Washington State Attorney General May Examine Complaints from Mars Hill Global Donors

According to this report at the blog Sola Sisters, the Washington state Attorney General may investigate the questionable practices associated with Mars Hill Global.

According to former Mars Hill attendee Dean Watkins:

I just got off the phone with someone from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. They have spent some time trying to figure out how to have accountability for the Global Fund issue. As a church, Mars Hill is exempt from filing with the Secretary of State. But under RCW 19.09 “Charitable Solicitations,” whether or not an organization is exempt from filing with the Secretary of State, they must still comply with the law.

The chain of procedure is for Global Fund contributors to first go to the Attorney General’s office, who would then forward to the IRS, if upon examination they felt there was enough evidence to warrant doing so.

For Mars Hill attendees, both former and present, if you at one time contributed to the Global Fund, and you are concerned that the money might have been used incorrectly, please follow the link and file a complaint online. Also, if you do file a complaint please be aware that it will become public record. In the complaint you may even want to mention some of the desired outcomes.

A complaint form can be found at the AG’s website according to the blog post:

If you are a Mars Hill attendee or former Mars Hill attendee who contributed tithe money to the Global Fund, and you would like to request that this fund be examined, please follow this link – General Consumer Complaint Form. Please also feel free to forward this link to those you know who might have also contributed to the Global Fund.

 

Michael Peroutka Should Elaborate on Reasons He Quit the League of the South

I heard early yesterday that former League of the South board member Michael Peroutka and leader of the theocratic Institute on the Constitution quit the organization. In an article dated today in the Baltimore Sun, Peroutka is quoted as saying he quit the League. He declined to give reasons.
Update: Somehow I missed this section from the Sun article (comments in italics added on 10/18)

Peroutka, a Millersville Republican, said he left the group prior to Labor Day because he discovered statements members made on the subject of being opposed to interracial marriage were “contrary to my beliefs.” He would not elaborate.

I saw the article as soon as it was posted the night before; perhaps this section was added. In any case, I apologize for the omission.
Peroutka’s “discovery” is suspicious. The League has made no secret about white separatist views and Peroutka has been going to and speaking at League of the South meetings since at least 2004 when the organization endorsed his candidacy for president. 
After defending the League of the South early in his campaign for Anne Arundel County Council, Peroutka now suddenly announces he is no longer a member and he doesn’t want to talk about it. To me, that is not sufficient. Peroutka needs to further explain his reasons for first defending and then quitting a group which defends white separatism, especially since that group does not hide those views. Although Peroutka says the move was not for political reasons, without a more plausible explanation there is no reason to believe him.
Peroutka also told the Sun that he was taken out of context when he led the audience in singing the song “I Wish I Was in Dixie” at a League of the South meeting. He called the song the “national anthem.” The entire video is on You Tube (see below). He wasn’t taken out of context. That he continues to spin the situation is an indicator that he is still not being straightforward.
Peroutka even wrote League of the South president Michael Hill when he won the GOP primary for county council and asked for League support. Perhaps the League didn’t come through.
Furthermore, I have heard from a source close to the situation that Peroutka continues to support candidates who have ties to the League of the South, most notably the GOP candidate for sheriff Joe Delimater.
David Whitney, the co-teacher at the Institute on the Constitution, is still listed as chaplain of the Maryland-Virginia chapter of the League of the South.
It is quite possible that Peroutka quit the League in order to preserve his connection to Ken Ham. Ham is supposed to present his creationist position on behalf of Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution this coming weekend. Ham’s organization denied Peroutka was a member of the League and refused to address clear evidence that Peroutka did belong to it. Perhaps, Ham threatened to back out if Peroutka remained a member.
If Peroutka wants this move to be taken seriously, he needs to do better than he has so far and explain his departure from the League.
Watch Peroutka lead the League of the South in Dixie, or in Peroutka’s words, the national anthem.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/mPhRtS0WdcU?t=50m36s[/youtube]
 
 

ECFA Tells World Magazine Mars Hill Global In Compliance With Guidelines; Purges Another Page From Website

Yesterday, prior to Mark Driscoll’s resignation announcement, Warren Smith posted an article at World magazine which summarizes many of the controversies surrounding Mars Hill Church.  In it, Smith tells of statements made by Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability about Mars Hill.

The ECFA’s Dan Busby told me in July that his group reviewed Mars Hill Global and found it to be in compliance with ECFA standards. In September, a week after Driscoll announced his sabbatical and the church announced its review of his behavior, Busby said, “ECFA will let the church complete their review. Then, ECFA will be in a position to determine if our separate review of the same issues is warranted.”

The ECFA’s statement regarding Mars Hill Global is useless without explanation. Essentially, the ECFA is asking the public to accept their word. No explanation or rationale was provided as required by their own principles (now purged from their website).  Just a couple of days ago, ECFA promised:

ECFA’s only public relations contacts are its President (or his designee) and Board Chair. While they will protect confidential and proprietary information, they will communicate publicly that a Compliance Review is in process or has been completed, what the Standards of concern are or were, and the final decision once the Compliance Review has been completed.

Another page (which is also now missing – see cache) promised that all allegations which involved their guidelines would be investigated.
ecfacomplaintsFAQ
 
I have raised several issues about Mars Hill’s lack of compliance with ECFA guidelines and the ECFA has never suggested mediation. All I have gotten is an assurance that everything is as it should be without explanation. I don’t know of anyone who has leveled a complaint with the ECFA who was pointed to mediation.
Since I raised the issue of a public statement with Dan Busby, there has been no response from the ECFA except to purge two pages from the ECFA website. I know of no direct response to the hundreds of people who have signed the ECFA/Mars Hill petitions which request increased transparency from both groups. It is amazing that people would have to beg for an organization to live up to its name.
 

What now Mars Hill? What will the season of severance be like?

Now that Mark Driscoll has resigned, it is natural to wonder what happens next at Mars Hill Church.
Succession
In the summer of 2012, the church leadership considered what might happen in case Driscoll could not continue as pastor. While it is not clear if this plan was adopted, it was proposed that Dave Bruskas take over as preaching pastor and the Board of Advisors and Accountability make a decision to either hire a replacement for Driscoll or give more autonomy to the lead pastors at the  remaining Mars Hill locations. A meeting of the Full Council of Elders was also recommended as part of the plan.
Governance
For now it appears that the BOAA will remain the final authority of the church, although I have heard that the Board of Elders is considering making recommendations to the governance. Any such changes would require the BOAA to vote itself out of authority. A vote to return the church to governance led by a internal board of elders would be a sign of significant change at the church.
Identity
Since Driscoll had declared himself to be the brand at Mars Hill, it is unclear now what distinguishes Mars Hill from other churches. Make no mistake there are many talented and caring people still at the church, but an identity crisis might be in store for the church.
Severance
In light of the statements from the church and Driscoll, it is unclear whether he resigned with or without reason. If he resigned because the BOAA planned to demote him from president of the church or as primary preacher, then, according to those familiar with the terms of his arrangement with the church, he could choose to resign immediately with written notice (which he gave on Tuesday). Otherwise he has 180 days after Tuesday’s written notice until his employment officially ends. However, at any time during that period, the BOAA can ask him to leave earlier if they decide that would be best. In either case, according to the terms I have seen, Driscoll is entitled to 12 months of base salary and benefits post-employment.
Driscoll’s base salary at present is known only to the BOAA. Despite the fact, that tithes and offerings of non-voting members pay the bills, executive compensation is one of the most carefully guarded secrets at Mars Hill. According to internal memos I have reviewed, Driscoll’s base salary and housing allowance for 2012 was somewhere between $500 and 565k with another $100k raise recommended for 2013 (I don’t know if that raise was approved). It seems very likely that raises since 2012 have lifted the current figure much higher. If my sources are correct, then the church will not realize any savings from Driscoll’s resignation for at least a year.
Finances
The church is in financial trouble. However, I have been told by those familiar with the situation that the church has been assisted in recent days by significant financial help from some deep pockets. If donations stay about the same or continue to drop, the next cliff could come by the end of the calendar year.
Board of Elders Report
There are other unanswered questions which I suspect will be of interest to stakeholders. For instance, what does the Board of Elders report say? What did they have to say about the allegations? Will there now be an investigation of the BOAA as promised by Mark DeMoss? In my judgment, at the least, an executive summary of the BOE report should made available.
Allegations Against Board of Advisors and Accountability
A careful examination of the BOAA letter does not reveal the BOE’s assessment of the Driscoll investigation. The BOAA only reported the opinions of the independent members of the BOAA. Remember, only Matt Rogers (one of the BOAA members) did any interviewing or investigating, and he had already made up his mind before the investigation. The other three members did not investigate. The report may have come to conclusions which were rejected or altered by the BOAA. Although overlooked of late, the credibility of the BOAA was called into question by nine sitting Mars Hill pastors. Members and the public (those podcasters and non-Seattle fans) need to know they are hearing truth from those now leading the church. Until the charges by the nine pastors are investigated, a cloud sits over the BOAA’s public statements.
More Charges?
After Driscoll’s resignation, some additional people may feel comfortable coming forward. I personally know people who feel that way. If disqualifying factors are learned during the year long severance period, would that change the terms of separation between Driscoll and the church?
There are other matters of concern for members, former members, and other interested stakeholders. I hope readers will raise some in the comments section and, for members, with their remaining pastors.
 

Mark Driscoll Resigns From Mars Hill Church (UPDATED)

UPDATES: See updates at the end of this post.

This was just posted on Mars Hill’s The City and Mars Hill’s website:

Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation

Mars Hill Church
From Mars Hill Church:

On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.

As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.

While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:

We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.

Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership. We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.

Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.

We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.

We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.”

Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”

Mars Hill Board of Overseers

Michael Van Skaik

Larry Osborne

Jon Phelps

Matt Rogers

Watch for more news related to this announcement, including the church’s plan for a post-Mark Driscoll future.

Resignation letter from Mark Driscoll:

October 14, 2014
Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability
Mars Hill Church

Dear Michael:

By God’s grace I have pastored Mars Hill Church for 18 years. Today, also by God’s grace, and with the full support of my wife Grace, I resign my position as a pastor and elder of Mars Hill. I do so with profound sadness, but also with complete peace.
On August 24th I announced to our Mars Hill family of churches that I had requested a leave of absence from the pulpit and the office for a minimum of six weeks while a committee of elders conducted a formal review of charges made against me by various people in recent times. Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me. I want to thank you for assuring Grace and me that last Saturday that I had not disqualified myself from ministry.

You have shared with us that this committee spent more than 1,000 hours reviewing documents and interviewing some of those who had presented charges against me. You have also shared with me that many of those making charges against me declined to meet with you or participate in the review process at all. Consequently, those conducting the review of charges against me began to interview people who had not even been a party to the charges.

I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry. Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.

Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill. Grace and I pledge our full support in this process and will join you in praying for God’s best for this, His church, in the days and years ahead. Grace and I would also covet your prayers for us as we seek God’s will for the next chapter of our lives. Therefore, consider this written notice of my voluntary termination of employment.

Finally, it would be my hope to convey to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor Jesus Christ who has always been only good to us.

Sincerely,
Pastor Mark Driscoll

This was first posted at Religion News Service.

There had been rumblings of a resignation for several days but nothing that could be confirmed. The church has a plan in place in the event of a Driscoll resignation. The situation is so fluid that it will be interesting to see if they follow it.

According to those familiar with Driscoll’s employment agreement, this “written notice of my voluntary termination of employment” is important because it triggers a very generous termination package of one year of base salary and benefits.

Former Mars Hill Church Pastors Announce the Formation of Redemption Church in Seattle

Ryan Kearns and Drew Hensley, two of the nine pastors who called on Mark Driscoll to enter a elder supervised restoration plan, are starting a new church in Seattle. Earlier today, Kearned tweeted an announcement of the formation of Redemption Church.

A New Church Family Forming In North Seattle
Our hope for Redemption Church is that we would be a tangible place where people see the grace of God lived out in the life of his people. That as we make disciples and love each other, our city would be attracted to the transforming story of God’s redemption that is offered in the good news of the Gospel. We pray deeply that we are a safe place for everyone, the skeptic, the tired, the wounded, the religious, and the confused. That we would trust Jesus to do his work and thank him for letting us watch him show off.

Kearns and Hensley took a risk by voicing their concerns about Mars Hill leadership and eventually left the church in the fallout. Hensley’s University District campus was closed recently and Kearns was laid off in the most recent wave of downsizing.
In this new endeavor, I hope they get time to process their experiences of the past few years. I also wish the best for them and this effort.

Amid the Mars Hill Church Controversies, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Goes Quiet, Purges Website

I don’t understand the approach of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to the controversies surrounding Mars Hill Church.
Two petitions signed by hundreds have called on the ECFA to address financial accountability at Mars Hill Church. Numerous people, including many former and current Mars Hill members and donors, have written the ECFA asking for answers regarding Mars Hill’s Global Fund. I have written several emails requesting on the record comments about Mars Hill. Recently, silence is the answer.
Then on Monday, October 13, I wrote this email to Dan Busby, President of the ECFA:

Dan:
According to this information:
http://www.ecfa.org/Content/2MembManComplaintsCompliance:

  • ECFA’s only public relations contacts are its President (or his designee) and Board Chair. While they will protect confidential and proprietary information, they will communicate publicly that a Compliance Review is in process or has been completed, what the Standards of concern are or were, and the final decision once the Compliance Review has been completed.

According to Justin Dean, the ECFA examined the dealings of Mars Hill Church regarding the Global Fund.
“I’m sure you’ll appreciate that we submit to outside CPA firms to review our financials, as well as submit to the ECFA who has reviewed our financials and in particular has reviewed in detail our donations from our Global audience and all communications and efforts around Global.”
Is this true? And did you communicate the results publicly? If so, where?
Thank you, Warren Throckmorton

Mars Hill spokesman Justin Dean had made this statement about the ECFA and the Global Fund as a part of a conversation with Alex Terry which is reported in a post on Monday.
Then, yesterday, a commenter let me know that the Complaints page is no longer available.
ECFANoComplaintsPage
The Google cache of the page is still available and I have the page saved.
I wrote to ask Dan Busby why the page was removed. No answer as yet.
If enforced, this principles on the missing page would address some of my concerns about the ECFA. For instance:

Standards that are not respected by members or that are violated – whether through ignorance or intentionally – and go unenforced lose their effectiveness in demonstrating God-honoring ethical practice.
Just as ECFA’s Standards stress members’ integrity and honesty in action and in communication with the public with certain obligations of disclosure, ECFA will conduct itself with the same requirements when communicating to the public regarding compliance matters.
ECFA’s only public relations contacts are its President (or his designee) and Board Chair. While they will protect confidential and proprietary information, they will communicate publicly that a Compliance Review is in process or has been completed, what the Standards of concern are or were, and the final decision once the Compliance Review has been completed.

Unfortunately, the ECFA has not communicated on this matter.
If the ECFA has no intention of commenting regarding Mars Hill, then we can only assume the Board found no reason to investigate. In light of the evidence surround Mars Hill Global, that finding would be troublesome. On the other hand, if the organization has investigated as Dean implied, then it would be good for the organization to address the many emails, call, petitions and other clear concerns raised by members and former members of Mars Hill as well as other members of the public and the media.
The Mars Hill/ECFA petitions are here and here.
 

Houston City Attorneys Subpoena Ministers' Sermons and Almost Everything Else

Houston, you have a problem.
Houston city attorneys have subpoenaed everything but the air surrounding several ministers in the Houston area over an effort of those ministers to overturn Houston’s equal rights ordinance. The Houston Chronicle reports that city attorneys served subpoenas to opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance (HERO) asking for sermons, and other communications which reference HERO, the mayor, and a host of other related topics. A full list is contained in this subpoena of Houston minister Steve Riggle. I also list them below.
Sarah Bailey has posted a solid article on the controversy at Religion News Service. A group of Christians sued the city over disagreement about the validity of signatures on a petition to put HERO on the ballot. The organizers gathered far more signatures than required but the city attorney cited problems with the signatures. The pastors subpoenaed were not a part of the lawsuit but were active in opposing the measure. The city is calling the subpoenas a part of the discovery process to determine if the signatures were gathered properly.
The subpoena delivered to Steve Riggle is extraordinary. Riggle is supposed to deliver all documents and communications relating to a long list of topics to the city attorneys. The definition of documents includes emails, and texts and almost everything imaginable:

3. “Document” and “documents,” mean all documents and tangible things, in the broadest sense allowed by Rule 192.3(b) and comment 2 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and include, but are not limited to, any writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phonograph records, tape recordings, notes, diaries, calendars, checkbooks, books, papers, accounts, electronic or videotape recordings, and any computer-generated, computer-stored, or electronically-stored matter that constitute or contain matters relevant to the subject matter of  this lawsuit. The terms include, but are not limited to, emails, instant messages, text messages, or other responsive data or information that exists in electronic or magnetic form, and such responsive data should be produced pursuant to Rule 196.4 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
4. “Communications” means every direct or indirect disclosure, receipt, transfer, or exchange of information, inquiry or opinion, however made, whether oral, visual, in writing or otherwise, including without limitation any conversation or discussion by means of letter, note, package, invoice, statement, notice, memorandum, inter-office correspondence, telephone, telegraph, email, telex, telecopies, text message, instant message, cable communicating data processors, or some other electronic or other medium.

The topics’ list is long and cumbersome:

II. REQUESTED DOCUMENTS
YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PRODUCE THE FOLLOWING RECORDS:
1. All documents or communications to, from, CCing, BCCing, or forwarded to you, or otherwise in your possession, relating or referring to any of the following in connection in any way with HERO, the Petition:
a. Plaintiffs,
b. Annise Parker or the Mayor’s office,
c. Anna Russell or the City Secretary’s office,
d. David Feldman or the City Attorney’s office,
e. HERO or any drafts of HERO,
f. the Petition, or any drafts of the Petition, including any discussions relating to the language included at the top of the Petition,
g. the legal requirements for petitions under Texas, Houston municipal, or any other law,
h. Petition signers,
1. Petition Circulators,
J. affidavits filled out by Petition Circulators, including the notarization of the affidavits,
k. the payment of Petition Circulators,
1. funding of the Petition or petition drives,
m. the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity,
n. language relating to restroom access,
o. language related to restroom access being or having been removed from a version of HERO, including any communications related to the removal of that language,
p. any discussion about whether or how HERO does or does not impact restroom access.
2. All communications to or from Plaintiffs.
3. All communications with the City regarding HERO or the Petition.
4. All communications with members of your congregation regarding HERO or the Petition.
5. All communications with Joe La Rue or anyone else at the “Alliance Defending Freedom” regarding HERO or the Petition.
6. All drafts of the Petition.
7. All lists of Petition Circulators.
8. All communications to or from Petition Circulators.
9. Any documents relating to the payment of Petition Circulators, including but not
limited to:
a. budgets related to the payment of Petition Circulators,
b. check stubs or check registers reflecting payments to Petition Circulators,
c. copies of checks made out to Petition Circulators,
d. tax forms relating to the payment of Petition circulators,
e. documents explaining calculation of payment to Petition Circulators,
f. documents referencing incentives given to Petition Circulators for obtaining certain numbers of signatures or completing a certain number of pages.
10. Any documents relating to funding and funding sources of the Petition and Petition-related activities.
11. All training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition.
12. All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.
13. All documents, studies, information, communications, or other data relied on in connection with the Petition to check, confirm, or ensure the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements made in the Petition, including but not limited to the statements in the Petition (or in
any training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition) that “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s “Equal Rights Ordinance”, thereby
threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!” and that “Her ERO creates UNequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!”) (emphasis in original).
14. All documents, studies, information, communications, or other data that you believe support or demonstrate the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements made in the Petition, including but not limited to the statements in the Petition (or in any training materials prepared for Petition Circulators or anyone else involved in the collection of any signatures for the Petition) that “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s “Equal Rights Ordinance”, thereby threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!” and that “Her ERO creates UNequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!”) (emphasis in original).
15. All communications with Pastor Dave Welch or anyone else at or associated with the Houston Area Pastor Council referring or relating to HERO, restroom access in connection with HERO, the Petition, or this litigation.
16. All documents or communications reflecting or relating to the validity of signatures on the Petition or the validity of any Petition Pages, including but not limited to correspondence, notes, spreadsheets, or other documents regarding:
a. the validity of signatures,
b. the registered-voter status of any signatories,
c. the number of valid signatures,
d. the validity of Petition pages,
e. the validity of Circulator Oaths.
17. Your updated resume or curriculum vitae.

This is of course a fishing expedition by the city attorneys, hoping to unearth something that will help them in their case. However, it is overly invasive and appears designed to intimidate this person for opposing the ordinance. It is no secret among attorneys that subpoenas can be used to intimidate opponents. Apparently Riggle opposes the ordinance and has circulated petitions to gain signatures to put the measure on the ballot for possible recall. Engaging in the political process should not subject a person to undue hardship and in this case, the threat of contempt and the invasive nature of the request is unwarranted. I hope the court quashes the subpoena.
I should add that my view of the subpoena is not a commentary about the merits of the HERO. I have not studied that as yet and so I take no position on it at this time. I might favor such a measure (and I certainly favor equal rights and equal access in general terms) but oppose the tactics of the city attorneys.

Mars Hill Church Leaders Have Records of Donations to a Fund They Now Say Didn't Exist

Via spokesman Justin Dean, Mars Hill Church is now claiming that the Global Fund was not a fund after 2012. If that is true, then how is this letter from former executive pastor Sutton Turner to be understood?
MARSHill Letter Global
Sutton Turner wrote:

Our records indicate that you have donated to the “Global Fund” since ____ 2012.

According to the church, six thousand of these letters were sent to people who donated money to the Global Fund. However, if, as Justin Dean said, there was no Global Fund after 2012, then why did Sutton Turner say church records indicate that gifts were given to the fund? The church clearly has record of who gave to the fund and could disclose the amount given and spent if desired.

Why Did Mars Hill Tacoma and Everett Wait Until 2014 to Thank Mars Hill Global?

In light of the memo I posted on October 1 and yesterday’s post, I now have a workable theory about why Mars Hill location pastors waited until after May 2014 to acknowledge publicly the money they received from Mars Hill Global.
Here is what the memo said about how Global Fund donations would be spent:

Global Focus
The vision and activities connected to the Global Fund must focus on reaching the worldwide church. As a person sits in front of his computer in Qatar, London, Cape Town, or Sydney, he does not care about Mars Hill planting in Everett. As an international citizen, however, he cares greatly about global evangelism, global missions, global causes for Jesus, global church-planting, etc. though the sentiment is rare among Americans, people abroad feel a sense belonging and kinship with the global community.
Flagship Projects
Of the money that comes into the Global Fund, designate a fixed percentage internally for highly visible, marketable projects such as mission trips, orphan care, support for pastors and missionaries in the third world, etc. (ten to fifteen strategic operations in locations where Mars Hill wants to be long term). This percentage should be flexible (not a “tithe”), and not communicated to the public. Support for Mars Hill Global would be support for Mars Hill Church in general, but the difference and the draw would be that a portion of Global gifts would also benefit projects that spread the gospel and serve the needs of people around the world.

In 2011, Mars Hill Church needed money for U.S. expansion. As the memo said, Mars Hill’s global audience would be more likely to donate to global missions than to Mars Hill’s U.S. expansion. So the church branded Global as Mars Hill’s ministry for international missions and funded a few international projects to bring in more money from people outside the Mars Hill membership (at the same time, Global was marketed to members too as another way for them to give “over and above” their tithes). Alerting donors that most of the donations funded U.S. expansion might erode support so, as the memo says, the disbursements would not be disclosed to the public.
After the Global Fund went away in May 2014, two Mars Hill campus pastors came out of the closet about the source of some their start up funding. Mars Hill Tacoma said thank you on August 4, 2014 and Mars Hill Everett on June 5, 2014. In July, an article by Thomas Hurst, lead pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue also referenced Global help but that situation is different from the other two because Bellevue’s funding came in 2011 before the Global Fund rebranding into an international mission brand. Furthermore, Bellevue’s assistance from the Global Fund was disclosed to the church and was consistent with how the fund was marketed to the church at the time. The rebranding of Mars Hill Global was suggested in November 2011 and carried out in 2012.
The articles about Tacoma and Everett were posted after my initial reporting on Mars Hill Global and the Global Fund in May 2014, and long after the money had been taken by Mars Hill leaders from the Global Fund and used for expansion at those two locations. Let’s look at each one.
Mars Hill Tacoma
On August 4, 2014, Tacoma pastor Bubba Jennings wrote on the Mars Hill website that Mars Hill Global helped with the purchase of the Tacoma building:

We would not have been able to buy our new home and relocate without the help of Mars Hill Global—thank you all very, very much for helping us! You made our dream of having a permanent home come true.

The purchase of the Tacoma building was announced on December 3, 2012. Although the church did not move in permanently until December 2013, Jennings thanked Mars Hill Global for help with the building purchase which was accomplished in late 2012 (during the fiscal year ending in June 2013). In the December 2012 announcement of the building purchase, there is no credit given to the Global Fund or Mars Hill Global. According to that announcement, funding for the building and retrofit came from a “magical night” of fundraising in September 2012 as well as additional fundraising solicited in big bold letters:

HOW TO GET INVOLVED, PLEASE VISIT THE MARS HILL TACOMA PAGE FOR MORE INFO. DURING HE MADE US FAMILY, OUR GOD’S WORK, OUR WITNESS 2012 CHRISTMAS SERMON SERIES, PLEASE CONSIDER A GIFT ABOVE AND BEYOND YOUR NORMAL GIVING. THOSE FUNDS HELP SUPPORT PROJECTS SUCH AS TACOMA, THE PURCHASE OF A NEW BUILDING IN EVERETT, THE REBUILDING OF OUR NEW DOWNTOWN SEATTLE LOCATION, AND MORE. YOU CAN GIVE TOWARDS THESE PROJECT BY CHOOSING THE “GENERAL CHURCH FUND” AT MARSHILL.COM/GIVE.

Please note that donors to Tacoma were not directed to the Global Fund, but to the “General Church Fund.” Why did Sutton Turner not thank Mars Hill Global in 2012? Why did Bubba Jennings wait until after the Global Fund was discontinued to thank Mars Hill Global for the help?
In the FY 2013 Mars Hill Church annual report, there is a page dedicated to Mars Hill Global expenses. Mars Hill Tacoma is not listed there. In fact, only expenses in India and Ethiopia are listed. Tacoma is referred to in the FY 2013 report but not in connection to Mars Hill Global.
In this gushing, thankful 2013 article on fund raising for the Tacoma location, there is no mention of the Global Fund, or a group of global givers:

A THANKS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED, ESPECIALLY JESUS

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has generously given to the Mars Hill Tacoma building fund. I want to thank everyone who has sacrificed their time and energy to be present at the building, helping with various work projects. I want to thank the Executive Elder team, Pastor Mark, Pastor Dave, and Pastor Sutton, for their tremendous support and leadership throughout this project. I want to thank the Mars Hill Central staff for all of their support—their leadership and help has been vital. I want to thank the leaders and members of Mars Hill Federal Way for their faithfulness and perseverance, leading the way in love and sacrifice. I want to thank the entire body of Mars Hill Church for praying for us. Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank Jesus—without him, none of this would be possible.

Jennings here said he wanted to “sincerely thank everyone” who gave to the Tacoma building fund. Why did it take another nine months to thank Mars Hill Global? Theory one: Mars Hill Global didn’t really give any money to Tacoma. No one thought to say thanks to podcasters since they weren’t publicly asked for money for that purpose. However, in May 2014, Mars Hill leaders needed to create a narrative that involved Global Fund money going to church planting in the U.S. Theory two: Mars Hill leaders didn’t want anyone to know that money solicited for missions was really going to buy buildings and launch Mars Hill locations, so they didn’t bring it up at the time.
Mars Hill Everett
On June 5, 2014, Everett pastor Ryan Williams wrote on the Mars Hill website that Mars Hill Global helped with the down payment on the Everett building:

Our people work super hard and are amazingly generous to the church, but we just did not have the income to fully fund our own down payment and renovation expenses.
Mars Hill Global, that is exactly what you did for Mars Hill Everett and we thank you! Your generosity has allowed us to have a visible presence in our city and county. It has given us a building in which to love and care for hurting people and a place to hold services where the gospel will be proclaimed for, God willing, the next few hundred years.

On January 31, 2013, Mars Hill Church closed the purchase of a vacant national guard armory in Everett for $1.25 million. Williams credited Mars Hill Global for help with the down payment. Everett’s story is similar to Tacoma’s: more Global money spent in FY 2013 but no mention of it until June 2014. Why no mention of this until nearly two years after the fact?
As with Tacoma, there was a massive fundraising effort to renovate the new building with no mention that Mars Hill’s global audience or the Global Fund was kicking anything in.
The question remains: Why did Mars Hill Tacoma and Everett wait until 2014 to thank Mars Hill Global?
My theory is that the church operated in accord with the recently disclosed November 2011 Global Fund memo. Consistent with that memo, the destination of the Global Fund donations was not disclosed to the public while the fund was a giving option for members and non-members. It was only after the fund went away that Mars Hill offered any information about the way the funds were spent. If the church was operating transparently, these expenses would have been disclosed during the FY 2013 annual report, but since Global audiences might not knowingly donate to U.S. expansion, the church did not disclose the actual use of the funds.