Some were pleasant memories of a healthy, vibrant church where nearly a thousand members called CCC home. Other thoughts were of how fast that community was decimated by primarily one individual who imposed his beliefs and style on an unwitting congregation, in spite of their pleas for Christian traditions and rituals.
One by one, crosses were removed, hymnals set aside, rituals without Christ, hymns rewritten, traditional services abandoned and other ministers forbidden to deliver Christian messages or perform ceremonies. The church was being dismantled!
Within the first six months, half the members left. Month after month, more members stopped coming. From 600-700, the weekly attendance slipped to under 300. Offerings diminished and assets started to be liquidated. Eventually, the bank took over the property and what was left of the congregation moved. Perhaps as few as a dozen families of the original congregation still attend C3. So, in nine short years, a thriving church became history.
There wasn’t just one reason people left CCC, there were many. No one was able to intervene on the direction the church was going. The executive minister had a vote on the seven-member board, which meant only three other votes were needed to control decisions. So, when Easter was minimized, Christmas pretty much set aside and America ridiculed from the pulpit, there was no way to say “enough.” In disgust, anger or embarrassment, members stopped attending. Their survey results had been discarded, along with their desire to maintain a friendly community of progressive Christian believers.
With a substantial initial salary and a handsome contribution to a home mortgage, which was forgiven by 10 percent a year, it is not surprising that the leader is now leaving in the 10th year of American residency. So, with Mr. Lawton’s leaving for Australia, it’s a clean sweep. The church is gone, the congregation is gone and finally he’s gone.
— Leon Stille, Crockery Township