Community Chapel was a "Oneness" Pentecostal church that existed south of Seattle from 1967 to 1988. Under the leadership of a man named Don Barnett Community Chapel had grown out of the small home Bible studies he taught 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, and a believer in the particular form of "Oneness" doctrine that the Chapel taught, for more than ten years after that, I eventually came out of both Pentecostal and "Oneness" teaching and back into the Lutheran church, this time with a much greater appreciation of its teaching and worship. (I had been raised in Lutheranism but never really understood it as I should have.)
So why do I have a website devoted to Community Chapel today, even though the Chapel hasn't existed for decades and I've been happy in the Lutheran church for more than fifteen years? There are two reasons.
The most important reason is that the Chapel's teaching is still believed by many, is still being spread by former members of the Chapel, and is still isolating them and any others who believe it from God's truth as it is found in Jesus and in the Biblical, apostolic teaching concerning him. Both Pentecostal and "Oneness" beliefs, as well as the Chapel's unique mix of the two, are deceptive and are corrosive to genuine faith in Jesus and his gospel of God's grace. But because of human loneliness and neediness we are all prone to being led by promises of greater intimacy and power with God into initially plausible but ultimately false and destructive forms of faith like these. The truth needs to be told about these teachings so that their traps may be avoided and that those already caught in them can find their way out of them into the real truth and faith of Christ.
The second reason is to offer an explanation to my friends who remain in Pentecostal or Oneness beliefs, especially other ex-Chapel members, why I no longer share in those beliefs and practices. Many still think I was made bitter by the fall of the Chapel and, in reaction, retreated back into a comforting form of religion 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 power of God in them. It was only after several years of searching without success, and also after 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 either in debate, which is never my intent but into which I am too easily led, or in an awkward exit from the subject. Therefore I want to provide an accurate record of my post-Chapel journey and of my present beliefs for my Pentecostal and Oneness friends, as well as for others who may be interested.
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 I came to as a result. Caveat: All of these articles, except for this introductory one, are slightly edited versions of postings I made in the years 1999-2009 to several different on-line boards for ex-members of the Chapel. In other words, they are not necessarily accurate representations of my present views, especially those articles written before about 2002 when I began to consider Lutheran worship and doctrine seriously again.