As most of you aware, Mars Hill posted, A Call for Reconciliation in the beginning of March. I filled out the form they provided a few days later. On March 28th The Wartburg Watch posted about how Mars Hill had taken so long to contact me. I received an email the next day from a representative of Mars Hill who apologized and said my response had been lost in a spam filter. Later that day I was emailed by Pastor Adam Christiansen to set up a meeting.
I had no expectations for this meeting. In my mind it was an experiment. Out of all the people who have shared their stories, I felt I was probably the safest to conduct this experiment since my time at Mars Hill was so brief. I felt that we were all curious to see if their post, “A Call for Reconciliation” was genuine or just a PR move. I was curious what reconciliation with me meant for them. I tried my hardest (and admittedly failed a bit) to go into this meeting with no preconceived notions of how it would go. I wanted to act as a guinea pig and be able to report back to everyone reading Mars Hill Refuge about how the meeting went.
In my response to A Call for Reconciliation I listed the terms of meeting in a neutral location, and bringing along my old pastor for support. He completely understood my terms and told me we could meet where I wished and I could bring whoever I wished along. He told me he would also be bringing along another pastor, who ended up being Bill Clem, the lead pastor at the Ballard campus.
I was honestly very surprised at how the meeting went. They were both very humble and seemed to expect nothing from me. They asked to hear my story, and I told them what I have written here. Both of them seemed genuinely saddened by my experience, and apologized for the actions of others. They talked about where Mars Hill aspires to be and how they have missed the mark. The men I met with seemed like they really wanted Mars Hill to grow and change for the better. Our meeting has given me some hope.
My main question for them was to ask what reconciliation with me meant. I asked what they expected from our meeting. When I looked up the word reconcile the other day a couple of definitions really stuck out to me, “to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable:” and, “to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent:” With such opposing viewpoints I didn’t understand how I could be reconciled with them. When I told him these definitions and my thoughts, Bill spoke of living in the same neighborhood and focusing on similar desires for our community, instead of our differences. I left it at that during our meeting, but truthfully I feel that while I can let go of theological differences, I can’t ignore what I view to be abuse. Until the abuse stops, and until Mark Driscoll publicly apologizes for his bullying, there is no way I can ever be fully reconciled with Mars Hill. I wish I would have thought to say that then, but my feelings and thoughts weren’t completely gathered yet.
While I was telling them my story, I said something that eluded to the fact that I don’t hold the complementarian view on marriage. Nothing was said at that moment, but later Bill did bring it up and spoke about his experience with marriage, and leadership in marriage. I had nothing against him sharing his experience with me, but I did feel as though he was trying to correct me, or change my viewpoint. The last thing I wanted was to descend into a theological battle so I left it at that. I did not feel like he was doing it out of anger at my views or pride. It is obviously a belief that is very important to him. This is the only part of our meeting I had issue with.
After our dialogue I feel that I have some more clarification into my own mindsets. I believe that Mark is the problem. He is purposeful to create idealism in young people, and I believe that idealism often breeds the abuse we have suffered. People say it isn’t Mark’s responsibility, but it is his own stated goal to inspire and lead young people (especially men), and this inspiration isn’t manifesting in a healthy manner. Our experiences are proof of that.
I want to end this by saying I wish all the best for the men I met with. Though our views may still differ, I felt like I met with real human beings, not narcissistic theology-machines. I appreciated their willingness to meet with me and hear what I had to say.