Joyce Hawkinson 2001-14

Your Name

Joyce Hawkinson



Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Member, Group Leader (any leadership role)

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Ballard, Lake City / Wedgewood, Shoreline, U-District

What years were you involved / attending?

2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

My daughter was a student at SPU and told me about a Bible study leader who was being asked to move off campus because he was teaching a traditional role for women that the school didn't want to promote.

What was the circumstance of your first time attending Mars HIll?

I went to the old Paradox in the U-district to hear him teach, and it happened to be the night he first unloaded on young men about how they should value and cherish the women in their lives.  I had recently been strangled by my then-husband, and the contrast between what I had experienced and what he described made me weep.  

What were your first impressions?

He was genuine, honest about his inexperience, funny, and challenged people to live FOR Christ, not just with an awareness of Christ.  He was a little awkward, but said he had confidence that if he told the truth about what God said in the Bible, everything would be alright.  

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

Every week (and during CG) I was challenged to change -- to allow the Word to transform me from within.  The reformed (Calvinist) approach gave me a freedom to love and serve out of gratitude for grace rather than because of duty and shame.  I began to have joy in my salvation for the first time in my life!  I came to love the music, the sound lyrics, and the experience of feeling like I was singing with a band every week.  
It was also the first time I felt like inviting people to church!  I recommended MH to strangers if they were new in town, to relatives, to neighbors.  
I also felt like whatever I did to serve at MH was contributing to bringing people to Christ because lives were being changed.  
The 'gap' in late 2005, 2006 and early 2007 was caused because we lived in CA during that time, and we really missed MH and Mark Driscoll's preaching.  When we moved back, there seemed to have been a shift in his attitude, and when he spoke one Sunday about learning humility, I realized I was sensing pride.

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

The freedom of a new perspective (Calvinist over Arminian) was very positive, and continues to energize my life.  I learned more theology than in the previous decades I had been a Christian, especially when I was included in the first year of ReTrain for women.  Redemption Groups and the training to serve in that ministry have changed me and the way I relate to others.  I learned to be open about struggling with life, with belief, with grief -- being transparent had always terrified me, but as my theology deepened, I realize I had nothing to fear.  My identity comes from my King, not from what others think of me.

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

There was an arrogance to the leadership in specific places -- not all.  In a matter of discipline over his poor communication, my husband was stripped of his position as a deacon, and the CG we led and hosted was closed.  There was no opportunity for him to apologize (even when he asked for it) and no one called to see how we were doing.  In fact, the pastor wouldn't even look me in the eye at church.  There was no redemptive factor in the whole situation, which seemed to go against what the church is about.  We transferred back to Ballard, and were welcomed, trained with love (thank you Bill Clem) and given the opportunity to work through the situation (thank you Mike Wilkerson).  It became a transformative time for my husband in spite of how poorly it was handled at the outset.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

I always felt slightly like an outsider, but put it down to my age.  (I'm over 40, considerably, and that wasn't the 'target market.')  I took a leadership role in an online group for people with food allergies, but was discouraged from actually making anything happen other than online communication -- having actual meetings was not said to be efficient use of the building because turnout was difficult to predict and sometimes small.   After three gatherings I was asked to stop scheduling them even though they served the group well.  It would have been helpful to have encouragement as I served instead of having to fight for opportunities.
I would have preferred that we have governance by a board of elected elders, of which the pastor would have one vote.  Transparent and honest financial accounting would have prevented some of the problems that closed MH's doors.    

Which describes you?

I stayed at Mars Hill through closure.

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

We stayed members at MH throughout the disruption although didn't attend as frequently because my husband's 90+ year-old mother had come to live with us and wanted to attend somewhere else.  Anywhere else.  The music was too loud, the pastor wasn't loud enough at times, nothing fit for her.  We continued to attend some Sunday evenings and stayed in our CG, but took her elsewhere in the morning.  It was heart-wrenching to see the disappointment and confusion in people's eyes.  We went to Bellevue a couple of Sundays to try to communicate with Mark, to encourage him, but couldn't get near him.  

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

Pride led to a downfall.  There was too much power vested in one or two men (Driscoll and Turner) and not enough accountability.  That led to actions that couldn't be justified (the Bestseller List deception and the lies about how profits were going back to MH when they actually went into funds for his family that the church would get eventually, after he died.

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

My beliefs in God are solid, but my eagerness to attend church has waned.  We are members at another church and serve faithfully, but it's much easier to consider missing a Sunday than it used to be.  I pray for the leadership who so sadly messed up something that God was using because of their pride and greed.  At the same time, I recognize that in God's sovereignty, He is using even this mess for His glory.  
I miss the music, and I miss Mark's sense of humor and unique perspective.