Read the Plan of Dissolution for Mars Hill Church

At the end of 2014, Mars Hill Church closed down. Several ends were loose as MHC ceased to hold services. Mark Driscoll had left the church but there was much curiosity about the report prepared by his elders which called on him to step down and enter a plan of restoration. That report was never released.
The status of the assets of MHC was also of interest to many members and ex-members. The plan was to distribute the remaining funds and proceeds from sales to 11 MHC video locations that became free standing churches. Nothing was explained to the public by remaining administrators Kerry Dodds and Caleb Walters.
Recently, I have obtained the plans of dissolution for MHC and the MHC Foundation for Planting Churches as filed with the Attorney General’s office. The latter was a trust on behalf of MHC and had $154,732 remaining in an account. After expenses, the proceeds of those funds went to an Indian mission, Visions Nationals, and the mission to Ethiopia, New Covenant Foundation. After these groups had been used to solicit funds for Mars Hill Global, it is nice to see them benefit.
Read the Dissolution Plan for Mars Hill Church Foundation for Planting Churches
Although no figures are given, the distribution of remaining assets owned by Mars Hill Church were given to the 11 churches according to their attendance and offerings. See the distribution percentages below:
MHC dist plan churches
Although the plan doesn’t specify the amount of money involved, the assets were distributed according to financial and attendance numbers.
Read the Dissolution Plan for Mars Hill Church
The church’s official date of dissolution was June 30, 2016:

Plan of Distribution. The Board hereby approves, authorizes, and consents to the voluntary dissolution of the Corporation, such dissolution to be effected in a reasonably expeditious manner but in no event later than June 30, 2016, and in accordance with the Plan set forth in this Agreement.

The Behind the Scenes Mars Hill Global Maneuvers

Over a year after the last service was held at Mars Hill Church, there are still stories to be told.
Recently, I acquired two memos which provide details about Mars Hill Global, a mysterious aspect of the demise of Mars Hill Church. From 2012 until mid-2014, Mars Hill Church marketed Mars Hill Global as a fund to help support church planters in India and Ethiopia. However, at least some insiders at Mars Hill knew that the donations given through the Global Fund were spent primarily on church planting expenses in the United States. One memo I posted in 2014 suggested that international projects would bring in lots of dollars which could in turn be used to fuel domestic expansion.
Once I started asking questions about Mars Hill Global, changes began to happen on the Mars Hill website. Because initially the changes were unexplained, I made a video documenting at least one of the major changes. This was in response to claims from Mars Hill’s leaders that the Global Fund was not really a fund but a source of funds from donors who were not part of Mars Hill’s churches. As I demonstrate, this explanation seemed problematic at the time since Mars Hill members could either give to the general fund which was unrestricted or to the Global Fund which was presented to the church after 2012 as a fund to spread the Gospel outside of the U.S., especially in India and Ethiopia.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4EFX3-RXyg[/youtube]
An accounting of how Global Fund donations were spent has been an ongoing desire of many former Mars Hill members. In addition to wondering how the funds from church liquidation have been spent, former members still want to know how much money went to international mission efforts (see this petition).
The first of the two memos I have acquired on the subject was sent in June 2014. It was addressed to the lead pastors of the 15 locations and summarized the Board of Advisors and Accountability’s response to questions about Mars Hill Global which I began raising in May. In this we learn that Mars Hill Church leaders worked with Dan Busby of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to change the messaging surrounding Mars Hill Global. According to this memo, Busby approved the decision to keep private the details about how much was actually spent on missions. Click on each thumbnail below to read the memo.

For now, I would like to pull out one important section:
MHC Memo GFund
In this memo, the BOAA and the ECFA specifically rejected transparency. While I have reason to believe that the decision was not unanimous among the executive elders (Mark Driscoll, Sutton Turner and Dave Bruskas) and BOAA, it is stunning that Mars Hill’s leaders withheld that information. As a non-profit accountable to the public and a church accountable to those who gave the money, this information should have been disclosed. However, for some reason, the information appears to be considered classified also by those currently wrapping up Mars Hill’s affairs. After he left Mars Hill, Sutton Turner planned to release the information but was warned by Mars Hill lawyers not to.
Looking back, one of the executive elders, Dave Bruskas told me in an email that he thinks more disclosure was warranted. Bruskas said:

In hindsight, I think itemizing money spent on domestic church planting, international church planting and relief efforts would have been helpful for donors and the general public.  I also think aggregating salaries in the separate line items of local church staffing costs and central staffing costs (including executive salaries) rather than lumping all compensation into a single category of “Personnel Costs” would have given donors and the general public a better picture of how donations were being spent.

The other memo, sent in early July, provides some insight into how much money was given via the the Global designation.

In this memo, the figure of $3-million for Mars Hill Global was projected for fiscal year 2015 based on comparable giving in FY 2014. For most of FY 2014 (July 2013-June 2014), donors had the option of designating Global Fund via the drop down menu. In the image above taken from the first memo, the Mars Hill BOAA decided not to reveal how much it cost to support 40 Ethiopia church planters. However, this can estimated since it was known that Mars Hill partnered with New Covenant Foundation which suggests $170/month/church planter. Mars Hill supporter 40 such families which leads to $81,600 if the support was full. They also supported Indian missionaries and did some translation work.*
These memos confirm much of what was speculation in 2014. Where I disagree with the thrust of this memo is the only mistake was to leave Global Fund on the Giving Page drop down menu. As I documented repeatedly in 2014, Mars Hill marketed Mars Hill Global as the way Mars Hill Church did missions. I don’t read that in these memos.
 
*Keep in mind, these are estimates since Mars Hill’s leaders both before and after the church closed failed to disclose the exact figures. The memos provide a bit more confirmation that the estimates are close.

New Website is "One-Stop Resource" on Mars Hill Church RICO Lawsuit, Global Fund and Result Source

Marshilllawsuit.com bills itself as a “one-stop resource” for information relating to the planned RICO lawsuit involving Mars Hill Church leaders.
While fund raising is slow going, this site brings together various issues which should help anyone trying to understand why the potential plaintiffs want to bring suit. In addition to the value the site has to those interested in the lawsuit, it summarizes two of the larger controversies (Global Fund and Result Source).
Although these issues have largely faded from public conversation, they are unfinished in that Mars Hill’s major players have been silent on specifics.
Mark Driscoll is now in Phoenix along some former Mars Hill people who are helping with the technical aspects of his website and perhaps to help start a church.

Sutton Turner Talks Mars Hill Global; Financial Information Omitted at Lawyers' Request

Sutton Turner provides his side of the Mars Hill Global story in a lengthy blog post today.
The omission of financial information is puzzling. For instance, Turner says:

In 2014 alone, Mars Hill gave $X to support efforts in Ethiopia and India. This is over X times what was given toward all non-US church planting from 2009-2011.* See the quote below from the Mars Hill Church FAQ web page in 2014**:

He addresses the confusion surrounding messaging on Global and honored the request of attorneys to leave out specific dollar amount given to international missions. Even though there is potential for legal action, it is hard to understand why these numbers are not provided. Turner says:

*Unfortunately, Mars Hill’s attorneys have requested that I not blog. I have removed some of the financial information as well as other non-financial information in response to their request.

Even though Mars Hill is a church, the attorneys are ruling the situation. The amount of money a church gives to missions is a secret? This is ridiculous, especially in absence of some compelling explanation.
Regarding the intent of the Mars Hill Global program, I have a hard time with these paragraphs:

Over the last twelve months, many have criticized the intentions and practices surrounding Mars Hill Global. This criticism focused around the claim that the leadership of Mars Hill confused donors who were giving to the Global Fund leading them to believe that 100% of all donations to Mars Hill Global went to Ethiopia and India.
I am sorry that some who contributed to Mars Hill Global (as well as those who did not contribute) were mistakenly led to believe incorrect information.That was neither my nor the church’s intention, but as the accusations came in, we quickly made a change on the online giving site to remove the term “Global Fund” (which had been used since 2009) to make it clearer. Secondly, we had the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), as well as an external, independent auditor, conduct thorough investigations. Both of these groups found that we could have been clearer during our communications (and in hindsight, we certainly agreed), but they reported that we did nothing wrong. Although neither the ECFA nor the auditor gave us any course of corrective action, my leadership team and I wanted to do everything we could to remedy the situation and correct our mistakes.

Turner did not deal with this memo which seems to suggest that there was a plan to misinform donors. For instance, the amount of money was not to be disclosed to the public (still not happening):

Flagship Projects
Of the money that comes into the Global Fund, designate a fixed percentage internally for highly visible, marketable projects such as mission trips, orphan care, support for pastors and missionaries in the third world, etc. (ten to fifteen strategic operations in locations where Mars Hill wants to be long term). This percentage should be flexible (not a “tithe”), and not communicated to the public. Support for Mars Hill Global would be support for Mars Hill Church in general, but the difference and the draw would be that a portion of Global gifts would also benefit projects that spread the gospel and serve the needs of people around the world.

And then there was this paragraph:

The Global Fund could be beneficial in a number of ways, besides the obvious gain of increased funding:
• For a relatively low cost (e.g. $10K/month), supporting a few missionaries and benevolence projects would serve to deflect criticism, increase goodwill, and create opportunities to influence and learn from other ministries.

The plan at some point in re-launching Global was to support missions but to do so in a way that brought in more money than the mission support required. Again, read the entire re-launch memo; somebody had intent to play up missions and reap a harvest for U.S. expansion.
I was glad that Turner disclosed that the ECFA was involved. That they required nothing of Mars Hill is a loud clear testimony that they are not in business for donors. I may write a separate post about this disclosure.
Overall, I appreciate Turner’s disclosures. He acknowledges mistakes and says he was responsible:

I now realize that over time, I did not continue to communicate as well as I should have that Mars Hill Global was doing church planting in the US, Ethiopia, and India. My personal passion for Ethiopia began to overtake the communication about church planting in the US.

My personal passion for Ethiopia began to overtake the communication about church planting in the US.

I also made a very bad assumption that because the last decade of Mars Hill had been acutely focused on church planting in the US with Acts29, that I needed to focus more on what we were doing outside of the US. I assumed that everyone knew our church planting efforts in the US were continuing (which they did—with seven more churches between 2012 and 2014.)

I am deeply sorry for any confusion caused by my and my former team’s communications. Although this was certainly not our intention, the outcome still remains and we did everything in our power to rectify this error with Global donors in the summer of 2014. I understand that this situation has hurt some people’s (both Christian and non-Christian) trust in church stewardship for the larger church in general, and I am deeply saddened by this. Again, I am very sorry; I should have better communicated the goals, the use of funds, and the future vision of Mars Hill Global in the United States and wherever God would lead us in the world.

In this post, Turner makes another stunning admission:

Mistakes. When you make a mistake, admit it clearly and quickly. As I have mentioned previously, the MH BOAA discussed many different paths for communication, including trying to get ahead of the story and remaining silent. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of assuming that if we were silent about this issue it would pass over.

Mars Hill (along with the ECFA) hoped the matter would go away. The ECFA continues to take this approach when asked questions about their dealings. In some cases, it probably does work. It has worked so far for David Jeremiah but doesn’t always work as in the case of Mars Hill.
All in all Turner has shed some light on the Mars Hill Global story. Although there are more questions (e.g., who told Justin Dean to make up that elaborate story about the Global Fund not being a fund?), Turner’s admission point us to a little more clarity. If only the lawyers would understand what kind of organization they work for.
 
 

Sutton Turner: Mars Hill Church's Former Attorneys Want Blog Posts Removed

Late yesterday, Sutton Turner published a must-read blog post.
When an article begins with “attorneys did not want me to post any more blogs and to remove” prior posts, it is a good indication that one should read the rest. Specifically, Turner wrote that the church’s former attorney discouraged more communication and wanted him to remove previous posts.

For the past several weeks, I have been planning to discuss the lessons I have learned from events and mistakes at Mars Hill Church on my website. Earlier this week, I wrote three separate blogs regarding the ResultSource decision in 2011 at Mars Hill. Today, I planned to focus on Mars Hill Global. However, last night I received a call to explain that Mars Hill’s former attorneys did not want me to post any more blogs and also to remove what has already been communicated this week.

Do the former attorney’s not understand how the web works? The information is already out.
I’m impressed that Turner has not removed the prior posts and I appreciate Turner’s motives for writing:

In our modern day, a church of its size, influence, and scope has never failed in such a public way nor experienced such unprecedented circumstances. Unless, we study the leadership, events, decisions, victories, and failures—the whole history of Mars Hill Church—it may very well be repeated.

There are several stunning lines in this post. Here’s one:

There was actually a division on the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) as some men wanted to put all the blame for both Global and ResultSource on me, but I am thankful for men who did not allow that.

Turner closes with more surprises:

As I’ve said, I do believe there are helpful lessons to be shared that might prevent what happened at Mars Hill from ever happening again. Consequently, I will not be able to fully comply with the request of Mars Hill’s former attorneys. However, I will rework the Global blog post content this weekend and remove many of the financial numbers that people are so eager to know.

What could possibly be the problem with releasing the numbers?  How are Mars Hill Church’s former attorneys (plural?) even players at this point?
Stay tuned and go read the entire post.

Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll on the Impact of Mars Hill Global on World Missions

In a meeting at Mars Hill Shoreline which, according to my source, occurred sometime between April and June of 2012, Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll responded to a question about what impact Mars Hill Church desired to have in “world missions.” Driscoll directed the question to Turner who described what the church was doing in Mars Hill Global. Listen:

Transcript:

We’ve got some really exciting opportunities that we’re launching and I don’t know if you watch the blogs but Mars Hill Global has really launched and is launching, planting churches in Ethiopia and India and actually had a meeting on Friday with a church planting group that we are going to resource in the Dominican Republic. So really on Asia, and Africa and then in Latin America and there’s two ways that we do things cause its all about making disciples and planting churches cause that’s what God’s called us to do.  So we need to stay on mission with that as we do international and as we go global.  So what that means is is two things, we plant churches, so we fund either, like in Ethiopia, there’s a Kale-Hewitt Bible College, so there’s ten guys that are there right now that we’re going to fund, it’s a two year process and then they’ll go out and we’ll actually help them and support them financially on planting.  And secondly, we’re doing there’s two regions in India that we’ll do some planting, and then there’s the Dominican Republic.

Turner then discusses the translation work for Driscoll’s Doctrine book and the Bible. They also discuss the funding coming from listeners who do not attend Mars Hill Church. He says that they hope the listeners outside Mars Hill will give to a variety of projects domestic and otherwise. He then adds that Mars Hill Military Mission was folded into Global. Eventually, the Military Mission was discontinued because of low return on investment.
Turner told the crowd that Mars Hill Global launched work in Ethiopia, India and the Dominican Republic. I can’t find any disclosure that the Global Fund would primarily be used to buy and refurbish churches in the United States. It certainly seems understandable that a listener might get the idea that Mars Hill Global was the church’s presence in world missions.
For a similar speech from Mark Driscoll, see this link.
For all posts on Mars Hill Global, see this link.

Sutton Turner Begins His Defense of Mars Hill Global

After describing his part in the ResultSource New York Times best seller deal, Sutton Turner has now turned his attention to Mars Hill Global and laying off staff. Here I deal with his first Mars Hill Global post.
Turner posted the following video:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/5YPmd9vn7V8[/youtube]
In the transcript to follow, he highlighted the following:

So what does Mars Hill Global do?

Well Mars Hill Global is doing and participating in church planting here in Ethiopia and also in India, also we are doing church planting in the United States as well. We are doing all of that. Because at Mars Hill Church we believe (that) Jesus has called us to make disciples and plant churches. So I want to ask you to be a part, I want to ask you to be a part of the Extended Family of Mars Hill Global. Sign up today, become a member of the extended family, start participating with online with us, and let’s see what Jesus Christ is going to do do, not only in the United States but to the ends of the earth.”

The page where that video was posted has of course been removed from view, and at last look, Mars Hill has blocked searches of its website via the Internet Archive. I do however have the page saved where that video was featured.  You can review that here at the link.

The following video also preceded many of the sermons vodcasts on the Mars Hill website starting at least in 2013.

Transcript:

Howdy Mars Hill Church, pastor Sutton Turner here and I’m in Ethiopia, and I just want to thank Jesus for continuing to use Mars Hill Church to make disciples and plant churches. Mars Hill Global is the arm of Mars Hill Church that makes disciples and plant churches all over the world. We not only do church planting, but we help better equip church planters. Most recently, we shipped and now distributed a thousand Bibles into Amharic which is the language here in Ethiopia, and we launched a project to translate Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Doctrine book into Spanish. We have people from over 29 different countries that are giving on a monthly basis to Mars Hill Global.

So whether you’re a member of one of our Mars Hill Church locations in the United States or you’re one of 100,000 podcasters every single week, we encourage you to pray about giving above and beyond your tithe to Mars Hill Global. Thank you and let’s see more materials translated, more pastors sent out, more churches planted, and more people saved by Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)

In this clip, Turner places the emphasis on Mars Hill Global as the arm of the church that plants churches all over the world. The video is shot in Ethiopia and no mention is made of the U.S.

There were many other communications from Mars Hill Church which portrayed Global as a missions outreach of the church, most of which I have written about before. I do have other documents on the subject which I have not posted. We shall see if they become relevant.

Mark Driscoll in 2012: Lots Going On With Mars Hill Global

Once upon a time, Mars Hill Church leaders hosted by invitation only “vision breakfasts” for large donors. A former member taped one of the presentation made by Mark Driscoll about the various ministries of the church. This source sent a clip of Driscoll just as he began talking about Mars Hill Global. On May 10, 2012, Driscoll told the crowd:

We’re seeing a lot going on with Mars Hill Global. Lots of money coming in so we can translate the sermons into Spanish. We’ve gotten the Doctrine book translated into Spanish and we’re going to give it away free online. Pastor Dad, Porn Again Christian are resources translated into multiple languages and being given away as well; as well as helping fund international church planting. So lots going on on the international fronts as well.

Listen:

Driscoll addressed the growth of the websites, and the congregations. Then he updated the crowd on his upcoming book on Ephesians and said, “My hope is to get a devotional commentary of Ephesians on the New York Times best seller list.” While I have no evidence that the church planned to go back to the Resultsource well, there may have been some consideration given to it. My optimistic suspicion is that the process to become a member of the ECFA (happened later in 2012) quashed any thoughts of using a Resultsource like scheme.
In his summary of Mars Hill Global, Driscoll does not mention church planting in the United States. To his top givers in 2012, he says Mars Hill Global funds international missions and that there was “lots going on on the international fronts.” Mentioning the translation projects fits with the Global Fund memo from 2011 in which the plan was to feature high profile mission projects but spend most of the money on domestic work. Driscoll said lots of money was coming in but he didn’t tell the donors that the money was going to buy and refurbish buildings in the states.
Mars Hill Church continues to be a legal entity in the process of dissolution. Dave Bruskas indicated to me recently that he thought someone was monitoring the press@marshill.com account for press inquiries. However, no replies have come to my emails. I am aware that the mission groups who depended on Mars Hill have not heard anything definite about assistance beyond June of this year.

Mars Hill Church Website Searchable Again; Global Fund Pages Restored

After months of being blocked by robots.txt code that prohibited searching the Internet Archives, Mars Hill Church’s website is now searchable again. About a year ago, the church blocked searches of archived pages. I was common for pages to disappear from the Mars Hill website shortly after I linked to that page. Now those pages should show up in searches of the archive.
For instance, pages about the Global Fund frequently disappeared from the website after being posted here. They were not searchable via the archive. Furthermore pages that would shed light on various claims were unavailable. Let me illustrate:
HelpChurch Planters MHGlobal
This banner comes from this deleted page about support for Ethiopia pastors (by the way, the New Covenant Foundation still has not received any firm commitment for a distribution from Mars Hill, for more see this post).
In contrast to what Justin Dean told me, this page demonstrates that the Global Fund was a fund in late 2012.
GlobalFund101512
 
For those wanting to get a timeline of events and claims at Mars Hill, this resource is invaluable.
 
 
 

Mars Hill Military Mission and Mars Hill Global: When Two Became One

When the two became one account, that is.
As Mars Hill Church winds down, I am looking back through my notes and materials to see what other information might be relevant to the big picture. One part of the Mars Hill story that I haven’t spent much time looking at is the Mars Hill Military Mission. I did some research on it months ago but didn’t write about it. However, writing about Global earlier today reminded me of a connection between Mars Hill Global and the Military Mission. The Military Mission was folded into Mars Hill Global in early 2012. Up to that time, people were giving specifically so Mars Hill books and resources could be shipped to service members. Mark Driscoll A Mars Hill staffer* discussed the combination of the Military Mission into what was called “Global Ministries” in a now deleted update on the Mars Hill website.
However, the amazing Wenatchee the Hatchet has a snippet of that deleted update where Mark Driscoll a Mars Hill staffer* talks about the combination of the Military Mission with Global ministries. Here it is:

… Because of the enormous growth of this ministry, we are needing to make some changes that will allow us to keep up with the great number of orders that are flowing in. The Military Mission will now become part of our new Global Ministries department. Because distribution is a large part of what Mars Hill Military Mission does, this strategic move will allow us to send out more resources at a quicker, less expensive, and more efficient rate. We have also combined Global Ministries and Military Mission’s financial contributions to one account. This will not only simplify our accounting processes but it will enable our ministries to have more of a global impact. Those of you who are currently giving specifically to the Military Mission might ask “Will my donations still be funding the Military Mission?” Our answer would be, “Yes—and then some.”

The date on this update is April 14, 2012. The church revealed that donors at one time gave specifically to the Military Mission. It was then disclosed that the donations would go to the new department with a “global impact.” Would the donations to the reconfigured Global Fund fund military missions? “Yes–and then some,” the update said. However, the Military Mission eventually went away in favor of an emphasis on branding Mars Hill Global as international missions work.
While this action was taken before Mars Hill Church became accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the decision by the church to mix donations designation for military and missions use may not have been proper or in keeping with ECFA guidelines. Donor intent is supposed to guide non-profit spending. If donations were made to provide resources to the military but were then combined into a fund that the church is now saying went mostly to funding U.S. expansion of video locations, then those donations may not have been spent as intended.
Another take away from the Mars Hill update is that the Global ministries had its own account. Earlier today, I presented evidence which seems to confirm that. However, the official position of the church is that the Global Fund wasn’t considered a fund beginning in 2012. Clearly, Driscoll the staffer* said the two mission activities would be combined to one account.
Demise of the Military Mission
The Military Mission was the subject of some negative attention from Sutton Turner in his March 2012 middle of the night memo to Driscoll and Dave Bruskas were he told his fellow executive elders that the church was in a “big mess.” In a long list of financially unsustainable activities, Turner said:

16. Having ministries like Film and Theology and Military Missions is not sustainable.

Eventually, as the Mars Hill update said, the Military mission was folded into Global.
In a Spring 2012 memo about combining the Military Mission into the Global brand, the value of the military work was questioned:
militarymissionROIproblem
Without the photos and stories, apparently the return on investment (ROI) just wasn’t enough for Mars Hill leaders. In time, they agreed with Turner that the Military Mission was not sustainable. The focus on the military waned once Mars Hill Global went into full swing.
As it turned out making a church into a business was not sustainable.
 
*The post originally said that Mark Driscoll authored the update about the Military Mission. However, Wenatchee the Hatchet informed me that a Mars Hill staffer authored the post. At the request of the staffer, the name is being withheld. However, the information was on the Mars Hill website as the position of the church.