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Protest calls for Mars Hill pastor's ouster

More than 40 protesters gathered outside the Mars Hill Church Bellevue on Sunday to call for the ouster of its pastor, whom they accuse of abusing his undeserved power and shunning former members who have questioned him. - Brandon Macz
More than 40 protesters gathered outside the Mars Hill Church Bellevue on Sunday to call for the ouster of its pastor, whom they accuse of abusing his undeserved power and shunning former members who have questioned him.
— image credit: Brandon Macz

More than 40 protesters gathered outside the Mars Hill Church Bellevue on Sunday to call for the ouster of its pastor, whom they accuse of abusing his undeserved power and shunning former members who have questioned him.

There were many alleged grievances that led to the protest of Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill mega-church in Bellevue, where the pastor was absent during Sunday's service that coincided with the demonstration.

Rob Smith, one of the organizers and a former Mars Hill member, said many protesters were there to support Paul Petry, a former pastor who claims he was fired from the church for questioning changes to its bylaws. Smith said his support of Petry was what forced him out of the church.

"We felt compelled to stand up with the Petrys, and we were disciplined immediately," Smith said.

Those questioning the leadership of Driscoll, calling him a bully and misogynist, say they were called out by the pastor in a video last week as anonymous. A number of Sunday protesters carried signs: "We are not anonymous."

"Numerous people in this line have tried to get a meeting with (Driscoll)," said Jim Henderson, another organizer of the event advertised through a Facebook page: Dear Pastor Mark & Mars Hill: We are Not Anonymous. "These people have earned a right to a hearing. Some of these people helped plant the church."

Driscoll's statement also prompted dissidents to dredge up a 14-year-old message by the pastor in a church chat board regarding what he considered "a pussified nation" of weak men, Henderson said. Driscoll apologized for the 2000 rant, which he wrote under the pseudonym, William Wallace II.

"I've been tracking Driscoll for 10 years," he said. "It's a hobby."

Protesters outside Mars Hill Church on Sunday say the politics of the church changed when a council of 24 elders was cut down to just a few, adopting bylaws set by Driscoll. Those who questioned the pastor were either forced to leave the church through a "trial" or shunned out of the congregation, said Julia Youngs.

"Our problem is not the church," said Youngs, who was "pushed out" in 2008. "Our issue is with the Mars Hill Church leadership culture."

She said the second resignation from the church’s Board of Advisers and Accountability — the first being Paul Tripp — by James MacDonald may be a sign faith in Driscoll's leadership is waning.

Knowing the protest would coincide with Sunday's service, Mars Hill Church provided a refreshment table for demonstrators that included a card: "We love you. Enjoy some free refreshments."

"I just hope they didn't use the global fund to pay for it," said Smith, alluding to prior allegations the church misappropriated monies from the global fund for restoration of new church properties.

 

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