This is an overview of the only Acts 29 outfit in the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America. This is the history of Redemption Hill, a look at Bill Riedel the Senior Pastor and its ties to Bill Kynes’ Cornerstone an Evangelical Free in Annandale, Virginia. More important is the health of this church especially with Mark Driscoll’s DNA still contaminating the Acts 29 network. With what Mark Driscoll taught about oral sex, or even calling women “penis homes” is that theology alive and represented in Redemption Hill of Washington, D.C.?
“I’ve seen many friends make bad choices in their 20s. For some, regular partying quickly turned into alcoholism; for others, prescription drugs led them into dark places. For me, it was religion.”
Mike Anderson from The Resurgence
“The short answer is that I believe God called me and my family here. We love this city. We love the people in this city. D.C. is an exciting place to live right now. As beautiful as D.C. is, and with all the opportunity here, brokenness and challenges are fairly clear. So we felt called here to bring the hope of redemption in Jesus.”
Bill Riedel in the Washington Examiner
“Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.”
Mark Driscoll explains why women are penis homes
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Screen shot of Redemption Hill logo
In the course of time and as I juggle multiple topics at this blog there is one area that I would like to explore and write about. I would like to do profiles and the history of each Acts 29 church in the Washington, D.C. area. This blog was born out of a painful incident, and psychological trauma out of Redeemer Arlington as led by Eric Simmons, Jon Smith and Jordan Kauflin. I was unsuccessfully recruited into that church and an Air Force Officer who Jordan Kauflin discipled, turned around and gave birth to a false accusation that threatened my name and ability to earn income. That incident by an Air Force Officer taught me why rape and sexual assault are a serious issue in the United States military. It was the darkest season of my life and it was never resolved. There have been 80 articles written about Redeemer Arlington. Given the issues in the Acts 29 network its time to look closer at these network of churches in the Washington, D.C. area. I have already written about Justin Pearson’s Sojourn Fairfax in, “My 66th Story of Forgiveness: Approaching Justin Pearson & Sojourn Church Fairfax During My Season of Repentance” Then I wrote about Redemption City Church in Frederick, Maryland. That church is led by Bliss Spillar but it was a nasty email by Jeff Estes that created the post. You can read that post in “Redemption City Church in Frederick, Maryland and an Email from Jeff Estes.” In the course of time I also want to research and write about Kenji Adachi’s All People’s Community Church which is being supported by Fellowship Memphis. This blog, The Wondering Eagle, helped drag out the alleged cover up and destruction of child pornography in that Acts 29 church in Tennessee. Plus I also want to do a closer look at Jason Conner’s Portico Arlington. But today we are going to look at what I believe is the only Acts 29 church in the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America – Redemption Hill as led by Bill Riedel.
How I Learned of Redemption Hill
Living in the Washington, D.C. area is a bear. The traffic is a part of the culture and it makes simple tasks incredibly hard. I’ve lived in California, Montana, Wisconsin and here, and by far the Washington, D.C. area is the hardest. When I was in my faith crisis I decided to try and look at a church that I could possibly get involved in and swing by on the way home from work. A place that I could get to easily on the drive home and possibly participate in a study. Keep in mind I was trying to find myself during this time. As I was involved in the Evangelical Free in California when I was in grad school I decided to look up an Evangelical Free in the area and I saw Redemption Hill as led by Bill Riedel. I looked into it more and I noticed that it was Acts 29. I had read and was familiar with all the problems with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Seattle. I knew about the story of Paul Petry and Bent Myer and I was familiar with Mark Driscoll talking about the Biblical basis for oral sex. During this time I was under pressure to also attend Redeemer Arlington with Andrew White trying to get me involved in Sovereign Grace. Sovereign Grace like Acts 29 was the first time since my involvement with Mormonism where a religious organization had red flags and warning. I looked at Redemption Hill and its affiliation with Acts 29 and decided that this was a church to avoid like cancer. So I decided not to check it out even though it would have been an easy commute on the way home from work.
Instead I eventually decided to check out Crossway Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia as led by Jim Ramsack one Sunday. I thought perhaps that would work in the course of time. What I also did as I was in my faith crisis is that I emailed pastors or people on staff some of the questions that tore me apart. I did that with Crossway Fellowship hoping we could have a discussion or serious on discussion on a number of issues, such as the problem of evil. When I got to Crossway one Sunday morning I was walking in the hallway and I noticed that Crossway was helping to plant Redemption Hill. I saw the poster and was stunned. That was a major red flag for Crossway. Not only that but I was disgusted and wondered if the Evangelical Free knew how to practice discernment and critical thinking skills on the Acts 29 network. After all…why could a guy who was into Christopher Hitchens at the time see through all issues, corruption and baggage of the Acts 29 network courtesy of Mark Driscoll? Why could the Evangelical Free not see the issues? After the service I went to the welcome station and I asked the person there why Crossway Fellowship was helping to plant Redemption Hill especially with all the issues in the Acts 29 network and Mark Driscoll? The female asked me in return.. “Who is Mark Driscoll?” And I shot back, “He’s that pastor in Seattle who talks about the Biblical basis for blow jobs!” The female in her 60’s went white when I said that and I walked out just disgusted. Despite my history with this denomination today because of all the problems in regards to the Evangelical Free Church of America I am a “done” to this denomination. Crossway Fellowship was one of two churches helping to plant Redemption Hill. The second one if Bill Kynes Cornerstone in Annandale, Virginia, also a suburb of the Washington, D.C. area.
History of Redemption Hill
Cornerstone is an Evangelical Free Church in Annandale, Virginia and it had been wanting to do a church plant in Washington, D.C. since 2006. Its Senior Pastor is Bill Kynes and Bill took a call one day from Bill Riedel. Bill Riedel had left his Evangelical Free Church in Indianapolis when he reached out to Bill Kynes. They flew Bill out to the Washington, D.C. area and they agreed to sponsor and support them. Bill Riedel became a member of Cornerstone. The first service of Redemption Hill took place on Palm Sunday on April 17, 2011. Since Cornerstone is the sending church Bill Riedel wrote up a report which was featured in the Cornerstone Connection, a newsletter of Cornerstone of July 2011. This church was an Acts 29 plant as well becoming the first Acts 29 plant in the Eastern District of the Evangelical Free Church of America. The Eastern District includes eastern New York, central and eastern Pennsylvania, eastern Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and Delaware. On a side note I did an analysis of the Eastern District as well as a study of the rate of Neo-Calvinist theology in this district. Bill Riedel did an interview with the Washington Examiner which you can read here. Bill also participated in the Evangelical Immigration Table in April of 2014 which encouraged Congress to act on immigration reform. Redemption Hill has supported two church plants with the first one being in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That church is led by Lucas Parks and is called Village Belfast. The second church was launched in January 2016 in downtown Mexico City, Mexico. It is called Doxa Iglesia Cristiana and is led by Jesus “Chuy” Rodriguez.” Both Village Belfast and Doza Iglesia Cristiana are Acts 29. Finally you can see the connections between Bill Kynes and Acts 29 in this conference that was held in 2015.
Bill Riedel and Church Leadership
Bill Riedel is a native from Chicago and he adores the Chicago Bears and the Cubs. The same year I graduated from Marquette in Milwaukee Bill graduated from Trinity International Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He obtained a Masters in Divinity in 2005 from Trinity and then served at Faith Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, which also is an Evangelical Free Church. You can find Bill’s sermon online. As I said above in 2010 Bill Riedel eventually moved to Washington, D.C. after making a phone call to Bill Kynes. Bill Kynes is one of the leading Reformed pastors in the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). He also is on the Council of The Gospel Coalition and the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone. In 2008 the EFCA revised its statement of faith. Bill Kynes along with Greg Strand wrote the forward to a book in 2011 that explained that the EFCA doctrinal statement. You can read about the changing statement of faith in this Gospel Coalition article called “Unity When Possible, Fidelity When Necessary.” Bill Riedel became a member of Cornerstone and Cornerstone helped launch Redemption Hill in 2011. You can read more about it at Bill Riedel’s blog post here about the situation. Plus Bill writes a blog called “A View from the Hill.” Bill has been married to his wife Alissa for 11 years and they have three children Zoe, Liane and Simon. Bill also was in a band in Indiana it appears, and he loves motorcycles. Oh one more thing Bill’s birthday is September 22.
Other leaders in this church are John Rees who is on the Staff Team and Phil Maucieri who is the worship leader. Phil Maucieri was the worship leader at the Austin Stone, an Acts 29 church in Texas. John Rees preached at Cornerstone on April 7, 2013. In addition to the Elders being Bill Riedel and John Rees the other two Elders are Jonathan Bennett and Ryan Vanderbilt.
Ask Pastor Bill…Acts 29 Culture and Questions that Should be Asked about this Acts 29 Church
Bill Riedel at his Acts 29 church has a feature called “Ask Pastor Bill.” I have a number of questions that I would like to ask about the culture of Redemption Hill, based on its affiliation and DNA as coming from the Acts 29 network. But before we get into that we need to ask…what is culture? Culture is the behavior, thoughts, actions of an organization or a group of people. Culture is always communicated both through spoken and unspoken ways. You can find culture in national identity, state, and local communities where a person can live. You can find culture in schools, universities as well as business, corporations and more. The government has its own unique culture, and the culture between the four branches of the armed services – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are each unique. Churches and ministry has its own culture as well. To read and look more at culture I want to draw your attention to this Texas A&M web page on how culture is defined. Culture in an organization comes from the top down and there is a recent example to illustrate this point. It came to light that Wells Fargo employees were illegally opening checking accounts, credit cards, and other financial services without customers knowledge or consent. They were doing this to meet unrealistic sales goals in Wells Fargo. The bank then fired 5,300 people and claimed that they were a few bad apples and that it was nothing more. Many analysts and those in the financial industry didn’t buy that neither did the United States government. All you have to do is watch John Stumpf testify on Capitol Hill. Since then more information is hemorrhaging out of Wells Fargo about the toxic internal culture at the banking giant. Culture is very hard to change given how imbedded it can become and its a major challenge for un-healthy organizations that struggle with their culture. So having addressed all that let’s look at the history of Acts 29.
While David Nicholas is the founder of Acts 29 it was Mark Driscoll that ran with the organization. For years it was headquartered out of his church in Seattle known as Mars Hill. And what happened with Mark Driscoll? Let’s touch on some of the disturbing history.
- There was the fraudulent trial of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry in 2007. Paul’s wife wrote about it at Joyful Exiles. Jonna wrote that she believed that if Mark had the power to burn her husband at the stake he would have. So already we have a concern that Mark Driscoll is a man who allegedly capable of violence.
- There were the infamous demon trials that took place in Mars Hill Albuquerque. People were allegedly encouraged to give money when they couldn’t buy food for their family.
- Then you had Mark Driscoll’s teaching on oral sex. You can read the sermon here if you desire. Mark said that a repentant woman gets down on her knees and gives her husband a blow job. Men…have you not heard…or did you not know? The son of God bore the weight of sin and suffered at Calvary so that you could get a good blow job at home!
- Then there was the time that Mark Driscoll called Esther a slut.
- Then there was the tipping point that got Mark Driscoll booted out of Acts 29. It came out that Mark Driscoll taught that women are “penis homes.” The exact quote is, “Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.” It was when mark Driscoll went off and talked about how America is a “pussified nation.” The idea that women are “penis homes” was covered in the media to include Time magazine, New York Daily News, and even made news in Great Britain.
I write all this to say that this is the foundation of Acts 29. Its the history and the culture of the organization its the DNA. Many Acts 29 churches are mini Mars Hills with many pastors being “wanna be” Mark Driscolls. So what happened? Matt Chandler and others kicked Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill out of the Acts 29 network. Then The Village Church in Texas became ground zero for the Acts 29 network. So what happened after that? Did the problems go away? What happened is that Matt Chandler’s church tried to practice church discipline on a woman who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict. I wrote about it in this post called, “The Explicit Gospel” at Matt Chandler’s “The Village” Includes Child Pornography, Church Discipline and Membership Covenants.” I later learned from Dee Parsons who writes The Wartburg Watch that Karen Hinkley reads me and during The Village Church scandal she thought my posts expressed the most passion. It was when Dee was telling me to keep writing. So we had another Acts 29 scandal which revealed that there are serious problems in the culture of this troubled church planting network.
So having expressed all that, and gone into the history and culture and the legacy of Mark Driscoll there are many questions that need to be asked. After all is the legacy and DNA of Mark Driscoll in Redemption Hill…as an Acts 29 church?
- Where does the leadership stand on Mark Driscoll’s teachings? Does Bill Riedel and John Rees believe that women are “penis homes?” After all very few in the Acts 29 movement have spoken out and challenged Mark Driscoll or pushed back. Its my understanding that even today there are many pastors in the Acts 29 network that still admire Mark Driscoll. For example Josh McPherson the NW Regional Director of Acts 29 out of Wenatchee, Washington supports Mark Driscoll I believe. So going back to Bill Riedel where does he stand on Mark Driscoll’s teachings? Are women “penis homes?” Can that be a question as part of “Ask Pastor Bill?”
- The other aspect that is deserving hard questions is what Mark Driscoll said about oral sex? Does the leadership of Redemption Hill believe that as well? Does a repentant woman who has found Jesus get down on her knees and perform oral sex on her husband?
- Bill Riedel is Mark Driscoll’s material still used in this church? It turns out that Mark Driscoll engaged in a lot of alleged plagiarism.
- This is another question as well. As the mother ship of Acts 29 tried to place a covenant member under church discipline for annulling her marriage to a child pornography addict where does Bill Riedel stand on church discipline? Can that be another question of “Ask Pastor Bill?”
I ask all these questions because I believe they need to be asked. The fact that they are not being asked is deeply troubled. When individuals like Bill Riedel or Bill Kynes refuse to speak out about the issues with men like Mark Driscoll (or C.J. Mahaney for that manner…) than what they communicate is that they are okay with the questionable behavior and theology. Better yet what does that say about the “sound doctrine” of this Acts 29 and Evangelical Free hybrid on Capitol Hill?
So the question that needs to be asked in the end is the following…how healthy is Bill Riedel’s Redemption Hill? In doing the analysis that I have performed and asking the questions how healthy is Redemption Hill? I guess it comes down to how one defines “healthy.” By now I think you know my concerns and reservations. I will say this if there are any stories or issues at Redemption Hill, this blog would be willing to tell them. That includes a number of issues from inappropriate church discipline, to membership covenant issues and more. If there are any issues this blog will give you a platform. Its with that I will let you go. This post is being sent to the leadership of Redemption Hill. Again I value feedback and am open to dissenting views. Love you guys!