12 Churches I've Called Home

It is such a blessing and privilege for me to worship in, grow in, serve in, and pastor Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. I say it often, and I mean it, that for all the wonderful people I've worked with over the years, Cobblestone is the finest group of God's servants I've ever known.

But it has been my honor and joy to belong to 12 churches over my lifetime. And, while my plan is for Cobblestone to be the last church I ever belong to, the church that will bury me (take it any way you wish!), it is worthwhile to reflect back and honor all the churches that have had standards low enough to accept me as member (and sometimes pastor):

The Salvation Army Citadel, at 114 E. 8th Street in downtown Cincinnati, was the first church I ever knew, from my family's arrival in Cincinnati when (I think) I was just months old until the Spring of 1967. It was also my mom's workplace during that time, as the home of the SW Ohio and NE Kentucky divisional headquarters, where she worked in the finance department. The upper floors also provided emergency housing at various times in its history. It was probably on the second floor of this building, in children's church led by Mrs. Reed, where I first knelt and prayed for salvation.

The Salvation Army Cincinnati Citadel at 112 E. Central Parkway. In April 1967, my family's home church moved almost exactly four blocks north to this location at 112 E. Central Parkway in Cincinnati, a location which (like its predecessor) was both the home of the Citadel Corps (church) AND the divisional headquarters. We were found here for Sunday School and Holiness Meeting (Sunday mornings), often breakfast for street people, Salvation Meeting on Sunday nights (sometimes street meetings in Over-the-Rhine), Band and Songster (choir) practice on Wednesday nights, I think, as well as many other times as well. I got into plenty of trouble with the encouragement of friends like Chip Nance, Glenn Bunton, Jere Schramm, Debbie Bearchell, Cathy Kirby, Bob Bender, Doug Burr, and others. We worshiped here as a family from 1967 until June 1971....and then again (though just me and my father by that time) from January 1973 through 1974, I think.

The Salvation Army Carondelet (now Gateway Citadel) Corps. From the summer of 1971 through December 1972, this was our church, where I most often attended in the company of my Aunt Shirley, Uncle Walt, and cousins Ed and Lynne. The most vivid memory of that time was my involvement in a singing group called the Metro-Aires, and my role as "Murph" in the production of a musical called Natural High (it was the breakthrough I needed to finally talk my mom into letting me grow long hair!). For most of our St. Louis sojourn, however, my mom was battling cancer, and she was finally promoted to Glory in September 1972. Just a few months later, my father and I moved back to Cincinnati.

The Salvation Army Cumminsville Corps, 3917 Spring Grove Ave., Cincinnati. Sometime after returning from my second summer working at Camp Swoneky (1974), I transferred my soldiership from the Cincinnati Citadel to the Cincinnati Cumminsville Corps. Not for spiritual reasons, or any sense of God's leading--only because that was where the lovely Robin (whom I had been dating since mid-June of that year) worshiped and served. Never regretted it. This corps (which since about 1980 has been the Northside Health Center) was my church home until Robin and I were married and left for Findlay College (now University) in 1977.

The Salvation Army, 301 Center St., Findlay, Ohio.While I was attending Findlay College (now University) in Findlay, Ohio, the lovely Robin and I rented a drafty old house directly behind this corps building, where my brother and sister-in-law Don and Arvilla were corps officers. We expected to enter the Salvation Army's School for Officers' Training in the Fall of 1978--which we did--so we knew it would be a short sojourn in Findlay. Still, it was wonderful sitting under Don and Arvilla's ministry, getting to know our three nephews and niece a lot better, and worshiping with Chuck and Cindy, Bertha, Fred and Opal, and many others.

The Salvation Army School for Officers' Training, Suffern, New York.Though strictly speaking, it wasn't our church but our school, we did enjoy many lofty times of worship in the chapel here at SFOT during our training period (1978-1980), as well as on field training and on campaigns in Dover (NJ), Patterson (NJ), Spring Valley (NY), Manhattan, Providence (RI), Newport (RI), Portland (ME), Albany (NY), and White Plains (NY), among others.

The Salvation Army, 228 W. Hubert Ave., Lancaster, Ohio. The lovely Robin and I were ordained in 1980 and commissioned as lieutenants to our first Salvation Army church in Lancaster, Ohio, where we served and worshiped from 1980-1983, and fell in love with so many wonderful people: Marguerite, Charles and Mary, Bob and Gertrude, Georgetta, Debbie, Diana, Candy, Michael, Stefanie, and oh so many others.

The Salvation Army, Cincinnati Temple (now Center Hill) Corps, 6381 Center Hill Ave., in Finneytown. In July, 1983, the lovely Robin and I (now with our two children, Aubrey and Aaron, who were born in Lancaster), reported to a new assignment in Cincinnati--the new location of what HAD been the Cumminsville Corps (our home church of just a few years earlier). We pastored here from 1983-1987, and were blessed by innumerable relationships, too many to mention (but you know who you are).

The Salvation Army Montclair (NJ) Citadel, 13 Trinity Place, Montclair, NJ. When Robin and I were transferred by The Salvation Army to National Headquarters (then in Verona, New Jersey) in 1987, for the first time in our married lives we had the opportunity to choose which of many fine Salvation Army churches in the area to make our church home. We landed at Montclair, where we enjoyed fine fellowship and outstanding worship and preaching from 1987-1991 (though it didn't look like this back then, as they've recently dedicated a beautiful new corps building).

The Salvation Army Youngstown Citadel, 1501 Glenwood Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio.The lovely Robin and I arrived in Youngstown in August 1991, and immediately jumped into one of the most intense and rewarding ministry times of our lives (though it nearly killed us!). Our short ministry in Youngstown (which ended in July 1992, when we moved to the area where we now live) knitted our hearts with lifetime friends like the McGuire family and Janice Sanguinetti and Mrs. Knickerbocker and many others, for whom we can never thank God enough.

Oxford Bible Fellowship, 800 S. Maple St., Oxford, Ohio. From late 1992 into the early months of 2000, we were privileged to worship and serve in a great church on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. We owe much spiritual growth and many lasting friendships to our 7+ years as members of OBF.

Cobblestone Community Church, now worshipping at The Loft, 4191 Kehr Road, Oxford, Ohio. On September 10, 2000, in the auditeria of Talawanda High School in Oxford, we began meeting for worship with friends who were excited about launching a new kind of church in the area. On April 8, 2001, Cobblestone Community Church was officially and publicly launched with 217 worshipers in attendance. Four weeks later (May 6), the Sunday celebrations were moved to Talawanda Middle School, where they remained until The Loft opened, at 4191 Kehr Road, on November 16, 2008. As I said above, Cobblestone is the church I hope to die in (and there might be some who are anxious to hasten that day!). From my perspective, it is a body of people worth dying with, and dying for. Praise God.

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