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Please investigate the disappearance of millions of dollars donated to Mars Hill Church

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Dear Washington State Attorney General,

Following a string of revelations about the personal and financial conduct of its leadership, Mars Hill Church has never fully addressed how millions in donated funds were spent since it ceased operations in January 2015. Mars Hill Church founder Mark Driscoll is starting a new church in Phoenix which clearly has significant funding. While at Mars Hill, church tithe money was used to buy a spot for his book Real Marriage on the New York Times bestseller list. Tithe money was also used to pay the salaries of the top pastors at Mars Hill, which were rumored to be near the million-dollar range. The church steadfastly refused to release information on the salaries of the pastors to church members. And since Mars Hill dissolved, millions of dollars in the Mars Hill Global Fund remain unaccounted for. We believe the Washington State Attorney General and other state AGs (since Mars Hill operated in several states) should investigate what may be a misuse of funds.

During Driscoll’s tenure at Mars Hill, the Mars Hill Global Fund was created to collect contributions towards expanding the Mars Hill ministry to other countries. In the month of December 2013 alone, over $340,000 was given to the Mars Hill Global Fund.

In 2014, Warren Throckmorton reported that “According to a presentation at a recent Mars Hill vision breakfast, giving to Mars Hill Global remains robust. For instance, in December 2013, just over $340k was given to Mars Hill Global. Prior to May 2014, donors could designate gifts to the Mars Hill Global Fund, which was distinct from the Mars Hill General Fund. However, sometime in May, the Global Fund disappeared. Now, donations for all purposes have to be given to the Mars Hill General Fund since the option to designate money to the Mars Hill Global Fund is no longer available. One wonders where the Global Fund went in the midst of the fiscal year. As noted above, Mars Hill reported 2013 giving to the Global Fund but did not report disbursements from that fund. After the recent changes to Mars Hill’s giving webpage, it is clearer that funds given for global outreach now go to the General Fund. There is no Global Fund option. Those who want to give to Mars Hill’s work in Ethiopia or India must hope that some of their donations will go to those ends, but there are no guarantees.”

The Wartburg Watch reported in 2014: “Church money was used to pay for buying a New York Times bestseller position for Driscoll. The salaries for the three top pastors at Mars Hill are rumored to be nearing the million dollar range and the church steadfastly refuses to release the salaries of the pastors. Therefore, anyone with an ounce of common sense should ask 'Show me the money trail.' Some have and have received no response. One man was even removed from his position as a care group leader coach for asking this question.”

Warren Throckmorton also reported that “In November 2011, Mars Hill Executive Pastor Sutton Turner sent a document to the Media and Communications Team touting Mars Hill Global as a way to cultivate the international 'giving base.' This private memo by Sutton Turner is perhaps the most damning evidence leaked to date of how Mars Hill really handled their Global Funds. Under the heading of “Benefits,” the memo outlined how “the helpless” could help Mars Hill Church:

“The Global Fund could be beneficial in a number of ways, besides the obvious gain of increased funding:

• For a relatively low cost (e.g. $10K/month), supporting a few missionaries and benevolence projects would serve to deflect criticism, increase goodwill, and create opportunities to influence and learn from other ministries.
• Many small churches who may consider joining Mars Hill hesitate because they do not believe we support 'missions.' While we need to continue to challenge the assumptions underlying a claim, the Global Fund would serve as a simple, easy way to deflate such criticism and help lead change in these congregations.
• The ability to communicate and interact with supporters of Mars Hill Global provides an avenue for promoting events, recruiting leaders, and developing Mars Hill core groups in strategic cities.”

Mars Hill plainly stated that they planned to donate only a fraction of the Global Fund donations intended wholly for missionaries and benevolence projects, simply to silence critics and create the illusion of benevolence.  And in this post, Sutton Turner says Mars Hill Church lawyers actually warned him not to disclose how much the church received and what the church did with donor money.  Shortly after this, the meticulously detailed whistleblower Wenatchee the Hatchet revisted Sutton Turner's account of the Global Fund in light of Mars Hill's history of fiscal cliffs and mass layoffs.

Because protecting the public from donor fraud is within the jurisdiction of a state attorney general's office, we request that the Washington State Attorney General open an investigation to learn if millions in donor funds were used as intended by the donors



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