Mars Hill Sammamish In Merger Talks With Bellevue Church

Mars Hill Sammamish meets in a building that must be sold to satisfy debt and thus has no place to meet as of December 31. Currently, despite resistance from some involved, leaders at Sammamish are in talks with Bellevue Church to merge. Today, lead pastor Alex Ghioni posted this on The City:

From Pastor Alex Ghioni:
Last week the news was released that Mars Hill Church will be dissolving as an organization by December 31, 2014. Each of the Mars Hill local churches will have the opportunity to become an independent church in the area where they are meeting. As you already know, our building is being sold and we will no longer have access to meet here after December 31, 2014.
Our elder team has been working tirelessly to explore other options in light of these circumstances. Currently we are in discussions with the pastors in Bellevue exploring an opportunity for our two churches to join together and establish one new independent church on the Eastside. We want to take the helpful things we learned from our years at Mars Hill and leave behind what was broken, ineffective, and ungodly. We believe the Eastside has room for another solid gospel church, that holds to a high view of the scriptures, supports the bold preaching of the gospel, reformed theology, missional mindset, and loving community. This could be one of the great redemptive works that God brings about from our current difficult circumstances. The elders want to enlist you to pray along with us that God “…may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified…” (2 Thess 1:11-12 ESV). We’ll be communicating our progress as quickly as we have new information.
We realize that others of you will perhaps be looking for a church closer to where you live. The elders want to help you and pray for you as you make those plans and decisions. We love you and want God’s best for you and your family.
In any event, we are hoping that we will remain together as a family until the end of the year. God has done great things in our lives individually and collectively. It makes sense that we take the time together to remember and celebrate his work in and through our church. We hope you’ll stick with us as we honor Jesus and encourage one another over the next 8 weeks.
Toward that end, we have decided that for the duration of the year we are going combine our services into one Sunday morning service at 10am. The heart behind this change is to give some additional time for you to connect and enjoy the relationships that God has built throughout our church family here in Sammamish. I look forward to seeing you and celebrating our Savior together with you in the weeks to come as we wait for what God has for us next.
With the affection of Jesus,
Pastor Alex

The building Sammamish is meeting in was given to Mars Hill by the former church owners. I wonder if they ever imagined that their building would help pay for severance pay for the executive elders of Mars Hill Church.

More Mars Hill Pastor Resignations: Adam Ramsey and Gary Shavey

Two more of the nine pastors who directed Mark Driscoll to step down and enter a restoration plan have resigned from Mars Hill Church. Adam Ramsey, director of student ministries for Mars Hill (youth ministries), and Gary Shavey, biblical living pastor at Bellevue have resigned and issued brief statements. Both signed the letter which expressed dismay over the ministry culture at Mars Hill and called for significant changes in the executive leadership.
On his Facebook page, and in an email to me last evening, Shavey said:

Many have asked if it is true that I resigned from Mars Hill Church. The short answer is yes I have. But going to MH the last 18 years and being a pastor for over 14 years it is hard to put all my thoughts together. I will post more soon, appreciate your patience and have loved all those I have worked with, ministered to and have been ministered by.

Ramsey issued a statement on his website (click through to read the entire post):

We love the people who make up Mars Hill Church and wouldn’t trade the past couple of years we’ve had serving them and Jesus for anything. It has become clear to us over the past month however, that we will no longer be able to continue forward in good conscience under the current leadership structure and ministry culture.  So it was with a sad heart but a clear conscience that I handed in my resignation to Mars Hill yesterday morning, far earlier than we had ever hoped or anticipated. Because of the current work visa that I am on, that also means we will be required to leave the country by the end of this month.

One effect of Ramsey’s departure is the reduction of youth ministries.  Yesterday, the pastor of Mars Hill Sammamish, Alex Ghioni announced the closing of the student ministry there.

Update on Mars Hill Sammamish Student Ministry
Pastor Alex Ghioni
Dear Parents of our RED Students,
Tonight at the close of our Student Ministry I had to communicate some difficult news. We have just learned that Pastor Adam Ramsey has decided to transition out of his role as the Director and Teaching Pastor for Mars Hill student ministries. He has been a dear friend and great pastor that has blessed so many in his ministry here. He has plans to return to Australia with his family and plant a church there. There’s a second bit of news that hits us even deeper here at Mars Hill Sammamish. Deacon Josiah Diener has decided to step down from his leadership position here at our church. He shared with me that he has some personal convictions that would prevent him from continuing to lead in student ministry in good conscience. He intends to stay and worship with us but cannot lead in the way that is best for our students. I have appreciated Josiah’s willingness to serve Jesus and our students with passion and conviction. He too has been a great blessing that the Holy Spirit brought and used at our church.

Ghioni did not mention the fact that Ramsey’s departure was due to his disagreements with the leadership and culture at Mars Hill.
Even as Ghioni put the best face on Ramsey’s decision, he acknowledged that the church is “contracting.” Apparently, at this time, the student ministry position will not be filled due to lack of funds.

At a time where our church is contracting and we struggle to find godly ways to move forward we are faced with diminishing resources, leaders, and helpers in every one of our ministries. These circumstances leave us without a leader to shepherd our students or resources to hire additional staff. It is with great sorrow that I have to let you know that it was with a heavy heart that I announced to your students tonight that this would be our last student ministry meeting here at Mars Hill Sammamish for the short term. It is my fervent hope that we can and are dealing with the larger issues that have brought us to this point. I believe that what emerges will be a more godly, helpful, and healthy church that will bring glory to God and bless his people.

Sources tell me Josh Clayton, community groups pastor, can also be added to the list. Clayton was an unpaid, volunteer elder who stepped down from that position. However, I have not gotten direct confirmation from Clayton, although his Mars Hill profile now omits any mention of his role as an elder.