In this concluding video, former Mars Hill Church executive elders Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas talk about incidents not discussed publicly before. They also describe more personally their feelings about their actions at the church and their hopes for the future.
In this portion of the interview, we cover Mars Hill Global Fund, how public relations were handled at the church, their perspective on Mark Driscoll’s leadership style, James MacDonald’s and Paul Tripp’s resignation, being evicted from the Acts 29 Network, the findings of the investigation of formal charges against Driscoll, his resignation and move to Phoenix. They also weigh in on whether or not they ever saw Driscoll wear a bulletproof vest. There’s a special Easter egg for those interested in James MacDonald.
For those who are interested in Mars Hill because you lived it, or because you want to know how to prevent it, these are important discussions. Here is part two.
CORRECTION (8/20/20): In this interview, Sutton says he doesn’t believe there was enough money to pay Mark Driscoll a severance, and he never saw Driscoll wear a bulletproof vest. After this interview, former Mars Hill staff approached Sutton with new information to correct those points. Please see this post for the details. In short, the staffer said there was a substantial severance and Driscoll wore a vest once in 2008.
Watch part one here.
For all posts on Mars Hill Church, click here.
For all posts on Mark Driscoll, click here.
For all posts on Mars Hill Global Fund, click here.
To watch all interviews reflecting on 15 years of blogging, click here.
Earlier this week, Mark Driscoll sent an email to a mailing list that he won at a Mars Hill Church auction. He said it this way:
The Mars Hill Church board also very recently approved the sale of the assets of The Resurgence ministries through an independent auction conducted by a law firm. Having now gained first access to these resources, it will be some time before we catalogue and decide what will happen with the content.
However, if you are newly receiving this email it is likely because you were part of The Resurgence mailing list.
These assets were valued at $100,000 last year and were being offered to the public for sale via attorney Steven Goodspeed, the same attorney who registered Mark Driscoll’s short-lived Learning for Living non-profit trademark. The pitch ran like this:
You are being contacted because it is my understanding you have inquired about purchasing select assets related to the resurgence.com
website and domain name. We appreciate your expression of interest and are reaching out to interested parties and soliciting offers for this website content, technology, accounts, etc.
The asking price is $100,000 and the Resurgence content will be sold to the best offer subject to an undisclosed reserve. Your offer may be more or less than the asking price.
- We will be taking offers until 1/05/2015
- We will choose an offer on or before 01/15/2015
- Please direct any questions and offers to me, Steven Goodspeed
This could be the auction Driscoll is referring to. Emails to Mars Hill and Steven Goodspeed attempting to verify it were not returned.
Mars Hill did get some offers but turned them down. In March, the Resurgence mailing list resurfaced as the main product offered by an anonymous entity called “Church Leaders List
.” Actually, former Mars Hill Church spokesperson Justin Dean illegally sold the list to Craig Gross
. Dean later apologized
to Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church and everybody else. I confirmed with sources that the list was still owned by Mars Hill as of late March.
Sometime between April and this month, Driscoll apparently purchased The Resurgence assets from what he says was the “Mars Hill Church board” (who is still on that board?). I cannot verify if there was a renewed push to offer the assets on the market as Driscoll’s description implies. I am aware of individuals who expressed interest or made offers who were not contacted to offer a bid or make a counteroffer. This may have been a backroom deal or it may all be fine. I am skeptical that anyone who knows will ever say.
Not really, but that was the name given to register Churchleaderslist.com. You’ll remember that churchleaderslist.com was the website used to offer Mars Hill Church’s The Resurgence mailing list to the public. Churchleaderslist.com was pulled from the web and from twitter after it was learned that the list still belonged to Mars Hill Church. Craig Gross who purchased and used the list told Christianity Today that former Mars Hill Church spokesperson Justin Dean had sold him the list and then refunded the money after it became public knowledge that the list was still the property of Mars Hill Church.
After being offline for about a week, Justin Dean resurfaced and issued a vague apology about the mailing list. In his apology, he did not take churchleaderslist.com or say that he was responsible for offering the list to the public. I asked Dean several times if he was behind churchleaderslist.com from the beginning without any answer.
The identity of the registrant of churchleaderslist.com was hidden via privacy shield supplied by a Whoisproxy.com Ltd. This is a common manner of shielding addresses and phone numbers from the public. However, such shielding is not supposed to be done for unethical or illegal purposes. Last week, I wrote the privacy company about the matter. I was informed that the privacy shield would be removed which it was earlier today. Here is the registration information now:
Domain Name: churchleaderslist.com
Registry Domain ID: 1906809784_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.rrpproxy.net
Registrar URL: https://domains.google.com/
Updated Date: 2015-03-24T03:11:45.0Z
Creation Date: 2015-03-03T17:54:03.0Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2016-03-03T17:54:03.0Z
Registrar: Google Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 895
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: registrar-abuse[at]google.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.877-237-6466
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: John Doe
Registrant Organization: Doe
Registrant Street: 1234 Doe
Registrant City: Beverly Hills
Registrant State/Province: CA
Registrant Postal Code: 90210
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.7145551212
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: [email protected]
John Doe? By law, information provided in the registration of a domain is supposed to be factual. However, I doubt John Doe residing at 1234 Doe in Beverly Hills is the real owner. According to a contact at Google, there is no additional underlying information available. A search of the domain history turns up nothing more of interest. From the beginning of March, when the domain was registered, the owner was protecting the identity of John Doe.
As it turns out, [email protected] may actually be a working email. A search for this email on Google reveals the email attached to a domain owned by Justin Dean since 2013 — churchcomm.com. If you place this address in the address line of your browser, you will be redirected to the website of Ministry Communicators Association, a non-profit founded by Dean. Dean has apparently changed the registration information since March 28 because one needs to go to the Google cache to find the [email protected] address.
Domain Name: CHURCHCOMM.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1824012583_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.enom.com
Registrar URL: www.enom.com
Updated Date: 2014-07-30T00:16:13.00Z
Creation Date: 2013-08-28T15:39:00.00Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-08-28T15:39:47.00Z
Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Registrar IANA ID: 48
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: [email protected]
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4252982646
Domain Status: ok
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: DOMAIN GUY
Registrant Organization: DOMAIN GUY
Registrant Street: 123 DOMAIN WAY
Registrant City: DOMAIN
Registrant State/Province: IA
Registrant Postal Code: 50126
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.1234567
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: [email protected]
Since Dean is also registrant for several Mars Hill Church websites (including marshill.com), this information does not prove that Dean operated on his own or that Mars Hill or former officer of Mars Hill wasn’t involved. According to the Church Leaders List website, several Christian leaders helped maintain the list. It is plausible to wonder about the possibility that others (either at the church or formerly with the church) were also involved in order to derive some benefit from the mailing list.
The practical significance of this is that Mars Hill continues to operate as a non-profit entity with even less transparency than before the church stopped having public services. Millions of dollars of assets are in play paid for by former members, some of whom were forced out because they asked too many questions. I asked the current president of Mars Hill Church, Kerry Dodd, for comment but have received no reply.
Former Mars Hill Church’s public relations spokesperson Justin Dean has apparently apologized for selling Mars Hill Church’s mailing list. I say apparently, because he doesn’t say exactly what he did.
Because there has been much speculation about this online, and people I love have been hurt because of my actions, I wanted to provide some further clarity regarding my earlier blog post about the list of church leaders.
I want to be clear that what I did was wrong, and that I did not work in concert with or in cooperation with anyone else, including current or past employees of Mars Hill or Pastor Mark Driscoll. I operated on my own accord, without their knowledge, and without their authority. I exercised terrible judgment and I regret my decisions. I am hoping that by posting this the speculation around them will stop.
I neglected to think how my actions would affect the outstanding men and women who stayed behind at Mars Hill, some of them volunteers, who manage and protect the remaining assets as they wind down the organization. Nor did I realize how my actions would harm their families or their reputation. This was certainly not my intention, and I am deeply sorry for the trouble I have caused them.
Under no compulsion other than my conscience and the Holy Spirit, I have admitted in detail my wrong doing and repented to current Mars Hill leadership, and by God’s grace I have received their unconditional forgiveness. I am also very sorry to everyone on the email list and I please ask for your forgiveness as well. Please note that any further use of this list is forbidden and would be illegal without the permission of Mars Hill Church.
From the context, it appears that he is admitting selling the list. However, if this is not what he is admitting, I hope he will contact me with the details.
His twitter account is also back up.
For the background on this story, see this post and this post.
This apology doesn’t address who was actually selling the list or how they got it. According to the Church Leaders List website, the list was maintained by a group of unnamed Christian leaders.
This website is managed by a group of Christian leaders, however we are not able to provide support at this time. If you have questions you can contact us on Twitter @listchurch.
We still don’t know who they are. The owners of the churchleaderslist.com are hidden behind a domain privacy service and Dean doesn’t make it clear whether or not he is one of the leaders or if he just referred buyers (e.g., Craig Gross) to the leaders.
When Mars Hill Church closed the doors for the last service, the corporation Mars Hill Church did not cease. However, it has never been clear who remained in charge of the organization on a day to day basis. By by-law, the church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability has the power to create a plan of dissolution but the church has not disclosed who remained on that board. While I don’t know all involved in that capacity, I do know now who is the president of the church. Also, one person often speculated to still be involved is not.
According to documents filed last week in the King County court house, Chief Financial Officer Kerry Dodd is referred to as the president of the corporation. Dodd was hired by Sutton Turner early in Turner’s tenure as executive pastor. According to a 2012 memo to fellow executive elders, Turner considered Dodd to be a capable CFO. As president of Mars Hill, he signed documents recently in the sale of the Mars Hill Ballard building to Quest church.
The other update involves former executive pastor Dave Bruskas. Yesterday, Bruskas informed me via email that he resigned all of his roles and duties at Mars Hill Church, including his corporate role, on December 31, 2014. Under the Mars Hill bylaws, executive pastors have a position on the BoAA. As of the end of last year, there were no publicly named executive pastors.
At the time of the last service, remaining BoAA members were Matt Rogers, Larry Osborne, Michael VanSkaik, and Jon Phelps.
Who runs Mars Hill has become relevant again due to the ongoing questions surrounding the use of Mars Hill email lists by a shadowy group/individual doing business as “Church Leaders List.” After xxxchurch director Craig Gross purchased what former Mars Hill public relations spokesperson Justin Dean called The Resurgence mailing list, Church Leaders List essentially left public view by shutting down its website and twitter account. Now there are concerns that Mars Hill had not sold the list to anyone, raising questions about how Church Leaders List secured it. Efforts to get comment from the attorney who is responsible for selling The Resurgence assets have not yielded direct comment. No one from Mars Hill Church has offered comment as well.
Meanwhile, Justin Dean’s website has gone into maintenance mode and is unavailable; his twitter account has been removed.
Craig Gross summarized his involvement and what he believes about the situation in a new post today.