As the spring winds of 1967 blew across Puget Sound, many of these hungry hearts were drawn together to a budding midweek Bible study group in the home of Donald Barnett
, a trained Bible scholar.
When this handful of Lutherans, Baptists, and Catholics discovered God's presence and power and began to seek Him earnestly, the Lord graciously poured out the Holy Spirit upon them.
As they returned to their regular churches, they discovered that their newfound joy was met with doubt and mistrust by some, but with wide-eyed interest by others.
Through the summer of 1967, the scope of these Bible studies increased and it became apparent to the participants that they could not be satisfied remaining in their respective denominations.
Fall approached and the Lord led them to step out and start their own assembly.
They asked Donald Barnett to officially assume the role of pastor; God had already been dealing with him to shepherd this flock that they would not be scattered.
I'll have to agree with you on this aspect of Don Barnett
In the last years of my attendance at Community Chapel
, I came to see it for myself.
However, I will still have to maintain, as part of the process of simple logic, that somebody's temperament by itself still does not make beliefs right or wrong.
I came to disagree with some of Don Barnett's
theology, and yes, some of it is intertwined with his
"maverick temperament," but that is separate from the doctrines of his
systematic theology, which he
got mostly during his
upbringing, and maybe 90 or 95 percent of which I still agree with and believe.
As for his
"animus against mainstream Christianity," you should be aware that that did not begin in his
upbringing or in the beginnings of Community Chapel
not sure whether it was the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ or the Pentecostal Church, Inc.
, the two denominations that later merged to become the United Pentecostal Church
, but for part of the time in his
childhood and youth, his
family was with one of them, then later they were with an independent church of the movement that at that time was called the "Latter-rain revival."
Although the UPC
today tends to have an aversion to the rest of Christianity and tends to consider them unsaved if they don't receive the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, I remember Don explaining how it wasn't always that way.
said in the church he
attended, they accepted the born-again experience of some of the mainstream churches, and that he
grew up that way.
There's one other point I want to mention: In the years since I've been away from Community Chapel, I have come to realize that Don Barnett wasn't really the person who founded Community Chapel.
Most of its founding came through his
wife Barbara, though he
took credit for it.
was the one who had such a close communication with God---ever since her
early childhood---and even though God
, "I have called you to be the pastor's wife," it was, first, her
prayer life that brought that powerful wave of the Spirit that we all knew there, second God
spoke directly to her
about starting the church, and she
even asked God
, "What shall we call it?"
audibly, "I want you to call it Community Chapel
," and third, even the instructions from God
to begin the Bible college
came to her---and Don
not to mention to the congregation that she
was the one through whom the idea came.
All or nearly all of the systematic theology came from Don
You know, even if Don and Barbara had never met, had never married, and if Barbara had married some other young preacher at her church, or at the church in Boise or wherever, this movement would still have happened, and even though she was born and raised in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, it would probably still have come to be in the Seattle area, since it appears that that was a special leading of God.
It would still have been called "Community Chapel
" (but probably not "-& Bible Training Center"), that same flowing of the Spirit would still have been present in the services, but the difference is that without Don
it would have been a lot less theologically oriented.
I remember him saying about Barbara's mother (in the incident over the false prophecy about her
sons in Korea), "She
was not a very theological woman."
It appears to me that Barbara wasn't either---at first, that is, until she
You may wonder, without Don's systematic theology, wouldn't the Chapel have been vulnerable to destruction?
Yes, but with Don
it also ended up being destroyed, so what's the difference?
who decides when he's
going to allow a movement of his
to come to an end, not just circumstances in the natural.
Our pastor, Don Barnett, had a track record with this congregation of teaching the truth regardless of consequence.
I learned much of what I know of integrity from him.
But in March 1988, the eldership of the church wrested the church from pastor Barnett
during a Friday night service while he
was in another state visiting a satellite church.
The church that was once over 3000 strong locally with over 20 churches worldwide, had dwindled to 2 churches, one meeting in a rented bingo hall led by pastor Barnett
and the original Chapel with about 100 members.
The 15 million dollar property was sold off to the state and is now a training facility for law enforcement officers.
My sympathies always remained with Donald Barnett
church, but I stopped attending in 1988.
Defenders of Don
often point out that he
at first tried to put the lid on this "move," and it was instead the "intercessors" around Barbara (his wife), eager young elders, and Bible college
teachers that were pushing it.
As I remember events, this view is accurate.
was deeply ambivalent about connections in the first months.
But soon he
yielded, pushed by inner forces that were then unknown and unseen by the rest of us, and we were off to the races.
The rest is history.
It is a personal fantasy project of mine that I would one day write a book about Community Chapel
that would answer questions such as yours, Tee.
It would be called something like Community Chapel
-- The Saga of an American Religion and would be a comprehensive study of the founding, rise, and fall of the Chapel, with a look at the histories and personalities of all the key players.
But it would also include a look at the theology involved, and an explanation of the context of Chapel theology in relation to the Latter Rain movement of the 40's and 50's. (Don received his Bible college
training during this time at a school that was founded by teachers influenced by the Latter Rain doctrine and revivals.) It would be based on long interviews with as many of the leaders who would let me talk to them, as well as on my own experiences there, which includes attending and graduating from the Bible college
, over the last ten years of its existence.
When I first began to realize serious problems were coming was when Don taught a fairly long series on the Pastor being the spiritual head of everyone in the church with the emphasis on the women.
The husbands were relegated some minor position but only if they were fully submitted to and in agreement with the Pastor.
This teaching series was done in late 83.
Now I realize that Don always had this view but at this time he
was really driving it home in great detail and force.
I knew there was a purpose for this though not manifested at the moment.
I didn't realize at that time exactly what trouble this teaching and practice would bring about but I did know trouble was coming.
It didn't take long for the trouble to be manifested.
As I was never at the Chapel without reservation about certain things, including Don
, maybe I was more open to the possibility that trouble, serious trouble, was coming.
I was never hostile towards Don
in thought or actions. [Looking back I realize that what I interpreted as being reserved (with seemingly negative connotations) about Don
is really only the correct or healthy attitude we should have for men in authority] I was so disturbed by this teaching (I was never an over lording husband and those who knew me would fully agree) that it caused me to leave the Chapel.
had agreed in writing to allow these meetings to take place.
2. These allegations were corroborated by several women through oral testimony and written affidavits.
Although some point out that many people at CC
were involved in illicit relationships at this time, the fact is that DB
was the undisputed league leader, so to speak.
3. The church, and some of the elders personally, were in legal jeopardy over DB's behavior - because of the corporate status of the church.
had publicly stated (in Balance magazine), that he
was accountable to the elders, particularly the 3 senior elders.
5. All 16 men UNANIMOUSLY agreed to ask DB
to accept these two mode