Regular Attender - Ballard, Shoreline 2003-08



Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Regular Attender

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Ballard, Shoreline

What years were you involved / attending?

2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

I first attended at age 13 with my parents. Our church had just imploded, and we were searching for a new church. We had heard about a small church in Ballard with a unique name from other people who were now also church-less.

What were your first impressions?

The small church building was already bursting at the seams when we came. The people there were from a variety of ages, and we were incredibly impressed by the music and the enthusiasm of the people in attendance. We thought Mark gave a powerful sermon.

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

I mostly attended because my parents went there for many years, although I attended on my own before I went to college. I attended because I knew other young people who went there, and we liked getting coffee after church and discussing the sermon. Community with other young people was the primary reason for my attendance after age 16 or so.

What about your time at Mars Hill has had a positive impact on you?

While at first my attendance at Mars Hill brought me closer to some great people, that swiftly began to change.

What about your time at Mars Hill has had a negative impact on you?

I slowly watched friends and family change while attending Mars Hill. They became more paranoid about the "liberal agenda," became more homophobic and misogynistic, and much less willing to discuss any viewpoints other than the ones Mark Driscoll espoused. The men in my life became more authoritative. At a Bible camp that many of us at Mars Hill attended, a new rule was created in which women could no longer speak at all during communion, even in the very informal setting we had at camp. The women there accepted this with heavy hearts and fearful obedience.

Most of all I would say we were negatively impacted by fear. Friends of ours cut all ties with a family who disagreed with Mark on an issue. We were no longer friends with them or their children. Friendships were lost over tiny issues that shouldn't have amounted to anything. I began to feel like I wasn't as intelligent or spiritual or capable of leadership because of my gender. I began to fear the idea of marriage, because I didn't know if I would ever meet a man I could obey.

A close friend of mine married an abusive boyfriend because she thought his behavior was just that of a Christian man ruling her with Biblical authority. She is now no longer allowed to speak to me because I was considered divisive, but I have heard that she may now be suffering physical abuse.

It has taken me years to recover from this experience. Much Christian therapy at a local Lutheran church has made it so I can finally attend church and pray without fear.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

There needed to be accountability and better leadership. Women needed to be given a voice. Different opinions should have been welcomed instead of silenced.

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

Please describe why you left Mars Hill and what that experience was like.

I moved away to Bellingham for college, so I left the church in 2008.

How would you describe the reason for Mars Hill's closure to an outsider.

I would say that there were many scandals regarding money, unethical behavior, bullying leadership, and a culture of fear.

What's changed for you since your time at Mars Hill came to an end?

I have begun to realize that God loves me even though I am a woman. And that he gave me a mind and a voice, and I should be able to use them as the holy spirit leads.