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Mars Hill Church Asks for Donations Two Weeks Before Church Closes

( [email protected] ) Dec 19, 2014 03:06 PM EST
Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, formerly led by pastor Mark Driscoll, continues to seek  donations from its members only two weeks prior to the organization's closing.
Mark Driscoll spoke briefly at the Gateway Church Conference in October, discussing threats against his person and family resulting from the trials surrounding Mars Hill.

Mark Driscoll's former church, Seattle-based Mars Hill, continues to seek  donations from its members only two weeks prior to the organization's closing.

The once thriving mega church recently announced it will cease operations in January following a series of revelations regarding the conduct of its leaders. The organization's 11 congregations will become independent churches responsible for funding their own operations

"As we close out the year and say good-bye to Mars Hill, your gifts continue to be very important as they will determine how much will be distributed to help fund the 11 independent churches launching in January," reads an appeal on the church's website. "Without generous people like you continuing to give through the end of the year, many of these churches may not have the necessary funds to continue as new churches."

Justin Dean, spokesperson for Mars Hill, said attendance at all Mars Hill branches at the start of the year combined was about 12,000 to 13,000 a week, but is now down to 8,000 or 9,000 a week.

"We've basically found ourselves in a tough financial position," he said. "We started the year the strongest we've ever been, but since then we've seen a decline in attendance and giving, and we saw a steep decline over the last two months."

However, Warren Throckmorton, a Grove City psychology professor who has tracked the unfolding developments at the church since the beginning, notes that it is not made clear who had written the appeal or "just who is making decisions" at Mars Hill.

"No explanation is given for why giving to Mars Hill and having that donation split eleven ways is going to help the local churches more than a direct donation to that local church. If they can't raise the necessary funds on their own now, then how will they ever do it?"

The church has previously come under fire for allegedly diverting funds raised for church-planting work in Ethiopia and India into its general fund.

According to Throckmorton's Patheos blog, former Mars Hill deacon Rob Smith has been raising funds for a legal action against Mars Hill and has called for the dissolution of the church to be delayed until the issue is settled.

"Because of the abuse of both people and money, it is essential that the dissolution of the church be delayed until the abuse can be clearly articulated by the church leadership, and repentance and restitution be made," Smith wrote on the fundraising website.

"At this point, only a just legal action will stop the dissolution of the church. A legal team has been hired and the delay of the dissolution will be sought so that true repentance and restitution can occur."

Before resigning as head pastor, Driscoll had built Mars Hill Church into an evangelical empire with 15 campuses and an estimated 12,000 persons attending Sunday services in the span of 18 years.