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Community Chapel on the Web Today

(Last updated in late 2011, so many of these links are probably not good.)

This page catalogs the information available online today about Community Chapel and Bible Training Center, a "Oneness" Pentecostal church and Bible college that I attended from 1978-1988. It's part of a larger site about Community Chapel that has as its purpose the dissemination of information about its teaching, information that, in my opinion, remains relevant in spite of the Chapel's collapse more than twenty years ago because many of the Chapel's ex-members still believe and teach it today. Additionally, that teaching exists in similar forms everywhere and it exploits very common but mistaken beliefs about God, faith, church, and life that are always at work to draw people away from real church and therefore also away from real faith in Jesus and His Word.

CC Gathering
("The CCG Board")

A discussion board for ex-Chapelites that is now generally favorably disposed toward the Chapel and its doctrine but antagonistic toward those who see Chapel doctrine as cultic and heretical. It wasn't always that way, though. When the first version of this site was created in 1998, I found it to be an open place for freely exploring questions I had been left with after the collapse of the Chapel; but over time those who retain Chapel beliefs have come to dominate the board, so opinion there has solidified against those who now believe the Chapel was in error either in its Pentecostalism or in its rejection of the Trinity.

Facebook Sites
The CCBTC Facebook site, pictured at top left, is actually an offshoot of the CCCS (Community Chapel Christian School) site, pictured immediately below it, which was founded first. The CCCS site is for Chapel kids who attended the Christian school but so many older ex-Chapelites were showing up as members that a separate site was created for CCBTC itself. As of Dec. 30, 2011, the site for older ex-Chapelites is no longer an open site, having fallen victim to sensitivity over the old Chapel controversies about its beliefs and practices.

At the time the CCBTC site was closed to the general public, the third and fourth sites pictured above were created by other ex-Chapel members. My friend Calvin T. created the site "Recovering from CCBTC." It's not for the faint of heart. Some people with seeming anti-Christian or anti-church sentiments post there, but it also deals openly with the sexual abuse that was taking place at the Chapel even before the era of "spiritual connections." These issues are ignored or denied by most ex-Chapelites, but it is important that an honest discussion about them takes place for the healing of those affected, in my opinion.

The fourth site is called "Going on from CC&BTC." It was created by ex-Chapelite Bob Sackett, and is pro-Chapel and anti-Trinitarian. It's open to the general public, but it is not well disposed to those who think Chapel beliefs are cultic or heretical. I've not tried to join, but I'm guessing those like myself with a negative view of the Chapel's anti-Trinitarian belief system would not be permitted there.

For years this site contained a quantity of material pertaining to the Chapel, including court documents, past and present photos of the Chapel and its members, and articles compiled from the CCG discussion board, but unfortunately the site owner, an ex-Chapelite, has apparently removed this content, as it now displays only the links to his "Freely Given" Bible College site and his Chapel mp3 library site (both shown below). He obtained all the old Chapel tapes several years ago from the church the "elder's side" became after the 1988 split (called "Resurrection Life Assembly," I think) but before it too closed down.

Freely Given Online Bible College
This site offers downloads of the recorded classes of Community Chapel Bible College. The Bible college taped all of its classes and had created an extensive tape library. The tapes were used for correspondence-type courses (signed up for at a lesser cost and listened to in the library by students who could not attend the actual classes), and also by students making up classes they had missed. In these courses, the Chapel's militantly anti-Trinitarian view of church history and the nature of God is taught.

Community Chapel MP3 Library
This site offers downloads of the messages delivered in the services of Community Chapel. It includes many of the taped messages, converted to mp3 format, from the Friday night, Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Camp Meeting services.

Chapel Reflections site Reflections on the Chapel
An archive of articles I've written while participating on the CCG board as I've come out of Oneness Pentecostalism back into the Lutheran church—that is, most of these articles are expanded versions of postings I originally made on the CCG board. They include narratives about my ten years of personal experience at Community Chapel as well as articles I wrote as studied the doctrine and church history the Chapel taught and which I believed at the time and for nearly ten years afterwards.

Wikipedia Chapel article
Wikipedia is a user-edited Web encyclopedia. As such, the quality of the articles there can be very uneven. They are wide-open to editing by whoever takes a fancy to them, so let the reader beware; however, as of this writing (December 2011) the content of the Chapel article is fairly satisfactory. I've contributed some of the content, but most is from "Natedawg," a young man who was, as a "Chapel kid," only five or six years old when the Chapel collapsed. He's done a lot of research about the church in which he spent his early years. In particular, he's catalogued and presented material on this site from the records of the court trials that formed the backdrop of the Chapel's final years.

My Personal Experience at Community Chapel
By ex-Chapel member Mark Blackburn—his very honest and illuminating appraisal of the eight years he spent at the Chapel, a period which included the end of his marriage.

A Community Chapel Experience
By another ex-Chapel member, June E. Shafhid, this is again an appraisal of time spent at Community Chapel that culminated with the end of the author's marriage during the "spiritual connection" era at the Chapel.

The Rick A. Ross Institute
This site contains a very large collection of court records and newspaper articles pertaining to the Chapel's end in the "move" of "spiritual connections."

Cult Awareness Information Center
This site, which besides providing information on many different kinds of cults and fringe religious movements also has resources for help in dealing with the psychological issues that come from involvement in such movements, has a somewhat smaller archive of articles about the Chapel, most of which also date from the time of the Chapel's collapse because of the scandals that resulted from "spiritual connections."

Christian Research Institute statement
An excellent short statement on Community Chapel, explaining why CRI regarded it as a heretical organization, based both on the Chapel's practices and its doctrine.

(This link is now to a copy of the document I saved on my own site. CRI has recently revamped and updated its site and in the process they must have removed this document as being too old - it was written in 1986. One search I did for it turned up a comment saying "CRI no longer maintains information pertaining to this topic. 'Community Chapel and Bible Training Center' is a defunct Oneness cult").

The Bible Answer Stand Ministry
Created by an ex-Chapel member, the late Craig Bluemel, this site exemplifies the most radical of the anti-church and anti-Trinitarian theologies many Chapelites developed in the years after the collapse of the Chapel, and it has links to many others like it. The people who have created these theologies still venerate most things in the Chapel experience, but they now claim it did have a few blind spots, problems they think they have remedied by their own theologies - systems of teaching that are even more hostile to historical Christian doctrine than the Chapel's was, and which have moved beyond its already weird enough version of "Oneness" theology (which its pastor, Don Barnett, created out of the UPC and "Latter Rain" theologies with which he grew up) into bizarre new depths, eschewing membership in any church and openly denying the deity of Christ.

Chapel-Related Book Links at Amazon.com

In spite of the four books related to the Chapel that I list below, no adequate book-length study has ever been written about the Chapel's rise and fall, nor of its unique doctrine and practice. I think that's too bad, because it brought together and very graphically illustrated many of the undercurrents that flow beneath the surface of Christian faith in America today. It is well worth a good book, one that would cover not only the spiritual and theological aspects of the Chapel story, but also the historical, cultural, sociological, and psychological.

Personal Perspectives
The personal perspectives on the Chapel that have been written are all rather limited. Each, in my opinion, is rather poorly written and organized; and each, more seriously, falls short in its own way of doing justice to the real issues at the Chapel. By focusing on "spiritual connections" as the problem each book misses the more serious and interesting question of what made the Chapel, supposedly such a strong church in which God was "moving so mightily," vulnerable to such a powerful deception that it brought down the church in only three years, causing divorces in over 75% of its marriages in the process, including that of the pastor as well as of many of the elders and Bible college teachers.

Angels Can Fall by Sandra Anderson
This book was written by the wife of a Bible college teacher of Community Chapel. Their marriage ended in divorce because of the Chapel's practice of "spiritual connections." This book tells how that happened to them in spite of the fact they both started out as young, zealous, sincere believers in the Chapel's message of the "deeper" Christian life and higher standards of "holiness."

The Truth Shall Set You Free: Confessions of a Pastors Wife by Barbara Barnett
Barbara Barnett was the wife of Community Chapel's pastor and founder, Don Barnett. This is her story of Community Chapel, culminating in the end of not only the Chapel, but also in the end of her marriage as a result of the "spiritual connections" that, as this book reveals, her husband was enjoying long before they appeared at Community Chapel by that name.

ocCult: They Didn't Think it Could Happen in Their Church by June Summers
This is a novel based on the true experience of a young wife at the Chapel. I've read only excerpts of this book, knowing of its contents mainly through the Web review by the International Cultic Studies Association. The "June Summers" named as the author may be the "June Shafhid" whose testimony about the Chapel is referenced above; the www.spiritualabuse.org site that features June Shafhid's testimony also sells this book, and the two narratives share many similarities, including the view that the practice of spiritual connections has occultic elements.

Theology & Doctrine
The theology and doctrine of the Chapel is what has always held the most interest for me. It first attracted me, then confused me as "spiritual unions" came to dominate it, and then finally repelled me as I came to understand it in the years after the collapse of the Chapel. However, on an intellectual level Chapel theology offers a fascinating case study of the many threads of American Christianity that went into its make-up.

The God-Man: A Guide To Understanding the Godhead by Robert Spearman
This book is by a former member of the Chapel whom I remember but did not know well. Insofar as his book is a presentation of the Oneness view of Jesus, it contains much of what we were taught at the Chapel on the subject, but not without other elements as well. I think the author is now probably a member of the United Pentecostal Church, or at least has been reading a lot of UPC theology, for his thought also shows distinct influences from that tradition.

I've posted my own review of this book on the www.ccbtc.info site here:

The Confusion of Nature and Person in Oneness Theology:
Will The Real "One Person of God" Please Stand Up?