Former Mars Hill pastor apologises for 'mistakes' over church planting donations

Former Mars Hill general manager Sutton Turner.

Former Mars Hill executive pastor Sutton Turner has apologised for "mistakes" regarding the church's Mars Hill Global Fund.

Allegations were made that money given for work in Ethiopia and India was diverted to church-planting in the US and activists have threatened legal action. 

Turner, who in spite of being asked to desist by Mars Hill lawyers has written a series of articles about his time there, denied any deliberate wrongdoing by the church.

In his latest post he said that when the accusations were first made the church had bring in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and an external, independent auditor to conduct thorough investigations. They were cleared of wrongdoing but said that the church should have been more transparent in its communications. The church then contacted all its Global Fund donors to ask if they wanted their gifts re-assigned to church-planting in Ethiopia; fewer than 40 did so.

However, under the heading "My Mistakes", Turner referred to a video he had created in 2012 and admitted that it had focused unduly on church-planting in Ethiopia and India, though it had referred to work in the US too. "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," he said. "My personal passion for Ethiopia began to overtake the communication about church planting in the US."

He added: "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."

Sutton continued: "I am deeply sorry for any confusion caused by my and my former team's communications." He acknowledged that the situation had "hurt some people's (both Christian and non-Christian) trust in church stewardship for the larger church in general", saying that he was "deeply saddened by this".