Former Mars Hill Pastors Start Redeemer Church in Seattle

Ryan Welsh and Gary Shavey today announced the launch of Redeemer Church in the Eastside of Seattle. Welsh and Shavey were members of the group of nine Mars Hill Church pastors that called for Mark Driscoll to step down and enter an elder directed restoration plan.

You can learn more about the effort on their Facebook page. They are holding an informational meeting on Sunday, November 2nd at Seattle Revival Center in Newcastle, WA from 4:00-5:30 pm.
I wish them well in this new endeavor.


Gofundme Account Set Up for Former Mars Hill Church Pastors Ryan Kearns and Ryan Welsh

A GoFundMe account has been set up for former Mars Hill Church pastors, Ryan Kearns and Ryan Welsh.  They were laid off in the recent round of layoffs at Mars Hill and they both signed the infamous letter directing Mark Driscoll to step down and enter an elder directed restoration plan. According to the GoFundMe page:

Pastor Ryan Kearns and Pastor Ryan Welsh were both laid off from Mars Hill Church on Monday, September 8th and only given one month’s severance. Both men were amongst the nine pastors who put their jobs on the line by writing and signing a letter sent to the Full Council of Elders on August 22nd that called for major changes in Mars Hill’s governance and for Mark Driscoll to submit to a restoration plan. 

The two Ryans spoke up at Mars Hill and were laid off. Other pastors were given chances to transition to other positions. The bold ones were not. Eight of nine who wrote the letter to the executive elders are now gone.

The Statement of Former Mars Hill Church Pastor Ryan Welsh

Ryan Welsh is one of the nine pastors who called on Mark Driscoll to submit to an elder directed restoration. He is also one of the pastors recently laid off. Today, he posted a brief statement on his public Facebook page which both expresses concern for the church and leaders while at the same time standing by the letter he signed and delivered on August 22. His statement:

My time at Mars Hill Church has come to an end. I want to briefly explain my feelings and convictions regarding Mars Hill and what’s next, as many have asked me to explain. I do not intend to add any fuel to the very hot fire that is burning in and around Mars Hill right now. So I will first share this:

1. I love Mars Hill Church
2. I love the visitors, members, deacons and elders at Mars Hill Church
3. I love and deeply care for Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner
4. I believe in the vision and mission of Mars Hill Church
5. I praise Jesus that He has used Mars Hill Church to bring, literally, thousands of people to salvation.
6. I pray for Mars Hill Church to be healthy once again 
7. I hope and pray that Mark Driscoll has 30+ years of preaching ministry ahead of him
8. I believe that Jesus is still on His throne and that He remains not only sovereign, but also good 
9. I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to serve alongside some great and godly men and women over the past two years

Do I have concerns? Of course I do! Eight other elders and myself wrote and signed a letter of concern to the elders in late August. This letter presented in detail the convictions and concerns we held. I remain behind every word that we wrote in that letter. In the simplest form, the issues are surrounding repentance and church structure. I long for the day when the Holy Spirit’s conviction is what leads Mars Hill to repentance, rather than negative media coverage. I wait eagerly for the functional Trinity of Mars Hill Church to return to Father, Son, Holy Spirit from what seems to have become Father, Son, Holy Media.

I am a sinner. I am a horrible sinner. I am worse than any of you think I am. I, in no way, deserve God’s grace. I do not, therefore, share my concerns and convictions with Mars Hill to throw stones, but rather as a plea from one sinner to another, “to see our sin, to acknowledge our sin, to be transparent and to ask for forgiveness.”

Here is what I commit to do:
1. I will pray for the leaders of Mars Hill Church
2. I will pray for the people of Mars Hill Church
3. I will continue to repent of my sins and thank Jesus for His undeserved grace
4. I will continue to anxiously wait for Jesus to return and take us home

Many of you have asked me “what’s next?” My answer is very simple, I don’t know. Kate and I are praying and discussing and processing through some different possibilities right now. Please continue to pray for us and please continue to pray for Mars Hill Church.


Ryan Welsh

Nine Mars Hill Church Elders Took a Bold Stand and Now Eight Are Gone

Add four more to the growing fraternity of ex-pastors after yesterday’s layoffs at Mars Hill Church.
According to reliable sources, Drew Hensley (University District), Ryan Welsh (Pastor of Theology and Leadership), Ryan Kearns (Director of Community Groups), and Cliff Ellis (Director of Biblical Living/Redemption Groups) were all let go yesterday.
Three of these pastors were directors, meaning they were responsible for ministries across Mars Hill Church and not just at one campus. All four signed the infamous letter that called for Mark Driscoll to step down and enter an elder directed restoration process. These pastors join Dustin Kensrue, Adams Ramsey, Gary Shavey (all three resigned their paid positions) and Mark Dunford (relieved of his volunteer elder status) in the ranks of ex-elders who signed the letter. James Rose, who is a volunteer at Ballard, appears to remain in place.
It is noteworthy that Mars Hill laid off key ministry leaders. The ministry directors were responsible for generating and leading much of the ministry programs (e.g., community groups, student ministry, biblical counseling, etc.) across all of the Mars Hill locations. At the same time, the church has spared the executive pastors who are largely seen as administrators of the franchise locations.  It also seems to be likely that laying off Kearns, Ellis, Hensley and Welsh related to their signatures on the letter calling on Driscoll to step down. Case in point: Matthias Haeuser’s Downtown Seattle campus was closed but he will have opportunity for a role at Ballard’s campus. Drew Hensley’s (a letter signer) University District location was shut down and he will be laid off.
One source (a current elder) tells me that executive elders’ salaries are not on the table for discussion. However, the 30-40 (unconfirmed reports tell me the number was higher) people laid off may not get severance pay and don’t have unemployment. The lack of comment from the executive elders about how they personally are going to help is louder than any amended statements could be.
The signers and their status:

Dustin Kensrue – Director of Worship / Worship Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue (RESIGNED)

Drew Hensley – Lead Pastor at Mars Hill U-District Pastor (LAID OFF)

Mark Dunford – Pastor at Mars Hill Portland (ELDERSHIP REMOVED)

Ryan Kearns – Director of Community Groups/Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue (LAID OFF)

Ryan Welsh – Pastor of Theology and Discipleship (LAID OFF)

Adam Ramsey – Director of Student Ministry / Pastor at Mars Hill Bellevue (RESIGNED)

Cliff Ellis – Director of Biblical Living / Pastor at Mars Hill West Seattle (LAID OFF)

Gary Shavey – Pastor of Biblical Living at Mars Hill Bellevue (RESIGNED)

James Rose – Pastor at Mars Hill Ballard (REMAINS IN SAME POSITION)

In this post, I provided twitter contact information for these pastors, I encourage Mars Hill stakeholders to contact them for their perspectives.

Additional notes: Cliff Ellis may remain as an unpaid volunteer elder for now. Drew Hensley is still active because he will stay until U-District closes down in October.