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 Archimedes...er..I 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.


Michael W Cristiani said...

Glory be to God for that wonderful time during which God showered us with so many blessings of fellowship and hearing the Word, preached and sung and lived. Terry, Somehow, reading this post reminded me of Isaiah 52:7-9,

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, "Your God is King!"
Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, For they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

I was an original member of FCC in Cincinnati. I married in 1986, moved to Dayton, and eventually started attending Grant Edward's church in Springfield. At the time we moved to Springfield to work with them, the name of Grant's church was "House Christian Fellowship." Within a month of our commencing to worship there, they changed the name to Fellowship Christian Church! So, there is still a FCC, just in a different city. I never did figure out whether we had to pay franchise fees.

Also, FYI...there was a sister house to HOC, and some of us from those days were also blessed to be at the service last year and to have been part of the Jesus House crowd.

Cheri Eresman

revfish said...

Michael & Cheryl-
Thanks for your comments.
Yes, Cheryl, I was aware of the sister house. At one point dated someone who lived there. I'm finding I leave a lot of details out as I write this blog.
In an upcoming entry you will read about the One Way House which became House Christian Fellowship which became Fellowship Christian Church. We used to do a summer retreat together. There also used to be an FCC in Northern Kentucky but it became a Vineyard.

Michael W Cristiani said...

You may be interested to know that Deb Smith continues to minister every day. The blog that was set up during her illness to minister to her and her family still has measurable hits daily. When I listen to her spoken words (Calls to Worship) preserved there, I am reminded of the blessings of community life in the HOC, and how, even as a young women herself, she nurtured so many brothers and sisters who also found God's Love and Mercy at the Jesus House.