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Evangelical network removes Mars Hill Church, pastor from membership

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

The Acts 29 Network, an evangelical collective of more than 500 churches worldwide, announced Friday its removal of Mars Hill Church and controversial Pastor Mark Driscoll from its membership.

Driscoll's removal from the network he helped start 15 years ago, along with all Mars Hill churches from Acts 29, came just less than a week after a mid-size gathering of protesters converged outside the Bellevue church location on Aug. 3. They were calling for Dricoll's removal from the church, accusing him of abusing the power granted to him and shunning former members for questioning his decisions.

The Acts 29 Network posted this statement on its website:

"It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."

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

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.

One of those organizers, Bob Smith, provided the Reporter with a copy of a letter from Acts 29 to Driscoll regarding their decision.

"Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior," one passage reads. "We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior. …  Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction."

Acts 29 states it had also lost faith in the church's Board of Advisers and Accountability to handle the matter. The Aug. 3 protest followed the second resignation of a member from that board this year.

 

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