Nina Shapiro, writing for Seattle Weekly, has penned an intriguing article filled with interviews of former Mars Hill members. Shapiro was invited to a Wednesday night meeting where many ex-Mars Hill members and attenders gather to find community.
Here is a taste:
For those here tonight, the downfall has been long coming. Many left years ago, some voluntarily, others after being ousted. And yet the scars seem fresh, the effect lasting.
“Some of us were abused and ostracized,” Thoen continues. “So for some of us, it’s not safe to walk into a building with ‘church’ on the front door.” Thoen himself isn’t one of them. Warily, after leaving Mars Hill two years ago, he and his wife soon joined a new church. Yet his reference to these weekly gatherings as analogous to “church” hints at an unwillingness to devote himself wholly again to a religious organization—an attitude shared by Dwayne Forehand, owner of this backyard.
“I think it’s hard for me to trust the church I’m at, and I’ve been there for five years,” Forehand says. He attempts to explain: “Mars Hill was one of the only places in my whole life where I was . . . ” Forehand casts about for words.
“Vulnerable?” asks Rob Smith, a generation older than many of these men and the instigating force behind these gatherings.
“Yeah, extremely vulnerable,” Forehand says. “Since then, I haven’t been that vulnerable with anyone.”