Pastor, a former Seahawk says churches
are failing the people
By SALLY MACDONALD Seattle
Times religion reporter: March 13, 1999
Ken Hutcherson posed
grinning shepherd with a Bo
Peep crook for the cover of his book. He runs around town in a shiny
pickup with one of his Rottweilers, Genghis or Khan, panting and
Sometimes he wears
reptile‑skin cowboy boots with
a thick gold chain where spurs would go.
You know the Rev.
Hutcherson, of the Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, wouldn't
be shy about saying what's on his mind. He's been speaking his mind,
in sky-high letters on huge billboards around the Seattle area,
blaming churches for what's wrong with the world and telling Christians
time they shape up.
controversial. But the underlying message, reminiscent of Pilgrim
would leave many Christians squirming: Repent, or else.
The churches are to
for "a general decline in
morality" by not making members accountable for sins, says Hutcherson,
leader of an independent, evangelical congregation.
Seahawk linebacker a
generation ago, is a yee‑haw kind of a guy who raises dogs, horses and,
with his wife, Pat, four kids on land near Redmond.
But on the subject of
and what the church can do
about it, he turns preacher, railing in equal decibels against
envy, homosexuality and domestic violence.
Hutcherson has bought
year's worth of space at some of
the area's most‑prominent billboard sites, paying $5,000 a month. He
to contract for a year to get the billboard he really wanted, one that
over Highway 520 and is in your face for thousands of Bellevue‑bound
drivers every day.
The first billboard
in February, over Denny Way
near Aurora. Its message: "Antioch Bible Church asks Washington State
forgive the church for losing its saltiness.' "
That's a reference to
Jesus' command to Christians to be
salt and light to others. "God said right there in the Bible the church
supposed to be a preservative of society," Hutcherson says. "We're
not doing what God has asked us to do."
The second billboard
over an auto-supply store in
Kirkland. It says Antioch "didn't come to take sides but to do what's
That means his church
"isn't here just to agree,
whether it's with a church or people," Hutcherson explains. "Antioch
is here to do what God says do."
All the billboards
an open book ‑ one page
black, the other white ‑ and the words "Black and white in a gray
"It means the
Hutcherson says. "You don't know the Bible very well if you don't know
14 years ago. Its first
members were 15 friends who'd been in a home Bible‑study group with
The church, across from the Seahawks' training compound, now draws
worshipers each Sunday.
"We have more pastors
than we had members at
first," Hutcherson jokes. "We have so many athletes there, we call it
Anti‑jock Bible Church."
against churches are no joking
matter, though. He first outlined them in a book, "The Church, What We
Meant to Be" (Multnomah, $18.99), published last year.
The book's pastel
features a grinning Hutcherson
in black‑and‑white spectator shoes, surrounded by sheep. The words
at the top of the cover ‑ "Offensive, uncomfortable,
unstoppable" ‑ seem out of place, although they're right in sync
with Hutcherson's thundering theology.
"There's so much wrong
with the world and the
church isn't doing anything about it, even when it knows what's
happening," Hutcherson says.
"Look at all the people living
together. The church
says you don't try out relationships. It goes against God's word. Look
the people who tend toward anger, all the domestic violence.
Just because you're born with it doesn't mean it isn't a sin. Look at
jealousy, envy, strife, every sin you can think of. The church has just
The churches have
together before on lessons of
morality and faith, Hutcherson says.
He was one of four
pastors who banded together
last year to reprimand the Rev. Bob Moorehead, pastor of Overlake
Church, who was accused of making sexual advances to young men in his
over period of many years.
And Antioch was among
than 60 churches ‑
evangelical and mainline Protestant ‑ to sponsor an ecumenical prayer
gathering for thousands in Marymoor Park the year before.
"You have seen the
consistent against sin," Hutcherson said. "The evangelical churches,
any church that believes the word of God, needs to take sides and stand
on this one."
Many churches have
and affirming" toward homosexuality and wouldn't be willing to go as
as Hatcherson on that issue.
Others would be
"sinners" before the congregation for a public reprimand. It's a
practice that has led to what some call shunning, in which the person
ostracized by the rest of the membership. Most churches abandoned that
discipline generations ago, if they ever did it at all.
At Antioch, "it
three or four time
year," Hutcherson says, "usually to people who are getting a divorce
for frivolous reasons, or they're living with somebody they aren't
Hutcherson admits his
solution to societal ills is
controversial, but he says most churches would agree with him if they
"afraid of running people off."
"People do get mad
to the church down the
street if they don't like what you have to say,” he said. "But that
doesn’t mean the church has to keep putting up with it. I have a
of God and I'd rather have people be mad at me than God.
"God don't put up
kind of stuff.”