“I didn’t get a real clear direction, but I’m impressed with the whole process,” Ian Lawton said. “For a community that’s coming to terms with the news (of severe financial trouble), I think they’re doing really well and moving in the right direction in terms of a spirit of openness.”
Lawton joined Christ Community Church as pastor in 2004. In June 2010, the congregation changed the church’s name to C3Exchange and removed the cross from the building.
One of C3’s listed values is: “We will not compromise our inclusive spiritual vision for financial security.” Lawton said there was no wavering from that goal Wednesday night.
“We could have had people say we should turn back and get more people interested in something more traditional,” he said.
Lawton recently told the Tribune that the church’s revenues started to tumble shortly after he arrived. He said many people rooted in traditional religion “weren’t interested” in his vision of “inclusive spirituality.”
“They left and the money left with them,” he said.
Crockery Township Supervisor Leon Stille left the church shortly after Easter last year. Stille said Wednesday that he wasn’t surprised to hear about C3’s financial difficulties.
“I’m only surprised that it took this long,” said Stille, who used to serve as an usher at Christ Community Church. “We predicted this five years ago. When (Lawton) came, we had about 1,000 members. I know about 750 people left when he came. We were very disenchanted with the program. Almost everything Christian had been abolished.”
To read more of this story, see today's print edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.