Updated: Jul 4
Abstract: My family attended The Trinity Church for nearly three years, and my wife attended Mars Hill several years ago. I served on the security team for eight months. I served as the Director of Security for only seven weeks (Feb 27th – Apr 18th, 2021) until I resigned due to the pastor’s immoral, unethical, and unbiblical actions. I did not see these issues until I became part of the inner circle where I attended meetings and participated in “top-secret conversations.” I acknowledge I was complicit in executing the duties of my position. I did not get fired, nor was I kicked out of the church as others have been. I could not continue down the same path as the “leadership” of the church, as that is not who I am, nor who God called us to be.
Many of you reading this have read other articles released this past month. I have had people reach out saying those things are not valid and the stories are one-sided. These folks were not part of the meetings or conversations I describe below. I directly witnessed these things happen, participated in meetings and discussions, or validated information others shared with me.
For those that seek truth, I encourage you to read with an open mind. This article is lengthy, so I linked a Table of Contents below to help navigate. I have also included as many emails and messages as possible in an attempt to show this is not “hearsay.” I encourage you to read them as they help paint the full picture.
Feel free to reach out with questions or clarification.
Table of Contents
Dear Pastor Mark,
I love you and have been in constant prayer for you, your family, and the church.
To say that you are a gifted and charismatic speaker would be an understatement. God has given you the ability to teach the Word in a manner I have never seen before. It is captivating and keeps people yearning for more. You speak with boldness, especially on controversial issues, and I have heard many say that is what they love about Trinity and why they love to listen to you preach. The same passion drew my family and me to Trinity and kept me there for two and a half years.
My wife attended Mars Hill in 2007 and 2008. My family and I began watching your sermons online in early 2018 and later moved to Phoenix that fall and began attending Trinity in person. I was aware of issues at Mars Hill, but I wanted to come into our new church, our new home, with a fresh perspective that was my perspective and not what others had experienced or shared. Until recently, I never investigated any of the previous articles that were published or the interviews.
Truth and Ownership
I contemplated not even writing this letter. I have prayed about it many times over. I was not going to bring anything forward. I wanted to walk away peacefully and part our ways and just move on. I tried bringing things up to you and your pastors on numerous occasions. I witnessed you and your pastors slander those you kicked out of the church, including former pastors and those that left willingly, on their own accord. I knew it was only a matter of time before my family's name was tossed around like the others as "demonic, lying, one-sided, etc." The recent articles published with my name were missing some key details to paint the complete picture. Understandably, the story is nearly impossible to cover in a few pieces, especially if the author did not live it first-hand. I felt it is important to speak my narrative as I am the one who lived it and will have to live with this for the rest of my life here on Earth.
I am not claiming innocence in the events outlined below. I take full responsibility for decisions I made, given the information I had and the personalities I faced. I also understand I was complicit just by pure association. The church has been blaming me for saying things like, "Well, Chad was the Director of Security. He recommended this or that…". That is true. I did make recommendations for various situations, as anyone in my position would do. Grace told Kim Thompson "Chad made us do it," referring to the hiring the company to follow the Manuele family. You and I are both well aware that nobody at Trinity makes you do anything.
In many cases, your pastors lied about and exaggerated the scenarios. They habitually make the threat conditions around you and your family seem more inflated and severe than they are. There were many times along the way that I spoke up but was dismissed. I knew it was only a matter of time before my family became another statistic and became excommunicated.
As you have stated, "Cowardly Christianity just wants to do good things, but doesn't want to say hard things." I am here to say the hard things, especially for those who feel they cannot.
Director of Security
On Saturday, February 27th, 2021, a man got on stage during service. The man was asking for prayer. He did not try to attack you or anyone else. He was removed from the stage and taken out front, where he was arrested on the church's front steps for an outstanding warrant not church-related. Even while being handcuffed, he was asking for prayer, to which some of our men graciously prayed over him.
That evening, during Trinity Students, I served security at the west gate entrance to the back yard (children's area) I had many times before. Christian Gonzalez, a Mesa, AZ police officer and Pastor Landon's part-time assistant, came to relieve me at my post to meet with Pastor Brandon in the sanctuary to conduct a de-brief and walk through of the situation. I could tell John Welnick was frustrated, so I asked him how he was doing. He responded,
"Not good. Pastor Mark is really upset with me because I didn't draw my firearm on the man that got on stage. Pastor Mark said I didn't respond quick enough and I put him in danger."
I told John, "Pastor Mark is wrong. In a situation like this, you should always aim to deescalate. Drawing your firearm would have immediately escalated the situation."
Pastor Brandon asked to speak with me outside, where he informed me he relieved the previous Director of Security and asked me to take over as the new Director, full-time. I told him I would need to pray about it and talk it over with my family; as Brandon stated, it would require me to leave my current job.
The following morning, we had an early morning emergency security meeting with all volunteers. In this meeting Pastor Brandon let the team know that he had asked the former head of security to step down. Mistakes were made and it was time to take security to a new level. This didn’t sit well with many of the men who confided in me that the pastors lack of ownership in the lack of support they gave the previous lead was abhorrent. He is a good man who served faithfully for a long time and this is how he was treated? This should have been my first clue.
Brandon and I met for coffee the following Monday afternoon, where we discussed the role and responsibilities of the position. I already had a few days to pray about this and felt God telling me to continue volunteering and not taking a paid position with the church. At the time, I did not know why God was telling me this as I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to fulfill this role at Trinity, where I could serve God full-time. Over the next seven weeks, I continued to volunteer an average of 50 hours per week, as did many others. I never pursued the role of Director, nor did I ever ask for it. I never tried to get close to the Driscoll family, nor did I ever care about that.
Resigning as the Director of Security
On Sunday, April 18th, 2021, I resigned as the Director of Security after serving for only seven weeks. I did not get fired from my position, nor was I asked to leave as many others had been. I tried to be polite and professional, as I was still planning to attend the church and pursue the Chaplain Certification Program. I was careful with my wording because I feared my family would also be shunned and kicked out, as I had witnessed happen to many other families.
I spoke with you and Pastor Brandon on the phone that evening, once again sharing many issues and frustrations with the poor pastoral behavior. You shared with me that you were going to meet with those that remained on the security team to hear them out and understand their concerns so you could game plan a positive change. I decided to write an email to clarify some issues that were not sitting well with me. This email shows some examples of frustrations and the toxic culture forced upon the security team. Each service was a battle with the pastors and staff.
In this email, you will see the conversation I had with you and Brandon on the phone. I was optimistic and hoped there would be some good in me and others resigning. I prayed for positive change as I have consistently recognized the need for a strong security team. We need that across all groups and the entire church. The last part still holds true. My goal is not to be divisive or damaging. Instead, shine a light on the darkness in hopes others will know the truth and make an informed decision for themselves.
Mathew 18:15-20 tells us how to handle issues if your brother sins against you. Many of us involved tried this approach many times over with no success. We brought concerns to your pastors and other staff members on numerous occasions. I brought many items of concern up to you directly, both face to face and over the phone.
How do you expect anyone to bring forth concerns when your immediate action is to kick people off the property and out of church altogether?
How can anyone bring forth a concern and resolve issues without a proper and accessible board of Elders to hold you and the other pastors accountable?
How can anyone feel comfortable bringing forth a concern when you threaten to "bankrupt them in court and bleed them dry?"
How can anyone feel comfortable bringing forth a concern when you and your pastors gossip and slander church members and their families behind their backs?
These concerns are evident in the ever-increasing list of people who have been officially trespassed through the Scottsdale Police Department and the internal Be-on-the-Lookout (BOLO) list.
I retired from the Marine Corps in 2018. I had the opportunity to serve under some of the best and worst leadership the world has to offer throughout my career. I learned a lot from both. Whether it is military, corporate, or ministry, the culture and tone for the organization start at the top, with the Senior Leader. In this case, the Senior Pastor.
"Leading like Jesus in an organization creates a new culture that affects all relationships and every result. When people know the leader cares about them and wants to help them grow, a new culture of trust and community develops, resulting in both high performance and great human satisfaction. By valuing both relationships and results, Jesus created a culture for an effective organization."
What I see missing from Trinity's leadership is the value of relationships. You talk endlessly on stage about how you are driven by results. However, the concern is the lack of true pastoring and shepherding God's people. The relational aspect is lacking, even with those working directly for you. I have witnessed you and your staff slander and put down people within the church, even those serving closest to you, then act friendly to their faces. There is a lot of talking about people, but not to people. How is this relational? How is this loving? How is this Christ-like?
Why did you mention in January that Trinity is no longer a relational church, but the Pastors and staff need to focus on the relationships with those who donate a certain amount of money, at a minimum remembering their names and saying hi to them?
The church family needs genuine relationships.
Speaking of relationships. Here are a few questions of concern. I am fully aware they are personal familial questions, but it shows a pattern of how you treat those that should be closest to you. This pattern carries over to the church staff and their behavior.
Why do you not have a good relationship with Pastor Landon's parents?
They are your daughter Ashley's in-laws.
Why do you not have a good relationship with Chloe's parents?
They are your son Zac's in-laws.
I discussed with Brandon about the in-laws not allowed on the property as I heard this across the campus throughout the congregation.
Why did Pastor Brandon kick Chloe's mother, Jolie Monea, off campus the Wednesday before Zac and Chloe's wedding?
Why do you cause division with Pastor Brandon's in-laws, specifically Lanna Andersen's stepfather and the family?
Why did you laugh and make a mockery of the situation?
Why is it that Pastor Brandon told me that Pastor Landon had been the biggest thorn in his side this past year, yet nobody has done anything about it? Is it because he is your son-in-law?
On my phone call with you on Sunday, April 18th, 2021, I told you Pastor Landon causes the biggest issues across your campus: his personality, demeanor, lack of professionalism, lies, slander, toxicity, etc. I told you my genuine concern was if this didn't change, what type of husband and father would he be going forward. Your only response was, "Well, at least Ashley gets the best version of him."
What are you doing to develop him positively? Why create division with his parents and his brother, Luke Chase, who recently resigned after working for you for several years?
How many coincidences need to occur before it is no longer a coincidence?
Young Pastors & Harassment
As the Senior Pastor, you are responsible for the training and development of your staff. You have an incredibly young crew of pastors who lack discernment and professionalism on a deep level. They slander, gossip, and curse church congregants and volunteers. Your pastors consistently overreact and have even harassed people and kicked them off the property for crazy reasons, such as complimenting someone's shoes and a lady's name.
You have a staff of "yes men" that will do nearly anything you request, with little to no pushback. Some of them are scared to speak up because, as history with other pastors shows, they will get fired or sued.
On Sunday, April 11th, the man who got on stage walked on the sidewalk in front of the church when your pastors, staff members, and a few security members started following and taunting him to his apartment. Pastor Eden and John Welnick were the primary individuals harassing him, walking alongside him the entire way, only a couple of feet away from him. You can read the full details in my Incident Report and Kevin Pankey's Incident Report. A few weeks later, Kevin resigned and wrote a letter to Brandon expressing his concern and letting him know he and his wife were leaving the church.
Organizational Structure and Eldership
In an Organizational Chart you shared with the staff, the "wise counsel" falls under you. You do not list your Elders on this chart, but you have often referred to them as “Overseers”. Many may be unfamailiar with the term overseer, so I wanted to share an excerpt from Dr. Wayne Grudem’s book, "Systematic Theology":
"Another term used for elders in the New Testament is a Greek work episkopos, which is variously translated as “overseer” or “bishop,” depending on the individual passage and the English translation. But this word also seems quite clearly to be another term used for elders in the New Testament usage. For example. When Paul has called to him the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17), he says to them, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (Gk. Episkopos)” (Acts 20:28). Paul quite readily refers to these Ephesian elders as “overseers.”
Other articles have been written about you not having a board of elders. When, in fact, you do have a board of overseers that are geographically distributed, or translocal.
You have Randal Taylor listed as “Wise Counsel”.
You no longer list this team on The Trinity Church Leadership page. You used to have them listed, and they can be seen on an archived version of the Trinity Website from February 2021. Why are they now hidden?
At Mars Hill, your elders were mostly local. I remember sitting in your office with you discussing some security issues and how the church is structured. You said something along the lines of
"I learned a lot of lessons from my last church. I set this one up differently on purpose. We have a solid defense strategy. Don't forget; I am the one in charge. If things go south this time, I won't go down the way I did last time".
What exactly did you mean by this?
You shared on your Mars Hill Leadership Page:
"Jesus calls qualified men to lead his church as elders, whom we also call pastors. Qualifications for eldership are found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and include leading their families well, a record of serving Jesus well both in the church and in everyday life, a thorough knowledge of the Bible and a mature Christian walk, and a good reputation both in and out of the church.
The primary duties of elders include praying and studying Scripture, leading the vision of the church, caring for the people of the church, teaching, living lives that are exemplary, protecting the people of the church from false doctrine and teachers, and developing other leaders."
One of your overseers, Jimmy Evans, spoke about Church Governance at The Trinity Church. He said some remarkable things about how translocal governance doesn’t work.
“There's something wrong with their form of governance, I can't, I can't put my finger. They do have a plural leadership but their plural leadership has translocal and they don't have a local leadership.
Now if your church is new, like Pastor Mark, Robert and I are on the board here at The Trinity Church and so and we will be until they have local elders and then they'll raise them up. So, if your church is new, it takes a while to get elders.
So I was praying one day about this issue. And I was thinking about my friends who have this translocal elder, that’s their form of governance.
But I was praying and here's what the Lord said to me, their form of governance requires too much integrity.
That's exactly what’s wrong. If you have a really Integris person, who is the senior pastor and they have a translocal…you don't live with me, how do you know how I treat people. I only invite you in when I want you to come. You know I may I may invite you to come in every two or three years to preach, but you don't know me, you don't know how I treat my wife you don't know how my kids are. And because of that you're over here…and they're setting their salaries, the trans local people are setting their salaries. So the accountability is as close as I want it to be.
Remember the story I told you about New Life Church? Elaborate overseers, eldership, board, not one single person knew what was going on in the church, until it hit the international media. Church of about 10,000 people.
A pastor can hide. So there needs to be a form of governance that requires the right amount of integrity, and that is in our form of governance we live among you. The people that hold us accountable are the people that we meet with monthly live with daily. And so that you look at my eyes and smell my breath. You know what's going on. And that's the way it needs to be.”
How can your overseers execute the duties required when they are translocal?
How can anyone in the church, especially staff, raise concern when the elders are not accessible and your pastors, including you, have a decorated history in mistreating people in egregious ways, including immediately kicking people out of the church for simply bringing up a serious concern?
Your overseers are complicit by allowing this behavior to happen while they remain inaccessible.
Family Values and Family Business
In another security meeting, you told the team that you are the "Head Coach," and no decisions are made without your guidance and ultimate approval. You told the team if they did not like that, they could find another team. You went on to say the church is structured on your family's values and the security team is to support what you and your family believe. How about what God's values are and supporting what the Bible says? This struck a nerve with many because you have referenced the church as a family business on numerous occasions. Your social media managers even attempted to mock the situation on Facebook and then edited it later. Was that also your decision, or just immaturity on your social media manager's part?
There have been occasions where church members have wanted to assist with planting and growing some ministry presence at other churches and organizations. They were told this is a family business, and they needed to keep it in-house. Out of curiosity, what would Jesus say about this? Isn't the Church the body of Christ, not a building or business, and are we not called to go out and spread the Gospel?
As Ron Wheeler shared: "You can't preach Jesus and then force your people to not compete with you in spreading the gospel."
First Security Meeting With You, As the "Director"
On Wednesday, March 10th, 2021, we held our first security meeting with me as the new Director. This meeting was in your office during the discussion time of Real Men's. I had only been in the position for a little over a week. I prepared a detailed Security Plan Overview brief for you to outline a comprehensive security strategy.
Earlier that morning, during Flourish, a lady yelled at Grace in front of the church. Marc Stirton was standing beside her and did nothing to intervene or deescalate the situation. There were two male staff members nearby. They did not interfere because, as we were all told, if a Driscoll Detail member is nearby or handling a situation, no one interrupts. Why would your staff inject themselves when Marc Stirton had it under control?
I was barely a minute or two into the briefing when you interrupted me to give me an overview of your background as a Pastor. You proceeded to talk endlessly about yourself, saying things like, "I have the fastest growing church in the nation. I have the largest ministry presence in the southwest United States. My content reaches more people per month than any other church, and in December alone, I hit over 10 million people around the globe. Every church in the valley is shutting down, and I am exploding. It's miraculous how quickly I have grown." It was alarming to me how much you talked about yourself. It was all about YOU. It was all about numbers. It was apparent to me that "It's all about Driscoll."
You also shared some things about what you and your family went through at Mars Hill. You shared with me that many people turned on you, and even your head of security had "crossed you." You then proceeded to talk about the incident that occurred that morning with a lady yelling at Grace. You began to curse and slander the men on your staff, even saying, "I don't trust any of the men on my staff, and I mean any of them." You talked about how weak they are, and you could not believe none of them stood up for Grace and how you should fire them. You said it with such anger and hatred in your tone. Shortly after, we were discussing a Threat Assessment I had scheduled for that Friday. I had to tell you several times the threat assessment was not a training event. You kept demanding all the men on your staff to show up for the training, even though I assured you the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Officer specified it is NOT training, and only Brandon and I could be there. You persisted and made it known once more that you did not trust any of the men on your entire staff. You turned to Brandon, pointing at him, and exclaimed, "It is your f*cking problem, and you will f*cking fix it." I could see the anger in Brandon's face as his skin turned bright red and his eyes wide open. How is this behavior Godly or pastoral? How are you effectively leading your men with a loving, fatherly approach, as you claim?
You told Brandon to let the staff know that all the men better show up for training that Friday or else they would lose their jobs. It was a careless and knee-jerk decision, causing much pain for the men on your staff. Tyler had to cancel his son's birthday party. Pastor Eden had to disrupt vacation plans with his wife months in the making, and another had to cancel marriage counseling that was crucial to their relationship. These personal family issues may seem minor to you, but to them, it was crushing. I talked to them right after that meeting, outside near the parking lot. I could see a mixture of hurt and anger in their eyes, emotions I would continue to see over the next several weeks.
During this meeting, I saw first-hand why your staff walks on eggshells, and many are afraid to make decisions, and the decisions they do make all point back to you and how they can serve you and your name. Once again, "It's All About Driscoll" and not All About Jesus, as it should be.
Driscoll Detail Entourage
During my initial "formal" meeting with Brandon, we discussed organizational vision and guidance for how the security team would be structured. Brandon made it clear I was to be the Director with Marc Stirton falling under me, but Marc would serve as the head of the Driscoll Detail. The detail was formed to provide safety for you and your family, with Marc Stirton running the screening and selection process for those so allowed to be in your "inner circle" as he is a "trusted" friend of the family. This calculated decision created a lot of strife and division amongst the team because it further isolated you and the detail from the rest of the team and church family. This created a breakdown in communication and team structure. It caused chaos and confusion because your security detail would pull security team members off the team, out of their assigned position, and even took it upon themselves to fire people without my approval or even without me knowing the situation.
The environment and culture amongst your detail became very toxic internally and extremely uncomfortable externally. The congregation could tell a change in atmospheric dynamics with the new security detail isolating you from everyone, in and out of the sanctuary. You had an entourage with you everywhere you went. You struggled with balancing the paranoia with your ego, to the point of installing a firearm safe with assault rifles in your office and even having your detail carry collapsible carbines around campus. What sickens me the most is I bought into the hype and was aware of this. I was complicit in my recommendations of a solid security posture because of the dramatic lies were told to me about how many people from Seattle were "out to get you." I remember Brandon often telling the team things like,
"this is what happens when you work for Pastor Mark. Craziness comes. We need our men to be prepared."
Having your entourage escort you from the parking lot to your office, to the sanctuary and back to the office, then back to the parking lot, and even driving you to and from your house is a tad dramatic and over the top by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, maybe it is on par with all the people you have caused hurt and heartache over the years. This craziness is certainly self-induced.
I have repented for my behavior in this, and I ask for forgiveness for being a part of this culture and environment. I need Jesus just as much as anyone else.
I remember the days when you would come out to the lobby and circulate amongst the congregation before and after services. You would shake hands and talk with people, especially on Wednesday nights during Real Men's. Many men looked up to you and loved just being in your presence. People put you on a pedestal and treated you like a deity, as this was the dynamic created by you and your staff.
Somewhere along the way, it all changed. The church was growing, and you isolated more and more. It is startling to me the vast number of similarities between Ron Wheeler's letter and what is happening at Trinity. In his letter, Ron writes,
"I remember you bragging about how you had this back corridor between your office and the stage, and you didn't have to be interrupted by anyone before or after church. I was so confused. I bought into the meaning, truth, beauty, mission thing. I certainly didn't buy into this."
Pastor Mark, you are doing the same thing here at Trinity. You currently have an engineering team working on drafting the plans to blast a hole through the concrete and steel wall backstage to have a private entrance into your office from behind stage so you "don't have to deal with being interrupted by people."
I recall sitting in a meeting with you, and I asked you why you no longer associate with the church and why you have isolated yourself. Your excuse was COVID. You told me you did not want to be seen in photos with people because you do not enforce social distancing or wear a mask. I found this absurd as your production team blasts your pictures and videos all over social media. Furthermore, you made a mockery of COVID, social distancing, and mask-wearing week after week. It is evident in your sermons, and those that attended in person know this. You often bragged how the videos online are edited, and your controversial sayings are removed, so the crazy bloggers hiding in their mom's basement do not attack.
My family and I traveled to Oregon on December 15th for Christmas. My daughters came down with COVID symptoms on December 21st. My symptoms started on December 24th. My elderly in-laws had symptoms begin on December 26th. We all became extremely sick with many symptoms. After losing my taste and smell, I finally got tested and was diagnosed with COVID on December 30th. My father-in-law was hospitalized after developing COVID pneumonia. The Oregon Health Department attempted contact tracing to locate where we could have contracted it but was not successful.
You may be asking how this is relevant? My family and I returned to Trinity Saturday, January 16th, after quarantining in Oregon for an additional two weeks. I remember being welcomed back after being away for a month. I had a conversation with Pastor Brandon and Pastor Eden about my COVID experience, and they both were very boastful about how they all had COVID, and so did their families and many others at Trinity. They were immensely proud that they "were not fearful of COVID and were doing just fine." Pastor Brandon was going on about how he still could not taste or smell. I asked if they closed the church given the outbreak, and his response was, "No, why would we? It's our biggest time of the year. Everyone was fine". It was apparent the church was more concerned with numbers than people's health.
Was there ever an announcement to those who attended, letting them know so they could make their own informed decision?
How many of the staff had COVID and still worked through every service?
How was the staff told to handle the testing of COVID and their work schedules?
There are emails and text messages regarding the questions above, but it is not my story to share those items. Many families were affected, and I can only pray and encourage those impacted to share.
Child Safety Concerns and Favoritism
On Thursday, March 11th, Paul W., a security team member, brought forth serious concerns involving a staff member's actions with a child. He was specific in examples of activities which if true, would violate child safety practices and potentially trigger a report to child protective services. When Paul reported this incident to a member of Mark Driscoll's security detail, Paul was called into a meeting. He thought he would be asked to retell what he witnessed in order to document and trigger an investigation. Instead, the decision had already been made before the meeting that Paul and his family were immediately kicked out of the church, his life group, his real men's table, as well as the Chaplain Certification Program. This happened because he attempted to report an incident that involved a staff member, and it would be too damning for the church and the Driscoll brand.
When we requested access to the video cameras to properly document his innocence I was ignored. Luckily, Marc Stirton, who is your hand-picked personal security lead, followed protocol and created an incident report with the staff members name redacted. When I asked Pastor Brandon how to handle this report, he instructed me to delete everything. He did not want any evidence of this as it would be too damaging for the church and the Driscoll Brand. This did not sit well with me as I viewed it to be shortsighted. With the number of cameras you have on property it should have been easy to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the allegation was false. This individual should want to be exonerated. Why was Pastor Brandon Andersen allowed to put your brand above the potential victim or the staff members ability to be exonerated?
A few weeks later, I sat in a security meeting where we discussed this, among other topics. You and the other pastors laughed about the accusation, just summing it up as a laughable absurdity. You all accused the individual that brought forth the concern of being "demonic," which is the same thing you say about others that have left or been kicked out. This type of behavior was sickening and indeed not laughable. Furthermore, Pastor Brandon’s decision had the potential to do immense damage not only to a potential victim but also to the staff member if he was innocent. Not to mention the slandering of a brother in Christ at the hands of the church and the pain that was inflected on the entire family for merely reporting what they had seen.
Here is the Incident Report, text message where Paul W. was kicked out before the staff even met with him, and here is the text where I relayed to Marc Stirton that Pastor Brandon did not want things documented.
NOTE: I am not accusing nor am I claiming the staff member did anything inappropriate. I am just noting that you and your staff did not handle this properly.
Manuele Meltdown & Easter Security
You may be wondering why I supported the church in its defense and stance against Angelo as these events unfolded, and now it appears I am supporting him. I want the true narrative to be shared.
I was never close with Angelo, nor did I know him well at all. We sat at a table together at Real Men's a few times, but that was the extent of our relationship. I owed it to you and the church to do my job as the Director and provide the best support and advice I could. You and your staff's paranoia are on a whole other level which was the driving factor in this situation spinning out of control. Looking back, I should have seen through all the slander and exaggeration during the phone calls and discussions, both verbal and in writing. Our security team had a flood of reports and suspicion from various folks, mostly staff. It was challenging to sift through it all.
Nonetheless, I take full responsibility for my participation. I have given my apologies and asked for forgiveness. I have repented to God. I ultimately resigned (for many more reasons than the Manuele Meltdown, all listed in this article) and walked away.
On Wednesday, March 24th, 2021, you discovered that Angelo Manuele's 15-year-old son had kissed your 17-year-old daughter. Brandon pulled Vince into his office to question him about the incident, to which he got angry and went off on him, a kid two years younger than your daughter.
Shortly after, around 6 PM, I was standing near the West Gate entrance to the back yard (children's area) when Landon came up to me asking if I could send backup security to the front of the church as there was an incident with Angelo Manuele that Brandon was dealing with. I sent William to help. Moments later, I proceeded up to the door outside your office and began chatting with some of your staff. I had been there about five minutes when Landon came angrily walking down the hallway and told us how he had just "went off" on William and advised that I go check on him. This was at least the third time Landon had treated William horribly. I asked Landon what happened, and he said there was a group of security guys in the vicinity of Brandon and Angelo. William was pushing for information and wanted to know what was going on. Landon yelled at William, "shut the f*ck up and just do your f*cking job!". Once again, another "pastor" yells and curses at a security member who volunteers to put their life on the line for you, your family, the staff, and the church flock.
Mark, you preach to us men endlessly on Wednesday nights at "Real Men" about how we are to be Godly husbands and fathers. You talk about us fathers being protectors and protecting our families, especially our children. I am curious here, how is it that you still have never reached out to Angelo, man-to-man, father-to-father, to handle a family matter through all of this. How can you text a 15-year-old boy from your daughter's phone, but you cannot call or even text Angelo, Vince's father?
Brandon has told me a few times,
"Mark keeps me around because he trusts me. I clean up his messes."
This entire mess could have been avoided altogether.
The week building up to Easter, Angelo certainly had a flood of emotions he had to battle daily. He was angry and hurt by the entire situation, especially seeing how horribly his son was treated. His family had been trespassed from the property and kicked out of the church. For the first time, Angelo and both his sons were starting to see your behind-the-stage behavior. Like many others, they were now directly impacted. It should be of no surprise Angelo and others wanted you to resign and step away within a couple of weeks of this incident.
I had several meetings and phone calls with you and the other pastors and staff members around the safety and security concerns of your family and the church property. We had information and reports from other church members who had private conversations with Angelo stating he wanted you to resign as the Senior Pastor and repent for your behavior. Angelo requested you form a board of elders to hold you and the other pastors accountable for your actions and properly oversee how business was conducted.
In these meetings, you said Angelo was "demonic" and labeled him as an out-of-control lunatic. You all made the situation much worse than it was, all because of pride and ego getting in the way. At the time, even I bought into it and was full force on stopping Angelo. You had me and the security team convinced he was pure evil. We developed a playbook of what-if scenarios and how we would react if something did happen. It is standard security practice, and as the Director of Security, I was doing my job. That still does not negate the fact that how it was handled was wrong.
Many fingers are being pointed at me as being the one who recommended we have someone follow Angelo. That is true. I did. I take full ownership of that. In many conversations, phone calls, and face-to-face, I was told things that turned out not to be true. On March 29th, Brandon asked for a Private Investigator and wanted as much info on Angelo as possible. On April 1st, I recommended having our Private Investigator follow Angelo, and later that night, Brandon wanted professional eyes on Angelo and made a point how we couldn't predict crazy.
Threaten to Sue and Bankrupt People
In another Angelo security meeting, you and Brandon discussed how you had tripled your litigation fund to approximately $10 million. You said something along the lines of
"If Angelo crosses me, I will just bankrupt him and bleed him dry in court. It is a numbers game. I guarantee you he runs out of money before I do."
You followed that up with, "In fact, that goes for anyone." You continued to talk horribly about Angelo and said,
"Hell, he's a broke-ass dad that could not financially take care of his son. He only tithes $25 per month. He doesn't have much money so bankrupting him will be easy."
How is this Pastoral? How is this Christ-like? How is this loving?
Over Easter weekend, Randal was talking with me about family. He was sharing stories with me about his family, and I was sharing about mine. Randal proceeded to tell me that his daughter is about to graduate from law school and how he has spent a few days with her at her apartment a week or so prior. Randal told me about a legal system she has access to as a law student and how he used it to look up "all kinds of dirt on Angelo." I played it off and asked about what all he had access to, and he said, "you can pretty much pull up anything you want about anyone." I would love to see those access logs from her account. Identity and Access Management is a core security principle, not to mention legal, moral, and ethical concerns. Mark, is this the kind of "Wise Counsel" you want? Maybe so.
This was shocking to me, and I remembered this conversation a few weeks later when Pastor Darien told our Chaplaincy Class that Trinity has a team to monitor our social media posts and who we were connected with on different social media platforms. Was he talking about Randal's? In another meeting I had with you, we discussed cybersecurity concerns, and when I asked about social media analysis, you mentioned "Randal Taylor has it all under control."
The topic of surveillance runs deep. The specific part I want to focus on is the concerns with the cameras around campus. Cameras are a great security tool at can be used as a preventative (people see them and think twice before acting or do not act at all) or detective access control (to review footage after an event occurs).
The problem here is your pastors monitor the cameras to spy on congregants and those working or volunteering. They pull up the video feed during service and even while they are away, off-campus, from their phones to see what people are doing or listen to what they are saying. Don't believe me? Ask Pastor Landon as he has openly discussed doing this. Also, a review of the Ubiquiti network access logs, devices use to access the network appliances (Phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), its IMEI and IP Address, geo-locations, etc., would show this.
Spectrum of Trust
On Wednesday, April 14th, at 3:00 PM, I was pulled into a meeting with Pastor Brandon and Caleb Glennie in Brandon's office. Brandon initiated the conversation by telling me he needed to cover some sensitive information to be treated as "top secret."
Brandon said my ability to lead my family was in question because I was seen in a photo with a Pastor Dustin, whom you treated horribly and slandered. Brandon said he just sat through a staff meeting where you went over a "Spectrum of Trust" with the staff, where you rated individuals on a sliding scale of 0-10 based on how much trust you and the church have in them. He pulled up a picture he took from the dry erase board in your office and proceeded to brief me on this spectrum of trust. Brandon said that the higher the level of trust, the more access someone gets. I asked, "access to what?" to which Brandon replied, "The Driscolls because they are at level 10". Once again, It's All About the Driscolls.
Brandon shared several names on the spectrum, including but not limited to Ben and Tiffany Eneas, Vlad and Mariya Kiforishin, and Dustin and Trina Blatnik, ensuring I knew where they are were on the scale. Although the trust scores were calculated based on multiple factors, the scores were lowered due to association with friends the church no longer "fellowships with as they are a threat." Pastor Brandon stated, "the wives are too emotional and can't cut personal friendships with people the church no longer associates with. The men do not typically have that problem, but if they can't get their wives under control and lead their houses effectively, then their score drops too".
I assured Brandon our families were okay, and some of the men I knew personally were leading well. I told him how crazy it is they base their decisions on a picture they saw on social media and how ridiculous it is that the church was trying to control how we are friends. Brandon said, "well, we can't tell you who you cannot be friends with, but if you choose to be friends with people we don't like or fellowship with, then you are no longer trusted and can't volunteer or fellowship with us."
Brandon asked me, "the bottom line is we need to know what team you guys are on. Are you Team Blatnik or Team Driscoll/Trinity". I was a little surprised he asked that question because my team is always Team Jesus. I let Brandon know that two of the individuals he was questioning me about, Ben Eneas and Vlad Kiforishin, were outside and should talk to them directly. Once again, he refused.
· Your wife, Grace Driscoll, told Tiffany Eneas not to be friends with Mariya Kiforishin.
· On the day I resigned, I witnessed Pastor Eden pull John Baker into his office to question him and direct him to not be friends with Angelo all because of a photo seen on Facebook?
The issues listed above were a repeated pattern of behavior from Pastor Brandon, Caleb Glennie, and Marc Stirton. They consistently talked about how they don't like or trust Vlad, and they think he is only trying to "get close to the Driscolls." I would challenge you to find a more devoted volunteer at Trinity that serves because of his love for Jesus. He is a graduate of the chaplain certification program, led a table at Real Men's, led a Life Group at his home, served countless hours on security, his wife, Mariya, served in children's ministry, and his daughter a Junior Intern. Vlad also went on a mission trip to Mexico with you and the others from Trinity. Yet, despite all that, you all continue to slander Vlad and his family.
You caused division with many families, and the Kiforishins were just one of them. I advised you directly that you, or Pastor Brandon, should discuss all the ongoing issues with Vlad and Mariya. You did not want anyone to associate with them because of Mariya remaining connected with Katherine Manuele. This reached the point where your wife, Grace, told ladies if they wanted to stay her friend, they could not be friends with Mariya. As mentioned above, you also had issues with Vlad and Maryia hosting Easter brunch at their own house and chastising those that attended because the Blatniks were there. How is this behavior Christ-like? How is this pastoral?
Mark, the issue is you and the staff love to talk about people, but not to people. Neither you nor Brandon has spoken to these men about your concerns, yet you have slandered them and their families.
Pastor Dustin Blatnik
The crazy part about all this is you used Vlad's home to have a "going away celebration" for Pastor Dustin where you told everyone that his departure was mutual and everything was on excellent terms. You stated how there were no moral issues and that you love the Blatnik family. You discussed how you wanted to honor them with a month of severance for every year served, that Dustin would continue to be a Trinity Pastor for the next four months, and how he would even officiate a wedding two weeks later. Furthermore, you, Pastor Brandon, and even Pastor Eden said you wouldn't say anything bad about Dustin because there is nothing bad to say.
The irony in all this is that you and Brandon were the only ones I heard talk bad about Dustin and his family. Why did you slander him in front of me and tell me how you do not trust him or his wife? Why did you lie at the going away, giving everyone the impression that everything was on good terms? If you were honest, then perhaps you would not need to be overly concerned with an Instagram photo. I think you and the staff attempt to excommunicate people and keep them from talking to families you have kicked out because you are afraid that we will find out the truth. I can only hope and pray that the truth about your treatment of former pastors can be shared some day.
The Trinity Church Bus and Mars Hill Bus Connection
You have made it clear on numerous occasions that each decision made at Trinity is either made by you or is run by you for final input. You and your staff had shared how each decision is calculated. Given what you said about the dead bodies and Mars Hill bus, I have serious concerns about the Trinity Bus, as do many others. I asked Brandon about the use of the bus, and he said it is only to be used as a "prop". Kevin Pankey offered to drive it, and Brandon gave the same answer, just a "prop". After an article was published and photos of the bus appeared online, you attempted to hide it by moving it behind a dumpster. Why? What is there to hide?
Either this was a calculated decision to send an intentional message or perhaps a total lack of discernment, judgment, and decision-making ability.
Please repent, resign, and step down and away from Trinity. The Trinity Church family needs a Senior Pastor that can lead by a Biblical example.
As you can see, it is not an isolated incident that has caused pain and heartache to many people. It is the combination of many smaller incidents, when combined, paint a fuller picture. I am sharing the truth because it is the right thing to do, even though it certainly is not the easiest. I have nothing to gain by going through this. I know that having the courage to speak up and share the truth only brings the opportunity for my family to be attacked, lied about, slandered, and threatened to be sued.
I have faithfully volunteered hundreds of hours at Trinity, ensuring the safety and security of the flock, your family, and even directly protected you on countless occasions. Again, I was not fired from my position nor was I kicked out of the church. I resigned and left due to the immoral, unethical, and unbiblical actions by the pastors and staff.
There are many more witnesses and testimonies of people that have been hurt. Many are in fear of your retaliation. You have threatened people with lawsuits, Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) and even threatened to cancel severance payments to those whom you kicked out. This is a form of abuse. I do not need to list names here. They know who they are and so do you and ultimately, God. I pray God gives people the strength and courage to come forward.
I am praying for all involved and want nothing but the best.
P.S. For others that may be reading this, please take a moment to read Ron Wheeler's letter, I. Am. Not. Anonymous. You will find an alarming number of similarities between what happened at Mars Hill and what is currently happening at The Trinity Church.