This was originally posted at calvarytraining.org. I want to share the article here and then what has come as a result of it. –Wade Ogletree
When Chuck Smith learned that his former associate pastor, Lonnie Frisbee, had died of Aids, he said, “Samson–a man who knew the powerful anointing of God’s light. What could have been . . . a man who never experienced the ultimate of the potential. I often wondered what could have been.”
Chuck Smith took bold risks on people. Last night’s tribute made me keenly aware of this and helped me to understand so much. Many of the attacks on Pastor Chuck from his critics stem from this, that he took chances on people.
When I first wrote this article, I put Lonnie Frisbee in that category, but I don’t think that was fair. I’m learning that history is different than many of suppose. Hopefully, that will become clear in future articles. Frisbee would play an important role in both the early Calvary Chapel movement and in the hyper-Charismatic Vineyard movement. He overcame his struggle with homosexuality too late, though, and eventually it killed him.
At Pastor Chuck’s Memorial, we were told about how Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa cut a $150,000 check as a down payment for the building that would become Greg Laurie’s church, Harvest Christian Fellowship. Pastor Greg was nineteen years old at the time.
I place this at 1973. Pastor Chuck and Lonnie Frisbee parted ways in 1971.
Pastor Chuck’s willingness to take chances on people is amazing.
I could weep, for there are so few like him.
And now, what has happened since this was first published at calvarytraining.org.
It began with a discussion at the Facebook Group, Praying for Chuck Smith. A disagreement arose between someone who had red an article about Lonnie Frisbee and thought his memory should be ignored and people who had actually known the man. The article in question has reported the content of the movie, Lonnie Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher. One participant in the discussion mentioned that she was in the movie and that the final product was not a fair or accurate portrayal.
That individual was Judy Meston. I arranged to have a phone interview with her, and we talked for 90 minutes as she recounted her friendship with Lonnie Frisbee and the early days in the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel. I have transcribed that interview into a coherent article, and she is sending me a collection of photographs from the era. I am eagerly anticipating publishing this story.
But is doesn’t stop there. This also opened the door to talk to others, including a member of the band “Mustard Seed Faith” and the creator of the children’s worship series “Psalty”. In these coming interviews, I plan to gather more stories and details about the history of Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement, creating a written, oral history (if you will).
If you were there, I’d like to talk to you, too. You can find me at calvarytraining.org.
- In Memory of Chuck Smith (calvarytraining.org)