Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published August 8, 2014 at 9:09 PM | Page modified August 8, 2014 at 9:34 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments
  • Print

Driscoll ousted by faith network he co-founded

Acts 29 Network, an organization that helped start and build some 500 churches around the world, said Mars Hill and Pastor Mark Driscoll are no longer among its members.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
A man needs religion like a fish needs a bicycle. MORE
Tax all churches. MORE
Of course he has no plans to leave Mars Hill. Fleecing the gullible, the desperate and the lonely sure beats working... MORE

advertising

Less than a week after protesters picketed Mars Hill Church and called for the ouster of its leader, the megachurch and its controversial pastor, Mark Driscoll, were removed from a nationwide network of churches Driscoll had helped organize.

Since it was co-founded by Driscoll 15 years ago, that umbrella organization, called Acts 29 Network, has helped start and build more than 500 churches around the world based on a shared set of core principles.

But Friday, the board of that network suggested Mars Hill had not taken strong enough actions against Driscoll after a string of allegations that he regularly bullied or shunned churchgoers and spent church funds inappropriately.

“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” the Acts 29 group wrote. “In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.”

The decision, while largely symbolic, is the latest in a spate of bad news for the church Driscoll founded as a Bible study group in Wallingford 18 years ago. Today, Mars Hill claims more than 6,000 members and says as many as 13,000 people attend services at its 15 locations, most in Washington.

The church is known for its blaring rock music, its big-screen sermons and its charismatic founder, whose preaching can slip fluidly from casual or comic to thundering and who has come under fire through the years for statements he has made about homosexuality, the role of women and sensitive men.

In response to Friday’s move, Mars Hill officials said they have acknowledged “unhealthy culture issues” within the church and have been working to address them.

But the church group expressed dismay that Acts 29 would dismiss Driscoll and Mars Hill without first reaching out to discuss the matter, and said the church’s problems largely stem from old issues that Driscoll has long since put behind him.

“There is clear evidence that the attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark’s life for some time now,” two members of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability wrote in a note to church members.

But issues continue to bubble up.

Less than two weeks ago, Driscoll apologized to his congregants for “cussing” and making other crude remarks about gender roles in an online forum 14 years ago under the name William Wallace II.

Mars Hill has agreed that it used church money to have a company buy up one of Driscoll’s books to boost sales. And earlier this summer, Mars Hill told church members that it had confirmed that some money given to help start churches overseas had instead gone for Mars Hill expenses.

The recent protests were sparked in part because one recent video of Driscoll himself suggested he could not respond to some criticism because it was anonymous. In response, demonstrators carried signs that read “WE ARE NOT ANONYMOUS.”

Then on Thursday, a former Mars Hill member, who started attending the church in 1996 and claimed he was rebuffed when seeking help from Driscoll, urged the pastor to resign.

“The sharks are circling now, and it appears there are many who want only your destruction,” former church member Ron Wheeler wrote in an open letter to Driscoll on his personal website. “I don’t. I want to see brokenness, humility, and change that I can support.”

But church officials have made clear that Driscoll has no plans to leave — and they have no plans to ask him to. In fact, they reminded church members that they had predicted there would be controversy from within, stating that “Friendly fire always hurts the most.”

Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or cwelch@seattletimes.com On Twitter @craigawelch



Free 4-week trial, then $99 a year for unlimited seattletimes.com access. Try it now!

Also in Local News

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Free 4-week trial, then $99 a year.

Free 4-week trial, then $99 a year.

Unlimited seattletimes.com access. Try it now.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

Looking for joy on the job


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►