A group called “People Against Fundamentalism” plans to protest Brian Houston’s decision to bring Mark Driscoll to the Sydney Hillsong Conference this summer.
According to the group’s website, the protest will take place on May 31 at the Sydney church’s Waterloo campus.
Protests may also occur in London where Driscoll is slated to speak in July. A petition asking Hillsong to remove Driscoll as a speaker has garnered nearly 1,000 signature on Change.org. Pastor Houston issued a statement indicating that Driscoll is not going to speak but share what he has learned in an interview with Houston.
Driscoll’s recent activities may signal his stance at Hillsong. At Bayside Church two weeks ago, Driscoll spoke about forgiving those who wrong him but said next to nothing about his part in the demise of Mars Hill Church. Then, just this past weekend, Driscoll failed to correct Gold Creek Community Church pastor Dan Kellogg when Kellogg claimed that Driscoll’s was “completely mistreated by former staff people.”
Back in March, Brian Houston released a statement to me saying that Mark Driscoll would not speak at the Hillsong Conferences in London and Sydney but instead would be interviewed with his wife. While that move represents a diminished role at the conferences, the change is not good enough for UK resident Natalie Collins. She has started a petition asking Hillsong to remove Driscoll from the program.
The petition begins:
This is both disappointing and of great concern to many across the UK and internationally. Mark Driscoll resigned from leadership after many leaders and other within his church raised issues about unethical and abusive behaviour including:
- Ex-leaders of Mars Hill Church repenting of their collusion with Mark Driscoll
- Ex-members of Mars Hill reporting they have experienced spiritual abuse from Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, including controlling and manipulative behaviour
- Evidence of plagiarism in at least one book he has written
- Misuse of tithes by Mars Hill Church
- Unethical actions taken to ensure Grace and Mark Driscoll’s book was featured on a bestselling book list
- Mark Driscoll’s public statements against women in leadership over the last two decades which have greatly undermined the Gospel message of women as leaders, evangelists and full members of the Body of Christ.
With only 17 signers, the petition does not seem to be catching on rapidly.
Driscoll recently refurbished his website and renamed his non-profit entity, Mark Driscoll Ministries. Meanwhile, some former members have continued their fund raising efforts to bring a RICO lawsuit against Driscoll’s former church.
I just received this information from Mark DeMoss via email:
Statement by Brian Houston on Mark Driscoll at Hillsong 2015 Conference
For years, Hillsong has invited pastors and Christian leaders from around the world to speak at our annual conferences in Sydney, Australia and London, England. Well in advance of his resignation as senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, we invited Mark Driscoll to be one of our speakers this summer. Rather than having Mark preach or teach, I am excited about interviewing Mark and his wife, Grace from our main platform during our Hillsong Conference 2015.
I am looking forward to having this opportunity to speak openly with the Driscolls about life and ministry, as well as recent events and lessons they’ve learned through personal and ministry trials during the past year. My aim is to have an in-depth conversation that gives insight into their hearts.
Mark has been candid about mistakes he has made, and if we can, through our conference, help others through his life experiences, we think that will prove valuable.
This exclusive statement comes from Brian Houston in response to my post last week noting that Mark Driscoll was slated to speak at the conferences. Instead of having a speaking position, he will be interviewed by Houston.
The description of Driscoll on the conference websites (Sydney, Europe) has not changed to reflect this news or the dissolution of Mars Hill Church. The description lists him as “founding pastor” rather than co-founder of the former Mars Hill Church.