Question for the Leaders of Mars Hill Church: Where Did the Global Fund Go?

In my prior posts on Mars Hill Global, I have established that in 2011 Mars Hill leaders reworked Mars Hill Global into a means of raising revenue and that nearly $2.3 million was donated toward the Mars Hill Global Fund in the fiscal year from July 2o12 to June 2013.

From the Mars Hill Church 2013 Annual Report:

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. Here is the 2013 statement of income and expenses for the church from the Annual Report.

There is nothing here about Global Fund disbursements. Almost $2.3 million came in. Where did it all go?

The 2013 Annual Report has a whole page on Mars Hill Global activities (click the link to see the page) so some funds must have been spent. The “Church planting and partnerships” line item seems to be the most plausible place to look but disbursements from that line are quite modest.

In contrast to the current Mars Hill Global web page, there is no mention of the United States on the 2013 Annual Report Global page. Along with the accomplishments, the report presents the purposes for Mars Hill Global:

As noted, the focus is decidedly international and appears to be the international mission outreach for the church. Donors would naturally believe that their funds were going for international purposes.

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. However, prior to May of this year, donors could give to a specific Global Fund. According to guidelines of Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, funds designated for the Global Fund should be allocated to global outreach. However, Mars Hill has declined to respond to requests to provide an accounting. Also, while the ECFA informed a correspondent recently that the watchdog group was “in communication” with Mars Hill, the ECFA has not responded to my inquiries.

Sources within Mars Hill have consistently informed me that the church uses very little of the Mars Hill Global money for work in Ethiopia and India, reportedly less than 5%. This may or may not be true, but at present, there is no independent way to know. The only leaders at Mars Hill who can speak to those claims are the Executive Elders (Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner) and the Board of Advisors and Accountability (independent members Michael Van Skaik, James McDonald, Paul Tripp, and Larry Osborne).  However, at present, they are not talking.

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