The Hallows Church (West Seattle), Seattle, Washington
A little over five years ago, Mindy and I were visiting our daughter, Paige, who had a summer internship in Seattle. We’d just started visiting churches, (we hadn’t started writing about them yet), and we visited a church here -- Mars Hill. At that time, Mars Hill was a thriving, multi-campus ministry, and we were very impressed. The congregation we visited met in an old church building, and the service was filled with young people. The worship team was wonderful, doing old hymns in new arrangements (loudly), and the speaker happened to be one of my beloved professors from seminary. We all loved our visit that morning.
The Hallows Church; obliquely in the sermon and directly in a conversation after the service.
Mindy had noticed the church soon after our move to West Seattle in July. “The Hallows” is an interesting name, explained by a banner outside featuring the Lord’s Prayer (“Hallowed be Thy name”). We arrived a few minutes before the 10:45 Sunday morning worship service and were greeted warmly by several women just inside the door.
coffee in the back of the sanctuary where a man named John introduced himself. We asked when he had begun attending the church, and he told us he came in the summer when his previous church, Living Hope, closed down. We said we’d met other people from Living Hope when we visited All Souls Church, and he said most people from that PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) had gone to either of these two churches.
“My name is Andrew, and I serve as one of the pastors here,” Pastor Andrew said as he introduced the announcements. Guests were encouraged to fill out the connection cards and put them in a box in the back of the church (along with tithes and offerings). He also spotlighted areas of need, such as people for the prayer team. He also announced that all three “Expressions” of The Hallows would be meeting on November 28th for congregational prayer. (Besides the congregation in West Seattle, there are also North and Fremont Expressions of The Hallows.) He then dismissed the “little disciples” to Sunday School. He took time to pray for the church (“let us grow into a humble people”).
chapter 14:1 through 15:20. This passage is the beginning of the story of Samson.
Nazirite from birth (as John the Baptist also was). God promised to use him greatly. And he’s featured in the Bible and all. Andrew pointed out there is a disconnect between those expectations and his actual character. In the stories we looked at, Samson is impulsive, more sensual than spiritual. He is irreverent; eating honey from a lion’s corpse (yeah, weird, read the story) which is a clear violation of the Old Testament dietary laws and his Nazirite vows. He is manipulative and… well… just a jerk.
And yet God, through His grace, used Samson to accomplish His purposes.
Part of the sermon’s point was that giftedness is not a sign of godliness. “In Seattle, we’ve had people that were gifted but not godly, and because of that, people in this area are still hurting.” It’s not much of a stretch to see this as a critique of the leadership of Mars Hill.
She visited church after church but didn’t find anything like what she had before. She visited The Hallows, and at that time there were only about a dozen people attending. She was frustrated and talked to one of her old pastors at Mars Hill who told her, “You’re going for the wrong reasons. Where can you serve and where you can grow in the grace of Christ?” With that, she knew where she should be.
We also talked to Andrew, who started the groundwork for the church in 2014. They began to meet in 2015. He talked about the church’s focus on Scripture and service, and that Gospel clarity includes telling people the Gospel is not just for the future but for right now. Humility came up again, which obviously is a high value in the teachings of Jesus. “Multiplication is in the DNA of the church,” Andrew added as he described The Hallows’ reasons for existing in (so far) three neighborhood expressions.
But we had been occupying Andrew’s time (almost everyone was already out the door, though people had lingered to chat after the worship service ended) so we finally let him go.