From the Past: The Mars Hill Church Board of Elders Wanted Mark Driscoll Out of Ministry

James MacDonald (left); Mark Driscoll (right)

In 2014 during the final days of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, 21 former elders of the church lodged charges of pastoral misconduct against Mark Driscoll. In line with church bylaws*, a committee of elders investigated those charges by interviewing numerous church members and related witnesses. A report of that investigation was never released to the church or public. Instead, the Board of Elders provided results to a decision making board at Mars Hill called the Board of Overseers.* This was communicated in a conference call and via a brief summary.

Recently, an anonymous source provided me with a summary of these results which were intended to be shared with members after Driscoll resigned. I checked this summary with several sources who were at Mars Hill at the time who confirmed the accuracy of information in the report. These sources were in a position to know if the material was true. I have also seen information shared with various members of the Board of Overseers which make it clear that the Board of Elders did not want Driscoll to be in a teaching or administrative role at Mars Hill without first going through a restoration process.

As you will see when you read the summary, the elders recommended to the Board of Overseers that Mark Driscoll be removed from ministry pending his participation in a plan of restoration. The BoAA (the ruling board of Mars Hill)* did not accept this recommendation in full. At the time, this board acknowledged that Driscoll was guilty of many of the charges, but they did not believe him to be disqualified from ministry. As we now see from this report, the investigating elders disagreed. They believed he should not continue without first being restored.

Instead of entering a plan of restoration, Driscoll resigned. He later started a church in the Phoenix, AZ area. Despite the verdict of his elder board, Driscoll continues in the pulpit to this day.

Here is the summary of Board of Elders investigation. This was a version of results which was intended to go to members of the church.

Members of Mars Hill Church,

This report is given to you from the Board of Elders with permission from the Board of Overseers.* These two boards are working together for the good of Mars Hill Church.

Below are the findings and recommendations from the Board of Elders and our investigation into the charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll. Though Mark has resigned from his role of pastor and elder we believe these findings should be explained to the people Jesus has entrusted to us. In this matter we stand before God, Christ Jesus and the elect angels (1 Timothy 5:21) to give an account.

Summary of BoE Findings

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

1 Timothy 5:19-20 says, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

We conducted an examination of the charges against Mark by interviewing more than 40 eyewitnesses and Mark himself. The charges below we find to be true are supported by testimony of those currently close to Mark, and was not limited to the former staff and elders who signed the formal charges. Based on eyewitness testimony and our own direct experiences we find the following allegations of sin in Mark to be true:

Quick-tempered, including harsh speech
Arrogant
Domineering in his leadership of the elders and staff

While no members of the Board of Elders expect Mark Driscoll to be perfect, the scriptures hold those who serve in the office of elder to a high standard of character and godliness. Throughout the history of Mars Hill Church, Mark has demonstrated these patterns of sin. Former elders have shared their concerns on this with Mark privately, and friends and advisors outside the church have shared this feedback with him as well. On many occasions Mark has acknowledged these sins himself. Sadly we see Mark continuing in these patterns to the present day.

It is with a heavy heart that we believe the church should follow 1 Timothy 5:20 which says that an elder persisting in sin should be rebuked before the body. It is our prayer that through the church following scripture, and the work of the Holy Spirit, Mark can more clearly see his sin, repent and be reconciled with those whom he has sinned against.

Recommendations
It was our recommendation to the Board of Overseers that Mark be rebuked for his sin and a restoration process be developed to shepherd Mark towards godliness. This process would have involved:

Removal from eldership and all church leadership for reflection, repentance, and healing

Repentance and reconciliation with those who have been sinned against

A team of pastors and counselors inside and outside of Mars Hill that would care for Mark throughout the process

Loving restoration of Mark to ministry and leadership when the above pastors unanimously agree that Mark is in a place of repentance and godliness

All of the members of this board love Mark Driscoll deeply. We hoped to see him restored and are grieved that Mark chose to leave before we were able to walk alongside him through this process.

Repentance as Leaders
As we walked through this investigation the Holy Spirit impressed upon us that we too have been sinful and that He is calling us to confession and repentance of our own sins. Before God we confess: we are guilty of arrogance, being quick-tempered, we have led in a domineering manner.

It is our hope to lovingly lead the church in a season of reflection, confession, and repentance. May the love of Jesus Christ we show towards one another and his redemption of our brokenness be what Mars Hill Church is known for in the future. Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Board of Elders
Ed Choi
Alex Ghioni
Aaron Gray
AJ Hamilton
Bubba Jennings
Miles Rohde
Tim Smith

Winners of Mars Hill Church trivia contests might recognize some of this as being similar to a statement read to congregations by elders shortly after Driscoll resigned in October 2014. It was during a church service after Driscoll’s resignation that elders revealed Driscoll resigned instead of entering a restoration plan. However, at that time, the elders were silent about whether or not Driscoll was disqualified. The more complete statement above indicates that the Board of Elders wanted Driscoll to move out of eldership and leadership (in contrast to this report last year).

Of course, none of this changes the past. However, for historical purposes, it does provide a bit more clarity to the narrative. The Board of Elders conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with over 40 witnesses and came to the conclusions you read above. Although there were hints, it was never clear if the group of elders who did the investigation considered Driscoll to be disqualified pending restoration. Apparently, they did.

*The Board of Overseers was a subcommittee of the Board of Advisors and Accountability. The BoAA included people who were not members of Mars Hill and those who were officers, including Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas and was the final decision making body for the church. However, according to the bylaws, only the independent members of the BoAA could investigate any formal charges against Mark Driscoll. In this case, the Board of Overseers (Michael Van Skaik, Larry Osborne, Matt Rogers, Jon Phelps) assigned the task of investigating the charges to the ad hoc Board of Elders listed above. Thus, when the Board of Elders completed their work, they presented the report to the Board of Overseers who were a part of the BoAA.

Johnnie Moore’s Gospel for Asia Evasive Maneuvers

Yesterday, I posted a link to a CBC radio documentary about Gospel for Asia’s use of Canadian funds. In this program by Angela MacIvor, PR guru Johnnie Moore was interviewed and made some dubious claims. I take one of them up today. I’ll examine the others in future posts.

During the interview with Moore, MacIvor asked

Can you explain how it’s possible in a period between 2007-2014, GFA reported to the Canadian Revenue Agency that nearly $94-million left Canada and went to India during that time period but GFA reported to the Indian government that zero dollars went to India?

Moore gave a truly extraordinary answer:

I contest that those statistics are factual. The organization has always contested that that is a factual characterization of that and not to mention the organization doesn’t exclusively operate in India. They operate, their partner, they operate in 20 other countries around the world as well.

This issue was one of the earliest matters I researched regarding GFA. In June 2015, I asked former GFA COO David Carroll why funds listed in Canada as going to India didn’t show up as arriving from Canada in Indian documents. He told me:

The Canadian funds were combined with U.S. funds by our auditor in India for various accounting reasons. There is no requirement that they be reported separately.

However, in the Indian reports, funds were listed as originating from other nations, such as Australia, Germany and the UK. According to Indian regulations and contrary to Carroll’s claim, the national source of the funds has to be listed. As noted by MacIvor, for an 8 year period, it appeared Canada had not sent funds when in fact, almost $94-million had been donated specifically for India.

I want to make it clear that Moore’s mention of the other nations where GFA works is irrelevant. The Canadian branch of GFA specifically said in government reports (see this post for images of those reports) the money was being sent to India. This information must be reported accurately. If GFA Canada wanted to send it somewhere else, then some other nation would have been listed. Moore’s statement about other nations was a distraction.

In response to what appeared to be gaslighting from Moore, MacIvor followed up by asked if GFA wants the public to ignore those public reports. Moore’s answer was stunning:

I am not saying you shouldn’t look at those. People ought to have the humility to ask themselves a more important question which is: What is it that I might not know about this? What is the information that I might not have? Or the information that might not be available in the public domain? And I think there are vast gaps between the two pieces of information.

Humility? It is the height of arrogance for Johnnie Moore to accuse donors, former staff of GFA, and members of the public of lacking humility. Since 2015, hundreds of people have been asking GFA for answers to questions about their financial practices only to be met with silence or evasion. When I asked these exact questions (what don’t I know? what can make this make sense?), all I got was silence and name-calling. When a federal judge wanted answers to questions like this, all he got was stone-walling from GFA. I wish the reporter would have asked Johnnie Moore about the sanctions Judge Timothy Brooks imposed on GFA for failure to respond to questions about financial information during the fraud lawsuit brought by  Garland and Phyllis Murphy.

Then Moore dodged the last question posed by MacIvor when she rightfully asked for the information we mere mortals don’t have. Moore’s reply?

Yeah, first of all, that’s a question for the Believers Eastern Church in India and around the world. That’s a question that needs to be asked of them.

How convenient. K.P. Yohannan isn’t available, so they bring in Moore from D.C. to speak for Yohannan on GFA matters, but when Moore turns the attention to Believers’ Church, all of sudden he can’t speak for Yohannan.

Moore got away without answering the questions. So Moore chides the public for failure to understand something he refuses to disclose. The appeal to Believers Church is a disgusting dodge. Not only is Yohannan the head of the church, but GFA in Canada and the U.S. is responsible for how donor funds are spent. GFA needs to know why the funds they sent to India didn’t show up in records there. It is obvious GFA knows or else they would just as concerned about it (where is our money?).

There are two other issues I want to take up from this interview. First, what does it mean that all the funds given to “the field” went to the field? Second, what about those hospitals in India? Moore was asked about that and misrepresented the situation. More to come in future posts…

CBC Documentary on Gospel for Asia: The Spin Continues

Understandably, this CBC radio documentary, out today, focuses on the Canadian side of the Gospel for Asia story.  It is told via the perspective of Canadian pastor Bruce Morrison who once supported GFA. Bruce has been a relentless searcher of truth and has a great platform here to present his case.

A real plus of this program is the interview with public relations representative Johnnie Moore. K.P. Yohannan declined to meet with CBC despite months of requests but GFA found money to fly Moore in to Wills Point to meet with the CBC.

Moore’s answers shade the truth and are insulting and maddening. I intend to take them apart in future posts, perhaps starting tomorrow.

Eric Metaxas Finds His Moral Whisper About Harassment Claims Against Mike Bloomberg

Oh I see how it is. Mike Bloomberg’s past harassment allegations get some press and Eric Metaxas finds his moral concern.

I don’t think this was “whoa” as in “whoa, he is as much of a louse as Trump, maybe I should support him too.” I think this was “whoa” as in “whoa, that’s bad.” What do you think?

Metaxas and other Trump court evangelicals will be severely blasted if they try to play the morality card on Trump’s opponents during this election. They can’t really do it with a straight face. I suspect Metaxas only wrote a muted “whoa” because he knew he would be ridiculed unmercifully if he went for a stronger condemnation.

Recently CBN’s David Brody (a supporter of Trump) acknowledged that making an issue of Pete Buttigieg’s sexuality was not a winning play for Trump supporters since Trump has no moral high ground. Watch:

Brody just ruled out this out as a plausible strategy given Trump’s questionable behavior. I don’t think Bloomberg is going to prevail, but I can’t see how Republicans can make an issue of it if he does.

What is Going on at Acts 29?

By now, it is common knowledge that Acts 29’s CEO Steve Timmis was fired. According a report in Christianity Today, he was let go “amid accusations of abusive leadership.” The ripple effects are significant. His church in the UK is investigating and his publisher stopped selling his books. All of this is in the CT article.

The essence of the charges against Timmis involve micromanaging and defensiveness when challenged. According to the CT piece, Acts 29 staff members brought this to Acts 29 president Matt Chandler’s attention in 2015. However, Chandler led the dismissal of those staffers and required them to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to get their severance packages.

It is worth noting that Steve Timmis was on Acts 29’s board when Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church was removed from the Acts 29 Network in August 2014. Now we learn that within a year of that act, Timmis was accused of nearly the same actions and protected by Chandler and the Acts 29 board. What changed?

Another name on the list of board members who removed Driscoll was Darrin Patrick. In 2016, Patrick was removed from The Journey in St. Louis for “pastoral misconduct.” Steve Timmis was on Patrick’s restoration team. Now Patrick is back in business.

While none of this may influence how to plant a church, those who are in the market for such services should be aware of what they are getting into.

 

 

 

Don’t Stop Believing Awkward Style

You just never know what you are going to find on this blog.

I don’t really have a reason or words for this but this actually happened.

Jim Bakker, Lori Bakker, Paula White-Cain, Johnathan Cain from Journey, Mondo De La Vega and Tammy Sue Bakker (Jim Bakker’s daughter with Tammy Faye Bakker) make Don’t Stop Believing a sad shadow of its former self.

The shots of the audience at the end are great.

What a show.

Ecumenical National Prayer Breakfast Tribute to Jesus

At least that what Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) says about it.

Rep. Hice remembered to say the gathering was bipartisan but he gave away the fact that the NPB isn’t an ecumenical meeting. It is not a multi-faith event. It is all about portraying a tribute to Christianity by Congress and the Executive branch.

Today, in a move that should shock no one, Trump used the event to tout his acquittal.

In essence, Trump and all of the politicians there get to use religion for political purposes. Trump has a very specific purpose but even the Democratic pols conflate political power with Christianity by their presence and support. I can’t see how either Christianity or government is served well.

This is a good time to point you to the Netflix documentary series on the organization who puts on the NPB – The Fellowship Foundation. While I do believe the organization does and has done good philanthropy, I think the NPB should be halted or modified to make it transparent that Congress doesn’t host it.

UPDATE: Part of Trump’s speech turned out to be a campaign rally of sorts.

Trump will use any opportunity to exalt himself and the Fellowship Foundation smiles and looks on. Everybody pretends to be unified in Jesus.

Jesus wept.

Ted Cruz’s False Ukraine Narrative

There are so many lies and half-truths floating around the trial of Donald Trump that it is hard to know where to start. People who do fact checking for a living are working round the clock to try to keep up. I picked this one mainly because I am interested in it and because I see it as a deliberate, clever and sadly effective attempt to deceive masses of people. I have seen this approach used often by David Barton in his historical misadventures. Often, Barton takes a little truth, a little error and puts them together for a false story that seems plausible to the listener who wants to believe it.

In this case, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has accelerated his promotion of the Russian narrative that Joe Biden’s opposition to Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin in 2015 was motivated by a desire to bring financial gain to his son Hunter. Watch:

The main point is summarized by Cruz at the end:

If you have a sitting Vice President making public policy decisions to benefit his family to the tune of $1-million a year, that raises a serious question of corruption and a president is not only justified in asking for that to be investigated but has a responsibility to see that that’s investigated.

I suppose Cruz could defend himself by saying that he qualified his statement by saying, “if.” However, the video presents a narrative that has Joe Biden withholding over a billion in funds from Ukraine until the Ukrainian leadership fired Viktor Shokin, their prosecutor at the time. That part is true but incomplete. Cruz goes on to suggest Biden did that in order to protect his son’s company from scrutiny from investigation by that same prosecutor. That is false.

At the end of this post I provide annotated links to articles which describe the bipartisan and widespread support for the ouster of Shokin. Shokin was not investigating corruption in Ukraine which is why the U.S. wanted him removed. Biden acted on directives from the Obama administration. If anything, Shokin’s removal made an investigation of Hunter Biden’s company more likely because it increased the chances that a prosecutor with integrity would be appointed. If Biden wanted to help his son, he would have supported Shokin and wanted him to stay in office because Shokin was leaving Burisma (Hunter Biden’s company) alone.

This is fairly easy to learn by reading reports filed at the time in the international, U.S. and Ukrainian press. The Congressional Research Service also provided a similar perspective on this situation and was not controversial at all until Trump needed a defense of his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Burisma. I have no doubt that Ted Cruz has been briefed on this and is aware that Shokin was not a reformer and that Biden did not act alone or in his son’s interest to get Shokin fired. He knows that U.S. and EU policy at the time favored the removal of Shokin and that Biden was just the person on the scene to carry it out. As Vice President, Biden’s presence in Ukraine signaled how serious the donor nations were, but he wasn’t acting on his own.

I realize I am speaking to readers who know this. Most, if not all, regular readers here know this. I am revisiting this because I want to document this shady use of events to craft a false narrative for myself and my teaching. I also want to provide the links below as a resource for those who want evidence to provide skeptical friends who have been bamboozled by Trump’s defenders.

Annotated timeline of Viktor Shokin’s tenure as Prosecutor General:

February 10, 2015Shokin replaces Yarema as top prosecutor – Viktor Shokin was a deputy under former prosecutor Vitaliy Yarema. Yarema failed to prosecute officials in former President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration and generally showed no results in fighting corruption. Shokin’s nomination was opposed by corruption fighters in Ukraine since he came from the same office as Yarema. The Ukrainian Weekly reported:

Fiery debate preceded the vote in which critics warned he’d perform just as badly as Mr. Yarema, having served at the heart of Ukraine’s corrupt law enforcement system for more than a decade, including under the Yanukovych administration.

Shokin did not have a reputation as a corruption fighter when he entered the job.

July 24, 2015Shokin and Guzir were “burned” under the GPU – After just five months on the job, the Center for Combating Corruption in Ukraine grew impatient with Shokin’s lack of action and burned him and others in effigy. This is a Google translation of the Ukrainian statement underneath the video.

Avtomaydan, together with the Center for Combating Corruption and activists from Kharkiv, Poltava, under the GPU, hold an action for the resignation of sabotage reformers of Prosecutor General Shokin and his deputies Huzyr and Stoliarchuk.

September 24, 2015Remarks by US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt at the Odesa Financial Forum – In his remarks, Pyatt specifically scolded the Prosecutor General’s office for interfering with a UK investigation of Burisma. Shokin’s predecessor had failed to cooperate. Then Shokin failed to hold anyone accountable for the neglect of a thorough investigation of charges against Burisma. If Biden wanted to encourage corruption and take heat from Burisma, he would have left Shokin alone. Instead, Biden carried out U.S. policy and insisted he be relieved of his position.

October 8, 2015Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – Viktor Shokin was still Prosecutor General when Nuland said the following to the Senate committee:

Like Ukraine’s police force, the Prosecutor General’s Office has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off. That means it must investigate and successfully prosecute corruption and asset recovery cases – including locking up dirty personnel in the PGO itself;

October 12, 2015Sobolev’s case for firing Shokin steadily gains momentum – Ukrainian legislator Yegor Sobolev’s effort to get Shokin fired was featured in this Kyiv Post article. Biden was just one of many people inside and outside of Ukraine who wanted Shokin replaced. What did Sobolev have to gain from Shokin’s removal from office? According to Sobolev, legislators were fearful of speaking out because Shokin used the power of his office to target his political enemies.

Sobolev has so far collected 114 signatures in parliament for dismissing Shokin, still well short of the 150 signatures needed to put the issue on the agenda.

He said in an interview with the Kyiv Post that not a single signature has been collected since the Sept. 17 arrest of Radical Party lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk on suspicion of bribery. Critics see the arrest as political revenge by Shokin for Mosiychuk’s support for his firing.

“After Ihor’s arrest everyone started thinking ‘what if this happens to me tomorrow’?” Sobolev said. “One of Shokin’s goals is to show to lawmakers what consequences could happen to those who submit signatures for his dismissal.”

October 31, 2015Protesters drive to Poroshenko’s mansion to demand dismissal of Shokin – About 200 protests drove to the Ukraine president’s house to call for Shokin’s removal. Were they working for the Bidens?

February 16, 2015; March 29, 2015 – It seems clear from a review of sources during the term of Shokin that he was not popular with reformers and corruption fighters. The U.S., EU, and Ukrainian politicians and civilians wanted him removed. Joe Biden delivered the message which was consistent with U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Shokin resigned initially on February 16, 2015. He didn’t leave office right away though and had to be voted out by the legislature which occurred on March 29, 2015.

 

Christian Counseling Keynote Speaker Mike Pompeo Delivers Some Nasty Examples

UPDATE: (1/26) – The NYT obtained emails supporting Mark Louise Kelly’s assertion that questions about Ukraine were to be a part of the interview with Pompeo. He claimed Ukraine wasn’t on the agenda.

Mike Pompeo must be about to break the cognitive dissonance meter. He is in the thick of the Trump Ukraine scandal having to defend his boss while holding himself up as a Christian leader at the State Department. I am old enough to remember his talk at the annual conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors.After he spoke at the AACC conference, he posted video of the speech with the caption, “Being a Christian Leader.” There were mighty and many complaints about this apparent favoring of Christianity by the Secretary of State and the caption was eventually changed.
Now with the caveat that anyone can have a bad day, I bring you Mike Pompeo’s performance in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly on Ukraine’s former ambassador Marie Yovanovich:

Christian leadership?

Obviously Pompeo was caught in an effort to save face. He hasn’t defended every state department employee if he hasn’t defended Marie Yovanovich. There is an obvious exception and he can’t even acknowledge this. That would be bad enough but then it gets worse.

According to Kelly, Pompeo then dared her to find Ukraine on a map, swearing in a belligerent manner.

If all of this took place as portrayed, Pompeo owes that reporter an apology and should answer the questions. He owes that to Yovanovich and his department at State, as well as the citizens of the nation. Trump and his administration don’t seem to have a sense that they work for us.

Today Pompeo came out with a statement defending himself. Here it is:

With this statement Pompeo suggests that a reporter agreed to have a conversation after the interview and that the conversation would be off the record. While that could be true, I am skeptical. Furthermore, it isn’t clear when the interview was over.

In any case, even if the reporter agreed to keep the conversation off the record, Pompeo is not denying it took place or any of the contents. I still can’t square this with his claim to be a Christian leader. Berating, challenging and swearing at a reporter who asked a good and relevant question is not Christian leadership. He is mad he got caught but that is on him. He projects his mistake on the entire media as a scapegoat, but I see what happened. Then he implied the reporter pointed to Bangladesh instead of Ukraine when he asked her where Ukraine is on a map. The reporter has a graduate degree in European studies, I doubt she made that big of a mistake, if she did at all.

Here is another problem with Pompeo’s remarks. He implies that U.S. Ukraine policy should depend on how many Americans care about Ukraine. This is frightening and again speaks to how politicized this administration has made our foreign policy. Ukraine is an ally that helps keep Russia from redrawing the map in eastern Europe. They are a freedom loving people who do not want to become Putin’s subjects. Mike Pompeo, I care about Ukraine and many Americans do too.

Pompeo told the AACC audience that he was working for religious freedom around the world. I don’t believe him if he doesn’t care about Ukraine. Putin doesn’t care about religious freedom. He only cares about his freedom to establish his religious machine. Religious minorities in Russia don’t have it as good. Is this what Pompeo wants for Ukraine?

Here is a link to the entire interview.

Martin Luther King Day 2020 – I Have a Dream Speech

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

 

For a transcript of the speech, you can consult the National Archives at this link.  It is fascinating to examine the draft of the speech. In particular, the phrase “I have a dream today” isn’t in the draft. He improvised the phrase.  He had used it before but it wasn’t in the prepared remarks. In the moment, inspiration came to him and he took the speech to another level. See this interview with Clarence Jones for more on that story.