(Scroll to the end for an update)
On Monday March 17, twenty former Mars Hill pastors sent a letter to the executive elders and Board of Advisors and Accountability of Mars Hill Church with an invitation to enter into a process of mediation designed to lead to mutual repentance and reconciliation. According to former Mars Hill pastors Dave Kraft and Kyle Firstenberg, the pastors want to bring in specialists in conflict resolution to facilitate the process. As of this writing, no response to the letter has come from the Mars Hill leadership.
The executive elders are Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner & Dave Bruskas. The executive elders also sit on the Board of Advisors and Accountability along with independent members Paul Tripp, Michael Van Skaik, James MacDonald, and Larry Osborne.
Kraft is former Pastor of Leadership Development at Mars Hill and Firstenberg was executive pastor at Mars Hill Orange County. In an interview, Kraft emphasized that he wants to lead the way in repentance by expressing remorse that he stood by while some Mars Hill members were being sinned against by the Mars Hill leadership. He said, “we didn’t step up to the plate when we should have.”
On Friday, Mark Driscoll released a statement of apology to the Mars Hill congregation. In it, he said the deal with ResultSource to artificially elevate the book Real Marriage, was wrong. He also pledged to make an attempt to repair damaged relationships. While the statement has had mixed responses from Mars Hill members, former and current, the pastors hope that the move is authentic.
Kraft said, “At this point, we hope for a positive response to our proposal sent on Monday, March 17.”
In recent days, both Kraft and Firstenberg have spoken publicly about their concerns. On March 9, Kraft disclosed that he had filed formal charges against Driscoll in May, 2013. On his website, Kraft indicated what he wanted to see happen:
1. I would (as would countless other former leaders from MHC) like to see Pastor Mark Driscoll publicly acknowledge that he has seen the charges, that they are true and that he will take whatever time and attention is needed to intentionally deal with the charges, which may entail a short sabbatical from work to focus on this.
2. I would like to see Pastor Mark publicly state that he is sorry, that he has sinned, that he will deal with his past sin and make himself accountable in so doing to an unbiased group of leaders who will hold his feet to the fire on this.
Driscoll may have been responding in part to these concerns with his recent apology. However, both Kraft and Firstenberg do not believe the apology addressed the issues which the former pastors have raised.
Also on March 9, Firstenberg disclosed that in 2013 he too contacted the Board of Advisors and Accountability with his experience at Mars Hill. To date, he has not received a reply from that board.
Now, Kraft and Firstsenberg have been joined by other former pastors who believe that Mars Hill should be responsive to ongoing and unfinished matters within their church.
UPDATE: As of Friday evening March 21, Mars Hill Church has not responded to the invitation to enter into mediation.
The Seeds of Trouble: Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the 2007 Purge – In addition to concerns since, many unresolved issues remain from the 2007 disputes over governance.