Mass exodus of Mars Hill pastors who criticised Mark Driscoll's leadership

Pastor Mark Driscoll

All nine signatories of a letter calling for senior pastor Mark Driscoll to step down from church leadership are no longer on the Mars Hill payroll, Warren Throckmorton has confirmed.

It was announced on Sunday that James Rose, previously pastor and volunteer elder over community groups at Mars Hill Ballard in Seattle, is no longer in the role.

Rose's departure marks him as the eighth signatory to either resign or be removed from ministry by the church. The ninth – Cliff Ellis – is still an unpaid lay elder at Mars Hill's West Seattle campus, but no longer holds the title of Director of Biblical Living or Pastor.

"The nine pastors are now nine former pastors," wrote Patheos blogger Throckmorton, who has been deeply critical of Mars Hill.

"All nine have lost or experienced changes in their positions since they took a stand."

The original letter, written in August and posted in full here, continually reaffirmed love and respect for Driscoll, but following a long line of controversies within Mars Hill, the pastors insisted they felt "compelled to speak up".

"We are seriously concerned about the state of our church, especially the state our leadership at the highest levels and our continued lack of transparency in general," the letter read.

"We have become masters of spin in how we communicate the transition of a high volume of people off staff. We have taken refuge behind official statements that might not technically be lies on the surface, but in truth are deeply misleading."

Driscoll, who founded the church in 1996, has been embroiled in a number of scandals in the past few months, including plagiarism and manipulating sales figures by paying a company to bulk-order his book.

His controversial leadership style has also garnered significant criticism, and Mars Hill has long been accused of fostering a culture of bullying.

The nine signatories therefore called for greater transparency and accountability within the church.

They urged elders to support a leave of absence for Driscoll, suggesting that while they "truly desire his full restoration to preaching pastor," he should "step down not only from the pulpit, but from all aspects of ministry and leadership."

Dustin Kensrue, formerly Mars Hill Church director of worship, resigned in September after the letter became public. He said at the time that he had little choice: "My options were to essentially do nothing and keep my mouth closed, to keep pressing internally until they were forced to fire me, or to resign," he wrote in a letter to his congregation.

"While the nine signers of the letter that was leaked last week have been met with gratefulness and an outpouring of prayer from the people of Mars Hill, internally we have been dismissed and defamed as 'immature' among other epithets.

"We have been blamed for creating problems that we did not create, but rather only exposed. It seems that most everyone is able to see what is actually going on except for those who need to repent and take responsibility for this creating the problems we are facing."

Driscoll announced on August 25 that he was taking a six-week break from leading Mars Hill. He is currently being investigated for over 20 misconduct charges brought by former elders of the church.