Wednesday, February 10, 2016

follow up on the Mars Hill and B-50 Investments, LLC transactions. B-50 Investments, LLC was party to a deal with MH back in 2014.

As has come up in comments, some wonder what B-50 Investments, LLC is.  Well ... perhaps there's a document or two that could shed a shaft of light or two (if only that) on the matter.

You may want to scroll along down here and open up this post after the break.

The docs are presented in a large format and so, as has become potentially usual, you'll want to collapse the menu on the right hand side.

It will aid reading.

So, B-50 Investments, LLC got the remaining Ballard lot.  What's conspicuous here is that the real estate formerly known as Mars Hill U-District isn't in the transaction Lot listings.  But in order to establish that we have to look at the 2014 document.

Which is below the break:

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

the end of Mars Hill's Ballard corporate headquarters, acquired formally 12-2005, deed in lieu of foreclosure and contract forfeiture in Dec 2015

For those who have kept tabs on real estate transactions to do with Mars Hill there's been a few sales from the 2015 period.  But conspicuous by absence of a closed formal sale was the Mars Hill headquarters.

Well ...

there might be an update here.

The sale of the actual Mars Hill Ballard campus in Ballard has been established.  Being in Seattle, WtH heard word of that before it was possible to really confirm it in a documentary way.

But now, of course ...

But the headquarters lot itself ...

it looks like it was kind of given away.  Back in December 2015.

the technical phrasing is "deed in lieu of foreclosure and contract forfeiture"

For people who never attended Mars Hill or only attended since about 2008 it might be impossible to convey the significance of the Mars Hill real estate that became its corporate headquarters.  Ten years ago Driscoll announced a bold plan for it.
Confessions of a Reformission RevMark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 176

Our current facility cannot accommodate much growth beyond our current four Sunday services. Additionally our kids' ministry is bursting at the seams, our Capstone classes are in desperate need of space, and our cramped, windowless office space would be perfect if we were a third-world sweatshop.

So the elders voted to purchase a 43,000-square-foot dumpy warehouse Jamie found one block away from our current building. When the project is completed, we will have two buildings only a block apart, each hosting church services, with 1,300 seats in one location and a projected 1,000 seats in the other. We will be able to grow to more than 10,000 people per Sunday through multiple services in multiple locations. Each service will have live worship teams, but I will only be live in some services and in video in others.

Ten years later the project was never completed. 

The remarkable thing is mere months after Confessions of a Reformission Rev was published ... we can observe a lengthy statement Mark Driscoll made in a sermon in the 1 Corinthians sermon series that "might" not make it into the re:vival of its web presence at Mark Driscoll Ministries. 

in his July 30, 2006 sermon in 1 Corinthians Driscoll said several things about the property mentioned in Reformission Rev:
Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006
There is the building a block away. We purchased it a year ago. It was heading into foreclosure. We purchased it for under market value. It has increased in value since that time, and this is just some interior and exterior shots of the space, and our plan was to turn that into a large room to see maybe 800 to 1,000 people. And so, what we have instead decided to do, first, we’re going to keep that building – and it’s been great – ‘cause according to King 5 television, they had a report that said that 98105, which is this zip code, is one of the five fastest, increasing valued zip codes in the State of Washington. Since we bought that building, as it was going to foreclosure, we already have gained a million dollars in equity in that building. We have no intention of getting rid of it, but here’s what we do want to do with it. We want to knock half the building down and just turn it into parking to increase our parking capacity. Secondly, the other half of the building – we don’t feel that we have to use right now because of some other things that have come available that we’re gonna tell you about – but we’re gonna keep it. We’ll rent it out with the hopes that a tenant will pay most of our mortgage. We can keep it then, and then if we ever do wanna build on it, we can develop it and do whatever we want with it but we feel it’s important right now to watch and see what happens with this neighborhood, particularly what happens to parking, and then make a determination down the road as to best use.
And the reason that we don’t need to develop it as we had thought is because of some other things have come available. Among those is Shoreline and these are some shots from the Shoreline campus and where we are meeting at Christa Ministries, at [Schirmer] Auditorium. Four hundred seats, plus a full daycare. It’s amazing kid space. Huge gym for the kids to run around in. Lots of parking. They’re letting us use that on Sunday and now this fall for beginning, for midweek programming for nothing. It’s free. We don’t even pay for janitorial, we don’t even pay for utilities. It is a savings of over $100,000.00 a year. We can be there for two more years. It’s a savings of 200 plus thousand dollars. We love Christa. We’re very, very grateful for their kindness to us. Eventually, we will need to purchase a permanent site for our Shoreline. We’ll need to get them a permanent purchase campus, ‘cause we can only be there for two years. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if somebody let you how the house for two years for free? I mean that’s a very kind gift, so we are actively looking for another place to buy….

By 2007 ... it started to look as though one of the problems was not just "when" but even "if" the real estate that became Mars Hill headquarters could EVER become what was promoted in Mark Driscoll's 2006 book.  The subject came up again amidst concerns about other controversies like by-laws revisions and pastor terminations in 2007, and was addressed by Jamie Munson (who, as Mark Driscoll recounted it, was the one who scouted out the real estate in the first place).

Page 72/145 from Mars Hill: A miracle of Jesus
November 9, 2007

Section: Stewardship

Answers submitted by Pastor Jamie Munson
Q: What is the status and future plans for the property M.H. owns just north of the Ballard campus?
We purchased the building on 50th with the intention of performing a massive renovation, and by connecting it with our Leary building, to create a large campus in the middle of the city. Since the 50th building dedication, our renovation plans were delayed by our attempt to obtain a change of use permit. [emphasis added] During the permitting delay we were gifted a building in West Seattle and undertook renovating and opening that building as our next campus. At the time of these changes we communicated this to the members of the church openly and honestly as we wanted to be faithful to the stewardship and generosity of the body. Also, each quarter a letter is sent to members, along with their donor statement, urging faithful stewardship and giving updates to vision and building strategies. In addition, Pastor Mark wrote a lengthy letter that was sent to members electronically, and handed out at all campuses explaining the shift to a multi-campus church before the West Seattle campus opened.  Due to the restrictions and expense of building a single large building in our city our focus has shifted from one large campus to becoming a multi-site church of smaller campuses.  Your elders feel this will enable a more effective and cost-efficient spread of the Gospel throughout Seattle and beyond.  It will still take capital campaigns and the purchasing of facilities but allows us to spread and grow more quickly as Jesus leads. [emphasis added]

We are leasing part of the 50th building to generate some revenue. We are also performing a minor renovation of portions of the building to alleviate our current office and production space needs.  This will eliminate the need for leasing office space for our use.  In addition the property provides some much needed parking relief for our Ballard campus and also needs such as storage.  An average church of our size functions with about 4 times as much square footage as we do with our Ballard campus.  Storage, meeting rooms, office space and parking are greatly needed and this property serves those with purposes in the mean time. Future development options are being considered as well but there are no firm plans for these.  This is further complicated as the city is considering further zoning changes and restrictions in industrial areas of the city.  Until this legislation is decided it hangs property owners up as the future possibilities of the property are unclear.  We are hanging on to the property and using it to the fullest extent possible in the mean time. [emphasis added]

And then ... well ... the rest is history ... just not the history of ever getting those renovations done, apparently.

Of course had the leadership of Mars Hill gone straight for multi-site because they thought of that first perhaps they'd have never bought the lot to begin with.  As famous as Mars Hill became for being a multi-site church a detailed history of its real estate development and publicly accessible statements made by its leadership over the years suggests the possibility that multi-site was essentially a pragmatic plan B.

And as of 2016 it turns out, based on King County records, that what the dissolving Mars Hill leadership ended up doing was giving the real estate away. 

Considering the grand vision Mark Driscoll cast for the real estate a decade ago in Confessions of a Reformission Rev it seems impossible to not consider the fate of that real estate. Anyone want to contribute a (moderated) comment about how a deed in lieu of foreclosure and contract forfeiture might work?


For those who might even possibly care what B-50 Investors, LLC is
UBI Number 603448660
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Active
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 11/03/2014
Expiration Date 11/30/2016
Inactive Date 
Duration Perpetual

Then there's ... a potentially not necessarily related ...
B-50, LLC
UBI Number 603447982
Category LLC
Active/Inactive Inactive
State Of Incorporation WA
WA Filing Date 10/30/2014
Expiration Date 10/31/2015
Inactive Date 02/01/2016
Duration Perpetual

Mark Driscoll's old Christians Gone Wild coming back as Good News for Bad Christians, the 2006 era 1 Corinthians sermons, an excerpt from part 22 to keep in mind, Driscoll on his idol being victory

Driscoll has announced that the old 2006 1 Corinthians sermons are coming back.  Formerly titled "Christians Gone Wild" the re:branded title is Good News for Bad Christians.

In keeping with the topic of recycling old stuff, Driscoll's also offering a History of Dating, which sounds like stuff that could date back as far as 2005 for that singles ministry kick-off event he spoke at.  The short version, for those who weren't there, was that contemporary dating is basically just prostitution with a veneer of social acceptability and that courtship is the way to go.  There might be a few modifications and provisos added in the last decade but on the whole it seems that Driscoll's been content to bring back a lot of stuff without adding very much and with a penchant for excising things that smack too strongly of Mars Hill financial updates.

For years Mars Hill had a 2001 era Proverbs series available to download without the "Lovemaking" sermon.  It's not as though there hasn't been a precedent even from the Mars Hill days for audio being held back that might be considered a bit racy or flamboyant.

Anyway, when the time for part 22 comes along for the re:cycled 1 Corinthians series, see if this quote is in there:
RESISTING IDOLS LIKE JESUSPart 22 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll | 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 | June 18, 2006

Here’s the tricky part: Figuring out what your idols are. Let me give you an example. Let’s say for example, you define for yourself a little Hell. For you, Hell is being poor. For you, your definition of Hell is being ugly. For you, your definition of Hell is being fat. For you, your definition of Hell is being unloved. For you, your definition of Hell is being unappreciated. That fear of that Hell then compels you to choose for yourself a false savior god to save you from that Hell. And then you worship that false savior god in an effort to save yourself from your self-described Hell. So, some of you are single. Many of you are unmarried. For you, Hell is being unmarried and your savior will be a spouse. And so you keep looking for someone to worship, to give yourself to so that they will save you. For some of you, you are lonely and your Hell is loneliness, and so you choose for yourself a savior, a friend, a group of friends or a pet because you’ve tried the friends and they’re not dependable. And you worship that pet. You worship that friend. You worship that group of friends. You will do anything for them because they are your functional savior, saving you from your Hell. That is, by definition, idolatry. It is having created people and created things in the place of the creator God for ultimate allegiance, value and worth.

So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get incredibly personal. This will get painfully uncomfortable if I do my job well. I’m going to ask you some probing questions. We’re going to try to get to the root of your idols and mine and I am guilty. I was sitting at breakfast this morning. My wife said, “So what is your idol?” I was like, “Hey, I’m eating breakfast! Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about that.” I’m the pastor. I preach. I don’t get preached at. Eating bacon. Don’t ruin it. You know, it’s going good., And I told her, I said, “Honey, I think for me, my idol is victory.” Man, I am an old jock. More old than jock, lately, but I – I’m a guy who is highly competitive. Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything – because I want to win. I don’t want to just be where I’m at. I don’t want anything to be where it’s at. And so for me it is success and drivenness and it is productivity and it is victory that drives me constantly. I – that’s my own little idol and it works well in a church because no one would ever yell at you for being a Christian who produces results. So I found the perfect place to hide.

And I was thinking about it this week. What if the church stopped growing? What if we shrunk? What if everything fell apart? What if half the staff left? Would I still worship Jesus or would I be a total despairing mess? I don’t know. By God’s grace, I won’t have to find out, but you never know. [emphasis added] So we’re going to look for your idols, too. Some questions. Think about it. Be honest with me. What are you most afraid of? What is your greatest fear? See, that probably tells you what your idol is. Sometimes your idol is the thing that you’re scared of not having, not being, not doing. What are you scared of? You scared that you’ll be alone? Are you scared that no one will ever love you? Are you scared that you will be found out that you’re not all that smart? Are you scared that you’ll be stuck in the same dead-end job forever? What are you afraid of?

By God's grace he'd never have to find out, huh?

What about now?  Would giving Mark Driscoll another shot at planting another church simply feed into his idolatry, if we go by what Driscoll said about himself a decade ago?  Would battling the idol of victory for Mark Driscoll look less like helping him launch a church in Phoenix without having addressed what happened in Seattle and more like asking that he spend five years or so out of ministry to learn what it means to be the kind of submitted church member he spent almost two decades telling other people to be?  Maybe ... .

Mark's read the Bible so he's got to remember that the God of the Bible promised that Israel would sin in a way that would compel them into exile for a good long time.  When Abraham asked for some assurance how he would know he would be father to many the proof was what?  Something about hw Abraham's descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for centuries.  The trouble with Mark's idol of victory is not just that his real idol behind victory might be prestige, but that Jesus embraced the cross, and God has a history of sending His people into exile.  You don't get to choose the terms of your exile. That exile gets providentially chosen for you and delivered to you.  That Driscoll has had so much control over how he's been able to leave and how he intends to come back might be a providential argument against the possibility that his idolatry of victory has really taken a blow. After all, Driscoll opted to quit as membership declined. 

Mark Driscoll Ministries has the old Mars Hill Doctrine series from 2008, replete with the egregiously inaccurate bunk scholarship on the Targum Neofiti (misdated date, misrepresented content)

Yes, regular readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet probably know this already, but we've discussed the wildly irresponsible claims made by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears regarding the Targum Neofiti as allegedly presenting a Jewish proposal of a Trinitarian conception of Yahweh predating the birth of Christ by centuries, and we've done this before.

However ... since Mark Driscoll Ministries has seen fit to bring back the old debunked garbage it's worth revisiting.  The MDM team has had at least a year to fix this and hasn't, obviously.  So ... since Drsicoll let the posse bring back the content the same way it was presented back in 2008 ...
Starts about 23:00 in

Now, what I want to share with you now is super exciting to me ‘cause I’m a total – I’m kind of a geek. And I really like – I really like the Bible and I like learning things I did not know. And I learned something this week that I did not know. It comes from Dr. Gerry Breshears, who’s a dear friend of mine and my co-author on Vintage Jesus and some other books. He’s the head of theology at Western Seminary in Portland. And what he showed me was – he sent this to me, it’s called the Targum Neofiti. It’s from roughly 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Now, let me tell you what a targum is, okay? A targum was an accepted Jewish translation and reading of the Old Testament, okay? And the Jewish scholars would translate, read the Old Testament and they would write them down as accepted targums. Now this targum – again, think is through – is 200 years before the birth of Jesus, more than 200 years before the Christian church in its present form came into existence, 500 years before something we’ll get to call the Council of Nicea where the Christian theologians officially declared the doctrine of the Trinity as true orthodoxy. Hundreds of years prior, here is the Targum Neofiti.

Genesis 1:1-2, it declared, “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – who’s that? That’s Jesus. That’s the same language we find in the New Testament. Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and he is the firstborn – that’s preeminence. That’s prominence. That’s rulership over all creation. “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – Jesus – “God” – that’s the Father – “created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” I can show that there were Jews who were waiting for the coming of Jesus Messiah who loved and studied the Bible – 200 years before the coming of Jesus interpreted Genesis 1, the opening line of the Bible, and Genesis 2 to be Trinitarian. That the Father through Jesus Christ, the preeminent firstborn Son, along with the Holy Spirit created everything. Trinitarian.

To all that the scholars Robert Cargill, Christian Brady, and Scott Bailey could be said to have replied "No", "No" and "Hell no" respective to their usual blogging tones. Brady, in particular, as an Aramaic targum scholar, has been in a good position to point out that Driscoll (and Breshears) claim the rabbinical commentary on Genesis was written in the second centure BCE when it is generally accepted as written in the second century CE.  I.e. 2 centuries BC is four centuries too early for something scholars agree was written in the 2nd century AD, for folks who are old school.  Driscoll opens out the gate misrepresenting (at best) or lying (at worst) when the commentary on Genesis was written. 

Brady closed his friendly post with:

Feel free to offer other comments on the video. For the first time I have actually left comments on a YouTube video because I think this is so egregious. And for those who don’t know me as well and to be open and clear, I do believe in the Trinity, I just abhor bad sermons and errors.  [emphasis mine]

That Driscoll's been recycling stuff is hardly a surprise, even if he at one point warned from the pulpit against those guys who only have a few years' worth of preaching in them, move on, and start recycling content.  But, even if we take the most generous approach here about his time away to get "healed up", he had time to cut out some of the most ridiculous, dishonest and irresponsible pseudo-scholarship in works published with his name on them.  Simply not providing a transcript of the sermon (anymore) is not the same as having retracted stupid pseudo-scholarship and admitting you said garbage that proved you didn't know what you were talking about.

Throckmorton posts an old video interview question from Tim Gaydos to Mark Driscoll, a few thoughts on risk liability variables

Driscoll said in the interview, for those who listened to it, he was concerned he'd gum up the works through pride.  Well, no worries about whether that was going to be an issue, it seems, here in the first official year without a Mars Hill to speak of.

But what's interesting is that Driscoll mentioned the next level of risk was the campus pastors.  If the campus pastor was "a good guy" then there was no trouble but campuses and their leadership could, as Driscoll put it, go rogue. The year of the interview wasn't specified but it'd be interesting to verify whether Mars Hill had campus budgets distinct from central operational activity at the date of the interview.  One of the things people attested to over the years to journalists was that the farther along Mars Hill got the more centralized everything became. 

Historically speaking, it seems that within the culture of Mars Hill worries about a potential rogue campus went back as far as at least 2007.  Jonna Petry's account of her last years at Mars Hill indicates that an executive elder from 2007 indicated that the nascent Wedgwood campus could be a prime candidate for a campus that could split off because of the popularity of people in leadership.
Then something happened in late January or February. There was a shift. Mark had been seeking all kinds of information and strategy help for another reorganization plan in order to “grow the church to the ‘next level’” and had recently had meetings with Larry Osborn[e] in California amongst others. Paul had one meeting with the executive elders about taking on the lead pastor role at Wedgwood. One Executive Elder, Steve Tompkins, insinuated that Paul had many people who looked up to him in the church and that could potentially lead to a church split. Steve asked Paul what he had to say about that. Paul was really shocked and hurt at the poison of this remark and no doubt this had something to do with the outcome. [emphasis added]

Many drastic changes occurred in the spring of 2007. Mark pressured all the elected executive elders [with the exception of Jamie Munson] to resign their posts, saying a new structure was necessary.
Jonna Petry's account went on to clarify that Petry was bumped from being pastor at Wedgwood and James Harleman was made campus pastor there, instead.  Whether or not that assuaged any concerns that Wedgwood could be a rogue campus has never been clarified because the campus, obviously, closed years ago.  Still, ,in the trenches, so to speak, there were some surmises that if any of the campuses was capable of being financially self-sufficient enough to be its own church the Wedgwood/Lake City campus seemed like a candidate.

For as  long as Driscoll was telling Gaydos he worried about himself going off the rails the history of Mars Hill seems to have more cases where top level leadership was worried that campus pastors could have enough influence and popularity to defy the executive level leadership.