Beach baptism bash, aka Hallelujahpalooza

One police officer informally guesstimated the crowd for tonight’s Mars Hill Alki baptism-fest at around 750.


Loud but peaceful so far as we could tell, perhaps at least partly thanks to all the guys in black T-shirts stenciled MARS HILL SECURITY. We’re adding video clips at the bottom of this post, but first a few more stills, starting with Mars Hill’s controversial leader Mark Driscoll, who declared this to be the biggest mass baptism in Seattle history (he said 200 people had signed up to get baptized, then welcomed anyone else who wanted to, to join in).


Other church leaders on hand included West Seattle campus pastor Adam Sinnett, caught by our photographer with towel in hand as he prepared to head for the water.


The event even featured a band, which proclaimed itself (and the crowd) there “to praise, and party.” Our photographer didn’t see any of the threatened protesters, unless you count the kid seen hooting out the window of a passing car and flashing devil-horn hand signs. 9:10 PM UPDATE: Three more photos, these taken and e-mailed to us by Elspeth Jones (thank you SO much!):


9:56 PM UPDATE: Video of the actual in-water event, starting with the baptism of a child.

10:35 PM UPDATE: Adding this clip of Mark Driscoll talking about those about to be baptized, as they stood in front of the stage. Church leaders, by the way, say this is their 11th summer baptism event – the first one drew 3 to be baptized, 40 to watch.

11:57 PM UPDATE: Last addition, a clip showing what it was like in the throng during the event — some baptizees getting congratulated, and a Mars Hill guy trying to keep order as others waited to take part.

P.S. — Thanks again to the WSB Pledge Day contributors who made it possible for us to get the video camera; we pledge to keep working on better video quality (this was only our second video-recorded event since the camera was delivered a few days ago).

34 Replies to "Beach baptism bash, aka Hallelujahpalooza"

  • Kathy September 14, 2007 (9:54 pm)

    I went to watch the spectacle tonight. I noticed that there were like 14 people (all men of course!) in Puget Sound performing the baptisms for the 200+ people getting baptized. All of the men standing in the Sound performng the baptisms had wet suits on except for Mark Driscoll (he is the head pastor and founder of Mars Hill – he is 3rd from the right, in a black short sleeved t-shirt, in the 1st picture submitted by Elspeth Jones). It must have taken close to an hour. That’s a long time to be in Puget Sound without a wet suit, brrrr!

  • no meato burrito September 14, 2007 (9:57 pm)

    No word on the baby seal’s fate? I was hoping that six more seals would come ashore during the baptism. The last one, of course, being the “Seventh Seal”.

  • herongrrrl September 14, 2007 (10:20 pm)

    I drove past during the thick of it, and saw that the barrier tape protecting the seal had been taken down. It was also high tide by that point, so apparently mom came and took her baby out to the safety of open water before the big event. At least I hope that’s what happened!

  • WSB September 14, 2007 (10:36 pm)

    One online tv story says that’s the gist of it (mom showed up and baby swam away), though we aren’t so sure whether we can trust the story’s accuracy since the rest of the story makes it sound as if the Mars Hill crowd showed up tonight, saw the seal, almost had to scrap the whole thing – that wasn’t what happened at all; as our photos from this morning show, they had moved the setup hours earlier, apparently upon discovery of the seal.

  • OP September 14, 2007 (10:53 pm)

    What would you rather have down at Alki on a Friday night?
    1. Gangbangers walking their pitbulls, blaring their vile, racist and stupid music
    2. Peaceful people connecting with God (even if it is a nuevo-Church)

    I’ll take #2 eveery day of the week.

  • ms_f September 14, 2007 (11:09 pm)

    Are those the only two choices?

  • MargL September 14, 2007 (11:32 pm)

    Was the videographer in the water taking the pics of the baptisms? Brrrrr!

  • Victor September 15, 2007 (12:24 am)

    The fact that “WS Religion” is a category is disturbing……

  • WSB September 15, 2007 (12:27 am)

    Marg – No. Very good zoom.
    Victor – Why?

  • Kayleigh September 15, 2007 (4:54 am)

    Brrrrr is right. A good recruiting tool, I guess,being a public place and all, though.

    Interesting to me how that church is “branded,” as in the marketing kind of “branded.”

    Hoping the best for the baby seal.

  • DJ September 15, 2007 (6:05 am)

    I do find it interesting that each side of the religion question can find a way to display it’s capacity for intolerance of the other’s view.

  • RS September 15, 2007 (9:08 am)

    Well, given that “to tolerate” means to allow to exist without hindrance and “tolerance” basically means a fair, objective and permissive attitude towards opinions and beliefs that differ from one’s own… it seems that MHC’s event was certainly tolerated. People definitely have the right to disagree with the church’s opinions, beliefs and actions. True tolerance is hard when you fundamentally disagree, yet most of these comments have been well reasoned and relatively fair, objective and permissive. And the debate is certainly interesting!

  • Melanie September 15, 2007 (10:03 am)

    I went down and observed too. It seemed like closer to 2000 people to me. No way as low as 750. Overall, the whole event was strangely moving.

  • flipjack September 15, 2007 (10:06 am)

    A prayer:
    Please help us Jesus.
    Please let the Mars Hill people find warmer and fresher water, say like Greenlake, which already has bleachers and no baby seals.
    Please God help them find their way to a less hyped existence with less bravado and no bands tarnish the great genre of rock music.

  • Dustin September 15, 2007 (11:56 am)

    Here’s some more photos,

  • alki growers coop September 15, 2007 (12:33 pm)

    This is a very religious weekend/month with the joos having their new year, the muslims with Ramadan, my lil band of rastas celebrating with our local harvest….etc….lots of room for all to celebrate.
    “There’s room in this town for everyone….even the Irish” ‘Blazing Saddles’

  • Erik September 15, 2007 (9:25 pm)

    Those baptism pics reminded me of a fun(ny) episode in college over in Pullman in the early 80’s. My roommate was out of town and I was pretty stoned out of my mind and had just bought a new stereo that I was setting up, so I was quite happy. There was a knock at the door, 3 xtians were there and wanted to know if I was saved…to save an argument I just said “yes”. But then they said I needed to take another step and get baptised. Before I knew it one of the girls went upstairs and filled my tub with cold water.
    I played along and went up to get in the tub, but before I got in I thought “sh*t, I don’t want to get my clothes wet” so I proceeded to undress and those girls were out of the bathroom quick. The guy came in and dunked my head under and baptised me. After that I was left alone in the bathroom so I could dry off and put my clothes on. I was trying so hard to contain my laughter at the idiocy of the moment. When they were leaving I told them to come back in a few days as I was sure my roommate wanted to be ‘saved’ too. LOL
    My roommate was prepared for them when they came as we were both quite stoned….lol
    We finally got rid of Jim and his followers when we kept trying to read their Horoscope….lol
    College was fun.

  • Jan September 15, 2007 (11:10 pm) was fun…yep, that’s why I was invited to leave after 3 years….hehe

  • Jumbojim September 16, 2007 (12:01 pm)

    I’ll vote for Flipjack’s comment winning funniest comment of the year…

  • flipjack September 16, 2007 (12:12 pm)

    Wow…I am truly honored JumboJim. Shows you are a person of high intelligence…..I think……hehe.

  • flipjack September 16, 2007 (12:13 pm)

    And, oh by the way, the WSB can confirm that Flipjack and JumboJim have different IP addresses.

  • add September 16, 2007 (12:32 pm)

    Been meaning to compliment WSB for some time now on the always clever and witty titles for their posts … love Hallelujahpalooza!!

  • Mike G September 17, 2007 (8:52 am)

    This is what mental illness looks like folks.

  • coffee geek September 17, 2007 (10:20 am)

    It’s only a matter of time until some bigwig in the Mars Hill crew gets busted for some hypocritical “sin”, Larry Craig style. Bound to happen, always does.

  • Kaely September 17, 2007 (12:16 pm)

    Hi coffee geek. If you’re interested in learning how Mars Hill pastors are held accountable, you can read what they have to say on the MH web site:

  • GenHillOne September 18, 2007 (8:15 am)

    From their accountability page, “Our wives are also close and are given the freedom to speak openly about the condition of their marriages and homes with one another so that there is never any hiding of sin among our elder teams.” Good to know the pastors’ wives have permission to speak. Sounds like my kind of place – blech.

  • coffee geek September 18, 2007 (9:18 am)

    Just my opinion, but that link’s a lot of fluff. Men in far higher positions with much more responsibility than any Mars Hill pastor have fallen prey to their own vices. MHC tries far too hard to be the cool kid. Christianity ain’t about faux punk, slick marketing, and Earth-tone paint. Two phrases come to mind: “Don’t believe the hype.” and “You can’t polish a turd.” Again, just my opinion. Sitting back and waiting, hoping to be proven wrong…

  • Peter F. September 18, 2007 (10:22 am)

    Nice to see the open-minded and tolerant religious opinions of liberals on display here.

    /sarcasm tag off

  • coffee geek September 18, 2007 (11:39 am)

    Peter, I am quite open-minded and tolerant of Christian fundamentalist intolerance and closed-mindedness. It’s the giant tour buses I have a problem with. ;)

  • alki growers coop September 18, 2007 (12:52 pm)

    The buses were kinda nice as they took some of the parking strain away from us residents, even though every available (and unavailable) spot was taken in my immediate area…goes with the territory.
    If you don’t like the religion, don’t participate…simple.

  • Peter F. September 19, 2007 (10:15 am)

    Peter, I am quite open-minded and tolerant of Christian fundamentalist intolerance and closed-mindedness. It’s the giant tour buses I have a problem with.

    The Mars Hill folks aren’t fundamentalists, genius.

  • nd September 19, 2007 (5:32 pm)

    This church seriously creeps me out. I feel like it’s a shame that they’ve moved over to W. Seattle. I wish they would stop trying to appeal to the young and “hip” and just go away. The last thing the world needs are more misguided, hypocritical christians. (Misguided as christians, not misguided for being christian).

  • MHSLOVER January 2, 2008 (6:26 pm)

    Stop critizising them! This is a great church, and if you listened to a sermon, you would be moved. Hypocrites! Gosh!!! It’s none of your business judging them. Leave that to God. And I think the bands are awesome. And NO! We will NOT move to Greenlake! We are trying to save young people from going to hell. And trust me. Hell is NOT were you want to go. So just Buzz off!

  • bl@ster August 23, 2008 (12:50 am)

    Do you think I’d be “moved” by their no woman in charge policy?

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