Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sutton Turner clarifies two questions regarding "bullet proof vest?" and severance pay correction, there was a severance pay some time after a Ballard sale

While I had not intended to post about this topic until I had more time to assemble background material, Turner has published the interview in two parts and also, more recently, published a clarifying statement.  Plus, this particular sunny Sunday the heat proper has not kicked in yet, so before it gets into the early 90s, let's get this out of the way. 

For those who haven't read the interview ... 

Discussing the interview itself is still an incubating project. However, I want to highlight that there have since been two clarifications from Turner at his blog, published August 5, 2020.  There were two points Turner wanted to clarify, corrections sent his way about two questions: 1) did Driscoll wear a bulletproof vest? (Turner and Bruskas couldn't remember ever seeing that) and 2) what severance payout did Driscoll get after resignation (Turner didn't recall there being the funds for such a thing in later 2014 while he was still there).  There are corrections given by Turner to both those statements and it is those corrections we'll look at in some detail. I'm aware that some view Turner or Bruskas or both as spinning things.  That's possible but ... having chronicled the life and times of Mars Hill off and on for ... a decade ... Turner's corrections do not contradict anything I've managed to document here and the corrections he's given show that, as he admitted in the larger interview, there WAS stuff he didn't have access to on some questions.  So ... read Turner's statement that is reproduced after the break if you want to read more:

2 Points to Clarify: Interview with Warren Throckmorton and Dave BruskasBy Sutton Turner 
Since my interview with Warren Throckmorton and Dave Bruskas (Part 1Part 2), several former elders and staff members of Mars Hill Church have reached out to me in order to clarify my understanding of an event and a financial transaction. I wish to share these details publicly while making it clear I was not an eyewitness to the event nor was I privy to documentation verifying the transaction. However, I do believe that these corrections are necessary for the sake of transparency. 
BulletProof Vest
I stated in the interview that I personally attended Mark preaching 99.9% of the time between mid-2011 through August 2014. At no time did I ever see Mark wear a bulletproof vest. However, I have spoken with a former staff member who was with Mark when he purchased a bulletproof vest in 2008. This same staff member observed Mark wearing the vest once while preaching that same year. [emphasis added]
I stated in the interview that when I resigned from Mars Hill Church in September 2014, there was very little money left to fund operations through the end of the year. Based on the cash position at that time, there simply were not enough available funds to provide a large payout. However, I have come to learn from previous Mars Hill staff members that Mark received twelve months’ worth of severance following the sale of real estate in Ballard less than the purchase price of the server managing his content in 2015. [emphasis added]
Let's take the corrections in order and consider what has been chronicled here and elsewhere about Driscoll's statements and teaching in 2008 around the time a former staff member indicated to Turner that Mark Driscoll had  purchased a bulletproof vest in 2008 that he was seen wearing at least once while preaching that same year; and then proceed to the matter of the answer Turner gave to the "payout" question in the interview with Throckmorton this year.


Without any timeline for when the purchase was reported being made, and bearing in mind that Turner did not identify the former staff member of Mars Hill who 1) would have been in a position to both know that Driscoll purchased a bulletproof vest and 2) seen him wear it given a surmise that the anonymous source is accurate, we can nevertheless establish that early in 2008 Mark Driscoll gave his extensive 2008 spiritual warfare series to pastors and staff at Mars Hill in February during which session he talked about how there was a demonic lie going about that the executive elders didn't love the people of Mars Hill, which I have discussed at length elsewhere.  It's worth quoting at length, however, to provide some sense of how Driscoll talked within the leadership circle of Mars Hill in early 2008 in the wake of the termination and trials and removal of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer because, as I have written elsewhere, Driscoll revealed how he regarded many of the women who wanted to be friends with his wife as satanic:

February 5, 2008Pastor Mark DriscollPart 2: The Devil
49:58How about this one? Idle gossip and busybodying. 1 Timothy 5:11-15. THIS one is amazing. Ladies this one is especially for you. Some of you say, "Oh, it's not me." Yeah, it is. [emphasis added] 1 Timothy 5:11-15, "but refuse to enroll younger widows for when their passions draw them away from Christ they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.  Besides that they learn to be idlers"  Women learn how to make a lot of free time. Going about from house to house. Well now it would be from email to email and from phone call to phone call. Technology makes idle busybodying far more effective than ever.
And not only idlers but also gossips. They like to talk about people. How are you doing? What are you doing? And this isn't sisterly accountability, this is "I need to know what everybody's doing because I like to know what everybody's doing and then I can tell other people what other people are doing and then I can say, `Hey, you need to pray for so-and-so.' and I can make it sound spiritual so that when I'm gossiping and busy-bodying I'm doing so in a way that seems really Jesus-like." And busybodies, they need to know what everybody's doing. They need to know what everybody's doing, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children and manage their household, right? Stay busy, and give the adversary (that's Satan) no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. Hmm.
A woman who's a gossip and a busybody; a woman who has to put her nose in everybody's business and knows what everybody's going on; know what they're doing, she's working with Satan. Now I know most women would say: "No, no, no. I'm not Satanic, I'm concerned. I'm not Satanic, I'm an intercessor. I'm a prayer warrior. I'm not Satanic, I'm an accountability partner.  I'm not Satanic, I'm a concerned friend."  Okay, you're a Satanic intercessory prayer warrior accountability partner concerned friend but just start the whole list with "Satanic" so that we don't misunderstand your job description. 
Now there's a difference between someone inviting you into their life and saying, "I want to be friends, I want to have an accountable  relationship." and you pushing yourself into everyone's life, okay?  I'll tell you, in the history of Mars Hill, I mean, I have had to put up a firewall, a moat, guard dogs, and a high wall with barbed wire on the top, and snipers behind it, around my wife. There are certain women who, they just need to know what Grace is doing and they are determined, they say things like, uh, "Hey, we need to have dinner with your family."
[slight chuckle] No you don't."Hey, we need to have coffee."No you don't. "Hey, phone number." What? Nope."Email." Nope. 
Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.
"Oh, come on." Nope."But I thought you were our pastor."I am and my first lesson is to tell you you're Satanic."Oh, come on, in our last church the pastor's wife [sob] she was my best friend and I got to talk to her all the time."
Well, she was Satanic, too.  Give me her number, I'll call her and tell her. We'll help her out.
You ladies KNOW these women. Right? How many of you ladies know these women? They will try first with the hyper-spiritual, "Oh, praise the Lord! I'd love to pray for you. Let's get together. Let's do Christian community. Let's go to heart." If you decline, then they emotionally manipulate, [inhales, sobbing voice], "I thought we were friends, I thought you loved me. I don't have anybody to talk to." It's all manipulation. It's FEMALE manipulation.  Some of you ladies, right now? You think, "I can't believe he said that." It's all true. It's Satanic, Satanic.
Paul says, "Don't be a busybody, stay busy." Right? Your husband, your kids, your family, your home, Jesus Christ. You got things to do.
Busybodies stay busy inserting themselves into everyone else's life. In some churches there are certain women, if you call them, they'll know everything that's going on because, somehow, they know everything. There's a difference between being a woman who is invited into someone's life for friendship, prayer and accountability, and a woman who emotionally manipulates and is pushy and is sometimes hyperspiritual and demanding and forces herself in because she's a drama queen and has to be at the center of all the drama. That is a Satanic woman.
You need to believe that and the worst thing you can do is accomodate her. Okay, we'll have you over for dinner once. And then, the next month, it's "Okay, buddy, we haven't been together in a month. We need to get together again. I'm sure a lot has happened in your life and I don't know what it is and I need to know because I need to know everything. I have a God complex of omniscience. I want to know everything about everybody." And what you find with these people, Paul says, they tend to be gossips, meaning you don't just talk to them, then they talk to other people.  "Well, did you know their marriage is struggling? Did you know that she's depressed?  Did you know that  she's post-partum?  Do you know that, sexually, her husband's impotent?" These are the conversations I've heard in this building. Really?
Sometimes womens' ministry is the cesspool that this kind of activity flourishes in. Some have asked, "Why don't you have womens' ministry?" The answer is we do, but it's, you have to be very careful, it's like juggling knives. You put the wrong women in charge of womens' ministry, the drama queen, the gossip mama, all of a sudden all the women come together, tell her everything, she becomes the pseudo-elder  quasi-matriarch; she's got the dirt on everybody and sometimes the women all get together to just rip on their husbands in the name of prayer requests. Happens all the time. Happens all the time.  We have worked very hard so that the women who teach here are like Wendy Alsup who I really love and appreciate and respect. She's not like that. It is not that no woman should lead, that no woman should teach, that no woman should in a position of authority over other women  under the authority of their husband, Jesus and the elders it's just that the wrong women tend to want it. The wrong women tend to want it and they tend to want it for the wrong reasons. And sometimes it's the humble woman, who isn't fighting to be the center of drama, control and power; who doesn't have to be up front; she's usually the one who is most capable and qualified.  [emphases added]
And for you single men as well I would say be very, very careful because if you're on staff at Mars Hill  (everything I say sounds terrible, this will just be added to the pile) there are certain women who will tell you, "I want to marry a pastor." Really? You should want to marry a Christian who loves Jesus, loves you, loves your kids should God give them to you. I've lectured enough Bible colleges and seminaries, the young women who come up and say, "I want to marry a pastor"  my immediate default question is, "Are you a gossip? Are you a busybody? Are you a drama queen?" "No. No, I feel called to serve the Lord."  Well, you can serve the Lord without being called to be a pastor's wife in fact, take it from me, it's easier to be a woman and serve the Lord than being married to a pastor.   You single  guys, you gotta be careful, man. There are some women, they want to marry the pastor so they can be the center of power, authority; they can be the first lady; everybody knows them, everybody wants to be their friend, everybody wants to tell them everything; and they can be the center of all the drama. Run for your life. Run for your life. Run for your life. It's Satanic.
See?  I need you women to really search your own heart. Are you Satanic? Is this still part of your flesh, this sick desire in you to know everybody's business? I'm not saying you don't have friends but how much are you on the internet? How much time do you spend emailing? How much time do you spend crying and freaking out and knowing everybody's business and on the phone and having to meet with people because, "Did you know so-and-so did such-and-such and so-and-so is feeling this way and did you--?" Are you the center of LOTS of activity? Why? It's Satanic. It's Satanic. I think I've made my point. 

That teaching, however, was not as public in 2008 as statements made by Mark Driscoll in 2008 during the Peasant Princess sermon series.

There was also what Driscoll referred to as the block list for his wife's emails:
It would start about 33:40

... and this is an ENORMOUS part of my relationship with Grace.  I mean I still remember when I first started seeing her she, uh, she went off to college, I was still in high school and they ran out of housing so they put her in a guys' dorm. And I was like, "What!?" so I got in the car and I drove to the university and I knocked on all the doors of all the guys on her floor. "Hi. My name is Mark. I love this woman. Anyone talks to her, touches her,  thinks about talking about touching her I will beat them. Literally I threatened twenty guys. Just knocked on every door. No way she's gonna get messed with. No way.
[WtH: to go by the audience laughter Mark Driscoll threatening twenty guys with assault was both chivalrous and funny, disappointing, to put it nicely]
Later on when she transferred to another university, WSU, she's five hours away. And she moved out there and her phone wasn't hooked up yet and we didn't have cell phones. And I told her, "When you get there, go to a pay phone. Call me. Let me know you got there safe."  Well she ... didn't call so I got in the car and I drove there. Five hours.  The day I had to work. And I knocked on the door. She answered it and I said, "Whu, you didn't call." She said, "I forgot." I said, "Are you okay?" She said, "I'm okay." So, okay, good, I got in the car and I drove home. Just checking. Six hundred miles.  Who cares? It's Grace.
[WtH: this has been commented on by others and so it's merely worth noting that a cumulative ten hour road trip because Grace didn't call him sounds weird.
... even emotionally, people send her nasty emails, text messages, talk trash about me, leave the church and want to take parting shots at her. She has nothing to do with any of it. So I even put a white/black list on her email and some people so some people can email her and the rest come to me. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. So that she doesn't have to feel bad because people are taking shots at her. That's my girl. No shots. That's the rule.

Somewhere in the zone of 2004-2006 there was an incident where someone had swung by the Ballard campus and fired on the windows with some kind of pellet gun.  This I know because when I met up with friends from my community group at the Ballard campus to go to a Ravi Zacharias speaking event we saw there were bullet holes in the glass at the front of the Ballard campus, well, pellet holes.  Justin Dean recently said in a podcast discussion that if Mars Hill did still exist in the Puget Sound area he guessed there would be people who would try to vandalize the churches (vandalism of churches is a newsworthy topic even if it isn't necessarily covered in the press but that's all by way of digression).  While Driscoll comes across in the above quoted passages as viewing women who wanted to be friends with his wife as satanic and as having created a white/black list for her so that only some people could email her and everything else went to him to delete, and this could seem paranoid and controlling, some background such as the above and the bowie knife incident (not a machete) can explain why Driscoll decided he needed to invest in a bulletproof vest some time in 2008.  

In other words, there are ex-Mars Hill people or Mark Driscoll adversaries who may be so reflexively distrusting of accounts they assume everything is spin when they lack the interest in plodding through a lot of material to assess the plausibility of some accounts.  That Driscoll was fearful enough to believe he needed a bulletproof vest is relatively easy to believe.  Given how combative his public persona was from 2000 through 2011 it can still seem a bit paranoid but I'm not a self-designated celebrity preacher.

So, Turner has shared that he was corrected on the matter of the bulletproof vest.  Just because Turner never saw Mark Driscoll wear one doesn't mean Driscoll didn't have one.  What might be worth saying for the record is that just because some time in 2008 Driscoll was wearing a bulletproof vest doesn't necessarily mean he kept wearing it on Sundays each year thereafter.  It's a bit much to, say, assume that up to this very Sunday Mark has a bulletproof vest on at The Trinity Church unless someone who currently attends there were to say such a thing has been done.

Now, the other follow up involves the question of whether there was a "payout", a severance package for Driscoll.  This is another case where  a reflex to distrust Sutton Turner's account is just that, a reflex.  I've slogged through more material related to Mars Hill than ... a lot of people ... and I have had my differences of conviction with Turner but I've let him correct misunderstandings and factual mistakes here at the blog.  So, when Turner told Throckmorton he didn't see that there were numbers good enough to make a severance package for Driscoll feasible that makes sense given what Turner would have been in a position to see in the fall of 2014.  For everyone else who didn't go through the headlines, leaked documents or consult King County Assessor property records, all this stuff that is boring review for me might actually be new for you.  

The Ballard Big Box went on the market as early as October 11, 2014

Earlier, I reported that Mars Hill Sammamish is on the market. The tweet above links to a listing for Mars Hill Ballard. 
Tomorrow is the first day of the planned combination of Mars Hill University District (also for sale, although I have heard it sold), and Mars Hill Downtown with Mars Hill Ballard. They will be meeting in a building which is on the market. 
The listing, like the Sammamish one, hopes for a buyer which will lease the building back to the church. The church clearly needs cash and is willing to give up assets in order to maintain the location. It may be that there are potential buyers who would prefer to own something for their money rather than simply donate it to Mars Hill Church.The building is also on the market as a possible lease situation with another tenant using the building from Monday through Saturday. 
According to the listing, Ballard has a new name — Ballard Big Box. In fact, none of the listings for Mars Hill properties have the church name on the listing.
That date, October 11, 2014, is something to keep in mind because it showed that Mars Hill was already trying to sell off real estate even before Mark Driscoll resigned (the resignation letter was dated October 14, 2014)

By February 15, 2015 the were reports of an interested buyer for the Ballard campus.

Mars Hill Ballard had transformed into Cross and Crown by then, as documented here.

Quest Church ended up paying 9 million for the former Mars Hill Ballard campus

The 50th street corporate headquarters property was never sold and the deed was given to the bank in lieu of foreclosure, as best I can recall.

As Turner noted, he resigned at a stage where he wasn't necessarily privy to a lot of financial information but the numbers he did see did not convince him a "payout" was practical.  For those who don't recall, as Warren Throckmorton chronicled, Sutton Turner resigned in September 2014.

So it makes sense that Turner would have surveyed the financials and concluded a severance package would not be possible.  After all, Mars Hill was in a position where its leadership felt obliged to put Mars Hill Ballard (Big Box) on the market in the days before Mark Driscoll announced his resignation.  However, given the sales of real estate, it also makes sense, as Turner noted recently, that when a profitable sale was possible for Mars Hill that then a severance payment became possible.

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