Seattle Pacific University Scene of Shooting; One Fatality Reported

It is too early to know many details but a shooting has taken place on a Christian college campus in Seattle.
KIRO-TV has a running commentary on the incident at Seattle Pacific University.
The suspect is in custody, and the search for a second suspect has been called off. Authorities think they have the perpetrator.
This seems to be the summary at this time:


SPU is in lockdown.
NBC News coverage…
Another shooting on a college campus; this is chilling for anyone but especially for those of us who work in what feels like a pretty safe place. My prayers go out to them.

Mars Hill Global Helped Pay For Mars Hill Everett's Building

Now we know one thing that the donations to Mars Hill Global purchased.
In a post on the Mars Hill Church website, Mars Hill Everett franchise lead pastor Ryan Williams thanked Mars Hill Global for financial help with the down payment and restoration costs for the old Washington National Guard Armory building now occupied by the Everett church. Williams said:

Our people work super hard and are amazingly generous to the church, but we just did not have the income to fully fund our own down payment and renovation expenses.

According to this note, Mars Hill Global helped fund church planting efforts in Everett, WA.
Did anyone who gave to the Global Fund* during 2012-2013 know they were doing that? I doubt it.
However, according to the Mars Hill 2013 Annual Report, Mars Hill Global was a fund designed to help spread the Gospel internationally:

I wonder why Rev. Williams waited until now to thank Mars Hill Global. He could have thanked the Global Fund in the 2013 Annual Report. On the page devoted to reporting the accomplishments of Mars Hill Global in the report, nothing is said about Mars Hill Global providing funds to help Mars Hill Everett with a down payment and renovations. Instead, accomplishments in Ethiopia and India are featured.
However, the introduction to the thank you note from Everett lead pastor Ryan Williams says Mars Hill Global is not a destination for funds but a source of them:

Mars Hill Global is made up of 250,000 people around the world who tune in to the Mars Hill Church podcast on a weekly basis. You, our global audience, are praying and giving to Mars Hill Church to see more people meet Jesus, grow in him, and join his mission. One example of what your participation has done over the last year is the planting of Mars Hill Everett in their new home. This letter, from Everett’s lead pastor, Ryan Williams, outlines the specifics of the direct impact you are having on the church.

So what was/is Mars Hill Global? Is it how Mars Hill Church participates in international outreach? Or is it a large group of non-Seattle people who consume the media and donate on the website? Given the various descriptions of Mars Hill Global and Mars Hill Extended Family, I think it is easy to get confused.
Specific to the act of donating money, prior to May of this year, donors (wherever they were) were able to give to a specific Global Fund described above as an international effort. Now, donors can’t give to this fund since the option as been removed.
Prior to this message from Ryan Williams, I can’t find anything that linked Global to Everett. In the promotional video for Mars Hill Everett in October 2012, Mark Driscoll lays out the financial need to the people of the church in Everett and asks them to give toward the goals. There is no mention in the video of help from Mars Hill Global.

 
On the page describing the need for Everett’s move into the Armory, members were invited to give to the effort in a fund designated for that purpose:

According to the Herald Business article, the building’s purchase price was $1.275 million.

The property was ultimately purchased for $1.275 million not long after Mars Hill Church purchased the 104-year-old First Congregational Church building in Tacoma for about $1.9 million. The organization is not shy about handling restorations of historic properties.

When the church first bought the building, the story was that the people attending were going to fund the purchase and renovations.  According to an October 27, 2012 Everett Herald article, the leaders wanted the people to “own” the move to the new building:

Church members will be asked to help pay for the extensive remodel. “We really want our people to own what Jesus is doing here in Everett,” Mitchell said. “About $300,000 moves us in. We could do services there. We’re hoping and praying to be in there by Easter.”

In July 2013, executive pastor Sutton Turner told the church in an email that Everett was raising funds for their building with a report on the progress.

Tacoma & Everett Fundraising
Tacoma and Everett continue to make progress raising money for their buildings. Tacoma has $132,000 left to raise, and Everett needs another $360,000. Both churches are praying to finish fundraising and full occupy their new buildings by January 1.

On September 11, 2013, Pastor Ryan Williams asked the congregation to give more:

  • A big fundraising push: I am asking that everyone who calls Mars Hill Everett home to go back and see if there is anywhere in your budget you could trim in this next season and increase your Armory giving until we’re holding services in the building.

In October 2013, Mark Driscoll told the congregation that the people of Everett had been generous but that more gifts were needed. Nothing was mentioned about people giving to the Global Fund were helping pay for Mars Hill Everett. Driscoll wrote:

The people of Mars Hill Everett have been very faithful. Over 90% of the members have given to the fund. Since September 2012, we have collected 50% above and beyond our annual budget. (Mars Hill Everett brings in about $900,000 a year, and we are close to bringing in an additional $450,000 in the past 13 months.)
We don’t have deep pockets, or big givers. What we have are a lot of faithful givers doing what they can every month.What we need now, Mars Hill, is some help from the rest of you in order to finish making this home for the Everett church ready. We’re almost there, but we’ve still got a little ways to go. Everett is trying to raise $750,000 to get the building ready, and we’ve got $316,000 left to complete this project. As the people of Mars Hill Everett have demonstrated, all it takes is enough people giving a little bit together to make things happen.
We have amazingly generous people in Everett. They are all in. Will you help them move into their new home?

So at the end of the day, who paid the costs for Mars Hill Everett’s relaunch in the Armory? Most likely both the Mars Hill Global Fund and donations from Everett members actually paid those big bills. Global Fund givers might or might not mind that the donations they thought were going to Ethiopia and India (according to the 2013 Annual Report) went at least in part to buy and renovate a building in Everett. This arrangement certainly seems to run afoul of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability’s guidelines; but maybe they don’t care now. It’s all water under the bridge now, right?
Even though the money is spent, it might be interesting to find out what else Mars Hill Global purchased. Perhaps more thank you notes are coming.
*Mars Hill’s use of the term Mars Hill Global is inconsistent. Sometimes they seem to refer to it as the source of funds, as in our “global audience” or “Mars Hill Extended Family.” Other times such as in the 2013 Annual Report, Mars Hill Global refers to the destination of the funds, as in funding international mission work to Ethiopia and India. Sometimes, it appears that they mean both at the same time as in the international audience is helping to fund mission efforts with local Mars Hill church planting and international efforts. The real issue according to the ECFA is donor intent. A key question is are the funds going where the receiver implied they are going and the donor intended. In this case, giving to a Global Fund would naturally create the impression that the funds were going to international use. These are the funds that I am interested in knowing more about. Were the funds given to the global funds used for international purposes? The source of the funds doesn’t matter that much. It is the intent of the donor that matters.
For all posts on Mars Hill Global, click the link.
 

Press Release: Suspended Naturopath Special Advisor to Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church

As part of his media defense, John Catanzaro has issued a lengthy media kit. According to the release available from John Catanzaro’s Facebook page, the naturopath provides wellness consultation for Mars Hill executive pastors, serves on an Advisory Board Council at Mars Hill Church and is a special advisor to Mark Driscoll. Catanzaro lost his license to practice naturopathic medicine in January of this year due to allegations of administering unapproved cancer vaccines to his patients.  He has a hearing scheduled for August of this year and has been mounting a media campaign in his defense. On page 6 of the release, Catanzaro claims to be helping Mars Hill and Acts 29 develop a ministry model for wellness integration:

 
Then on page 9, he claims to be a special advisor to Mark Driscoll:

I have contacted Justin Dean at Mars Hill about these claims. I will post any response I get.
Catanzaro was once a featured writer for Mars Hill Church’s Resurgence website. When his licensed was suspended, all of his articles were pulled from the website. Mark Driscoll has mentioned Cantazaro as a naturopath who helped him overcome his “adrenal fatigue” (not an actual medical condition) and provided an introduction to Catanzaro’s book on marijuana.
It is hard to tell if the claims in the media kit are accurate. On one hand, I have heard from internal Mars Hill sources that Catanzaro administers vitamins and various costly interventions exclusively to Mars Hill executive elders as a part of the wellness plan. On the other hand, Catanzaro also has claimed a research partnership with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard. According to spokespersons for the U of W and Dana Farber, the claims of a partnership were never true. Dana Farber expressly demanded that Catanzaro cease using the name of the clinic in his materials.  It is not clear how Catanzaro could provide naturopathic services to Mars Hill since his license has been suspended.
In addition to his media campaign, Catanzaro has launched a fund raising effort he says will benefit his patients.
 
 
 

Ministers Warn Evangelicals About "Unholy Alliance" With NRA

Interesting presser comes across the wire this morning:

On Visit to Shooting Scene, Evangelical Leader to Warn of Unholy Alliance with NRA

Contact: Peggy Nienaber, National Clergy Council202-236-0953
ISLA VISTA, Calif., June 5, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck, president of the Washington, DC based National Clergy Council, will speak at a news conference tomorrow, June 5, 2014, at 11:00 AM in Isla Vista, California, the scene of a recent mass shooting. In his remarks, Dr. Schenck will warn evangelical pastors and other church leaders against an “unholy alliance” with the NRA.
Schenck said, “Too many evangelical pastors default to the NRA position on guns. By doing so, these church leaders shirk their responsibility to form a biblical position on the life-and-death issue of gun ownership and use. If a Christian’s answer to gun violence in America is, ‘The NRA says,’ then he or she is wrong.”
Schenck is in the Santa Barbara area with Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney meeting with church leaders and family members of victims.
Details
News conference with representatives of National Clergy Council, Revds Rob Schenck and Patrick Mahoney
Thursday, June 5, 2014, 11:00 AM
In front of the Wall of Remembrance,
6549 Pardall Rd Ste C,
Goleta, CA, US, 93117
For information call 202-656-1252

I don’t know how many people this group represents or can influence but this is a reasonable warning. I appreciate something said in a similar press release yesterday:

Mahoney said, “It’s time for the Christian community, especially pastors, to stand up, speak out, and take action. We have spent so much time conducting funerals and comforting the grieving, now we must spend equal time working to avoid the next tragedy. If Christians don’t have answers to this problem, who does? My hope and prayer is that a national conversation on the connection between gun violence and mental illness will begin among pastors and other Christian leaders.”

 

Based on Mark Driscoll's Missing Video, Christianity Today Asks Theologians "Did Jesus Make Mistakes?"

Beyond the implausible explanation from Mars Hill Church leaders about why the Mark Driscoll’s sermon was edited, Christianity Today wanted to know what some theologians thought about the accuracy of the missing material.  So CT’s Kevin Emmert asked for opinions and reported six. Emmert started with a theologian who largely agreed with Driscoll’s missing six minutes and ended with someone who did not. Since he started at one end, I’ll get you started at the other:

“We can distinguish between mistakes and sins. Suppose I write about Jane Austin on social media. My friend corrects me: ‘It’s Austen, not Austin.’ I made a mistake, yet no sin was committed, surely. However, sin involves a mistake of some sort—failing to meet the mark. Jesus could not sin, because God cannot sin, and he is God incarnate (Hab. 1:13; Heb. 4:15). His divine nature is perfect, and a perfect being cannot make mistakes. So Christ the God-man could not make mistakes.”
~ Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Go read the whole thing at CT.

WeLoveMarsHill.com Is Online With Stories From Former Mars Hill Members

A new site — WeLoveMarsHill.com — with testimonies of those who once called Mars Hill their church home is now online.

These are stories by people who once went to MHC. People are often hurt from their experience at the church and we hope to provide a platform for healing and change.
This site gives a voice to those who have been hurt, damaged, abused, neglected, shunned, or rejected by Mark Driscoll and other elders at Mars Hill Church.

There are four stories now with more from the exiles to come.

Question for the Leaders of Mars Hill Church: Where Did the Global Fund Go?

In my prior posts on Mars Hill Global, I have established that in 2011 Mars Hill leaders reworked Mars Hill Global into a means of raising revenue and that nearly $2.3 million was donated toward the Mars Hill Global Fund in the fiscal year from July 2o12 to June 2013.
From the Mars Hill Church 2013 Annual Report:

According to a presentation at a recent Mars Hill vision breakfast, giving to Mars Hill Global remains robust. For instance, in December 2013, just over $340k was given to Mars Hill Global.

Prior to  May 2014, donors could designate gifts to the Mars Hill Global Fund which was distinct from the Mars Hill General Fund. However, sometime in May, the Global Fund disappeared. Now, donations for all purposes have to be given to the Mars Hill General Fund since the option to designate money to the Mars Hill Global Fund is no longer available. One wonders where the Global Fund went in the midst of the fiscal year.
As noted above, Mars Hill reported 2013 giving to the Global Fund but did not report disbursements from that fund. Here is the 2013 statement of income and expenses for the church from the Annual Report.

There is nothing here about Global Fund disbursements. Almost $2.3 million came in. Where did it all go?
The 2013 Annual Report has a whole page on Mars Hill Global activities (click the link to see the page) so some funds must have been spent. The “Church planting and partnerships” line item seems to be the most plausible place to look but disbursements from that line are quite modest.
In contrast to the current Mars Hill Global web page, there is no mention of the United States on the 2013 Annual Report Global page. Along with the accomplishments, the report presents the purposes for Mars Hill Global:

As noted, the focus is decidedly international and appears to be the international mission outreach for the church. Donors would naturally believe that their funds were going for international purposes.
After the recent changes to Mars Hill’s giving webpage, it is clearer that funds given for global outreach now go to the General Fund. There is no Global Fund option. Those who want to give to Mars Hill’s work in Ethiopia or India must hope that some of their donations will go to those ends, but there are no guarantees. However, prior to May of this year, donors could give to a specific Global Fund. According to guidelines of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, funds designated for the Global Fund should be allocated to global outreach. However, Mars Hill has declined to respond to requests to provide an accounting. Also, while the ECFA informed a correspondent recently that the watchdog group was “in communication” with Mars Hill, the ECFA has not responded to my inquiries.
Sources within Mars Hill have consistently informed me that the church uses very little of the Mars Hill Global money for work in Ethiopia and India, reportedly less than 5%. This may or may not be true, but at present, there is no independent way to know. The only leaders at Mars Hill who can speak to those claims are the Executive Elders (Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner) and the Board of Advisors and Accountability (independent members Michael Van Skaik, James McDonald, Paul Tripp, and Larry Osborne).  However, at present, they are not talking.

Sam Kutesa to Preside over UN General Assembly?

In other news…
Kutesa has been appointed as General Assembly president to begin June 11. The question mark in my title is because it is incredible to think that anyone from Uganda could stand for such a position at the UN and even more incredible that it is Kutesa.
Kutesa has long had a reputation for corruption and had to step down from leadership in Uganda’s majority political party due to a corruption investigation. He was also singled out for a travel ban to the U.S. over those same corruption charges.
The main focus of this petition to the UN is Kutesa’s role in defending the Ugandan government over the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In my opinion, political appointments such as this should go to people who have a solid positive reputation for advancing human rights and standing against corruption in governance.

Mars Hill Church Reverses Decision, Provides Severance for Fired Pastor

This just in regarding former Mars Hill Ballard pastor Phil Smidt from Jon Krombein and Josh Moore:

Hello,
W… O… W… To arrive at total amount of donations of $50K in the span of a few days is incredible. Thank you all for all of your continued generosity.
There is even more grace that we need to tell you all about!
At 6pm tonight Scott Harris, Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Ballard, contacted Phil and notified him that Mars Hill had reversed its position and has elected to give the Smidt family the severance offered previously – but this time without conditions. Phil accepted this offer at 7pm. Please continue to pray for the Smidts as they continue to determine how to steward this outrageous outpouring of God’s grace. Because the Smidts need has been so generously met by everyone, we will be closing this site tonight. If Phil had received an unconditional severance to begin with, there never would have been an opportunity for so many people to reach out and let the Smidt’s know how much they are loved. Thank you for supporting our friends.
In the near future, the Smidts will be posting here to more personally communicate out their gratitude to everyone. If you have any questions in the meantime, please continue to contact Jon or Josh through the methods published below.
Thanks,
Josh & Jon

What an interesting situation. Clearly, many former and current Mars Hill members did not approve of the decision to withhold severance and voted with their donations. However, now over $50k has been raised. It will take some wisdom to decide how to proceed.
More broadly, if this decision represents a change at Mars Hill, then perhaps the executive elders could make right their treatment of other dismissed elders who could use some of this love. There are other elders dismissed by Mars Hill who are in need of help.

The Phil Smidt Fund Doubles the Goal: Will the Non-Disclosure Agreement Threat Lose Power at Mars Hill Church? UPDATED

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. No word about what Smidt will do with the $50k raised on his behalf.
……………….
As I write this, supporters of fired Mars Hill pastor Phil Smidt have raised nearly twice as much money as the established goal, almost $40k, in less than two days.  Many donors were former Mars Hill leaders and members, a kind of Mars Hill church in exile. Initially, Mars Hill Ballard lead pastor Scott Harris, who dismissed Smidt, said the church was going to support the Smidts financially. As it turns out, Harris was inadvertently correct. A church is supporting the Smidts, but it is not the Mars Hill Church that Harris works for.
For several years, the threat of having no severance income or health insurance was used by Mars Hill executive elders to coerce departing elders and other staff into an agreement not to raise concerns about Mars Hill in public. Previously, I posted one version of the non-disclosure agreement. In it, all rights and grievances are signed away in order to maintain health insurance coverage and a source of income for a individually determined period of time. The employee also has to agree not to say anything negative about Mars Hill. Reportedly, Phil Smidt declined to sign this agreement and apparently was denied severance pay as a result.
The outpouring of support for Smidt may change business as usual for departing Mars Hill employees.
Now it is plausible that Mars Hill employees who are in the same position as Smidt may follow his example and decline to sign the NDA. Since they can reasonably predict that there will be a community of support for them, they may decide instead to speak out. Time will tell.
In the mean time, the Smidts can breathe a little easier and others who might soon be in his position can rethink their options.
Read all posts on Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll here.