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.