After the infamous resignation of its senior pastor Mark Driscoll, the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church has decided to completely dissolve by the end of the year. Each of the 13 congregations were given the decision to either dissolve, go independent or merge with another church. Now the congregations have made their decisions.
"Everything is closing down at the end of the year, including our central offices," Mars Hill communications director Justin Dean told The Christian Post. "Mars Hill will cease to exist after Dec. 31, 2014." Dean said that after selling or transferring all property and assets that belong to the church, it will use the money to satisfy its remaining debt and will take care of the remaining staff that will be laid off at the end of the year.
Here are the decisions from the individual congregations.
Albuquerque announced this past Sunday that they have invited Pastor Dave Bruskas to return, and he has accepted the position as their teaching pastor. Pastor Dave will stay to serve Mars Hill Church in the current transition until December 31, including continuing to preach from the Bellevue church until they find a new Lead Pastor.
BELLEVUE & SAMMAMISH
On the Eastside of Seattle it was announced that the Bellevue and Sammamish locations will be partnering together to form a single new church. They'll plant the new church in the new year, with a core group of over 1,000 people! This new Eastside church will retain the best of Mars Hill Church, but will be a different church with new leadership and structures. Your elders are currently praying about how best to structure and lead this church moving forward and they need your ideas, suggestions and prayer as they consider this.
Huntington Beach announced that it will not continue as an independent church. Pastor Matt Wallace is pursuing opportunities with like-minded churches in the area from whom he and his family can be sent out to plant at a later time. Pastor AJ Hamilton, who was working towards planting Mars Hill Church Los Angeles, is praying with his family about pursuing other opportunities.
Ballard has announced that they will continue as a new independent church. Pastor Matthias Haeusel will serve as the Lead Pastor and he and the local elders are working hard to find a new name and the best place to meet each Sunday starting in January. Pastor Scott Harris will be stepping down as Lead Pastor while staying on as an elder and pursuing work in Seattle in order to remain at the church.
Everett has also announced that they will continue as an independent church called Foundation Church, with Pastor Ryan Williams remaining as Lead Pastor. The Everett elders are working towards continuing in their current location.
Pastor Ed Choi has said he will continue to lead the people of Rainier Valley, and together with the congregation they have chosen Rainier Valley Church as their new name.
Shoreline will continue under the leadership of Pastor Aaron Gray. He and his elder team will be announcing their new name soon, and they are working towards trying to secure the same location they are in now to meet on Sundays.
Tacoma will continue under the leadership of Pastor Bubba Jennings and the current elders. They have chosen the name Resurrection Church and are working towards staying in their current location. The leadership team in Tacoma is spending time in prayer and seeking Jesus' wisdom, guidance and discernment for the new plant. They are excited to keep loving Jesus, preaching the Bible and making disciples while learning what it means to be a new independent church.
Pastor Tim Smith has put together a transition team of elders and deacons who will lead the people of Mars Hill Portland in a new church plant starting in January. They are working towards choosing a new name and assuming the loan for their current building.
Pastor Miles Rohde is continuing his work in Spokane to start a new church in the heart of downtown. Together with a core team of around 120 people they are moving forward with launching a new church in the new year, named Redemption Spokane.
Pastor Seth Winterhalter, along with his pastoral team, will be planting a new church in Olympia called Harbor Church that he says will be "a safe harbor for the broken, hurting, and hopeless people of our region introducing them to their Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ."
Pastor David Fairchild will also continue leading the charge for a new church plant in West Seattle, called Trinity West Seattle. They have 3 elders and 5 elder candidates who will soon be installed to help lead the church. Together they are working out the details of keeping their current location.
As an update on Phoenix, which was the first to transition to its own independent church, they are doing well under the leadership of Pastor Tim Birdwell. Now the Phoenix Bible Church, they continue to see growth and many new people meeting Jesus.