Elder Quits Chapel Post in 'Connections' Dispute

Seattle Times/May 1, 1986
By Carol M. Ostrom

Adding to the cloud of internal turmoil that has hung over Burien's Community Chapel and Bible Training Center for the last few months, two former members have filed a civil lawsuit, alleging assault and malpractice by church staff members.

Carol Gabrielson, who filed the suit yesterday in Pierce County Superior Court with her husband, Ira, said she was handcuffed and forcibly removed from the church during a service in March.

In addition, Gabrielson alleges, she received marital counseling from a church staff member who took advantage of her vulnerability to pressure her into a sexual relationship.

Gabrielson also accused church staff members of defaming her to other members of the church.

In an interview, Gabrielson said she is still suffering both physical and emotional trauma, including a wrenched back caused by her removal from the church. ``My back's getting better, but the emotions are really hard,'' she said.

King County police confirmed that church officials removed Gabrielson from the church on the evening of March 6. Police accompanied her into Burien at her request, an officer said.

Church officials were not available for comment.

The church and its pastor have been under attack in recent months by a number of members who have recently left the church, claiming that teachings encouraging members to form ``spiritual connections'' with each other have damaged many marriages.

Former members also have claimed that the spiritual-connections teachings played a part in two recent suicides by members and the death of a young girl, drowned in Portland by her mother, also a Community Chapel member.

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