Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The Jesus House had retreats.
The most well-known was Conglomerate.
It was also the longest annual retreat.
The less well-known retreat was Recharge, a small winter retreat we hosted January of 1982 & 1983.
Recharge #1 was held at Wildwood, a Presbyterian camp East of Cincinnati with a great winter lodge.
The first year, Alan Sipple and I were speakers with worship music led by Jim Wilson & Alan Willoughby.
Workshops (The Jesus House always had lots of workshops at retreats) were led by Jim Wilson (Jesus on the Job), Nancy Lattimer (Attitudes Toward Handicapped), Rick Mapes (Attitudes Toward Divorce) and John Jaffe (Friendship). The cost was $14.00!

The following year we moved the retreat to Camp Birch in Yellowsprings, Ohio. We probably did this so we could go to Young's Dairy late at night and drink milk shakes. I spoke with music once again presented by Jim Wilson & Alan Willoughby. The workshop leaders were; Jim Wilson (Life Under the Son), Rick Mapes (Anger) and John Jaffe (The Lord's Prayer). I believe this was the year Rod Ellis created an incredible chicken stew for lunch.

Both of the Recharge retreats started on Friday evening and concluded on Saturday afternoon in time to return to the Jesus House for an evening concert from the Willoughby-Wilson Band.
These were small retreats with 20 or so people in attendance.

Conglomerate was different.
Larger retreat.
Larger scale.
Conglomerate was the brainchild of Grant Edwards and me. We cooked up the idea one afternoon in the library at CBS/CBC/CCU. It was a combined effort of Grant's Springfield ministry, The One Way House, and the Jesus House. Each year we had 100+ people in attendance. The eleven Conglomerate retreats were held in three locations; Camp Evergreen (a YMCA camp outside Piqua, Ohio, not far from my current office) Camp Wilson (another YMCA camp a little further north) and Camp Birch (conveniently located near Young's Dairy outside Yellowsprings, Ohio) The retreats featured a primary speaker, special musical guest and lots and lots of workshops. We also had quiet times; an essential part of Conglomerate where many people first learned how to experience personal devotions. Below you can read the list of speakers, musicians and workshop leaders.
The name, Conglomerate, was the creation of Christopher Adams! Yes, the adamsfishyodor guy. For the first year, he dubbed it, Conglomerate: A Weekend to God Your Head Together. The One Way House did not use the Conglomerate name the first year, but soon caught on to the beauty and essentialness of the name.

The first year, the cost of the weekend, which included five meals was $10.00. By the eleventh year the cost was a whopping $30.00!

Naturally there are lots of Conglomerate stories that could be told, and I would love to hear some of yours, but one of my favorites concerns something that occurred at the second Conglomerate. Dr. Foster related this story from his perspective during his talk at the third Jesus House Reunion.

Our custom was to baptize people on Sunday after our morning worship and before heading home. A girl named Bev wanted to be baptized on Saturday just before dinner. The day had been rainy and though the rain stopped as we gathered by the lake to see Bev baptized the sky was still covered with clouds. She and Mark Elliott, from the One Way House, walked down into the water, which was drab and dark because of a lack of sunlight. Mark lowered her into the water and just before he raised her up, the sun came through the clouds causing the lake to shimmer like it was coated with silver. Mark lifted Bev from the lake and the water ran off her like liquid silver. It remains the most beautiful baptism I have ever witnessed. I stood speechless staring at the water and Dr. Foster walked by me. I looked at him and he said, with tender emotion in his voice, "Doesn't it just make you miss God?"

(Historical note: Mark and Bev eventually married.)

A Year by Year Listing of Conglomerate
#1 - A Weekend to God Your Head Together
August 15-17, 1973, Camp Evergreen
Speaker: Gary Boys
Musical Guest: Grant Hammond
Workshops: Virgil Warren: Faith; Grayson Ensign: Second Coming of Jesus; Steve Seevers: Take Up Your Cross
Quiet Times created by Kent Odor featuring black rocks
Attendance: 120

#2 - A Time to Renew
August 16-18, 1974, Camp Evergreen
Speaker: Dr. Louis Foster
Musical Guest: Rising Hope
Workshops: Lewis Foster: Translating the Bible; Tom Friskney: I & II Thessalonians; Mikal Keefer: Communion
Quiet Time created by Grant Edwards featuring The Narrow Path to Life
Attendance: 135

#3 - See & Do
August 17-19, 1975, Camp Evergreen
Speaker: Bruce Montgomery (Campus Minister at Bowling Green University(ACT). Got lots of concert gigs from Bruce!)
Musical Guest: John Gould
Workshops: Bruce Montgomery; Worship & Ministry; MIkal Keefer: Confrontation; Lewis Foster: Hell (I wanted to title it "Dr. Foster Gives You Hell" but Grant nixed the idea.)
Attendance: 121

#4 - Open the Door . . . Wider
August 20-22, 1976, Camp Evergreen
Speaker: Doug Dickey (Campus Minister at Purdue University.
Musical Guest: Rick Roberts (Jon Owens from the One Way House, an African American guy led some worship. Rick Roberts is caucasian, with a gutsy voice. When Doug started speaking in one session he said, "I don't understand, the black guy sounds like a white guy and the white guy sounds like a black guy!)
Workshops: Doug Dickey: Personal Devotions; Lewis Foster: Philemon; Mikal Keefer; Possessions; Rick Roberts: World Hunger/missions.

#5 - Passing Through Trials
August 15-17, 1977, Camp Evergreen for the last time. (The director changed and the new guy didn't want us!)
Speaker: Tom Smith (Campus Minister at University of Cincinnati soon to be founding Senior Pastor at Fellowship Christian Church)
Musical Guest: Judson & Sharon
Workshops: Tom Smith: Pain; John Elliot: Praise; Mikal Keefer: Peer Pressure (Was he there every year? Almost. And we were glad!)
Attendance: 120

#6 - Dead to Self, Risen with Christ
August 18-20, 1978, First year at Camp Wilson
Speaker: Willy Walls (Campus Minister at Ball State. What is it with all these campus ministers? They were available, plus they really wanted to come knowing they would be speaking to mostly high school and college students.)
Musical Guest: Randy Matthews (Yes, Jesus House founder as well as one of the founders of contemporary Christian music)
Workshops: No record of the topics but he leaders were: Willy Walls, Lewis Foster, Mikal Keefer and Randy Matthews presented one on music.
Attendance: 110

#7 - One Day At A Time
August 17-19, 1979, Camp Wilson
Speaker: Lewis Foster
Musical Guest: Albrecht, Roley & Moore (All our musicians were great but for some reason these guys really stand out for me. They were absolutely fabulous!)
Workshops: Lewis Foster: Heaven; Mikal Keefer: Loneliness Within and Without Marriage; Tom Smith: Discovering Discipleship Through Evangelism
The Year of the Conglomerate Holy Hug!
Attendance: 100

#8 - And Does Not Change
August 15-17, 1980, Camp Wilson
Speaker: No record of who it was. Anyone remember?
Musical Guest: Chalice
Workshop Leaders: Mark Pruden: Romans 12:1-2; Tom Smith: II Timothy 2:2; Mikal Keefer & Kathy Sprinkle: Acts 2:42-47; Lewis Foster II Corinthians 9:8 (What's with all these Bible references? Were there no worship titles? No, we decided to try something different. Did it work? I think so, but it was the only time we did it.)
Attendance 105

#9 - Accepting Others, Accepting Yourself
August, 14-16 1981, Camp Wilson, the last year. Before the following year the dining hall burned down!)
Speaker: Don Finto (Absolutely incredible!)
Musical Guest: Gary Chapman (A few months before he won a Dove Award!)
Workshops: Don Finto: Worship; Mark Pruden: Singleness, Dating & other Difficulties; Adam & Eve Applebee: Marriage, Communication and Sex (Me thinks the clientele at Conglomerate was getting a little older...) Steve Schertzinger: Fellowship; Issac Sponfabre: Abraham, Yesterday & Today
Attendance: 150

#10 - Losing Your Foundation
August, 13-15 1982, Camp Birch (Bring on Young's Dairy!)
Speaker: Grant Edwards, Terry Fisher & Brown Bannister
Musical Guest: Brown Bannister
Workshops: Tom & Deb Smith: Parenting (Now I know the clientele has gotten older!); John Jaffee: Friendship; Brown Bannister: Experiencing Worship
Attendance: 100

#11 - Growing Up
August 19-21, 1983
Speaker: Don Finto (He was so good we had to bring him back.)
Musical Guest: Mike Hudson
Workshops: Mike Hudson: Anxiety; Terry Fisher: Vulnerability; Grant Edwards: Meditation; Michael Goldberg: Creativity; Don Finto: Maturity

The following couple of years, The One Way House, which by then was turning into or had turned into House Christian Fellowship and eventually re-named Fellowship Christian Church had a retreat they called Conglomerate but the Jesus House did not participate. In 1985 they had me speak at Conglomerate on Singleness & Singles Ministry. That was shortly before I was married.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the Fourth Weekend of February

1972 - Kent Odor, Alan Rarley
1973 - Florida Beach Team (A group of CBS/CBC/CCU students who went to Florida for Spring Break and told people about Jesus instead of drinking and getting into trouble. Of course, Kent Odor went with them so my guess is they got into a little trouble!)
1974 - John Gould
1975 - Sherry & Sharon (Sherry's daughter is getting married this weekend, meaning February 28, 2009!)
1976 - K-Players
1977 - One Lane Road
1978 - Marc O'Hara
1979 - Cathy Snyder
1980 - Windfall
1981 - Willoughby-Wilson Band
1982 - Cynthia Shallot, The Paul Stookey Film
1983 - Harriet Lewis

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The Jesus House was one of the cheapest of ministries to finance.
For fourteen years, we needed approximately $100.00 a week to pay the mortgage, keep the lights burning and finance other assorted needs. Originally, the Director received a salary of $50.00 a week. When Rick became the Director he decided he really didn't need the money so we discontinued the salary/stipend. Occasionally we collected an offering for one of the musicians or bands but we usually limited that to once a month. Most of the artists refused to allow us to even consider giving them money. Some of you will remember that the last couple of years we charged a $2.00 admission fee. We resorted to this to help increase revenue.

The bills were always paid. Sometimes just barely paid, but . . .

As I reflect on the $5,000.00 annual budget, it amazes me when I remember how difficult it was sometimes to raise. There were many weeks when I am convinced that most of the money came from the staff. All of you former staffers who are reading this are probably embarrassed that I would mention that. I do it, not to make any of us look like martyrs, but to highlight how completely sold we were on the importance of the Jesus House. During fourteen years, nearly every week I heard from someone thanking me for the ministry. Lives were changed. People encountered the reality of the Creator of the Universe. In addition, many musicians, writers and actors found a place to express faith through the use of the arts.

For all of you who put your dollar or dollars or quarters in the box week after week, thank you. Those contributions, small or large, helped provide an important ministry.

As you think about your current church I hope you will channel your passion into that place. When you contribute money to your church, you are worshiping God and providing a place where people encounter the Creator of the Universe.
Bless you for that.

This Week in History Artists Who Performed the Third Weekend of February
1972 - Mark O'Hara, Rich Davis
1973 - Kevin & Doug
1974 - Sharon Wilson & Sherry Fayard
1975 - Steven Alexanderson
1976 - Tony, Sharon, & Anita
1977 - People from Georgetown
1978 - DeeDee Hoffman
1979 - The calendar is blank. I played in Oxford at Miami University that night.
1980 - Rick Fields - The last and maybe the only time he played as a solo artist.
1981 - James Issac Elliott
1982 - Bill Williams, the Wild Man!
1983 - Cathy Snyder

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Secular Music at the Jesus House

I know, I promised an entry about our retreats. That one is on the way, but I decided to include this one first. One of the purposes of the House was to provide a place for Christian musicians to play Christian music. Much of it was evangelistic in nature and most of the music was original. In the early days, there were people who performed secular songs but changed the lyrics to reflect a Christian message. (He's a bridge over troubled waters...) Randy Matthews, who founded the House, really hated that so we urged artists to discontinue the practice. Only once do I remember someone doing it and making it really fun. A student from Miami University in Oxford changed the lyrics to a Beatle song and we were treated to "He loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah." It was so absurd it was fun.

Over the years, though, there were secular songs included in various artist's sets. Some were songs with solid Christian messages already in the lyrics, some had borderline spiritual messages and some had no spiritual content but were fun anyway.

The secular song performed by the most artists was Mighty Clouds of Joy. It was originally recorded by B.J. Thomas in 1971, post-Raindrops but pre-Christian, pre-Country hit making days. Mike Wilshire was the first to sing it at the Jesus House in fall of 1971. After Mike, Marc O'Hara performed it, then Terry Fisher, then Deny Brigance in, I believe, the Stephens-Brigance days.

The song most surprising for the fewest performances was Jesus is Just Alright With Me. Originally recorded by The Birds then covered by The Doobie Brothers, it seemed like a natural song for JH performers, and is one of my favorites but, alas, unless my memory is faulty, it was performed only once by a band featuring Bruce Kercher while he was still a college student.

A song I always expected but never heard was Presence of the Lord by Eric Clapton from Blind Faith. Clapton was represented once though by two guys from College Hill Presbyterian Church, a drummer & bass player and performed a really long, really loud instrumental version of Sunshine of Your Love. I think they justified it by saying they spelled sunshine with an "o" instead of the "u."

During the first year of operation, James Taylor music was big with You've Got a Friend and Fire & Rain. Also that first year, quite a few people sang He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (and always told the story involving the priest and the two orphans) and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. One of the big worship songs that first year was a rewritten version of the 1958 Phil Specter tune, "To Know Him is to Love Him." Of course we know who the "him" was for us! And yes, we seriously sang it as a worship song. Stop looking at me that way. Please wipe that smurk off your face. All we had otherwise was Kum By Yah.

As the years progressed we saw other Paul Simon compositions added. Besides Bridge Over Troubled Waters we heard Loves Me Like a Rock and some song about cereal(?).

The Eagles showed up occasionally with Desperado and once with a re-written version of Already Gone.

It was a memorable night when a group from Georgetown College sang re-worked Bee Gee songs. Pre-disco Bee Gees, like To Love Somebody and Got to Get a Message to You.

The Paul & Dave Band used to perform, "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long" by Chicago and something by the Beatles but the title is escaping me right now. I'll remember it later and edit this section. The Beatles were also represented the night John Gould sang, "Here Comes the Sun."

As far as songs with absolutely no spiritual content, Stephens-Brigance sang Rock & Roll Music and I sang Up On the Roof, Midnight Hour & Mustang Sally!

Finally, let me say that no one ever sang a Beach Boys song...

If I've left out songs, let me know and I'll add them!

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the Second Weekend of February
1972 - Grant & Jane Ann Hammond
1973 - John Gould
1974 - Lisa Gosnell & Dave Keith (this was a French Lick Weekend!)
1975 - Marc O'Hara, Mark Elliott from the One Way House in Springfield speaking. (The staff was gone on another French Lick Weekend!)
1976 - Scruggs (one set) Ross Johnson (one set)
1977 - Not sure, no one is listed. It was another French Lick Weekend.
1978 - Kent & Randy
1979 - Hymn (Yet another French Lick Weekend)
1980 - Godshadows
1981 - Brent Eresman
1982 - Geoff Thurman
1983 - Forerunner

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Reunion

Hope you liked the photos I included a few days ago. I will be glad to include any additional photos. Email them to tfishh@gmail.com

The reunion seems to be taking on good energy. Nearly every week I hear from someone from the past. Many of these contacts are made on Facebook. If you are not yet on Facebook, I urge you to join. You will find many JH people, FCC people and House of the Carpenter people. In some cases, you'll find people who experienced all three. Lots of photos floating around, some embarrassing, some not so embarrassing. There is also a Prodigal group on Facebook that you can join to see photos.

The Jesus House Recording Project is coming along. The goal is to have that completed and ready by the reunion. You will hear some great songs, all of which were performed at the Jesus House at some point during the 14 years.

Remember to mark your calendars for May 2, 2009. Tentatively we are planning to have live music 2:00 - 11:00 pm. Those times could change as we have a clearer picture of all the participating artists. The Reunion will be at Highview Christian Church 2651 Adams Road in Mt. Healthy. The building is not far from the Jesus House.

Later in the week, I will resume the historical narrative of the Jesus House with an entry about our retreats, both Conglomerate and Recharge! but till then...

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the First Weekend of February.

1972 - Doug Adams (I believe he was a musician from College Hill Presbyterian Church)
1973 - Jan Bean & Christian Runion (Christian was pictured in one of the previous photos.)
1974 - Not sure, it might have been adamsfishyodor. The space is blank but afo played in Hartford City, Indiana the night before so we might have traveled back and played the house. I know there were 113 people in attendance.
1975 - Bob Clark & Tony Ross (A couple of skinny guys with great songs!)
1976 - John Gould
1977 - Creation INC
1978 - Cindy Price
1979 - One Lane Road
1980 - Rick, Tom & Hodgy
1981 - Geoff Thurman
1982 - Rick & Hodgy (What happened to Tom?)
1983 - Geoff Thurman

Things I Said:Quotes from Terry Fisher's Jesus House talks.
In order for a person to become a Christian, at least three opinions need to change:
The Bible has to become more than just a good book
Jesus has to become more than just a good man
God has to become more than just a good idea.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Murals!

Thanks to Christopher Adams and Rick Mapes for the following photos.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


So there I was, walking through the administration building at Cincinnati Bible College (formerly Cincinnati Bible Seminary, now Cincinnati Christian University... the school has changed it's name more often than a guy in a witness protection program who can't stay away from his girlfriend...) as I was saying, before I got lost, I was walking through the administration building for a reason that has been lost to the hazy daze of college life when I recognized the sound of a voice as it floated out of an office door. I looked through the office door and spied Richard Allen Mapes sitting in the office of someone official. I assumed, since he was someone who attended the Jesus House, that he must be in trouble! So I listened. I spied. Thinking I might need to come to his aid, I moved back into the shadows so no one could see me and waited for the outcome of Rick's trouble. I was wrong. Rick was not in trouble. Yes, this is in contrast to the experience most of the Jesus House staff had when sitting in an office in the administration building. In fact, Rick was talking about enrolling in school full-time. He had been auditing classes but decided to enroll and actually receive a degree! Eureka! The answer to all our problems!!

A little back story. In those days, the person who was the Director of the Jesus House was supposed to be married. I agree with your thoughts, kind of an archaic way of doing things. Yes, that means Jesus would never have been able to be the Director. Yes, Paul would never have been able to be the Director. Yes, the Pope would never have been able to be the Director . . . okay, enough examples. It was a rule, one of the few we had. The other rules were, no smoking in the Jesus House, no consuming alcoholic beverages in the Jesus House and no painting any walls black. (Deny, I think at one time or another you broke all three of those rules!) So why, you ask, was I (Terry Fisher) allowed to be the Interim Director? I guess the rule did not apply to Interim Directors. End of back story.

I went home excited. If Rick Mapes was going to be in school full-time and since he was married, he could become the Director. (I just reminded myself of another rule. To be on staff, you had to be enrolled at Cincinnati Bible College or one of it's other names, full-time. This rule was relaxed for me when I graduated.)
Upon arriving home I told Kent about my discovery. He was excited.
I contacted the Elders at Highview Christian Church and shared my discovery. (They were our overseers. That's three syllables not two) They were excited and gave me the authority to approach Rick with an offer of employment.
Offer extended and . . . after much discussion, prayer, and conversations with others, Rick accepted. He, Jenny & Christy moved into the Jesus House and changed us in many very good ways. For one thing, there was a child in the house. She was the cutest 2-year-old who ever lived until I had my own children. I am not going to include stories about Christy out of respect for her grown up self except to say that she became my buddy, was a wonderful companion every day when I returned from work or school and she prepared me for being a father and enjoying my children.

Rick did not have the experience with ministry that Stan had, but at that point in the development of the House, it was not important. One of the strengths Rick brought, though, was great organizational skills and a willingness to learn how to run the ministry. He had been attending the House since our first summer of operation, so he knew the ministry from that angle. Now we were teaching him about it from the other side. Because Rick is so smart (more on that later) he was a quick student. This was very important for many reasons, one being that Kent Odor was about to get married and move out. Yes, adams was gone, odor was about to leave, and fishy needed another friend and co-worker. Rick became that and more. Compatibility was important among the staff. We needed to like the same kinds of music, food, and adventure. There was instant compatibility with Rick, Jenny & Christy. During their time on staff, we had our first Jesus House birth when their son, Micah was born.

Besides Rick's strengths, we soon saw that Jenny was going to bring a new set of gifts in her creativity. She found so many ways to express creativity and had lots of drive. Jenny is the reason the entire downstairs was repainted. She moved us from the bold, psychedelic days of the early 70's into the more subtle earth tones of the late 70's. We lost all the murals of our early days (if anyone has photos, please scan and email them to me: tfishh@gmail.com) but moved into a new visual era. Her contributions were inspirational and exciting. She even understood that it might be a good idea if someone organized our Thanksgiving Feast to make sure not everyone was going to bring green beans!

I could write lots about Rick and his family but want to end this blog with one example of Rick's abilities. During those years, he worked full-time at a second shift job, attended school full-time, was a husband and father and helped run the house. Rick graduated a year after I did. A week before his graduation, he brought home his cap and gown. As we checked it out, he pulled out a golden rope and asked what it was for. I informed him, it meant he was graduating with honors. He wondered what he was to do with it. I responded, "I assume you drape it around your neck, but I'm not completely sure." Then he asked the question that I knew was coming. "Well, what did you do with yours." My honest response needed to be, "I didn't have one." Ever the inquisitive person, Rick persisted, "Why not." "Well, you see, Rick, I didn't graduate with honors." He didn't ask anymore questions...

This Week in History(Actually last week) Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the Fourth Week of January

1972 - Mark O'Hara
1973 - Mike Wilshire
1974 - Monk
1975 - Bozo Brothers
1976 - Terry Fisher, Sharon & Dan, Sandy
1977 - Rick Marksberry
1978 - Dave Shubert
1979 - Closed due to weather. Peter Leighton highlighted us on the Q-102 weather closings. Called us the most important closing announcement. The only person who showed up was John Jaffe, who thought the roads were fine.
1980 - Andy & Alice Danzl, Rick & Diane Marksberry
1981 - Larry Bubb
1982 - Lois Snider
1983 - Lighthouse

Fifth Saturdays Yes, January is another of those months with an occasional Fifth Saturday.

1972 - Rick Carter
1976 - A huge round up of people including, Tony Ross, Andy Danzl, Rick, Hodgy & Tom (eventually known as Manna) and Terry Fisher
1977 - Prodigal
1981 - Scott Roley
1982 - Willoughby-Wilson Band (Recharge Weekend, more on this later)
1983 - Willoughby-Wilson Band (Recharge Weekend Too)

Things I Said Quotes from Terry Fisher's Jesus House Talks

If a sin takes more than 15 minutes to commit, does it count as two?