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Mars Hill Church to dissolve, sell property

SEATTLE — Mars Hill Church, the Seattle-based network of congregations founded by controversial pastor Mark Driscoll, will dissolve, sell all church assets and encourage its 13 campuses to become independent congregations.

“It’s sad seeing an organization like Mars that’s reached so many people and done so much good working in the Seattle area” dissolve, Dale Braswell, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Lynnwood, Wash., said. “But there’s hope in the sense that a lot of new churches are going to be autonomously started. And, Lord willing, those churches are going to start churches … and the impact can kind of continue.”

By Jan. 1, each of Mars Hill’s campuses must decide whether to become an independent self-governed church, merge with an existing church or disband, according to an Oct. 31 letter posted on Mars Hill’s website by primary teaching pastor Dave Bruskas.

As part of the transition plan, all of Mars Hill’s properties will either be sold or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the new independent congregations. The church’s corporate headquarters is listed for $7.75 million while three other properties are for sale for a total of $20 million, the Seattle Times reported.

All central Mars Hill staff members will be paid and then released from employment, and any remaining funds will be gifted to the new independent congregations, Bruskas wrote. Then the Mars Hill Church organization will cease to exist.

“The board of Mars Hill has concluded that rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities,” Bruskas wrote. “This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams.”

Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Oct. 14 after an internal church investigation found that he had been “guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner,” according to a letter from the church’s board of overseers obtained by Religion News Service.

Beginning in August Driscoll had taken a break from the pastorate and temporarily suspended speaking engagements and media interviews. Also in August the Acts 29 church planting network, which Driscoll founded, removed him and Mars Hill from its membership.

At its peak, Mars Hill had 15 campuses in five states with some 14,000 attendees.

“It’s sad for Mars Hill the entity,” Braswell said of the dissolution. “But in the scheme of God’s Kingdom, I think there’s always hope because Jesus promises us that the church is not going to be defeated.”

— by David Roach | BP

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