In recent days, several members of Soma churches have written me with questions they have posed to either their local pastors or to the leaders at Soma Tacoma. The questions relate to the relationship between Soma and Mars Hill now and after the transition to independent churches. I don’t know the answers to these questions and have posed them to my contacts at Soma with no answer as yet. The members who wrote have not gotten answers either.
I am posting them here because I think if several people are asking, then many more would like to know. I also think some readers might know the answers and might then step forward either on the blog or via email. I have combined some similar questions into one category. Here they are:
1. Mars Hill Global Fund: Do you believe Soma has an obligation to get clarity on where the money went, and making sure what’s left gets to the right people?
2. Is Soma going to have any role in funding any Mars Hill severance pay? Will tithes from local Soma churches have any part in fulfilling Bellevue’s obligations?
3. Do you think MHC/Bellevue Church as part of Soma should have the existing leadership removed of their authority as elders and leaders? (Jeff Vanderstelt said they’d step down, now not the case) Do you think these leaders, if they knew of abusive climate but did nothing, should be disqualified?
4. What is you policy on shunning? Is this practice condemned at Soma?
5. Will former MHC leadership assume leadership positions in Soma Tacoma with national governance roles once Bellevue Church is brought into the Soma network?
6. If any of the former leaders at Bellevue are brought into the RICO lawsuit, will Soma help pay for their legal defense?
7. Has Soma checked in with Acts 29 for spiritual counsel? Has anyone from Soma discussed the move with former Mars Hill elders or Paul Tripp?
8. Will Soma benefit from the Mars Hill seed money?
Amid questions about how Mars Hill Church is going to dissolve, Mars Hill Bellevue (now doing business as Bellevue Church) has announced that it will affiliate with Soma Tacoma. The move has raised many questions among Mars Hill folk, and apparently among Soma people as well. The following communication was sent to Soma Churches nationally about the move to replant Mars Hill Bellevue as a Soma Church. The note is from Todd Morr, school coordinator and deacon at Soma Tacoma (did I mention that is fun to say?).
A growing number of you have been asking for clarification about what’s happening with Jeff [Vanderstelt] and Soma in relation to the Mars Hill Church in Bellevue.
I thought I would clarify here quick, so that you get the right information, rather than some misinformation flying around social media.
Bellevue Church (which was formerly Mars Hill Bellevue) approached Jeff and the Soma Tacoma elders sometime this past month to ask for help with replanting their church. After much prayer and discussion with the Soma Tacoma elders, many other Soma Tacoma leaders, and the Soma family of churches around the U.S., it was determined that we would proceed with helping them replant the church, with the goal to become part of the Soma family of churches. This is not being considered a transition, but starting over.
Over the course of the next month, much work will be done by Jeff and our elders in cooperation with the previous elders of that church to determine, if that’s what their people do indeed want and if Soma Tacoma should continue to help them in that direction.
There are many hurting people involved with what has happened there these past months, and at this time, we’re feeling like we should be good family to help bring healing, restoration, and a healthy future to the church there.
So, that’s the current story. Please Pray! Pray for peace, unity, healing, repentance, and right relationship with each other and with Jesus!
Abe gave a talk 2 Sundays ago about conflict and reconciliation that is an absolute MUST! Every person on the planet needs listen to this and consider the personal implications for all of our relationships. It’s really, really important!
This is an informative and gracious note. It seems encouraging that the Soma leaders want to discern what the people of Mars Hill Bellevue want in addition to knowing what the leaders want.
However, many questions remain. Now that Mars Hill Bellevue is moving toward Soma, will the Bellevue elders maintain the silence about the Global Fund and Mark Driscoll’s investigation? Matt Rogers chaired the Board of Elders committee that investigated Driscoll and sits on the Board of Advisors and Accountability that currently maintain that silence about Global and the investigation. According the BoE, Driscoll needed to leave the pulpit and enter restoration; according to the BoAA, Driscoll was not disqualified. Even if Mars Hill Bellevue joins another church, some of those Bellevue elders have unfinished business with Mars Hill. Soma inherits these problems if they don’t clear them up before a transition takes place.