"We met for a reason, either you're a blessing or a lesson." (link)
This coming Sunday is Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. Is anyone surprised that Mark Driscoll would begin his new ministry on that day? Here is how the announcement is being made on The Trinity Church's website. (see screen shot below)
Mark Driscoll goes on to describe the unusual features of the church building, stating that he has never seen one like it.
When his children saw it for the first time, they said it reminded them of a space ship. He then reveals the following: "Curiously enough, the building opened the same year that Star Trek debuted – 1966."
Upon reading Driscoll's description of the building, my immediate thought was…
a church is not a building!
The church website goes on to state:
Pastor Mark and his family moved to the Phoenix valley last year. After spending months praying specifically for a church building with 1,000+ seats along the 101 Freeway, Pastor Mark believes that God has supernaturally provided. Like most older church buildings, this one needs some service projects and financial investment to make it a good home, but we are excited about its potential.
We know that God has gone before us, preparing an opportunity to minister. This building provides a wonderful opportunity for our mission…
Grace Driscoll is totally on board because she believes God gave her this special verse last year. See screen shot below.
The church website also includes the following: (see screen shot below)
Why are we including so many screen shots you may ask? Because we have learned from experience that things seem to have a way of disappearing when it comes to Mark Driscoll (and we're not just talking about stuff on the internet!)
As you might imagine, folks in Seattle are staying apprised of what Mark Driscoll is doing in Phoenix. The Seattle Post Intelligencer recently reported the following:
Ex-Mars Hill Church senior pastor Mark Driscoll, relocated in Arizona, will launch the first "gathering" of his new Trinity Church on Easter Sunday at the Glass and Garden Drive-In Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The newly launched Driscoll congregation has signed a rental contract for the 50-year-old church, which opened on Easter Sunday in 1966. The official launch of the church has not yet been announced.
The resurrection of Driscoll's ministry at Easter comes less than two weeks after four former members of his now-defunct Mars Hill Church filed a racketeering suit against Driscoll and a top aide.
The suit seeks to know how millions of dollars in donations, raised for a planned Jesus Festival and for church "planting" in Ethiopia and India, were actually spent.
Internal documents have indicated that Mars Hill Global used the money to support a few showpiece foreign ministries but spent much of the money in the United States. The church boasted of raising more than $2.1 million for the Jesus Festival and related activities. But the planned festival was called off.
Almost two years ago, Dee wrote an excellent post — What Would Jesus Delete? On Mark Driscoll, RICO, Mars Hill and Lawyers. It is definitely worth reading!
And several weeks ago, Dee put together an interesting post entitled: Mark “Mickey the Mouse” Driscoll and Sutton “King Bus Driver” Turner Being Sued for Racketeering. ECFA, “The Accountant”, Named as Co-Conspirator.
As we have stated before, we believe that Mark Driscoll (more than any other pastor) built his reputation in large part because of his ability to create a huge presence on the internet. And as they say, what's good for the goose is good for the gander… We and many others have used that very same communication tool to call attention to his abusive practices, which he would rather us just forget — see our post Mark Driscoll's Glaring Omission on His New Church Website.
We are grateful that our friend Eagle (aka David Bonner), who now has his own blog, has reached out to the Attorney General in Washington State regarding Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. David has written a comprehensive communication, which we are including below. We greatly admire his boldness for standing up for those who have been run over by Driscoll and his out of control Mars Hill bus that finally crashed. It is our hope and prayer that Washington State's Attorney General will conduct a thorough investigation regarding what was once known in Seattle as Mars Hill Church.
An Open Letter to the Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson link
Attorney General Ferguson,
I am asking for your help and requesting for you to investigative where millions of dollars given to Mars Hill church ended up. Much of the money in the Mars Hill Global Fund disappeared and is unaccounted. I believe that the State of Washington should be deeply concerned as taxpayers were de-frauded. Let me explain this to you.
Mars Hill Church in Seattle had a fund called The Global Fund. In 2011 the Global Fund was re-worked as a means to increase giving. You can read Sutton Turner’s memo in this post by Warren Throckmorton. In the fiscal year of July 2012 to June 2013 nearly $2.3 million was donated. Many people gave this money under the impression that this money was going to be used in places such as Ethiopia and elsewhere abroad. Giving to the Global Fund was robust, for example in December 2013 a little over $340,000 was given.
This total from the 2013 statement of income and expenses doesn’t say where the money went. It just basically disappeared. Mars Hill changed the process and means of donations while encouraging people to give. This was confusing because previously money intended for global giving was marked as such. After the changes there were no guarantees as to where the money would go. According to Warren Throckmorton’s blog sources internal at Mars Hill said that less than 5% of the money went to India or Ethiopia. It was also reported at Warren’s website that it appeared that the intent of the Mars Hill Global fund was to use the poor abroad as a means to market Mars Hill. In other words Mars Hill was practicing exploitation.
Consider this first paragraph:
The vision and activities connected to the Global Fund must focus on reaching the worldwide church. As a person sits in front of his computer in Qatar, London, Cape Town, or Sydney, he does not care about Mars Hill planting in Everett. As an international citizen, however, he cares greatly about global evangelism, global missions, global causes for Jesus, global church-planting, etc. Though the sentiment is rare among Americans, people abroad feel a sense belonging and kinship with the global community.
As you can see Attorney General Ferguson people giving to the Global Fund wanted to give globally and have an impact in places like Africa and beyond. That was implied and that was what attracted people to give to the Global Fund. Next consider this additional paragraph:
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.
Keep in mind Attorney General Ferguson that this came from an internal memo that was not meant to be seen by the public. The paragraph on the memo notes that this is not meant to be communicated openly. So funds that were raised could be flexible and used for other purposes. So a person could give thinking they are giving to a Mars Hill function in India and instead the money can be diverted elsewhere. But consider this last section here:
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.
• Many small churches who may consider joining Mars Hill hesitate because they do not believe we support “missions.” While we need to continue to challenge the assumptions underlying a claim, the Global Fund would serve as a simple, easy way to deflate such criticism and help lead change in these congregations.
• The ability to communicate and interact with supporters of Mars Hill Global provides an avenue for promoting events, recruiting leaders, and developing Mars Hill core groups in strategic cities.
I would suggest that what this section proposes is how fraud takes place. I mean consider…in the above it appears as if Mars Hill believes that the poor are of use to the church and a benefit. Apparently The Global Fund was not used to help the poor as funds were solicited, instead the Global Fund became about church growth to encourage the church to grow bigger and possibly woo other churches into joining Mars Hill. In the business world Attorney General Ferguson we often had to abide by truth in advertising laws. What was sold had to be based off truth and not a false claim. At allbusiness.com here is how truth in advertising is defined:
Dictionary of Marketing Terms: for truth-in-advertising requirements by the Federal Trade Commission as well as various, state and local government agencies, that advertisements not make misleading, false, or deceptive claims. An advertisement can be deceptive without being an outright lie depending upon the perception it creates in the mind of the consumer. For example, a product that calls itself “light” may be nothing more than a slightly lower calorie version of its regular formula but will be perceived to be a low-calorie product. Or a beverage called an “orange juice drink” may contain primarily sugar and water with minuscule juice content. Deceptive advertising can be accomplished with pictures as well as words. In one famous case, a soup manufacturer placed marbles in the bottom of the bowl so that the contents of the soup rose to the surface in a photograph taken for their advertisements. An advertisement can also be considered deceptive if it makes a claim that is true but also leads the consumer to believe falsely that he same claim could not be made by competitive brands. For example, using “fat free” claims on a bottle of maple syrup might lead consumers to believe that other syrups contain fat.
But there is another financial issue that also should be looked at by the Washington Attorney General as well. Mars Hill took $210,000 and spent it at ResultSource, Inc (RSI) to get Mark Driscoll’s “Real Marriage” on the New York Times bestseller list. In taking this action it is strongly suggested that Mark Driscoll allegedly practiced inurement and that it is probably illegal. Dr. James Duncan wrote about this issue and how it is probably illegal here. Now I am not an expert but I would suggest that this is a federal issue as it deals with the IRS, and not a State of Washington issue. However, it also begs the question…if Mark Driscoll is allegedly circumventing IRS rules and regulations it is well within reason to ask…has the State of Washington being given the shaft by Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll?
Attorney General Ferguson as I study your efforts in the State of Washington these are some of the results of your work. I am deeply impressed and the State is fortunate to have you as the top law enforcement official.
Your office has also gone after those who filed false tax returns, like you did in this recent case involving a Snohomish County Glass shop.
Then there is this situation with improper billing by Sea Mar Health Centers. You office released a statement on this situation and announced that you are recovering $3.35 million dollars.
Finally a few days ago your office intervened in the Christian Prayer Center which used deceptive advertising techniques. As a result of your work nearly $7.8 million is being returned to 165,000 people. Your office issued a statement on the situation which can be read here.
Attorney General Ferguson I could go on but as I read your webpage it becomes very clear that you take fraud and protection of consumers very seriously. It is for this reason that I write and ask you to do the following. I am asking you to investigate Mars Hill Church and if possible recover $2.3 million dollars that disappeared. This issue was never cleared up even as Mars Hill closed its doors on January 1, 2015. There are people who gave money that still don’t know where the money went. It can’t be documented that it went to India or Ethiopia or elsewhere. If you look at some of the above efforts to recover money in fraud cases this falls well within those boundaries. For example in the case of Wheelchairs Plus which is the first example I cited your efforts resulted in $2.7 million being returned. That is not financially far off from Mars Hill’s missing money from the Global Fund. There are many reasons why I am asking you to look into this situation at the former Mars Hill Seattle:
To prevent other questionable entities engaging in similar questionable practices. Investigating and coming down hard on someone like Mark Driscoll could send a bold, and clear message that such behavior is not acceptable. This could act as a great deterrent.
It would protect those who have given money under a false pretense and help them with healing especially when they see their legal system at work, working to protect them. Its crucial that acts of injustice where allegations of illegalities take place be properly investigated so that the facts can be ascertained and made known.
I would suggest that everyone who gave to the Global Fund has been the victim of fraud. These are Washington citizens and taxpayers that deserve to see their system at work protecting them and working to resolve this situation.
As I mentioned above I would suggest that raising money under one pretense and then using it for another is a violation of Truth-in-Advertising Laws. The Global Fund was originally marketed for one express purpose. Then that changed.
In addition Attorney General Ferguson there are many outstanding questions that deserve to be raised and looked into which I hope will get a hearing. For example please consider the following questions that deserve answers which an investigation would uncover.
This Sunday March 27, 2016 Mark Driscoll is launching The Trinity Church in Phoenix, Arizona. The question that hangs in my mind is the following…where is he getting all the money to launch this church? Is the source of the money coming from The Global Fund? If so that raises other questions…what are the legal ramifications of money raised in Washington for one specific purpose that could then allegedly be used in the State of Arizona? Are there financial laws that come into play especially if large amounts of money are transferred between two differing states? I don’t know Attorney General Ferguson but I am thinking out loud and asking this publically.
One question I have which has been persistent is what role did Sutton Turner play in The Global Fund? At Warren Throckmorton on May 5, 2015 it was revealed that Sutton omitted discussion about The Global Fund per his lawyers request. Does Sutton Turner know where nearly $2.3 million dollars ended up? His actions deserve to be investigated fully.
It is well within reason to ask this Attorney General Ferguson, but are there other undisclosed financial improprieties that took place at Mars Hill that were done under a false pretense? This should be looked into as well.
These are all issues that need attention and your help. You recently intervened in a fraudulent prayer scheme online and helped bring justice in that situation. I am requesting you to intervene in the saga of Mars Hill. It is my belief that fraud took place, and that many people were victims of dishonest fundraising. Money was solicited from them in one pretense and then much of what existed in the Global Fund disappeared. They don’t know where it went, plus you should be aware that there is an active RICO lawsuit recently which was filed. Many of the people who once attended Mars Hill Seattle deserve to know the answers to what happened to nearly $2.3 million dollars. Some gave sacrificially, some gave regularly. When fraud happens Attorney General Ferguson its done to those who are vulnerable and the reality is that anyone can be vulnerable. Its my hope that you will act and start to look into this manner.
I write this with the deepest respect and thank you for your civil service.