Mars Hill RICO: My Letter to the Plaintiffs

by | July 8, 2016 | Lawsuit

(This letter was sent to the plaintiffs on March 6, 2016)

Dear Brian and Connie Jacobson, and Ryan and Arica Kildea,

I saw the lawsuit posted online this Monday, but I have yet to be served. I am deeply grieved and saddened that you had to go to this effort and expense. My hope is to reach out to you in a personal letter to resolve the issue you have specifically with me. The Mars Hill attorneys do not know I am reaching out to you. I have not personally hired counsel yet as I would like to resolve this with you before more attorneys are involved.

Over the last two years, I have met with many people over the Mars Hill situation. I have met with people who I know have hurt. I have met with people who I never realized I hurt. I have attempted to meet with people who are still unwilling to meet with me. I believe face-to-face meetings are a great way to resolve issues between members of the body of Christ. Last June, I exchanged communications with Rob Smith. We discussed meeting, and I offered the next time he made it to Texas to meet with him and resolve any issues between us. I have never met Rob Smith. He left Mars Hill before I joined in late 2011, but he reached out to me. I still hope to meet with him in the future because I believe there is no time constraint on Matthew 18:15. My desire is to live peaceably with all men and women.

As it relates to the lawsuit, I would like you all to know that I never received any remuneration from the signing, sale, distribution, events, or any other activities related to Results Source or the Real Marriage book. Almost one year ago, on April 20, 2015, I wrote a lengthy blog about my involvement in Results Source. In the blog, state:

I had a couple of meetings with the manager who was working on this project and at the time he stated his concern with the marketing proposal. I was notinvited to any meetings to discuss ResultSource in my role as General Manager overseeing finance. However, I wrote several memos to my supervisor sharing my concern and lack of support for this marketing practice. I was relatively new to the staff and obviously not on the Board of Directors, nor was I asked to be a part of this particular decision. But due to my adamant disagreement and desire to best serve the staff and church, I wrote a memo on August 26, 2011 to my supervisor saying the following:

1. The plan was poor stewardship.

2. If the plan were to be revealed, it would look poorly on the stewardship of Mars Hill Church.

3. If the plan were to be revealed, it would look poorly on Pastor Mark Driscoll.

A week later, I was notified that my advice was not taken and the plan to use ResultSource was approved. I don’t know who approved the plan. I don’t know what process was conducted concerning the decision. I do know that it showed that the process of making big decisions was broken and it needed to be fixed.

(Blog later continues)

Shortly after the decision to execute the ResultSource marketing plan was made, my supervisor resigned. After him, I was the highest-ranking employee in administration. The decision had been made but the contract hadn’t yet been signed. On October 13, 2011, I signed the ResultSource contract as General Manager a full month before being installed as an Executive Elder. After signing the contract, I emailed an elder, stating my frustration with having to be the one to sign the contract when I had voiced my disagreement with it. But few in the organization (or in the media since then) knew of my disagreement. When you stay in an organization and you do not agree with a decision, you have to own that decision as your own. Unfortunately, I will always be linked to ResultSource since my name was on the contract even though I thought it was a bad idea. If given the same opportunity again, I would not sign the ResultSource contract, but honestly, my missing signature would not have stopped it. Someone else would have signed it anyway since the decision had already been made.

On May 5, 2015, while asked by attorneys not to blog about Mars Hill Global, I wrote a lengthy blog post on the specific subject within your lawsuit. In it I state:

I am sorry that some who contributed to Mars Hill Global (as well as those who did not contribute) were mistakenly led to believe incorrect information. That was neither my nor the church’s intention, but as the accusations came in, we quickly made a change on the online giving site to remove the term “Global Fund” (which had been used since 2009) to make it clearer. Secondly, we had the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), as well as an external, independent auditor, conduct thorough investigations. Both of these groups found that we could have been clearer during our communications (and in hindsight, we certainly agreed), but they reported that we did nothing wrong. Although neither the ECFA nor the auditor gave us any course of corrective action, my leadership team and I wanted to do everything we could to remedy the situation and correct our mistakes.

We quickly established a plan to go above and beyond what was expected of us (nothing) to rectify the situation and make it right with anyone who felt that the communications about Mars Hill Global since 2012 were unclear about our intentions for their monetary gifts. To do this, we directly contacted all donors who designated their gifts as “global” from 2012 to 2014. We did this both through email correspondence and by regular mail. We sent out 3765 emails and approximately 6000 letters to these donors.** In these letters, we apologized for any confusion that the Global ministry communications caused among our donors. We offered to immediately reallocate the dollar amount of their donation(s) to church planting efforts in Ethiopia, if they desired. The amount was less than $40,000 and requests came from less than 40 families.** The funds were then sent on to support efforts in Ethiopia.

If both your families did not see these two blogs, I want to take this opportunity to directly apologize to you for my involvement in both Results Source and Mars Hill Global. I am sorry. It was never my intent to mislead anyone. I hope you have seen that my actions back up my claim. Whether it is Real Marriage (in which I helped institute a new Board of Accountability that decided in August 2013 that Results Source would never be used again (blog on April 21, 2015)), or with Mars Hill Global (where we sent out over 3700 emails and 6000 letters to all Global Donors offering to make sure their donations were sent to Ethiopia if they felt misled by Mars Hill Church), my intent was never to mislead. My actions in both situations were such that I attempted to correct mistakes and prevent them in the future.

I would love the opportunity to apologize to you both, the Jacobsons and Kildeas, in person. I will fly back at my expense to Seattle and mutually agree to have a meeting with someone like Jeff Bettger to help us move through the reconciliation. I would also like to offer to you, the Jacobsons and Kildeas, to personally send funds to Ethiopia in the equivalent of whatever money you donated to Mars Hill Global while I was associated with Mars Hill Church (2011 – 2014). I would personally pay for this Ethiopian donation (as from my understanding Mars Hill Church does not legally exist anymore) and my heart for Ethiopia has only grown. If you would accept my apology in person and accept my offer to send the equivalent of your Mars Hill Global donations to Ethiopia, I would ask if you could please drop the claims against me personally so that we might live peaceably with each other.

I hope you will prayerfully consider my offer, and I hope I am given the opportunity to meet with you all face to face. I am sure that neither one of us, nor our families, wants to go through a lawsuit. The time, emotional energy, money, witness to non-Christians, and other costs are very great and can be avoided if we can just sit down as brothers and sisters. Going on legally could play out for several years. I have learned from the events of Mars Hill where things that happened in 2007 (long before I was associated with Mars Hill) were never addressed and they continue to produce hurt/sorrow/anger in all that were involved. As I wrote in a previous blog, hurt people want to be heard. They want their feelings validated. They want to move on through and past the hurt. If they are not allowed to, these hurt people will hurt others. I have reconciled with many. I long to work things out with you so that neither of us has our lives defined by and cemented in the tragedy of Mars Hill. Our God has written an eternal story that is defined by walking through sin, hurt, and loss to a promised ending of redemption and love. What a testimony it would be if the situation between you all and myself could mirror God’s plan and work out for good pointing others to Christ and glorifying Him!


Sutton Turner