hill currently has 5,417 members and just nine ongoing church discipline cases.

Okay, so how long had Justin Dean been handling the job of PR and marketing director for Mars Hill by the time he'd talked to Slate?  Just a few months.

Justin J. Dean's Experience


Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
November 2011Present (2 years) Seattle, Washington
I currently oversee the communications department, including public relations and social media for Mars Hill Church, The Resurgence and Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Founded in 1996 by Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the America, with 14 locations in 4 states. Pastor Mark's sermons receive almost 15 million downloads per year, consistently rank #1 on iTunes, and he has over 500,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Pastor Mark and his wife Grace co-authored Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, & Life Together which was released from Thomas Nelson in 2012 and reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, #3 on Publisher Weekly’s Nonfiction Hardbound list, #8 on the Wall Street Journal Nonfiction Combined List, and #38 on USA Today’s Top 150 Books.

His newest book titled Who Do You Think You Are?: Finding Your True Identity in Christ released January 6, 2013.

The Resurgence is the largest Christian leadership blog, publishes a half-dozen books annually, holds conferences around the country, and offers a master's level theological training program for leaders from around the world.
So Justin Dean came along after the logo situation came up and had some kind of public resolution. So who had the role of PR before Justin Dean?

That would be Nick Bogardus, according to Nick Bogardus:


Nick Bogardus' Experience

Lead Pastor

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
June 2011July 2013 (2 years 2 months) Orange County, California Area
• Founded and led a church that grew from four people to more than 500 in two years.
• Led and developed a team of staff and dozens of volunteer leaders.
• Doubled congregational giving and community involvement.
• Launched regional theological training center.
• Developed and implemented a six-month training curriculum for young leaders.

Director PR & Media Relations

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
20092011 (2 years) Seattle, WA
• Represented PR for one of the most visible church leaders and church movements in America.

• Increased both the quality and quantity of media coverage. Effectively garnered coverage in outlets such as CNN, ABC, USA Today, The Washington Post, Loveline, Relevant, and the Seattle Times.

• Conducted interviews as a spokesman on camera and by phone with USA Today, the Seattle Times, and major local TV affiliates in Seattle (market 12).

• Developed and implemented the organization’s strategic communication plan. Identified key messages and produced both external and internal communications.

• Led content management team for the church and its affiliate ministries, the Resurgence and Acts 29. Combined, the sites have an audience of 700,000 visitors per month and more than 600,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

He was already preparing a church plant that would be Mars Hill Orange County as far back as the summer of 2011, though.  At Bogardus' own site there is this link, which in turn goes to this dead link, which in turn can be found thanks to this link.  So Bogardus was potentially already on the way out or planning the transition to Mars Hill Orange County's start-up in 2012 through 2011.  But whatever the details, it was Bogardus who was Director of PR & Media Relations at Mars Hill during 2011 when the trademark/logo situation came up.  Whether or not his employment and direction of PR and media overlapped with Justin Dean's is not clear from just the details provided by their respective LinkedIn profiles as they are. What is clear is that Dean became the PR and marketing manager just after the trademark/logo controversy in October 2011.  Now his job is simply Communications director, apparently. 

So prior to the launch of Mars Hill Orange County, which received an eviction notice not long after it's launch, Nick Bogardus was handling PR and media relations for Mars Hill Church, a role he had for roughly 2 years.