Former Mars Hill deacon sets up fund for ex-employees' legal action

Former senior pastor Mark Driscoll preaching on the stage at Mars Hill prior to his resignation over accusations of bullying and intimidation(Photo: Facebook/Mark Driscoll)

A former deacon at Mars Hill Church in Seattle has created a legal action fund to be used against the church if grievances are not addressed.

The church closed after a string of revelations about the behaviour of its leaders. It is also said to have used non-disclosure agreements to prevent former exployees speaking out about their treatment.

Rob Smith is attempting to raise $75,000 to pay the legal costs of ex-employees "sued by Mars Hill Church for violating the terms of their non-disclosure agreement".

Among other issues faced by the church is the question of how donations to its Global Fund were used. Campaigners allege that the Global Fund was promoted as a means of support for church-planting work in the US, Ethiopia and India, but that money was instead used to support the general ministry of the church.

In a statement, Mars Hill said that it had contacted donors and asked them if they wished to redirect their gifts specifically to church-planting work in Ethiopia and India; 36 donors had done so, resulting in $40,000 being redirected. It said: "Additionally, in 2015 we expect to make a final donation to Vision Nationals in India, and New Covenant Foundation in Ethiopia, prior to distributing net assets to the new independent churches, and some of the new local churches hope to continue the legacy of supporting these missions."

Smith said if there was a balance left in the legal action fund after any litigation was settled it would be shared between the "advertised recipients of the Mars Hill Global Fund" (Ethiopian and Indian pastors) and with Agathos International.

His statement said: "We are attempting to schedule a meeting with Mars Hill representatives in an effort to avoid litigation, and it appears that this meeting may take place."

Warren Throckmorton, whose blog exposed many of the issues which led to the church's downfall, commented: "Churches can't just change restricted funds to open funds without telling donors. Mars Hill continued to allow people to give to the Global Fund but without telling anyone that the money was just another gift to the general fund."