Thursday, January 22, 2009

growth, change, departures

After the arrival of Stan Carter we added additional staff. There was no master plan to these staff additions but upon reflection, and without sounding too corny . . . okay, I'm going to sound really corny, but I think there was a Master's Plan. Yes, I did it. I sounded really corny just then didn't I? To all of you with a "corny filter" on your computer, you didn't get to read that line, but that's okay.

The staff additions, which WE didn't plan, helped facilitate growth in the ministry. Kent Odor was added Fall, 1972, Chris Adams moved into the house summer of 1973 but he was already pretty engrained into the ministry. These two additions changed the dynamics of the ministry in very positive ways. We had our first Muster Weekend spring, 1973 and by fall 1973 the ministry was busting. Not only was afo acting as house band when needed but traveling to other places. The outreach of the ministry had spread to Forest Park, Greenhills, Princeton and Colrain High Schools. We even had an opportunity to speak and play music at an after school assembly for Greenhills High School. Students still came from Mt. Healthy High School but it was exciting to see people from all these other schools. It was more exciting to see how many people were becoming Christians. We also began to receive more and more invitations to speak at churches all over Cincinnati. Anytime one of us spoke at a church we saw the youth group from that church the following Saturday night. There is no way to count how many people we were able to tell about Jesus but I am grateful that the ministry had moved outside the property on Coogan Drive expanding into all these other venues.

With all these high school students, Stan knew the responsibility of the ministry needed to move beyond the staff. He organized a team of students who began working on different aspects of the ministry including outreach, hospitality, and spiritual growth; all important aspects of any effective church or ministry.

By spring of 1974, Stan decided his time with the House was finished so he and Linda bought a home nearby and moved out. It was a great loss to us but just the first of two. The second loss occurred a few months later when Christopher Adams decided to move to the West Coast to be near his family and attend Pacific Christian College. This was the right move for Christopher especially since he could major in psychology at PCC but of course it meant the end of adamsfishyodor, at least for a few years! Stan and Christopher both added important leadership and wisdom to the Jesus House and their absence was keenly felt. The first summer without them the building seemed very empty to Kent and me. The first thing we did was ask Andy Wilson to move in for the summer while he was preparing for college the following fall. His presence was a delight.
(As three bachelors living in that big place we decided to at least upgrade the quality of our menu so we purchased a case of rib eye steaks from a meat supplier, put them in the freezer and ate steak all summer!)

I became the Interim Director of the ministry while we searched for a replacement for Stan. Kent took over scheduling and leading the Saturday evening concerts. None of us expected me to be the Interim Director for over a year! It was not the best fit for me and I did not do it very well. That was my first experience, but not my last, of being in a ministry position for which I was not adequately gifted. When Paul wrote about different gifts distributed to Christians, he was not kidding. It's interesting to me that the very time I was working outside my gifting, I was studying Spiritual Gifts at CBS with the incredibly intelligent and gifted Dr. Virgil Warren.

God is a provider, sometimes when you least expect it and often in ways that you and I could never plan. The staff of the Jesus House changed again the summer of 1975. The change began one morning in the spring when I walked through the administration building at Cincinnati Bible College and overheard a life-changing and ministry changing conversation. But more on that later...

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Third Saturday of January
1972 - Bob Chick & Doug Youst
1973 - Grant Hammond
1974 - The Bozo Brothers (Kevin Boys & Andy Danzel. adamsfishyodor was in Athens, Ohio playing at O.U.!)
1975 - John Gould
1976 - Salt & Pepper
1977 - Rick Roberts
1978 - Paul & Dave (It was a night designated as, "Bring Your Favorite Atheist Friend" We were pretty radical!)
1979 - Andy Danzel, Terry Fisher
1980 - Cathy Snyder
1981 - Harriet Lewis & Hog (?) Don't remember who Hog was.
1982 - Tim Root
1983 - Share-it (An evening for the crowd to share their gifts.)

Hey, Terry!
I know you're probably finished with this entry but I have a question.
You're correct, I am finished but, okay, I have a few more minutes till I need to attend a finance meeting. What's your question?
Has the Jesus House ever expanded into additional nights of regular programing?
Yes, several times.
What were they?
At one point we had Family Night on Wednesdays. I described this in a previous entry. It was organized by Kent Odor.
Later we added Fridays.
What was it called?
When was it?
On Fridays.
What did you do?
We worshiped and had Bible study.
You mean like a church service?
Not exactly but close.
How long did that last?
About a year, maybe two.
Anything else?
Yes, for a couple of years we had the Jesus House Literary Society, which later received a name change to Third Sunday.
What was that for?
To read books and talk about them.
What kind of books?
C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Vanauken, and anything else we fancied.
That sounds like fun, why did it stop.
Because I joined the staff at College Hill Presbyterian Church and had responsibility for the singles ministry on Sunday nights.
Too bad.
Yes, but sometimes, even something that's really good comes to an end.
You mean like this blog entry?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


But first a note: In a previous blog I mentioned a ministry in the Dayton area run by Jim Spicer that also hosted Christian concerts. I could not remember the name. It was The House of the Risen Son in Englewood, Ohio a suburb of Dayton. Thank you Jim for refreshing my memory. The HOFRS had tables and chairs unlike the wonderful JH that offered pillows on the floor.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog entry.

Last weekend Christopher Adams journeyed to Cincinnati to add his incredible bass playing to some tracks destined for the Jesus House Recording project. Deny Brigance provided digital recording equipment and Steve & Barb Steffins opened their home, sitting by patiently without headphones so they could hear only bits and pieces of the action. (If only we had video taped the proceedings. It could be on Facebook or YouTube!) As I was laying down tracks for "Only the Father" it occurred to me that I was surrounded by people who were previously involved in FCC. (Not the Federal Communications Commission but Fellowship Christian Church.) The Jesus House's connection with FCC was very different from the CHPC connection. It started the first summer the House was open . . .

One Sunday afternoon the Jesus House Staff was preparing to commune over a very tasty fried chicken dinner when a young man with dark hair, scruffy mustache and big smile walked in and introduced himself as Tom Smith. My first response was, "That's the best his parents could do? When your last name is Smith the first name needs to be Archimedes or or at least Black." Fortunately I didn't dwell on his name. We invited him to join us for dinner and heard about his reason for relocating to Cincinnati. Dinner concluded with the JH staff being excited about the new Campus Ministry at UC and Tom being excited about the Jesus House. None of us knew how intertwined the two ministries would become.

Tom established a very effective ministry based out of a place called the House of the Carpenter. Within a few years students from the UC campus ministry frequently attended the JH with many of them becoming performers. The performer list includes but is not limited to Deny Brigance, Randy Moody, and Rick Hine. Deny had and still has an unbelievably high rock & roll singing voice, incredible harmonies and great original rock & roll songs. Can you get better than a Christian R&R song titled "Holy Roller?" Deny was also known for putting together great bands when he performed at the House. Randy Moody wrote some of the funniest songs in the Kingdom of God, (Sin is the ring around my bathtub) as well as a wonderful celebration of the deep relationships we experience in the Body of Christ. (Randy sang, "One Big Time in the Kingdom" at Deb Smith's memorial service fall, 2007 and left me in tears.) Prior to his career in television production Rick Hine became an all purpose bass player and harmony singer for many bands including a few put together by Terry Fisher!

After a few more years, The House of the Carpenter decided to enter the Christian coffeehouse bizz and opened a concert venue in their basement on Sunday nights. Because they were University of Cincinnati students, and much sharper than the Jesus House staff, and because they did not serve coffee, they concluded they could not rightly be called a "coffee house" so they became the "Cookie House." Yes they did serve cookies! It was a great place to play. A relaxed atmosphere and a slightly older crowd than we had at the Jesus House during those years. In addition, the Jesus House always closed at midnight (yes, I made people leave by midnight) the Cookie House never closed!

The campus ministry also hosted a Sunday morning worship service. This started in the lounge of one of the dorms, Sander Hall (Thank you for the reminder, Deny) eventually moving into a large meeting space, the Great Hall, in the Student Union Building. During the mid to late '70's it was one of the few, if not the only, place to attend a worship service that featured contemporary music. The service also featured the excellent preaching of mean Tom Smith. This service eventually grew into the church that became Fellowship Christian Church. I never became a member of FCC and because of my schedule could not attend regularly, but whenever possible I drove down and was always blessed by the worship services both in Sander Hall and Great Hall. Sometime after becoming Fellowship Christian Church they moved into the old Methodist Church building diagonally across from campus until securing property and building a new structure on North Bend Road.

Because of the style of worship, it became a natural place for the Jesus House to channel new Christians. It was an easy cultural transition for people who became Christians through the ministry of the JH to find FCC as their church home. It also helped that many of the musicians who played the JH worshiped at FCC. Kent Odor, of the JH staff, also spent time as one of the pastors at FCC.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Second Saturday of January
1972 - Baily Dickerson & Rich Davis
1973 - Brothers from the House of the Carpenter (see above) including Randy Moody & Dick Mott. This was the first time attendance on Saturday evening broke the 200 barrier. We had 201 people in attendance. Those HOTC boys could pack in a crowd!
1974 - Jon Owens
1975 - Rich Mullins
1976 - Rich Mullins
1977 - Dee Dee, Terry Fisher
1978 - Mark Ryman (from the One Way House in Springfield, Ohio!)
1979 - Covenant (Karen & Jenny!)
1980 - John Gould
1981 - Dave Workman
1982 - Cathy Snyder
1983 - Revelation Band\

Where are They Now?
Fellowship Christian Church no longer exists as a church. From my limited observation, it appears the members have spread among quite a few churches in the Cincinnati area including several Vineyards, Crossroads, College Hill Presbyterian and probably many more of which I'm not aware. Many of us had a reunion Fall, 2007 at a memorial service for Deb Smith, wife of Tom Smith. We were able to gather at the FCC building for a celebration of an incredible life. The place was packed. After the service, many of us drove over to the Springdale Vineyard for a reception. It was amazing to see many of the original House of the Carpenter boys (men) as well as original Jesus House people. Old friendships were renewed and the seeds for the Jesus House Recording Project were sown. Thank you, Deb, for being a rallying point for us.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The CHPC Connection

The Jesus House had a connection to College Hill Presbyterian Church off and on throughout our 14 years. In those days CHPC had a "coffee house" called the Back Door. The name was derived from the fact that the entrance was in the back of a building next door to the church. The front of the building was a Audi dealer. The space is now part of the CHPC parking lot. Some of our musicians were borrowed from the Back Door. There were differences between the Jesus House and the Back Door: they had tables & chairs, we had pillows; their walls were painted black, ours were white; their musicians were playing background music while people talked and ours was a concert setting where we did not want people to talk. We thought we were better. They thought they were better. We were both good.

The very first night we opened the featured singer was someone from CHPC although his name has been lost even though a recording exists. He was a folksinger with a guitar.

One Sunday afternoon a young couple from CHPC showed up at the Jesus House with bags of groceries. Their Sunday School class decided that morning to take up an offering and provide food for the JH staff. Since none of us had paying jobs that summer, we ate what ever food happened to appear in the kitchen. We were very grateful for the generosity of that class.

At the end of the first summer we co-hosted an outdoor event at Devou Park in Northern Kentucky that included a line up of Jesus House artists, Back Door artists and Young Folk, the high school choir from CHPC. I co-organized the event with Rob Jackson who was serving on Summer Staff at CHPC that year. That fall Rob enrolled at Gordon College outside of Boston. Not sure what Rob is doing these days although I know Gordon College is still in full operation because I've sent them tuition money the past few years. My daughter graduated from there in May.

The Devou Park event was not well attended. I think there were more musicians than audience. It would not be the first time that happened nor that last. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the event and blamed the low attendance on a feud we had with the Children of God in Clifton. Just goes to show, you cannot believe everything you read. I did not know anyone affiliated with the Children of God!

The affiliation with CHPC continued in an off & on manner until November, 1983. The final 15 months the JH was open we had a very close relationship. Mostly this was due to me joining the staff at CHPC to run the college & singles ministries while continuing on the JH staff. It is good that I was single in those days. I also continued to travel to perform concerts and speak at retreats. It was really too much but I did not know it.

As I review the history of the Jesus House it is good to recognize how much we gained from various church affiliations. I think we were a stretch for some churches to understand but a place like CHPC was so kingdom minded that they supported and endorsed us even if we made them a little uncomfortable.

The Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the First Saturday of January

1972 - Closed (January 1)
1973 - Teri Lillivig & Vicki Eaton (a couple of Forest Park High School students.)
1974 - Terry Fisher
1975 - Bob Clark & Tony Ross
1976 - Crossroads (No, not the church, the band who later became Prodigal!)
1977 - Randy Moody (aka Moods, now a Nashville resident)
1978 - One Lane Road (Country Rock from Northern Kentucky)
1979 - Rick, Hodgy, & Tom (Later known as Mana?)
1980 - Deny Brigance (Producer of the JH Reunion Recording Project!)
1981 - Steffens-Brigance
1982 - Geoff Thurman
1983 - Larry Bubb