Ovid, Indiana (near Anderson)


My “Summer Church” During College, 1980 & 1981

After my freshman year in college, the summer of 1979 I went back home to Springfield.  Though I had a fun job DJing at the local skating rink that summer, otherwise I did not enjoy going back home.  I couldn't find a church I liked, as I described on the page First Assembly of God.  Also, about the time I got adjusted to being back in Springfield, it was time to go back to school, and it took me awhile to get adjusted to being back there again.  So in the summer of 1980, I decided to stay in Anderson.

At this time, during the school year, I was going to God's Freewill Tabernacle in Gaston.  However, the friends I had who would drive me there were not around in the summer, so I would have to find a different church.  I cannot recall at all how I ended up going to Ovid Community Church.  This church was located in a town south of Anderson, and like God's Freewill Tabernacle, I could only get there by getting a ride from someone.  And there was no one at Ovid Church who went to Anderson, so I have no idea how I ended up there.  But anyway, I liked it a lot; as you can see, I went back there again the second summer.

What The Church Was Like

Ovid Community Church was a mid-sized church, probably about 300 or 400 people, in a newer and nice-looking building.  The sanctuary was traditional, with pews, but they were padded pews, so it was comfortable.  (We Americans like our comfort!) During this time period, I was attending a charismatic church during the school year.  This church was not a charismatic church, but rather a mainstream evangelical church, but unaffiliated with any denomination.  As I recall now 30 years later, it was remarkably similar to the Church of God, the main denomination in Anderson.  I don't recall at all what kind of music they sang.  I do remember liking the pastor's sermons.

The Most Influential Sermon There

There is one sermon I remember in particular.  The main theme of this sermon was: "Slain in the spirit...but which spirit?"  The sermon was criticizing the practice of being slain in the spirit, both from a Biblical perspective (it's not in the Bible) and from example stories.  I don't remember any details of the sermon, but it heavily shaped my views on being slain in the spirit.  In fact, when I attended Vineyard 20 years later and encountered some of this practice, I had trouble accepting it, specifically because of that one sermon.  I had to work out my feelings about it with my Vineyard pastor.

I still remember one of the examples the Ovid pastor the brought up because at that time I also saw verification of his example.  He said that he found that people who regularly practice being slain in the spirit tend to become depressed.  There was an acquaintance of mine at Anderson College who was always talking about how great his experiences of being slain in the spirit were, but as time went on, I saw him getting more and more depressed.  And if I remember correctly, he also began to have nightmares.  This experience of his cemented the view in me that being slain in the spirit is not something to seek out.

The Most Influential Statement While There

In the summer of 1980, I had a wonderful group of friends at Ovid.  I helped make them my friends by having a party at my house early in the summer, but of course it had to be more than just that; it was a group that was just right for me--young adults who liked to have a fun and crazy time, but were also serious about following Jesus.

Here are a couple things I remember directly from church with this bunch.  Our young adult leader, who was named Rick, came from the Church of God, and introduced the ceremony of footwashing to these guys.  I was excited about this, because this tradition, regularly observed in the Church of God on Maundy Thursday, is rarely practiced in other denominations, yet it's something I think is valuable.  For most of the people in this group, it was their first time to experience footwashing, but as I recall, they liked it too.

Another thing I remember is a girl in the group, probably the most on-fire for Jesus of anyone there, who was active in Campus Crusade, or wanted to be and went to Inter-Varsity, or something of that nature.  Anyway, I remember her having problems with some group--I think it was Campus Crusade, who tried to tell her she wasn't a Christian simply because she could not pinpoint a day when she had "accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior."  I was dumbfounded.  How could they say this about her?  She was one of the most on-fire persons for Jesus that I knew, full of his joy and in love with him.

That one statement was hugely influential to me.  While I had grown up in a church that likewise said you must have a conversion date you can point to, seeing in real life a person who never made such a specific decision but who just, as she said, grew into her relationship with Jesus, changed my views on the doctrine I was raised on.  It made me realize that we try to put God and people in a box when we say there's only one way you can be considered a Christian.  I understand where this doctrine came from--for so long, there were many who called themselves Christian who did so merely because they were a member of some church (even though they may have rarely gone), or because, "Well, I'm not Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or I guess I'm a Christian."  Insisting that people recall a date when they were "born again" was an attempt to combat this mistaken idea of what it means to be a Christian.  But unfortunately, it morphed into becoming a religious requirement, and the stress here is on the word religious, because God is not restrained by the box that religion makes.  God works in different ways with different people.

So from my experience at Ovid, I got two strong influences in the development of my theology: a negative view of being slain in the spirit, and a rejection of the idea that you can't be a Christian unless you can point to a specific conversion experience.

The Summer of 1981

I was in Anderson in the summer of 1981 also, this time taking classes.  I remember getting permission to do a survey before church for one of my classes, a social psychology class.  It was a dogma scale.  I was intrigued to learn that the most dogmatic age group was teenagers; the oldest age bracket was the second most dogmatic.

Anyway, the second summer, nearly all my friends from the first summer had moved elsewhere, and there was hardly anyone my age.  So that summer I hung out with the high school kids.  (I also had a party for them...oh, what a difference.  Instead of a dozen people, there were scores of them, and they wrecked my apartment.)  I was never really able to connect with them, though; I was turning 21 by this time, and the immaturity of the 15 and 16 year olds was a bit too much for me at times.  I don't have any specific memories of things at church in 1981, but as I recall, I was satisfied with church itself; it was just frustrating that I couldn't find people that I could really relate to, as I had the summer before.

A couple last things about Ovid, completely irrelevant to the church itself.  I most often went there with a hippie kind of guy who took me there on his motorcycle.  I'll never forget one day when he was angry about something, and he was going on those hilly Indiana back roads at 70 mph on a motorcycle.  I was afraid I was going to die.  Afterward, he apologized to me.

Toward the end of the summer of 1981, I decided to try to ride my bicycle there.  I had a large Schwinn bicycle (26" frame, 27" wheels), so it was a good bike for going fast.  It took me about a half hour to 45 minutes to get down there.  But coming back, it took me 2 hours I think.  I was completely exhausted, but I had no idea why.  About a month later, I discovered I had mono.  So that's why!  I knew something was weird because I'd often ridden my bike far distances and was fine.


Ovid Community Church was a good experience for me, especially the first summer.  I had a strong and positive church experience, and a couple things that were highly influential to me with a lifelong effect.

(I wrote and posted this on February 13, 2011.)

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IMPORTANT NOTE: As with all churches in this section, please remember the following points:

1.All descriptions of the churches reflect my own observations and interpretations at the time I attended; these descriptions are not intended to be objective. The main purpose of these writings is to reflect on the effect churches had on my spiritual journey, thus the focus is my experiences at the churches and not an objective reporting of the churches themselves.

2.Keep in mind that churches, like any organizations, change over time. The descriptions I list describe the churches at the time I attended, but the church could have changed immensely since that time, for better or for worse. These writings are not for the purpose of helping one decide whether the church is one they should or should not choose; the church may be completely different by now.

3.Any criticisms put forth in any of my writings on the churches are not meant to be objective criticisms to be answered by the church, but rather, they are merely my opinions of the church at the time I attended there, and how those experiences and my opinions of them shaped my spiritual journey.