Tuesday, December 30, 2008

closing out the years

New Year's Eve at the Jesus House was a mix of closings and big celebrations. As mentioned in a previous post, in the early years we tended to be closed around Christmas and New Year's Eve because we were college students on break visiting our families. Years later, we had New Year's Eve celebrations, the first was organized by Loyd Boldman and people from Northern Kentucky. These events usually involved multiple bands and other performers. I believe the first time the Willouby-Wilson Band played the Jesus House it was a NYE Celebration. But back to our first year . . .

The first ministry year, 1971, Christmas Day & New Year's Day were on Saturdays so we were closed. On New Year's Day, though, some of us traveled to the Dayton area to hear Randy Matthews perform a concert at House of the Risen Son run by a guy named Jim Spicer. We knew Jim from the Cincinnati Bible Seminary and many of the musicians who played the Jesus House also played his place. Fast-forward 37 years and the guy who is the Senior Pastor at Highview Christian Church is (drum roll please) Jim Spicer. Yes, the same Jim Spicer. Jim is one of the reasons we will be able to host the next (and no doubt final) Jesus House Reunion Concert at Highview. A few days ago, Chris Adams said, "Having the Reunion at Highview will be like a home coming." Not only was Highview essential in establishing the Jesus House, but many of you were baptized at Highview. The first couple of years of Muster Weekend (more on that in April) we used the Highview building. For many of us, Highview was the church we attended on Sunday mornings. Most of the time we were walking in groggy because of the late night and because we probably just crawled out of bed. The people of Highview were always very encouraging. Many of them loved the ministry of the Jesus House and supported us in ways that included but were not limited to feeding us, making us welcome in their homes, feeding us, loaning us cars, feeding us, providing financial support and, finally, feeding us.

Many names could be listed as huge Highview supporters but since this blog is not intended to cover pages and pages, here are just a few:

David & Shirley Phillips - Dave was the Senior Pastor at Highview when the Jesus House started. Dave was also my first ministry mentor. Many times I dropped by their house to see if Dave was available to talk. He and Shirley always welcomed me in. Dave would offer me a seat and Shirley would offer me a sandwich. I always accepted the seat and turned down the sandwich. Ten minutes later, Shirley would bring me the sandwich I turned down with a glass of iced tea. God used Dave to prepare me for ministry. God used Shirley to prepare me for ministry. When the church was not sure about the wisdom of starting the Jesus House, Dave stood up for the vision and said, "God has placed this opportunity in our laps. We can accept it and see what happens or we can turn it down. It is something new and different and maybe uncomfortable for some of us, but there is no doubt it is an opportunity from God."

Bill & Vietta Keith - Vietta was the organist for Highview and Bill was a perpetual deacon who handled a lot of financial details for the church. At the conclusion of my first interview to determine whether or not I would join the Jesus House Staff, as I rose to leave the room, Bill held out his hand, shook mine and said, "My name is Bill Keith and I hope you get in." That was the first of many words of encouragement I received from Bill.
When I first met Vietta she was a stay-at-home mom of three who was attending college one class at a time. While raising her children, Vietta enrolled in one class each term at Miami University finishing first her Bachelor degree then her Masters. Once the children were raised she was able to enter and complete a doctorate program in counseling. Even though I remember all the peanut butter sandwiches Vietta served me over the years, she became a source of inspiration when I finally had the opportunity to enter a master's program at Fuller Seminary. I took one class a quarter for five years and completed an MA - Theology. Anytime I felt discouraged about the work or the pressures of attending grad school while working full-time and being married with children, I remembered Vietta.

These people, and many others from the summer and fall of 1971 had a huge impact on the genesis stages of the Jesus House. Without their willingness to accept God's call to do something strange and different, 14 years of unique ministry would have been lost.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Fourth (and Fifth) Weeks of December
1971 - Closed (Christmas Day)
1972 - Closed
1973 - Christmas Family Nite (This means an assortment of people performed.)
1974 - Closed
1975 - Closed
1976 - Closed (Christmas Day)
1977 - Closed (Christmas Eve)
1978 - Rich Mullins
1979 - Zion
1980 - Terry Fisher
1981 - Donnie Yazell
1982 - Closed (Christmas Day)
1983 - Closed (Christmas Eve)

Decembers With a Fifth Saturday:
1973 - Closed
1977 - New Year's Eve Bash featuring Rising Hope
1978 - Windfall (A New Year's Eve Eve Bash that included DANCING!!!!)
1979 - Hymn
1983 - Larry Bubb (Visiting from California!)

Where Are They Now?
David & Shirley Phillips are still ministering to people. David is the pastor at Pleasant Run Church of Christ, the site of the three previous Jesus House Reunions. We were permitted to use the church building because of Dave & Shirley's continuing conviction that the Jesus House was a ministry birthed from the heart of God. We hope to see Dave & Shirley at the upcoming reunion.
Bill Keith went to be with Jesus over ten years ago.
The last I heard from Vietta she was a therapist and professor. Not sure if she is still doing that or if she has retired.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas at the Jesus House

In a previous blog I mentioned Alan Jones, a musician from Columbus who performed our first "Christmas Special." Alan and a friend sang a musical version of "The Night Before Christmas." This performance started a tradition that we kept off and on over the years. Usually, we scheduled performers who could include Christmas music as part of the evening, but in addition, we occasionally involved the Jesus House staff in skits or other silly things. You may have seen Tony Ross and me in sweaters and scarves doing our best to croon "The Christmas Song." When she was very young, Christi Mapes agreed to dress up like Rudolph. One year five of us dressed in choir robes and lip synched the Barking Dogs version of Jingle Bells. We did our best to make Christmas meaningful and memorable!

We also developed a tradition of hosting a Sunday evening Christmas Caroling party. This was an opportunity to take a group of 20-30 people around our neighborhood singing, then return to the House for hot chocolate and sit in front of the fireplace to read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

In the early years we usually closed the week between Christmas and New Years, primarily because we were college students who used the holidays to travel out of town to visit family. In later years, we began having New Year's Eve events. More on those in a later blog.

The last Saturday before Christmas tended to have larger than normal crowds primarily because of returning college students. These students tended to be people who attended the House during their high school years and were excited to get back to us. Many of these students were responsible for adamsfishyodor, then later me as a solo artist, having opportunities to perform concerts on University campuses. Ohio University, Ball State (maybe while David Letterman was there?!?), Morehead University, University of Kentucky, Miami University, and Bowling Green (of Ohio) were just a few (that I remember) places of higher learning that found themselves invaded by people from the Jesus House. In the adamsfishyodor days these trips usually included additional car loads of, mostly, high school students. Not sure if anyone attended one of those schools as a result of a trip with adamsfishyodor but we did our best to be good will ambassadors. Concerts in university settings were some of my favorite. The crowds were favorably responsive to the music. After the concerts, though, we had the opportunity talk to people about Jesus. These were the settings where we seemed to have the largest percentage of non-Christians in the crowd. As much as I enjoyed performing music for people, and I have always enjoyed that a lot, the post-concert discussions were fabulous experiences.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Third Week of December.
1971 - Alan Jones (Banana Bread & Pumpkin Bread were served as special Christmas refreshments!)
1972 - Rich Davis
1973 - Sandy & Marge
1974 - Jim Bankowski
1975 - John Gould
1976 - Rising Hope
1977 - John Gould
1978 - Terry Fisher
1979 - Terry Fisher (two years in a row?)
1980 - Zion
1981 - Zion
1982 - Zion (The annual Zion Christmas concerts were huge!)
1983 - Bobby Maupin

Monday, December 15, 2008


In the list of artists for the second week of December you will notice adamsfishyodor played on December 9, 1972. This date was just a few months after we formed as an early '70's folk/rock/trio. Initially we formed to perform one song, Larry Norman's Moses, at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary Talent Show. We connected because after Chris Adams was baptized the previous summer, he approached me one life-changing Saturday evening and offered his services as a bass player. We played a gig together that summer at a county fair somewhere in Ohio. The exact destination is lost in the vague memories of playing anyplace someone would allow us to sing about Jesus, whether anyone was listening or not! Christopher decided to attend CBS that fall so when the Talent Show was looming, I asked him if him if he would agree to perform Moses with me. I knew Kent from the previous year and Chris knew him from his performances at the House so a trio was born! Since most of the singing groups at school had lookalike suits, we wanted to fit in and decided to wear bib overalls. The producers of the event even imported some bales of hay to complete our on stage effect.

Even though we were planning for a one-off performance, other forces were at work to keep us together. Grant Edwards of the One Way House in Springfield asked Stan Carter who he would recommend Grant schedule for a special concert. I assume Grant thought Stan would have a large list to recommend from all the performers who played the House. Instead, Stan said, "Terry, Kent & Chris are learning a song for the school Talent Show, they could do your concert for you." Grant asked if we had a group name and Stan responded, "Let's see, it's Chris Adams, Terry Fisher & Kent Odor, their name is adamsfishyodor." So, in one short conversation we had a name and were booked for a two hour concert. Fortunately, we already knew one song so all we had to do was learn enough songs to sing before and after that one song to fill in the rest of the time!

The response to the one song at the Talent Show and the concert at the One Way House (they called it Farm Out!) was positive enough to keep us together. As a trio, we performed for about a year and a half, sang all over Ohio with short trips into Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana. We had one long trip to Eden, North Carolina, which was made famous in that hit single, "I'm On My Way to North Carolina." Our trip to Michigan produced "Sohio Station Blues." We played youth groups, college fellowship groups, coffee houses (some actually served coffee!), outdoor festivals, church services and one ordination service (Alan Sipple's).

The next school year Christopher joined us in living at the house. Anyone remember his room in the basement? Our normal Saturday morning routine was to assemble in Kent's room and watch Saturday morning cartoons on his black & white television while eating various flavors of Captain Crunch. This activity was usually done in silence. Somewhere around noon, someone would ask, "Who's playing tonight?" That question started the activity of preparing for the Saturday night concert. These preparations included cleaning, setting up sound, and removing all traces of our personal effects that invariably were spread throughout the house during the week.

Besides traveling & playing music together, running the Jesus House, and going to school, we were friends. Sometimes good friends, sometimes not so good friends, but a deep bond developed among the three of us that has continued to the present. I was blessed to stand up with both of them in their weddings. Kent performed my wedding and Christopher would have been the Best Man but the very day of my wedding, he was doing his last minute packing to leave Cincinnati, heading northwest in pursuit of his Doctorate degree.

Since the conclusion of our adamsfishyodor days, we had four reunion tours and have participated, in some form, in all four Jesus House Reunions. (At the first we were fishyodor with Marc O'Hara and at the third we were adamsfishy with Marc O'Hara) Those of you who remember our afo days are not surprised to hear we had someone else playing with us. During our musical career we had various others play with us including, but not limited to Andy Wilson, Larry Pennington, Randy Moody & Carl Gregory.

afo will be playing at the next, and most likely final Jesus House Reunion, May 2, 2009.

This Week in History:Artists who performed at the Jesus House the second week of December
1971 - Robb Jackson (Robb was from College Hill Presbyterian Church, a place with which the Jesus House had connection off and on for many years!)
1972 - adamsfishyodor
1973 - Lana Herring, Vicki Cooper (Vicki was a friend from Cincinnati Bible Seminary, a very talented actress)
1974 - Sherry & Sharon (Fayard & Wilson, sensitive songs, great guitar players, and wonderful voices)
1975 - Stephens/Brigance
1976 - Diakonoi
1977 - 'cinnati (Andy Danzel, vocals & bass; Terry Fisher vocals & guitar; Dave French, drums; Rick Marksberry, vocals and any instrument needed for the song including but not limited to lead guitar, pedal steel, fiddle & kitchen sink.)
1978 - Paul & Dave (not sure if they were The Paul & Dave Band at this point! Were they still bachelors or were they married by 1978??)
1979 - Creation Inc.
1980 - Prodigal
1981 - Stephens/Brigance
1982 - Act One (music & drama)
1983 - Deny Brigance

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kent Odor

The first Saturday of December, 1971 Kent Odor made his second appearance at the Jesus House. At that point we had no way of knowing that the following fall, Kent would join the staff, nor that he, Chris Adams and I would embark on our career as adamsfishyodor, nor that Kent would become a life-long friend.

Kent and I met in the library at Cincinnati Bible Seminary (now Cincinnati Christian University). Kent was interested in the Jesus House because he was a singer/guitar player who, while in high school, traveled throughout Michigan singing for churches, camps and youth groups. Kent was also a PK (preacher's kid) whose family had deep roots in the christian church/church of christ restoration movement.

In those days Kent played a little nylon string acoustic guitar that, given its small size, had a surprisingly deep, booming sound. His voice had incredible range as he could sing very low but also had a strong falseto. adamsfishyodor never really used his vocal talents, primarily because of my inability to sing harmony, but hopefully he gained other valuable experiences.

Kent joined the Jesus House Staff in the fall of 1972 and remained until fall of 1975 when he and Marcia married. His impact on the Jesus House was profound. He introduced us to the concept of small groups and created the first Jesus House small group in the summer of 1974 by teaching the book, Body Life, written by Ray Steadman. Kent is also responsible for demanding that we include personal quiet times at our Conglomerate retreats. In addition, Kent created Family Nights on Wednesday evenings. No one knew what was planned week to week at Family Night because Kent had so many ideas and never told us in advance what to expect. Family Nights introduced us to making donuts, tie dying t-shirts, making bagels, painting the pipes in the basement, and many other activities that I no longer remember. Kent recognized the importance of creating social opportunities for people to interact with one another. His drive for social networking was evident whenever adamsfishyodor headed out for concerts and found we had 2-3 additional carloads of people invited by Kent.

Since his years with the Jesus House, Kent has served a variety of churches: Fellowship Christian Church, First Christian (St. Louis, Michigan), East 91st Street Christian Church (Indianapolis), Willow Creek Community Church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church (Las Vegas) and now the Springdale Vineyard (aka the Mothership) in Cincinnati.

Kent has grown into an extremely wise leader with an unlimited capacity to understand ministry.

He and Marcia have four children and one grand child.

Yes, Kent will be at the next reunion concert, May 2, 2009. You will have the opportunity to hear his great singing voice on the Jesus House Recording Project.

This Week in History: Artists Who Appeared at the Jesus House the First Saturday of December
1971 - Kent Odor, Doug Adams
1972 - Linda Page
1973 - Jim Bankowski (with special guest Mike Wilshire)
1974 - Ross Johnson (solo night)
1975 - Morning Star
1976 - Deny Brigance
1977 - Creation INC. (Christian Theater)
1978 - Deny Brigance
1979 - (Record is blank. Not sure what we did.)
1980 - Peter Leighton (St. Nicholas Day!)
1981 - Sonrise
1982 - Christmas Arts Variety Show
1983 - Jama

A Life-Changing Experience
You will notice that Jim Bankowski performed the first Saturday of December in 1973. During the second set that night, Jim, along with his musical guest Mike Wilshire, led us in a medley of Christmas carols. That was the first time I consciously realised the spiritual impact of all those songs about Christmas. I had a life-changing worship experience as the beauty and truth of each of those songs became clear. I have always been grateful to Jim & Mike for that experience which continues to shape my appreciation of Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


The Jesus House gained a reputation in the early days as a place that was most willing to baptise people. Not all para-church ministries, especially youth oriented ministries were willing to baptise people. The Jesus House's reputation was deserved. We believed it was important to baptise a person as soon as the decision was made to become a Christian. The Christian Church connection and the Jesus Movement of the early 70's were influences. Baptism was identified as a first step for anyone becoming a Christian. Most of the Jesus House baptisms occurred on Saturday night after the concerts at which pointe we treked up to use the baptistry at Highview Christian Church. After we started the annual Conglomerate retreat, we baptised quite a few people in the lake at camp. I have a partial list of baptisms from the early years. No one kept track of all the baptisms in 1971 so my official list begins January, 1972 and ends in 1976. There are 125 people on the list. I will not list all the names here out of respect for privacy, but I will mention two people who, in my opinion, gave up their privacy years ago!
Christopher Adams - March 11, 1972
Rick Mapes - June 14, 1972
1972 was a very good year for baptising future Jesus House leaders!
I believe Rick Mapes might have taken over the duties of keeping track of the baptism list so he may have some additional names.
If you were baptised at the Jesus House and would like to find out the date, email me at tfishh@gmail.com
Dale, your name is not on my list. Sorry.
As a father, I look back on those baptisms with a slightly different perspective. Many of the people we baptised were high school and college students who were baptised without their parents being present. At the time I thought nothing of it. If either of my children made the decision to do something that important without me, I would be excited, but also disappointed. I wonder how many parents we disappointed. We had very few complaints. Well, time and experience gives insight.

This Week In History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Fourth Week of November
1971 - John Gould
1972 - Al Green (No, not that Al Green, the other Al Green. The one who helped write Get the Sin out of Cincinnati.)
1973 - Rick Marksberry, Stan Carter, Al Green (Same Al Green)
1974 - Richard Mullins (He wasn't called Rich in those days.)
1975 - Rick & Hodgy
1976 - Karen & Jenny (aka Covenant)
1977 - Share-it (An evening devoted to Jesus House people sharing their gifts.)
1978 - Showbread
1979 - Steve Silcox
1980 - Judah
1981 - Rising Hope
1982 - Ted Brickler
1983 - Winning Edge

Fifth Saturday! November is another month with an occasional Saturday night. The following are artists who performed for one of those rare fifth Saturdays.
1974 - Randy Moody
1975 - Carl, Larry & Chuck
1980 - Beth Cook

Jesus House Reflections & Memories
I would like to include memories from others in this blog. If you have something you would like to share about the Jesus House, send it to me via email, tfishh@gmail.com
I reserve the right to edit due to space or bad writing...but would love to include your memories.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving Celebrations

In a deviation from telling the chronological story of the first year, it seemed good to identify one of the annual celebrations that lasted for quite a few years. The Jesus House Thanksgiving Feast was a unique opporutnity for people to share Thanksgiving with an intimate crowd of 50-100. The first year we celebrated Thanksgiving it was prompted by a practical need. In 1973, I was employed at United Dairy Farmers and scheduled to work on Thanksgiving Day. Since I was not going to my parents house for the day a few of the other staff decided to stay around. Stan & Linda Carter supplied the turkey, my mother sent down her cole slaw (which Andy Wilson ate for the first time then quickly formed an addiction), the rest of us supplied other items. We set up a large piece of plywood on two wooden boxes, surrounded it with pillows and sat on the floor to eat. We thought we were eating just like Jesus! I do not remember everyone who dined with us that day other than Stan, Linda, Andy and Kent Odor. There may have been a few others.

The following year, Judy Gould suggested it would be fun to celebrate Thanksgiving at the Jesus House with friends, so we expanded the event. We had it the evening of Thanksgiving with multiple turkeys, at least one ham and lots and lots of other stuff. About 70 people dined with us so we had to set up mulitple plywood tables!

According to my records this annual event continued through 1980 although we moved it to the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving. I do not remember why we stopped. I would love to hear your memories of this event especially if any of you remember why we stopped.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Third Week of November
1971 - Mark O'Hara, Ted Baxendale
1972 - Len Mink
1973 - Dick Mott, Leitourgia
1974 - Jon Owens
1975 - Bruce Kercher
1976 - John Gould
1977 - Odor, Clark & Burns
1978 - Rick Roberts
1979 - Agape Force
1980 - Rick & Diann Marksberry
1981 - Sanctury
1982 - Jews for Jesus
1983 - Harriet Lewis

Monday, December 1, 2008


Apologies to all the regular readers of this blog.
I am several weeks behind in my posts.
This is due to a combination of illness, intense work schedule, and travel.
I promise to catch up in the next two weeks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

By Christmas & the New Year

The last Saturday before Christmas we had a musician from Columbus named Alan Jones. Our Jesus House Christmas Celebration included special refreshments (banana & pumpkin bread) and a special a cappella performance of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (musical version) by Alan and a high school friend who came with him. Alan was too young to drive so a friend and I drove to Columbus that morning and picked up Alan and his friend. On Sunday, another friend and I drove them back. We were a full service ministry. If you didn't have transpotation and you were a musician we really wanted, we found a way to get you there!

By Christmas, Grant & Jane Ann Hammond decided they wanted to leave the Jesus House staff. The style of ministry was not right for them. As they moved out, I moved back in and awaited their replacement. A few weeks into January, Stan and Linda Carter moved in and immediately became an important part of the ministry. Stan and Linda would live there for four years. Linda worked for a large insurance company in downtown Cincinnati while Stan and I attended school.

One of the important attributes Stan brought to the ministry was strong leadership, a willingness to be directive about the ministry and make decisions on faith that God would provide. I learned a lot about leadership from Stan and his father, Ralph Carter, a seasoned pastor. Stan had an ability to rally people and did a great job of that with high school students. Through Stan’s leadership we started the Jesus House Summer Bible Institute. Many youth ministries in church slow down in the summer. Stan decided he wanted us to be even more active and take advantage of people being out of school.

The Jesus House Summer Bible Institute was an opportunity for us to teach topics or sections of the Bible at a deeper level than we could on Saturday night. It gave people at the House an opportunity to study important issues. We ran the Bible Institute for many years and included classes on Hermaneutics, Personal Evangelism, Psalms, Hebrews, and many other books of the Bible. For me this was a forrunner of much of the teaching I did years later in churches.

With Stan's strong leadership the Jesus House was preparing for the numerical explosion that was about to happen and continue for many years. It was also because of his leadership that we were able to add additional staff. He was a leader who could lead and manage a staff that was not easy to lead or manage!

Quite often, when a church or ministry does not experience numerical growth the cause can be traced to a lack of strong leadership.

Stan & Linda were a lot of fun. Our first year together we shared meals (mostly provided by them) and learned a lot about our different backgrounds. They also introduced me to the incredible taste of cheesecake!

The sacrifice and dedication of Stan and Linda to help the ministry flourish can never be fully described.

This Week in History: Musicians who performed at the Jesus House the second saturday of November.

1971 - Dave Ooten
1972 - Kent Odor (He had just joined staff!)
1973 - Larry Pennington
1974 - Mary Ann (Must have been poplular. No last name)
1975 - Randy Moody (aka Moods)
1976 - Corban Weekend: Grant Edwards spoke; Jon Owens sang.
1977 - Deny Brigance
1978 - Greg Vernon (All the way from Beverly Hills, California!)
1979 - Caroline Randall
1980 - Chuck Pickers
1981 - John Gould
1982 - Lighthouse
1983 - D. J. Speers

Wait a minute! Hold on! I saw something on there called Corban Weekend. What in the world was that? I don't remember anything called Corban Weekend! Well, we only did it once. Corban Weekend was our attempt at doing a fund raising weekend to get people to pledge to the Jesus House. We found the term in Mark 7:11. Corban means, "a gift devoted to God." We even had a great comic strip promotion created by Loyd Boldman. If you remember anything about the Jesus House, all our special programs had to be "something" weekend. So we had Muster Weekend, Conglomerate Weekend, Rishing Hope Weekend, Eat-As-Much-Food-As-You-Can Weekend and Corban Weekend. Actually we never had Eat-As-Much-Food-As-You-Can Weekend, I just wanted to see if you are paying attention. So, we had Corban Weekend with Grant Edwards as a speaker and Jon Owens as our musical guest. They were from the One Way House in Springfield the ministry with whom we shared Conglomerate Weekend. That ministry had a Faith-Promise weekend every year and used me as a special guest so they returned the favor. We received a lot of good pledges to the ministry but 90% of the people who pledged never gave any money so we decided not to repeat the event. Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don't!

Where Are They Now
Stan and Linda are no longer married to each other but both still live in the Cincinnati area, both attend Highview Christian Church and help with the worship team. Stan also runs sound for the church. In addition, Stan owns Carters Music in North College Hill. Stop by and visit Stan and his cat Belmont or visit their web site, www.cartersmusic.com
Stan is one of the few music retailers in Cincinnati who handles Everly Strings, the best acoustic guitar strings on the market. At least according to Terry Fisher, little-known acoustic guitar player.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The First Autumn

After a summer of constant activity with new people every week and continual requests for baptisms, the fall seemed very slow. Attendance at the weekly concerts had dropped significantly. It was very rare to have students dropping by during the week. Grant started a weekly Bible study but very few people participated.

Even with the small attendance at the concerts, (usually 40-50) there was a loyal crowd which included a steady group of people from Norwood who were part of a Lutheran Church. Whitey and Jo brought the youth group which included their two daughters. The entire family was a weekly source of encouragement.

I was pretty occupied with school, working an evening job at a fast-food restaurant and keeping my hair short (Remember dress codes? I had it at both school and work!). Since I was living with a family in the neighborhood, I was not around the Jesus House very much during the week. Usually I showed up early on Saturday evening to meet the artist for the evening and set up our sound system. Most of the time the sound system was two microphones plugged into a Fender Twin Reverb amp. We thought we were high tech whenever an artist showed up with a Sure Vocal Master system!

A significant event occured that fall which would have a profound impact on the Jesus House and teach me a valuable lesson about how a ministry or church grows.
One Sunday afternoon in September I attended a youth concert at a Christian Church in Finneytown. At the conclusion of the concert, the youth minister, Gary Boys, asked if anyone had any announcements. I stood up at the back of the auditorium and invited everyone to visit the Jesus House for one of our Saturday night concerts. The following week a high school senior from Forest Park High School named Cindy showed up with a friend. From that night, Cindy showed up on Saturday nights every week. I soon noticed that she always had a car load of people from her school. After a month or so I noticed two car loads, then three. I asked Cindy what she was doing to bring so many people from her high school. It was then she explained her weekly activity. Everyday, during school, usually between classes, she invited people to come with her to the Jesus House. She invited people who were friends and people she didn't know. Cindy began a movement. Soon, others who visited and liked the Jesus House began copying her. The enthusiasm spread to Greenhills and Princeton High Schools. Attendance at the House began to increase. By spring we were having crowds of 100-150. 50% was usually from Forest Park & Greenhills. The impact of Cindy's efforts continued for several years. Many, many of those students became Christians. I'm still in touch with some of those students, one of whom was Christopher Adams, who soon took on a very significant role at the Jesus House and in my life. More on him later!

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the First Weekend of November

1971 - Suni McGrath (The first performer other than Randy Matthews to have a record on a major label!)
1972 - Restoration
1973 - Grant Hammond
1974 - Deny Brigance (Perhaps his first?)
1975 - Sharon Wilson & Tony Ross
1976 - adamsfishyodor (The first afo reunion tour)
1977 - Jim Bankowski
1978 - Michelle Klaas (music), Rod Ellis (Dramatic performance of the Apostle John)
1979 - Lisa Allen & Barb Schock
1980 - Rob Rodebush
1981 - Forerunner
1982 - Coco Rock
1983 - Don Dickey

Where Are They Now?
Most of the people I reference in this blog are mentioned with first names only. This is because I have not asked for permission to tell their stories. The musicians and staff are different because we used to regularly advertise their names.
Of the people mentioned in this installment, Cindy is married with children and has a very successful business with her husband. They still live in the Cincinnati area. I have not had contact with Whitey & Jo but met a grand daughter at a memorial service some years ago.

If anyone I mention wants to leave a comment to let us know about your life those details are very welcome.

For the first months of the ministry, I've moved pretty slow through the chronology. This will not always be the case. I have fourteen years to cover during the next six months. I will discontinue this blog the first of May, 2009 when we have our next, and final, reunion. The final post will include a list of artists who performed during the summer months.

You might have noticed that I am a little behind in my posts. This is due to a crazy work and travel schedule. I hope to catch up this weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What Happened to Terry Fisher?

As mentioned in the previous entry, most of the Jesus House Staff was dismissed at the conclusion of the first summer. I was honored to be part of that staff and yes, I was dismissed along with the others. I stayed around till the weekend because an old friend of mine, John Gould was scheduled to play the Jesus House for the first time. I decided it would be a good final evening and allow me the opportunity to say goodbye to the crowd. John was a big hit from his very first time at the House. For those of you who know him, that is no surprise. John has always been an incredible musician. His preciseness on guitar is a marvel. In addition, I've been listening to him sing since the fall of our senior year in high school and I've never heard him sing a bad note.

Another high school friend drove from my home town to transport me at the conclusion of the evening. All my worldly goods were packed into his car.

Also in attendance that final evening were Dave Phillips, the senior pastor at Highview Christian Church and Richard Engel, the chairman of the board. I appreciated their presence.

Midway through the evening they pulled me aside and asked to talk with me. They had been walking around the grounds praying and the Lord put me on their hearts. The three of us walked outside and they asked me two unexpected questions. The first, "How firm are your nomadic plans?"
"Not very," I said, "Why are you asking?"
Then came the shocker.
"If the church agrees to pay your tuition & books for one seminster at the Bible College and provides you with free housing, will you agree to get a job and continue attending school and pay for it yourself?"
I was stunned by the question and the offer.
The piece they did not know was just a few weeks earlier, I saw how my limited knowledge of the Bible made ministry at the Jesus House difficult. People were continually asking me questions for which I had no answers nor understanding. I prayed that God would provide me with an opportunity to learn the Bible. Now, just a few weeks later, the prayer was being answered.
They told me that I was not required to continue on staff at the Jesus House but if I wanted to I could.
I accepted it all; the opportunity to go to college and learn the Bible, the money for tuition and books, the free place to live and the offer to continue with the House.

The next few months I adapted to studying the Bible in a scholastic setting, lived with a family from church, ran the Jesus House on Saturday evenings, worked at a fast food place to save my next seminster's tuition and continued learning how to run the Jesus House. It wasn't easy, especially with the smaller staff, but God was doing some incredible things in our midst. The biggest lesson I learned that first fall was how any ministry or church grows. The lesson started with a high school senior named Cindy.
More details in the next installment.

This Week in History; Musicians who Performed at the Jesus House the fourth Saturday of October
1971 - Grant Hammond & the Jesus House Singers
1972 - Ron Elkins; Jackie & Brenda
1973 - Ray Terrell; Apocalypse
1974 - Andrew Culverwell
1975 - Crossroads (Their first time!)
1976 - Rich Mullins
1977 - Cannot tell. Too many names crossed out!
1978 - Steve Young
1979 - Zion
1980 - Zion
1981 - Zion
1982 - Zion
1983 - Willoughby-Wilson Band

What's will all those years of Zion playing the fourth week? They used to celebrate their birthday as a band by playing the Jesus House. They usually played around Christmas time too.
Since October is a month that often has a fifth Saturday, here are the people who played on a fifth Saturday.
1976 - Creation INC.
1977 - Becky & Karen; John & Dedra
1981 - Willoughby-Wilson Band
1982 - Willoughby-Wilson Band
1983 - Cathy Snyder

Where Are They Now
The building we used for the Jesus House was originally a judge's house and part of his estate where he bred & raised horses. After the judge died, the family sold off the estate which became the housing development around the House. During construction the building was the office for the construction company. After completion of the housing developement, the building was sold to the Christian Evangelising Fellowship which then used it to start a new church. Once established, Highview Christian Church took over responsibility for the mortgage on the property. The church grew pretty rapidly bought property nearby and eventually contructed a new church building. After years of sitting empty, the building became The Jesus House and continued as such for 14 years.
After the Jesus House closed in January, 1985, the property was sold to a new church. In the fall of 1985 my wife and I were driving around on a Saturday evening and she asked me to take her by the House. My wife did not know me when I ran the House and had never been there. As we drove by the property, I was shocked to see Rick Mapes car in the parking lot. I was hoping he had not forgotten we closed the place, so we stopped and knocked on the door. We learned that Rick was there teaching the current owners how to control the heating. The new owners were very gracious and allowed me to take my wife on a tour of the property, explaining how we used each room. The pastor of the new church was a woman who was living on the upstairs level with her family.

Not sure how long that church lasted but the property is now owned by a private family who is in residence. As you read these memories of the ministry, you might be tempted to drive by the House, perhaps even stop to look around. Please respect the privacy of the current owners and stay off the property. During past Jesus House Reunions, they have allowed us to tour their home. We've not yet been in touch with them to see if that will be possible at our next reunion. If so, you'll know in advance.

Monday, October 13, 2008

That First Crazy Summer

Did we know what we were doing?
The day Randy Matthews asked me to join the staff, he couldn't completely describe what I would experience because no one had ever done that before.
So what was it like?
I found a very brief journal I kept during my first weeks on staff. These few details will give you a sense of what it was like. I've left off the last names of the people mentioned, except in one case!
Remember, this was 1971.
- Sunday, May 9, Joined Highview Christian Church and was accepted by the Steering Committee to move into the House and join the staff. (I was glad since I had already been living there for about a week and already done at least one speaking engagement. This was for a local task force on drug abuse prevention. They had a student panel, all of whom were doing drugs, but were there to speak out against drugs. Each of the three students were baptized the following week.) Later in the day, talked with Debbie about accepting Christ and baptism. She was baptised.
- Monday, May 10, Staff traveled to Indianapolis to speak and sing at a public high school. Three high school students were baptised; Pat, Cathy & Susan.
- Tuesday, May 11, Baptized Mike Stevens and his friend Marvin.
- Wednesday, May 12, Staff traveled to Washington Court House to speak and sing in an assembly at a public high school. After the assembly we spoke in classes. I was assigned to the speech teacher. Twelve people from the school were baptized that evening at a local church including the speech teacher. Those baptized were; Evan, Katie, Greg, Monica, Ann, Becky, Cheryl, Brenda, Pam, Kathy, Cheri, Dianna.
- Thursday, May 13, Baptized Connie.
- Friday, May 14, Concert night. A group of high school students came from Northern Kentucky. Earlier that day, Randy and I drove to their church so he could sing at their spring banquet. Anytime he had a singing opportunity that included a meal, he always took someone else on staff. It was nice seeing them at the House that night. After the Jesus House closed we drove to Fountain Square and witnessed to people about Jesus.
- Saturday, May 15, Talked with Linda about accepting Jesus then baptized her.
- Sunday, May 16, Nothing
- Monday, May 17, We took the day off.
- Tuesday, May 18, Talked with Annette. Baptized Bob.

Over 100 people, mostly high school students, received Christ and were baptized the first year. One sunny afternoon, walking from the Jesus House up to Highview to baptize someone I thought, "I am so tired of being wet!" As soon as I thought it, I reprimanded myself. There was another part of me that intuitively knew I was experiencing something pretty special.

Some of you who were not attending the House that first summer might have noticed that I identified the concert as occuring on Friday instead of Saturday. That is not a clerical error. The first summer we were open, the concerts were on Friday evenings. Beginning with the fall, we moved them to Saturday because of competition with high school football games. The first couple of years, we were primarily reaching high school students. In later years, the crowd grew to include college students, then young adults.

Besides the details listed above, our normal schedule, if there was such a thing, involved spending time in the afternoons with students who were already Christians and the non-Christian friends they brought by the house. Once they were gone, usually by nine or ten in the evening, the druggy kids began showing up. We were usually up till 2:00 am talking with these folks. Consequently, on most days we did not wake up till almost noon.

Life at the Jesus House that first summer was in constant flux. By mid-June, Randy Matthews went on the road for a month to perform concerts all across the country. His first album had been released on Word Records and the label wanted him performing and selling records. Steve Scott went with him. Two guys with a few pairs of jeans and a guitar traveling in a little sports car. While they were gone, Grant and Jane Ann Hammond moved into the House to help while Randy and Steve were gone. During their absence, the Steering Committee decided to replace Randy permanently with Grant. As I reflect on this decision, I am ashamed that it happened. I will not go into all the details, nor point a finger at anyone who was involved, other than myself. I did not initiate the action, nor did I agree with it, but I did not do anything to prevent it. When Randy & Steve returned from their tour, they were each handed letters informing them that they had been dismissed from the staff. Since they had been living at the House they were told to immediately remove their personal items and move elsewhere. As you can imagine, they were hurt by this action. I am grateful that both men were eventually able to forgive us. Those of you who were around the Jesus House in later years will remember that Randy performed at the House many times.

With the arrival of Grant Hammond, there were some radical changes. Grant stopped the late night discussions with the druggies. He believed it was not productive, nor did he want people in the building past 11:00 pm. By the end of the summer, attendance began to slow down, not as many students were becoming Christians, not as many baptisms. With less of an evangelistic edge to the ministry, I was getting kind of bored.

Just before Labor Day Weekend, the Chairperson of the Steering Committee, a great man named Richard Engel stopped by one afternoon to deliver the latest news from the Committee. The remaining original staff were being dismissed and only Grant & Jane Ann were being retained. We were given till the weekend to leave. Joanie, a very free wheeling lady, hugged everyone in the room, packed her VW and was driving back to her home in Lexington within the hour. Mike & Pat were pretty angry. They also left that day. I decided to stay through the weekend because a high school friend, John Gould was going to play at the Jesus House for the first time Labor Day Weekend. It was also going to be our final Friday night concert.

"Wait a minute!"
"You just said 'everyone' was dismissed."
"Yes, they were."
"What about Terry Fisher. I happen to know he was still there many years later."
"Oh, but was it the same Terry Fisher?"
"Of course it was."
"I guess you'll have to come back next week to find out what happened."
"What do you mean, wait till next week?"
"I have to go now. I have an important meeting to attend."
"No! Don't do this to me."
"Sorry. Signing off now."
"Come baaaacccckkkk...."

Tune in next week to find out what happened to Terry Fisher. Was it the same Terry Fisher? Was he replaced by an evil twin? Or a better version of the original?

This Week In History: Artists who performed at the Jesus House the third weekend of October.
1971 - Kent Odor
1972 - Terri Senters
1973 - Marc O'Hara
1974 - Latter Rain
1975 - Rich Mullins (known in those days as Richard Mullins!)
1976 - Ed Guttfriend
1977 - Terry Fisher, Terri Senters & some guy named Bryan
1978 - Lisa Allen & Karen Hess
1979 - Ed (No last name is recorded.)
1980 - Carolyn Randall
1981 - Randy Morris
1982 - Rick Marksberry & Homestyle (Bluegrass!)
1983 - John Gould

Where Are They Now?
Grant & Jane Ann Hammond lived at the Jesus House until December, 1971 so they were there approximately six months. They decided the life style of the place did not suit them. Grant was still a student at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary. Jane Ann had graduated the year before. A few years later they moved to Toronto, Canada as missionaries and the last we heard from them they had moved to Jane Ann's family farm in Washington Court House, Ohio. By then they had one son named Christopher. We've not heard anything from them for many years but would welcome any updated information. Grant was an incredible guitar player and very gifted musician. He formed the original Jesus House Singers, a group of high school students who sang with lots of enthusiasm but also sounded good! For a brief time, before the Jesus House started, Grant traveled with Randy Matthews, played electric lead and sang background vocals. Grant co-wrote several of the original songs on Randy's first album.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Early Days

The seeds for the origin of the Jesus House began during the summer of 1970 when two Mt. Healthy High School students had life changing spiritual experiences. Mark Pratt traveled Japan with a high school singing group. Rick Coyle spent the summer working at a Christian camp. When school began in the fall, these two high school seniors decided they wanted to find a specific way to tell their friends about Jesus. With permission from their church leaders, they began a Thursday evening “Bible Rap” at Highview Christian Church. They invited their friends from school, who in turn invited other friends until a small group turned into a large group which turned into an even larger group. Because Rick & Mark felt inadequate to handle the size as well as some of the questions which were being asked, college students from Cincinnati Bible Seminary (now Cincinnati Christian University) were invited to participate as leaders. One of the students who volunteered his time was Randy Matthews, a gifted singer and songwriter whose music brought an extra level of excitement and interest. The crowds at this Bible Rap would number 50 one week, 100 another, with the high being 250 for a special concert by Randy. Many of these high school students were accepting Christ and were being baptized during the Bible Rap evenings.

The popularity of the weekly Bible Rap prompted the student leaders, the Elders of Highview and Dave Phillips, Highview’s minister, to brainstorm ways of expanding the ministry to these high school students. The church owned a piece of property which contained a large house that had served as the congregation’s first building. It sat vacant for several years with the congregation unable to sell it. Randy Matthews envisioned turning this building into a site for concerts & Bible studies with a full-time live-in staff.

By March of 1971, this was becoming a reality. Many of the people involved with the Bible Rap participated in an event called Spiritual Revolution Day which began with a rally on Fountain Square, a march through downtown Cincinnati and a concert that evening at Taft Auditorium. Arthur Blessitt was the featured speaker for the day. Randy Stonehill and Randy Matthews along with a variety of others performed music. Among many other events of that day was the first time Randy Matthews and Terry Fisher met. This meeting led to Terry visiting the Jesus House a week later. It was not yet open for business. In fact, it was the first day that people were working on the building; scraping walls, cleaning, and painting. This was in preparation for the opening of the ministry. During the day there was a break in the action while everyone trooped up to Highview Christian Church to baptize a girl named Carol. While returning from that baptism, Randy asked Terry to join the staff of the Jesus House. His reason was because of Terry’s drug background. Randy knew they were going to be dealing with a lot of high school students who were doing various forms of drugs and no one else on the staff had any experience with drugs.

The next month and a half, students showed up nearly every day after school to work and prepare the building. A gifted artist from the Bible College painted seven large murals in the meeting room. A smaller room was painted four shades of purple, one on each wall with the colors extending across the ceiling in triangles to meet in the middle.

The first Friday of May, 1971 was the official opening of the Jesus House. The place was packed with teenagers; everyone excited to finally have the place open. Randy sang that night along with another musical guest whose name has been lost. An audio tape of the evening still exists in the special Jesus House Hidden Archives!

The first Jesus House staff was: Randy Matthews, Steve Scott, Terry Fisher, Mike Buckingham, Pat Buckingham, and Joanie (last name forgotten, Joanie if you read this remind us of your last name!)

Next week: That first crazy summer!

This week in history: Artists who appeared at the Jesus House during the Second Week of October.
1971 - John Gould (the first of many!)
1972 - Steve Kroger
1973 - Larry Pennington
1974 - Rick Roberts
1975 - Rising Hope
1976 - Corban Weekend featuring Grant Edwards, speaking and special music guest, Jon Owens.
1977 - The Paul & Dave Band
1978 - Madison Getman Jr.
1979 - Jim Bankowski
1980 - Larry Bubb (Terry Fisher's Birthday!)
1981 - Steffins-Brigance
1982 - Rising Hope
1983 - Singing

Where Are They Now?
In the history section, you may have read some names you do not recognize. So where are all these people? Good question. The last we saw Pat Buckingham she was preparing to marry a Boston Celtic. Not sure if she did. The last time we saw Mike Buckingham (they are brother and sister) was at his wedding in 1976. Steve Scott, originally from Indiana has lived in several states and run various businesses. Joanie is from Lexinton and the last we heard she was still living there.
Unfortunately, not a lot of details, not because we don't love these people but because we've lost touch. Remember, in those days there was no email, facebook, etc.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Introduction to the Jesus House

The Jesus House started the first weekend of May, 1971. The place featured weekly Christian music concerts in a large house located in the Mount Healthy area of north-west Greater Cincinnati. This blog is going to cover some of the history of the House including lists of former concert performers, updates on staff, photos from the past, and thoughts from Terry Fisher, the writer of this blog. If you have old photos that can be used on this blog please email them to Terry, tfishh@gmail.com

This blog will also promote the upcoming Jesus House Reunion, to be held at Highview Christian Church, May 2, 2009. More details, including a list of artists will be forthcoming. A new blog posting will be added each week.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading the blog.
Spread the word.

This week in history: Concert performers who appeared at the Jesus House the first weekend of October:
1971 - Len Mink
1972 - Restoration
1973 - Grant Hammond
1974 - John Gould, Rich Davis
1975 - Sandy Wagner, Andy Danzel, Ric Marksberry
1976 - One Lane Road
1977 - Sharon Wilson
1978 - Wild Olive Branch Band
1979 - Rob Rodebush
1980 - Dave Workman
1981 - Messinger, Tim Root
1982 - Kevin Boys
1983 - YWAM - "Toymaker & Son"
1984 - Sorry, no records kept of this year.

Where Are They Now?
The founding Director of the Jesus House was Randy Matthews.
Many of you might know Randy's name as one of the originators and innovators of the music genre that became known as Contemporary Christian Music.
When Randy began his singing career, he called it Gospel Rock both because of his appreciation for rock & roll music but also because of his family's Gospel Music roots. His father Monty sang in the Jordanaires.
While Randy was a student at Cincinnati Bible Seminary (aka Cincinnati Christian University) he was asked to help lead a weekly event at Highview Christian Church on Thursday evenings where dozens of high school students were gathering to discuss the Bible. Randy's musical talent and charisma help attract more students. When Randy learned that the church still owned a large house in the neighborhood with a large meeting room, he conceived the idea of The Jesus House.
More will be written in later blogs about this beginning.
Near the end of the first summer of operation, Randy left the Jesus House staff to devote himself to a full-time Christian music career. For many years, Randy performed 200-300 concerts a year, traveling all across the U.S. as well as frequent trips to Canada and several to Australia and England.
Randy recorded many albums on a variety of Christian labels. Some can be found online through resale web sites. To date, none of Randy's recordings have been officially released on CD.
So, what is Randy doing today?
He's a pirate!
Specifically, Red Beard the Pirate.
Randy performs childrens shows at several Florida resorts in his persona as Red Beard. You can read more about Red Beard on his web site. He also has a CD of original pirate songs! Check him out: www.redbeardrules.com.