Member - Ballard, Shoreline 1997, 2001-08

Gender

Female

Which describes your role at Mars Hill?

Member

What Mars Hill location(s) did you attend?

Ballard, Shoreline

What years were you involved / attending?

1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

How did you first hear about Mars Hill?

I was involved in a homeless ministry in college and some of the other volunteers attended Mars Hill.

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

I was a college student who attended the evening service sometimes.

What were your first impressions?

I liked that it wasn't religious seeming. I liked the plain talk preaching, and I was learning to read the Bible in a way I could understand.

Why was Mars Hill your church home?

At first it was the proximity to college, plain talk sermons. Later I appreciated studying the Bible with community, the extensive teaching, and the music was amazing.

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

Learning to read the Bible and explore theology.

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

It was painful to see the disconnect between what I saw in the scriptures and what I increasingly saw in leadership and the Body. It became more religious and rules/power/shame-based. Regrettably, I became more this way. Additionally, I saw how leadership treated people and began to hate what I saw--arrogant, cut-throat, nasty behavior. The increased boasting and showy pontificating from the pulpit nauseated me. A lot of previously valued concepts (equality of elders, expository preaching, etc) were less valued or tossed completely. Basically the more I learned about God's love, the less I saw it at Mars Hill.

What would you like to have changed about Mars Hill?

Humble and courageous accountability in leadership rather than concentrated power from a man who was feared and excused because of his gifting.

Which describes you?

I left Mars Hill prior to closure.

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

We left because of the firing of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry and the events around the changing of the bylaws in 2007. We didn't know either well, but we read what the materials the church itself distributed and were very disturbed by the unbiblical treatment of these two men. We wrote to Mark and received no response--although other elders told us he received our letter and was shaken by it. We were told we burned our bridges-- which was hurtful because we tried to communicate prayerfully with gentleness and respect. When we left, it was obvious that many in our MH community did not know how to interact with us. Close friends/mentors dropped us. We felt like we wear wearing a scarlet letter.  The worst example of this is when I was basically forced to resign my position working for a MH pastor at his private business. He told me it would be "easier" if we didn't work together now that we left MH. He began to suddenly attack my work (after previously consistently praising it to me and others verbally in writing). He bullied and shamed me over the course of a couple weeks in front of my co-workers (most of whom went to MH) by having a co-worker take away my keys, moving my desk out of my office to an entry way, making a co-worker a "new" supervisor, blasting me in a staff mtg, etc. I didn't understand. My spouse and I plead with him to help me understand. When I couldn't tolerate it anymore, I resigned. This caused a lot of harm to us financially. But God was gracious to provide. (This pastor was not a pastor at MH for much longer after this incident, but has never apologized or reached out despite my invitations to do so.) This was one of the most shaming experiences I have ever had and it still affects me. My spouse was saved at MH and Mark used to meet with my spouse as a new believer. Our experience at MH rocked our view of God's love, biblical community, male and female roles and godly marriage. We have received much healing. But in some ways, we are still recovering all these years later.

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

Abusive authoritarian leadership led to a series of related more public ethical failures. MH was built on Mark. When he left, the whole thing collapsed.

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

Ministers are servants (to "minister" means to serve"). Humble accountable leadership is a must. Concentration of power is not good for fallen/fallible man. We can accomplish the most amazing things ever in ministry and have the most phenomenal giftings, but without love it is all meaningless. The first shall be last. Jesus has tender words for  vulnerable societal outcastes who knew they were sinners and had harsh terrifying words for powerful proud arrogant authoritarian leaders. We were all enamoured by what was flashy, loud, and external.  That has caused deep harm. A lot of rotten fruit has come from MH and its rotten roots, and yet our God redeems beauty from ashes. He uses even our sin to bring about beauty. I have seen this and I believe He will continue this work. I pray for mercy for myself and for all involved at MH. I pray with love for mercy on Mark who seems to be taking the path of Saul.

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