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Introduction

Community Chapel was a "Oneness" Pentecostal church that existed south of Seattle from 1967 to 1988. Under the leadership of a Boeing engineer named Don Barnett, who had been raised in Oneness Pentecostalism and who had attended a year or so of Bible college, Community Chapel had grown out of the small home meetings he led in the mid-60's into a church of over 3000 members by the mid-80's. I was a member there from 1978 to 1988. When I joined I thought it was one of the best churches in the world, but to my bewilderment it disintegrated in 1988 while embroiled in several terrible scandals. Though I remained a Pentecostal for more than ten years after that, I eventually came out of both Pentecostal and "Oneness" teaching and then back into the Lutheran church with a renewed appreciation for it. (I had been raised Lutheran, but really had failed to grasp the significance of its teaching the first time around.) I now believe that Lutheran teaching represents Jesus Christ and his Gospel far more faithfully than Pentecostal and "Oneness" teaching.

So why do I have a website devoted to Community Chapel issues today, even though the Chapel hasn't existed for decades and I've been happy in the Lutheran church for more than fifteen years now? There are two reasons.

The most important reason is that whether Pentecostal and "Oneness" (or "Unitarian") beliefs are spread by ex-Chapel members or by others, such beliefs are always corrosive to genuine faith in Christ and his gospel of God's grace. Because of their neediness, people are always being led by deceptive promises of intimacy and power with God into these initially attractive but ultimately unstable forms of Christian faith that are not built on the truth but on falsehoods. The churches they're led into may not always be as far off-base as the Chapel, but they will nevertheless eventually lead their members into either uncertainty and confusion on the one hand, or into pride and self-righteousness on the other. The result is either burn-out and quiet despair or a life of pretence. The truth needs to be told about such teachings so that those caught in them can find their way out of them into real faith in the genuine gospel of God's grace in Jesus, the only hope for us all.

The second reason is to offer an explanation to my friends, especially other ex-Chapel members, who remain in Pentecostal or Oneness beliefs why I no longer share in those beliefs and practices. Many think I was made bitter by the fall of the Chapel and, in reaction, retreated back into the comfort of what I had known in my youth, but that is not a true picture at all. For several years after the fall of the Chapel I looked back on it as a golden era in my spiritual life and was looking for a church "as good as" the Chapel had been in the beginning. I remained as convinced as ever that denominational churches, especially the ones with liturgical forms of worship, had only a dead and dry faith to offer, with no real spirit of God or power of God in them. It was only after several years of searching without success, and also seeing the course other ex-Chapel members took in their efforts to continue to live out their Chapel beliefs in a post-Chapel world, that the light began to dawn for me. Only then did I begin to take a deeper look at what the Scriptures really say and at what church history really shows.

But this process, not to mention the position I came to at its end, is not one that can be summarized briefly in conversation, and efforts to do so with ex-Chapel friends and acquaintances are prone to end in debate, which is never my intent but into which I am too easily led, or more often in an awkward exit from the subject, which probably leaves them with preconceived and incorrect notions of why another ex-Chapel member might no longer hold to Pentecostal or Oneness beliefs. Therefore I want to have a record of my post-Chapel journey easily available to which I can refer Pentecostal or Oneness friends who might want to know where I am in my Christian life nowadays, and which stands as a corrective to mistaken accounts of my journey out of Pentecostal and Oneness beliefs.

Those are the reasons why I continue to maintain this website, which presents the lessons I learned from my experiences at Community Chapel and the conclusions to which I came as a result. Most of these articles originated with remarks I posted in the years 1999-2009 on several different online forums for ex-members of the Chapel, or are modified versions of articles from my older Chapel site, which is linked to by the "Legacy Site" menu item above.