UPDATE (6/3): In a surprising move, Mars Hill Ballard pastor Scott Harris alerted Phil Smidt that the church leaders had reversed themselves and will provide a severance for Smidt.
UPDATE (6/1): The goal has been accomplished.
In less than a day, the fund is now over half-way toward the goal of $20k. Many of those giving are former Mars Hill members and leaders. In a sense, there seems to be two Mars Hill churches, one that is run by the current executive elders and then another one in exile.
Without explanation, Mars Hill Ballard’s lead pastor Scott Harris asked popular biblical living pastor Phil Smidt to step down from his staff position. Then yesterday Harris thanked Smidt for his service and told the congregation that the church was still supporting Smidt financially. Tonight, there is reason to question that claim. Smidt’s friends have set up an account on Gofundme.com to help provide financial support and health insurance for the Smidt family over a three month period.
Another former Mars Hill elder, Jon Krombein, created the account because:
We love Pastor Phil Smidt and want to support him and his family in this time of transition since being fired from Mars Hill.
Apparently, the leadership of Mars Hill declined to give Smidt transitional support after abruptly dismissing him this week (an email I sent to lead pastor Scott Harris has not been answered). Sources say Smidt declined to sign the non-disclosure agreement.
Smidt’s departure comes amid other high profile staff changes (e.g., Mike Wilkerson) and dismissals of well loved lay leaders (e.g., Dalton Roraback and Phil Poirier). Roraback was dismissed for raising questions about the executive elders and Poirier was relieved of his position because he declined to sign a promise not to serve at a church in a 10 mile radius of any Mars Hill church.
Harris informed the church that Smidt was asked to step down “after many conversations along with much prayer and deliberation.” I have obtained the email that sources say came from Harris to various leaders at the church:
CG & RG Leaders:
I wanted to let you know about a transition on our Ballard elder team. After many conversations along with much prayer and deliberation I have decided to ask Phil Smidt to step down from staff and eldership, and today is his last day. Phil has been a valuable member of the Ballard leadership team, and has contributed greatly to the counseling and marriage ministries of our entire church.
We are very thankful for his many years of service. We will continue to support Phil financially and through prayer while he seeks what the Lord has next for him. Please join me in praying for him and his family as they make this transition.
We will do our best to keep you informed as we seek someone to take on the Biblical Living Pastor role. In the meantime, myself, Pastor Cliff Ellis, Ballard elders along with other leaders will be taking on this responsibility. We wanted to let you know about this transition as soon as we could so that you would be prepared to discuss this with your groups as necessary. If you have any questions, I along with any of the elders would be happy to discuss this further with you.