Mars Hill Church disbanding, says its sites can go indie or be sold

For the first time since the latest round of controversy started roiling Mars Hill Church, its West Seattle site‘s future is in question. Today Mars Hill leadership announced online that it’s disbanding and that individual remaining churches will be able to either go independent, or will be sold:

…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. 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. …

The West Seattle Mars Hill building at 35th/Ida in Gatewood was previously Doxa Church, whose members joined forces with Mars Hill in 2006. That’s when Mars Hill bought the church for $180,000, according to county records, which show its appraised value at almost $3 million. Today’s announcement says, “All of Mars Hill’s existing church properties will either be sold, or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the independent churches, subject to approval by the lender …”

The online message about Mars Hill’s future is signed by Pastor Dave Bruskas, who has spoken for the church since its founder and Senior Pastor Mark Driscoll resigned earlier this month. He writes that Mars Hill is on a fast timeline for the reorganization plan – to be complete by the first of the year.

ADDED 8:50 PM: One more note on the Mars Hill purchase of the West Seattle church in 2006: As noted in the comment discussion below, we have found one more document, indicating that the purchase price was the “underlying debt” that remained on the property, while the equity beyond that was “a gift” from the seller. Even back in 2006, the county valued the property at almost $1.8 million.

36 Replies to "Mars Hill Church disbanding, says its sites can go indie or be sold"

  • Citizen Sane October 31, 2014 (2:32 pm)

    The implosion of Mars Hill is near complete. No cult of personality survives the removal of its charismatic leader long.
    Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people. ;)

  • West Seattle Hipster October 31, 2014 (2:38 pm)

    Great news!

  • Jeffrey Robert October 31, 2014 (2:49 pm)

    Excellent news. Maybe these buildings could be used for teen centers used as homeless shelters or places for domestic violence survivors to get help. It would be nice to have more community centers where any group can meet, or individuals could go to have a quiet place to read and have a cup of coffee or learn a new skill or find an exercise class. Something that helps people – like really helps people.

  • flimflam October 31, 2014 (2:55 pm)

    this is great news indeed. I wonder how much tax exempt money they made along the way?

  • pipedreams for days October 31, 2014 (3:06 pm)

    I am going to say it. Know it would take a series of miracles to fulfill the vision of church people selling to public-private consortium for new community center hub for South\Southwest end. Like Cooperstown School is across from Delridge Community Center.

    End of pipedream.

  • SJ2 October 31, 2014 (3:11 pm)

    This is the best news ever!

  • miws October 31, 2014 (3:32 pm)




  • HelperMonkey October 31, 2014 (3:40 pm)

    good riddance!

  • Kayleigh October 31, 2014 (3:48 pm)

    It seems that the misogyny, homophobia, and racism didn’t cause the decline—-it wasn’t until the members *themselves* felt victimized that they spoke out. But victimizing others, hey, that was cool.
    Good riddance.

  • John October 31, 2014 (4:23 pm)

    Excellent! Let’s turn this into something productive and inclusive, like a community center or a school.

  • sc October 31, 2014 (4:26 pm)

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

    Matthew 7:15

  • pipedreams for days October 31, 2014 (4:33 pm)

    HEY!!!! Jeffrey!

    Like minds neighbor!


    So, now what? How could that happen?

  • flimflam October 31, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    good point, KayLeigh

  • mcbride October 31, 2014 (4:47 pm)

    When the Roxhill Park playground was being built, quite a few folks from the local Mars Hill showed up and worked. Here is what that experience taught me: regardless of the brand I associated them with, these people – my neighbors, were friendly, warm, and helpful. I was grateful to work shoulder to shoulder with them. And I hoped they’d show up the next day.
    I’m not defending the Mars Hill brand. I don’t know much about the situation other than what I’ve read in the press. I liked the people I met though, and I like that they live here.

  • eigenwijs October 31, 2014 (5:33 pm)

    The mission of the building doesn’t have to change in order for it to provide service to the community. Many churches do in fact provide shelter for the homeless, care for victims of domestic violence, activities for teens, meeting space for groups and organizations, space for quality daycare centers and schools. It’s possible the WS congregation might do all this and more if they choose to stay here.

  • Nick October 31, 2014 (6:33 pm)

    Thank god!!!!!!!!!!

  • JoB October 31, 2014 (7:16 pm)

    I feel badly for the people who got sucked into the vortex of that pastor.. if indeed we can still call him a pastor.

  • DP October 31, 2014 (7:42 pm)

    Great news!

  • coffee October 31, 2014 (8:11 pm)

    Wonder where Driscol is going to live. And I say make it yet another apartment complex. There is no parking there for another church.

  • Mike October 31, 2014 (8:35 pm)

    Who’s name is the deed to these properties in? I’d say the fed needs to take a close look at that scam of an offer the church bought it for less than 10 yeas ago. $3M today is about $4M then.

    • WSB October 31, 2014 (8:41 pm)

      Mars Hill is the owner. That’s exactly what’s in county records: – I wouldn’t have added that detail if I hadn’t looked it up and verified it myself. Bill Clem, pastor of the previous church, signed it on behalf of what was legally “Grace Community Church”; Mark Driscoll signed it for Mars Hill. It’s all right there in the county file. (you can follow the deed etc. links from the page I linked here, when you scroll down to the notation of the 2006 sale). – TR
      Added – looking in the county’s online-records search, there is one more document. It further describes the transaction as Mars Hill assuming the remaining debt, while the unspecified equity was “a gift.”
      2nd add – An anonymous online writer who apparently is a longtime Mars Hill watcher/critic offers a lengthy backstory on its West Seattle history.

  • Eric November 1, 2014 (9:13 am)

    My experience of Mars Hill is that I had some neighbors who were Mars Hill members. They were really strange and really didn’t converse with the neighbors. Their kids lacked social skills also. The guy always walked around with a creepy smile on his face like he had a secret. He probably believed the propaganda of the church that he was part of the “chosen ones”.

    Interestingly, the neighbors next door to them were fairly nice and outgoing with neighbors. The Mars Hill family somehow got these neighbors to start attending Mars Hill church and not soon after that, their demeanor dramatically changed. They also started keeping to themselves and would be very curt in their exchanges with the neighbors. Not soon after, both families moved out the neighborhood within a short time of each other.

    I say good riddance also to this fear based; chosen ones; hell fire and brimstone; new Calvinism cult.

  • dhg November 1, 2014 (10:42 am)

    Kayleigh: Wow. Just Wow. You sum it up so succinctly. I, too, was so disappointed to see a mega church open in our backyard where inclusion was not an option. I had thought that Seattle was not susceptible to a Taliban church.

  • m November 1, 2014 (11:14 am)

    What is Mark Discoll going to do with his MILLIONS
    of dollars that he has stashed away? Release it to the poor??? Why doesn’t he practice what he preaches! He was all out for himself from the get-go! Perhaps a refund to the cult members! Or the hundreds of thouseands of dollars for his “book”? Perhaps he should consult Hillary Clinton! ANYONE WHO HAS TO GO INTO HIDING FOR A MONTH MEANS HE HAS TO FIND AN EXIT PLAN TO PROTECT HIS $$$

  • pam November 1, 2014 (11:34 am)

    Since that campus is right in my ‘hood, I LOVE the idea of it becoming some kind of community center to supplement the SW Community Center, which is just a Little Too Far to walk to from my house.

    Joining Team Pipedream here. :)

    And hey, I didn’t find them to be bad neighbors, but every time I drove past there on Sunday mornings, I wanted to roll down my window and yell to the women and kids, “QUICK, GET IN THE CAR! I’LL TAKE YOU TO A SAFE HOUSE! YOU DESERVE BETTER!”


  • JanS November 1, 2014 (6:33 pm)

    if you weren’t one of them, some felt that you simply were not to be spoken to. Some, not all, I’m sure.

    I don’t profess to be anything, not Christian, not non-Christian. What I am is no one’s business. But…I always took offense at ads that always had the “Jesus fish” on them front and center. I don’t do business with people (or not) because of their religious beliefs. I prefer to use people who are good at what they do, beliefs aside. I always felt that I should stay away, or somehow those who believed the same as them were more welcome.:-\

    I’m becoming a member of Team Pipedream, too….

  • Les November 1, 2014 (7:32 pm)

    The glee in the negative responses demonstrates the level of class, open minded-ness, and warmth I’ve come to expect since moving to this area.

  • Michael November 1, 2014 (8:47 pm)

    You all are a bunch of liberals. Stupid people of Seattle.

  • G November 1, 2014 (8:50 pm)


    Yes, this what the Germans call schadenfreude. Someone mentioned Calvin, and the really ionic thing about that comment is West Seattle itself is in danger of becoming a sort of modern Calvinistic Geneva itself, where only certain opinions are permitted – or dared spoken.

  • MJW November 1, 2014 (9:11 pm)

    Eric -your comment “Their kids lacked social skills also” may be true more of the area than just these people. I would say 80-90% of West Seattle generally act like robots without emotion frequently not responding to anyone saying hello or trying to make eye contact. Religion doesn’t seem to be too popular in this part of the US anyway so the comments I am seeing don’t surprise me. While the concept of Mega-churches doesn’t get my endorsement either, it is hard for me to side with the West Seattle culture of being primaily concerned about marijuana, recycling and being PC before everything else.

  • Sue November 1, 2014 (11:59 pm)

    How about making it a GLBT center where gay teens can hang out? Take that, Martians!

  • Curiouser November 2, 2014 (12:27 am)

    So if the church has been disbanded, does that mean that the property will lose its tax exempt status on the King County Tax role as indicated by the EX?

  • Les November 2, 2014 (9:21 am)

    The church will dispense w/ the property prior to legally disbanding. The tax status of the new owners depends on who they are. Everyone here seems really hung up on that. A Catholic Church, Islamic mosque, or Buddhist temple would receive the exact same tax benefit. Chill people.

  • Eric November 2, 2014 (10:50 am)

    Schadenfreude, really, where only certain opinions are permitted? It seems to me that Mars Hill got to practice its “brand” and opinion of Christianity for years without my being aware of any people outside protesting it.

    If people want to give their money away to practice fear based, hell fire and brimstone beliefs, believing they are in the in crowd and the “chosen ones” that is their business, and I have never protested their right to their beliefs. But if that same organization is dissolving, ironically, due to its culture of fear, then I certainly am not going to shed a tear about it.

    Yes, I’m not very open minded about being told that if I don’t subscribe to another’s beliefs, that I am going to hell, or that my wife for example is going to hell due to her “false” religion of Buddhism that she was born into because of her culture and geography.

    It’s funny to hear intolerance when I have been courteous to the people continually coming to my door, soliciting their religion to me, handing me pamphlets and asking me about God and Jesus, even though I have a sign that says no soliciting. Every time they come to my door, I listen to them and kindly tell them of my no soliciting sign. They always tell me the same thing, “We’re not selling anything”. Yes, you are. You’re attempting to sell your religion to me, without my asking. Besides, soliciting is defined as: to ask for or try to obtain (something) from someone.

    And what these people are trying to obtain from me, is my willing membership (in probably hopes of tithing or some other expenses) into their religion.

    I don’t go door to door trying to convince others of my spiritual beliefs and I probably have more spiritual and religious books than most bloggers on here, so I am not against religion per say. But at the same time I am not accepting of instead of Jesus being used as a model, he is used as a weapon, as he is often used in fear based “faith”. It is almost as if these types of believers need non believers to “fight against” to strengthen their beliefs. I can only imagine if everyone even became a Christian with these types of believers, then it would be then the fight against that the other person is not the “right type” of Christian.

    MJW, as far as the children lacking social skills. I am not referring to the culture of some kids today having a sense of entitlement, being disrespectful, and/or being desensitized to compassion to our fellow human beings. I am speaking of lacking social skills to the point of not being able to engage with other people on even the most superficial levels. It is almost like these kids had no interaction with other kids or many adults for that matter. And I was not making a blanket statement that this is somehow a result of religion in itself. As I said, this was MY experience with people of Mars Hill church.

    The comment on liberals and stupid people of Seattle is ridiculous, as it implies that liberals are not religious. There are many liberal Christians in the US and Seattle area. Don’t equate Mars Hill as being synonymous with Christianity. It is/was only one brand and POV of it.

  • Les November 2, 2014 (2:15 pm)

    I had to look up “Schadenfreude”. People do seem grumpy when you say hello to them in the street, but I will chalk it up to regional differences. I’ve enjoyed our slow motion conversation. Have a great day.

  • Thomas M. November 2, 2014 (2:57 pm)

    Use the Gatewood building to house abused women with children. Let the men find another way.

  • Brad November 4, 2014 (8:26 am)

    wow! Sad for all who went to Mars Hill. Sad for all who have been hurt by Mars Hill. Sad for Mark Driscoll and his wife and kids. Seems like we all could use a heavy dose of the real Jesus and show some compassion. Praying for grace and healing!

  • KM November 5, 2014 (7:49 am)

    Les, I hear ya.

    This would be a great property for a McMenamins!

  • i'mcoveredinbees November 7, 2014 (9:01 pm)

    While I actively despised Mars Hill, and especially Driscoll and the damage he did, I get how people can get sucked into something. We all want to belong, some more than others. I think it’s lame though to equate all the members with Driscoll. I read several essays by past members and they all seemed like really decent people who were just naive at the time. I have an acquaintance-friend who went to Mars Hill. Once, I was seriously broke and he just came up to me and shoved a $100 bill in my pocket. He then refused it back and just said to pay it forward. The tendency to make blanket statements about groups of people is what is screwing up this country. I would never attend Mars Hill and loathed their message, but I really learned a lesson there.

  • Matt November 12, 2014 (10:44 pm)

    Very happy the predatory misogynistic homophobes meeting spot is out of the neighborhood. I would’ve been OK, although not religious myself, if they had actually been truly Christian in their philosophy/ teachings.

Sorry, comment time is over.