Seth MacGillivray 2003-11

Your Name

Seth MacGillivray



Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Group Leader (any leadership role)

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Ballard, Bellevue

What years were you involved / attending?

2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

Please write anything else you'd like to add.

I wrote this on my Facebook page in November of 2014, a couple of days after it was announced that Mars Hill was officially closing down as a church. I think it still speaks to how I feel about my time there.

Eleven years ago, I walked into a dimly lit former warehouse with crazy art hung up everywhere, tattooed and pierced guys and girls handing out pamphlets, hard rock reverberating through the dark-painted walls, and a short, kinda thick guy up on stage yelling at everyone. The place was called Mars Hill Church. I was a new Christian, and had a view of most Jesus-followers as a cross between Ned Flanders and high school girls who listened to DC Talk. Here was something new, at least to me: an ultra-orthodox view of the bible combined with a liberal view of the world.

We weren't a small church by the time I joined – probably a thousand or so weekly attendees at that point- but we were still small enough to be the young rebel in town, and we all felt like we were a part of something special. We wanted to change the world, one person at a time; not just by our message, but by the way we lived our lives. Be the best tippers, be the best employees and bosses, be the best neighbors, be friends with everyone. Engage – rather than judge – the world around us. Be light, and be love. Be like Jesus.

We had gays and jocks and hipsters and nerds. We had the homeless who wandered in, grabbed a cup of coffee and a pastry, and wandered back out. We had former (and current) junkies, unmarried couples who were still sleeping together even though they got yelled at every week by Mark, atheists and agnostics who loved to argue but still came every Sunday, and even those Christians who listened to Christian radio. We were mostly young, and though we were full of hubris and the arrogance that can only come from those who feel like they're traveling paths never traveled before, we loved and revered the few older couples and families who (always) sat in the front, and the elder statesmen of our faith like John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul.

Once I was asked if, were something to happen to Mark, Mars Hill Church would survive. It would, I said, because of other elders we had at the time: men like Lief Moi, and James Harleman, and Scott Thomas, and Paul Petry.

I remember meeting people that became friends that I still have today. I remember learning to love to read my bible, and debate theology, and learn old Christian hymns arranged in new ways. I remember plenty of dates that didn't go so well, and I remember meeting my wife in a Starbucks when she overheard me talking about my church. I remember conversations where friends, much wiser than I, told me to grow up and be a better man than I was. I remember outdoor baptisms, and I remember two college girls walking by in West Seattle, hearing about Jesus, and getting dunked, fully clothed, in freezing-cold water with tears streaming down their faces. I remember crying myself, at every single baptism I ever witnessed.

We all know by now the recent history: the consolidation of power, the public lying, the financial malfeasance, the exorbitant salaries, the character assassination of anyone who ever spoke out, the shady book deals, the growing call from former and current members and elders for change, and the last, final betrayal from a man who refused to submit to the very discipline he always preached was necessary as a Christian.

It seems, at this point, that Mars Hill Church will be only a memory in a few years.

Ten years ago, I saw a former heroin addict OD in the lobby of Mars Hill in Ballard. One of our volunteers knew how to care for him, and while we called 911, he attended to him. The medics showed up soon after, and carried him out on a stretcher, still unconscious but breathing. Two weeks later, that same man was back, carrying trash bags from the bathroom to the dumpster. He was there because he was loved by us, and he loved us in return. He was there because he was home.

Mars Hill Church may be but a memory in a few years, but that's the memory I'll hold on to.