Mars Hill Elders Confess and Apologize to Fired Pastors: "We Have Brought Shame to Christ's Church"

The pastors who voted to remove two elders from the Mars Hill Board in 2007 have publicly apologized for their participation in what they now admit was a “grievous sin.” Former Mars Hill elders Scott Thomas, Dave Kraft, and 18 of the 23 elders in place at Mars Hill Church at the time signed a lengthy letter of confession to Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, who were removed from the board for a “lack of trust and respect for spiritual authority.” 

“We now believe that you were grievously sinned against in that termination,” the letter reads. “We believe that the termination meeting’s content and tone was abrupt, one sided, and threatening. … By failing to intervene, we enabled a growing trend of misuses and abuses of power and authority that would be feared and tolerated by the rest of the church’s eldership. We now understand that these sorts of overpowering actions against elders were some of the very concerns that you had each expressed regarding some of the pending proposed changes to the bylaws. It is tragic that you were proved right by your own experiences. The harm permitted by our failure to protect you has had a devastating and lasting impact on you, your families, Mars Hill Church and the watching world.”

“We put doubt about your character in the minds of church members, though you had done nothing to warrant such embarrassment and scrutiny. By doing this, we misled the whole church, harmed your reputation, and damaged the unity of the body of Christ,” the elders wrote.

“This disciplinary rejection led to great loss to your family in extreme financial hardship, sudden loss of long standing friendships, spiritual and emotional trauma to your family, and the public shaming of your character. … A church disciplinary act of this magnitude is extreme. It’s perhaps the most powerful that can be enacted upon a pastor. We now think that motion was hasty and harmful. We should have challenged the motion rather than approving it. Instead, we used our voting power as elders in a way that resulted in further harm to you. Further, we brought disrepute on the Church and its responsibility to exercise church discipline in a godly, loving and redemptive way. We failed to love you as a fellow elder and brother in Christ.”

“Paul and Bent, we are sorry for our sinful behavior toward you, for harming you, and for bringing shame to Christ’s church,” the letter concluded. “We hope that you will forgive us. May the peace and grace of our Lord heal our hearts.”

Last week, the Mars Hill organization announced that it will dissolve as of January 1, 2015, and each of its 13 regional churches will have the choice to become independent and self-governing, merge with another church or disband altogether. 
 
 
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Tony Ridgaway is a staff writer at ChurchLeaders.com