Chapter 10: It's Only Right

One Way Inn, Jesus Christ Powerhouse, The Fire Escape, and The Belly of the Whale are just a small sampling of the descriptive names given to Christian coffeehouses in the Jesus-movement years and after. Sometimes the coffeehouses were small and quaint. But usually they were no more than rented-out storefronts. The interior decoration was colorful Jesus posters or even wall murals; the floors were a patchwork of old carpet sample squares in a rainbow of colors. There were usually a coffeemaker and a Coke machine off to one side, and there was a good chance the sponsors of the coffeehouse would set up a small ''Jesus People'' bookstore, with contemporary Christian books and records, gospel tracts, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and miscellaneous items for sale or for handing out.

   Christian coffeehouses were spin-offs of the 1950s beatnik rendezvous in New York and elsewhere. Some served particular purposes, such as the coffeehouse founded by the Christian World Liberation Front in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in 1967. It provided a place of retreat for students and other youth during tumultuous times on Berkeley's campus.

   Further down the California coast in Hollywood, The Salt Company was started around 1968 by Don Williams, college pastor at Hollywood's First Presbyterian Church. The coffeehouse was especially noteworthy because it was supported by an ''establishment'' church; in those days such an affiliation was rare. The Salt Company was first located on the church premises, but about two years later it was moved to a more ideal location for witnessingacross from Hollywood High School. A music group, also named The Salt Company, was formed to minister at the coffeehouse and elsewhere.

   Also in Hollywood, Arthur Blessitt's His Place on Sunset Strip presented an alternative to the scores of topless clubs and bars which

Page 66

surrounded it. ''At His Place,'' Blessitt explains, ''we had some Jesus-music performed there, but we didn't promote that. His Place was called a 'gospel night club,' but really all we had was a piano, a stage, and people bringing their instruments and playing. We had free coffee and Kool-Aid, and we were open all night. You couldn't sleep there overnight, but you could get free food, clothes, music, and preaching at midnight.

   ''We did not feature rock music in His Place, because there were all of these other clubs, bamm, bamm, bamm down the Strip. We had crowds filling our building, lining the streets when there wasn't even any music. They wanted to come in for something that was casual, where some guy over here was just plunking at the piano or somebody over there strumming a guitar.''

   One of the musicians who performed at His Place was Charles McPheeters. Charles had been through an almost unbelievable life of drugs, the occult, ''and the whole general mess,'' he recalled later. His travels took him from California to Seattle in 1965, where he began to minister in a trio known as the Disciples Three. ''Even then,'' Charles remembered, ''our folk style drew opposition from many church people who seemed to like their traditional type music more than what we were doing.''

   Charles had gradually worked his way southward—through the Berkeley ''Filthy Speech Movement,'' as he called it, into Los Angeles to work with the Southern California Teen Challenge Center, where Andrae Crouch was directing a forty-voice addicts' choir. Charles changed his trio's name to the New Creatures (there was already a music group working with Andrae known as the Disciples), and moved to work with Arthur Blessitt at His Place.

   Arthur recalls an extraordinary night at the club which served to show the important role of the Christian coffeehouses and clubs. ''The sign on the front of our building said His Place,'' Arthur explained, ''and it looked like an older bar dive. Charles McPheeters and the New Creatures were playing. This guy came walking down the street and heard the music. He was bar hopping and popping pills and he saw His Place. So he walked in loaded and sat down on the floor. The guy looked up and saw Charles. He said, 'Brother!' It turns out that this guy was Charles' brother Jim, who had just come back from Viet Nam.

   ''Charles didn't even recognize his brother. Charles had been converted, but Jim hadn't.

   ''Jim had been through the same stuff Charles had been throughthe drug scene and all. He had joined the Marines, gone to Viet Nam, and come back. Charles didn't even know about his return to the United States!

Page 67

   ''Anyway, Jim came in and sat down. He listened to Charles, but he didn't even know he was a Christian. There he was just playing music! So when he finished Jim came up, and boy, they hugged!

   ''Later we both talked to Jim and shared with him the love of Jesus. He didn't receive the Lord that night at His Place, but the next morning he went to church with Charles, prayed, and gave his heart to Christ. Jim then started working with us, moved into our halfway house on weekends, and joined my staff.''

   Ultimately Jim McPheeters, O. J. Peterson, and a couple of other men formed a group called Eternal Rush, who performed at Blessitt's club and traveled with him on his famous cross-country, cross-carrying walks. His Place stayed open until 1972. ''Then,'' explains Arthur, ''we became a tourist attraction. The Jesus movement thing exploded and whammo! We were just inundated with tourists.''

   Charles McPheeters traveled extensively after leaving His Place. He went to New York with his wife Judy and for a while lived with people at what would later be called Love Inn. During the summer of 1969, Charles worked a stint as midday deejay on the CBN network of stations.

   By 1972 Charles migrated west again, but only as far as Denver, Colorado. There he became a youth pastor at Redeemer Temple and ultimately formed a youth ministry known as The Holy Ghost Repair Service, Inc. Working with Redeemer Temple as a missionary outreach of the church, this ministry rented a couple of storefronts and opened a coffeehouse/counseling center on East Colfax Avenue. Part of the Holy Ghost Repair Service's ministry was an underground newspaper, The End Times.

   Coffeehouses served Christian and non-Christian youth alike. While they were missions to the wandering street people, they were also gathering places for Christian young people who found them a pleasant alternative to other forms of entertainment and fellowship. If the leaders of coffeehouses handled the operation of such houses properly, the Christian youths, after visiting the down-and-out youths, the runaways, and the drug addicts sought solace in the coffeehouses. In many cases, the houses were the only mission work to which the Christian young people were exposed. Thus, they were places of Christian growth as well as rebirth.

   Hundreds of coffeehouses appeared and disappeared, the casualties often due to lack of financial or community support, lack of proper leadership, or a lack of vision. There are still some coffeehouses existent, frequently out of the mainstream of church activity,

Page 68

and often receiving very little attention from anyone outside the ministries themselves. Because the mission work to drug-hooked teens and runaways is not a glamorous job, the work goes on virtually underground.

   Numerous of these Christian coffeehouses around the nation provided places for the young Jesus musicians to perform. Not only were they extremely important conduits for the new tunes of the day, these houses also provided excellent training grounds for the musicians: The Avalon in Akron, Ohio, The Greater Life Coffeehouse in Dallas, The Salt Company in Detroit, and hundreds of others.

   Notable as a starting ground for several musicians was The Adam's Apple in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The coffeehouse, sponsored by Calvary Temple, actually began in a tent, and director John Lloyd recalls that his first concerts featured non-Christian rock bands in order to draw a large number of young people. But some of them didn't stay non-Christian for long. John's preaching and ministry reached the musicians, too, and several of them accepted Christ through the very ministry they had played for.

   The ''coffeehouse'' eventually moved inside a building, and the crowds filled it weekly. Soon The Adam's Apple was known throughout the Midwest for its concerts. A few of the best-known Jesus-music artists of the decade began their ministries at The Adam's Apple. Among them were Petra and Nancy Henigbaum.

   Nancy had sung in non-Christian coffeehouses several years before she came to Fort Wayne. ''My first coffeehouse job,'' she recalls, ''seemed like the pinnacle of success at the time. I started hanging around with older people and doing things I thought 'mature' people did: smoking, drinking, and doing dope. I thought I really knew what life was all about. But I must have made an amusing picturea teenage girl with braces on her teeth, singing 'I'm a mean, mean woman.' I was actually quite naive and fragile.''

   Nancy described her lifestyle as ''rejector of conventional societyin other words, freak.'' Her friends began to call her ''Honeytree'' when they found out it was a literal translation of her German name. She and her friends experimented with astrology, tarot cards, mind-expanding drugs, Eastern religions, utopian fantasies, current movements, and ''everything unusual.''

   It was this curiosity concerning the sciences and religion that drew her to investigate Calvary Temple in Fort Wayne while she was there visiting her sister. While at the church, she met John Lloyd, whom she heard had at one time been into drugs himself. The next day Honeytree visited with John, which resulted in her acceptance of Jesus as Saviour.

Page 69

   As a young Christian, Honeytree tried to ''live the life,'' but finally succumbed to drugs again. ''Then it seemed like the Lord picked me up by the scruff on the neck and landed me in Fort Wayne again,'' she remembers. ''By this time John and the other Christians had started a coffeehouse called The Adam's Apple. I found myself working in the midst of those friendly Christian freaks, happier than I had ever been before. That was when I realized that Jesus had not left me at all. He was just teaching me a lesson. I learned that joy comes from working for Jesus and being around other people who are working for Jesus too. After I learned that, I never got stoned again.

   ''John started dragging me everywhere to sing and give my testimony. Eventually, I ended up being John's secretary, working full-time for The Adam's Apple, and doing musical programs on weekends. God had always impressed on me that if it weren't for The Adam's Apple and the church that got the whole thing started, I would still be a confused Jesus freak, getting high to feel spiritually alive, instead of doing something fruitful with my life.''

   Honeytree began her recording career with Honeytree, recorded on a custom label, later picked up by Myrrh Records in 1973. Her excellent songwriting talents brought forth such as ''Clean Before My Lord,'' ''I Don't Have to Worry,'' and ''Heaven's Gonna Be a Blast.''

   As she sang in a song she composed, ''It's only right I should be singing because the Holy Spirit's bringing a little more joy, a little more love into my heart each day.''

   Calvary Temple in Fort Wayne and The Adam's Apple are good examples of the interaction that was possible between church and street ministries, and between churches and the Jesus musicians. Of course, Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa was another. Out of the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, came support for the ministries of John Fischer and Pam Mark (Hall). Both John and Pam were ''products'' of the Discovery Art Guild, encouraged by Peninsula Bible Church.

   In Nashville, the Belmont Church of Christ sponsored the Koinonia Coffeehouse. Across the street from the church, the coffeehouse provided a platform for top Jesus-music groups and artists such as Dogwood. Belmont proved to be the worship place for many musicians, including singer/writer Gary S. Paxton, who admits he ''sat outside the church, across the street, watching for several weeks to see what the people were like'' before he went in. Going to church was a brand new experience for Paxton. He had several million-

Page 70

selling records to his credit, but a destroyed life was all he had to show for it.

   In Van Nuys, California, a part of the Greater Los Angeles area, the Foursquare ''Church on the Way'' was yet another center of worship and spawning ground of young Christian talent. Pat Boone and his family, Jimmy Owens and his family (including daughter Jamie), and the WardsMatthew and Nellie, with their sister Annie and her husband Buck Herringall worshipped at the Church on the Way at various times throughout the years of the Jesus movement.

   Out of those three families alone came several albums of contemporary Christian music, including several musicals. The Boone family recorded for Word, the Lamb & Lion Records. Jimmy and Carol Owens wrote and recorded their musicals for Light Records; their daughter Jamie recorded her first album on Light in 1973, entitled Laughter in Your Soul. The 2nd Chapter of Acts (Annie, Nellie and Matthew) did backup vocals for many of these recordings before doing their first album, With Footnotes, in 1974.  

   Included on the 2nd Chapter's album was a short two-minute, twenty-second song entitled ''Easter Song.'' Written by Annie, the song almost immediately caught on as the ''Hallelujah Chorus'' of the Jesus movement generation.

Hear the bells ringing,

they're singing that we can

be born again.

   Within weeks the song was learned by thousands of people, and by the time the 2nd Chapter of Acts passed through a town on tour, nearly half the audience sang along.

Joy to the world!

He is risen!


   The jubilation of ''Easter Song'' pierced through the hardest hearts, and people rose to their feet whenever it was performed on stage.

   The 2nd Chapter of Acts, in addition to recording their own album, began touring and singing in concerts across the country. The charisma they exuded onstage quickly captured the audiences, and joy was usually the trademark of a 2nd Chapter concert. Annie, her husband Buck (who produced the group's albums and worked the sound in their concerts), Nellie, and Matthew became the ambassadors

Page 71

of contemporary Christian music during the ''underground years'' of 1973 and 1974. Their music not only ministered to thousands of impressionable youth; it also introduced Jesus music to church leaders and congregations who were still reluctant to accept the new music into the church.

   The 2nd Chapter's music wasn't usually hard rock. Granted, there were certain songs which Matthew would belt out Stevie Wonder-style, but the majority of the music was the unlikely combination of light rock tunes and hymnlike harmonies. Though Annie wrote contemporary music, the classical feel of the songs permitted adults to enjoy it as much as the youth. The 2nd Chapter was one of the very few Jesus-music groups whose music was unique; it did not have a parallel in pop music.

   Then there was Barry McGuire, a former pipe-fitter who probably came as close as anyone except the Beatles and Elvis Presley to changing America with a single song.

   In 1960 Barry had borrowed a guitar from a friend and had taught himself some of the more popular folk songs of the day. It wasn't too long before friends invited Barry and his guitar to parties. The next step was singing nights away in bars for $20 and tips, and Barry loved it. But the moonlighting took its toll on the singing pipe fitter. He finally laid down the tools and joined a few friends in forming the New Christy Minstrels.

   For the next four years the New Christy Minstrels were one of the top singing groups in the world. Their performances of hits such as ''Green Green'' and ''Saturday Night'' were held at such prestigious places as the White House, Carnegie Hall, Coconut Grove, the Hollywood Bowl. They also sang in Hawaii and Europe. The New Christy Minstrels were the first American recording group to have a commercial release in Russia.

   ''We did one-nighters for four years,'' Barry explains. ''Friends I called would ask me, 'Where are you?'' and I'd answer, 'I don't know, but the area code is 316.' ''

   Barry was around some of the richest people in the worldsenators, heiresses, entertainersbut he noticed over and over that none of them were really happy. They were more bored than anything else.

   The happy minstrel became a soured cynic. He became disillusioned and started losing respect for the people around him, including his audiences. He began to peruse books on the sciencesbiology, neurology, and psychology''trying to find out why we think and how we think.'' Those studies carried him deeper into the

Page 72

mystical sciences, existential thought, and studies of the power of the mind. Barry had always heard that "the truth will set you free," and he continued to search for the truth.

   In 1965, after his breakup with the New Christy Minstrels, Barry recorded "Eve of Destruction." In spite of its banishment from numerous top radio stations in the country because of its stinging, controversial lyrics, "Eve of Destruction" became the #1 song in America. It was protest at its loudest, and it became the anthem of a generation of peace movements and antiwar set-ins.

   The fact that the song was banned in so many places caused Barry to comment a few years later, "I thought that 'Eve of Destruction' was the truth. It was just a bunch of newspaper headlines set to music. It had to be sung. It was the first song I'd heard that laid it down just as it was.

   "When the song was banned, it showed me that people don't want to know the truth. Isn't that incredible? People want to live in that make-believe dream world, or that Hollywood play boy fantasy. Happiness is a new home. Happiness is a Ferrari. Happiness is a black book full of phone numbers of pretty girls.

   "And when you get down to the nitty-gritty, nobody wants to hear that the human race is about to blow itself from here to eternity."

   Barry the cynic became even more disillusioned when no one would look at the truth. But the ultimate truth came to Barry on the street one day in 1970. He and a friend were walking down a Hollywood boulevard on their way to a movie. "A guy came up to me," he recalls, "and told me that Jesus was coming back.

   "I just shined him on, you know. In Hollywood, we called them 'Jesus freaks!' They were everywhere out there. I thought, 'Come on, man. Don't hand me any of that Jesus jazz!'

   "But then things started happening. Everywhere I went, I kept being confronted with the name of Jesus Christ. I was at a friend's house one day when I saw a copy of Good News for Modern Man. It was a modern translation of the New Testament, but I didn't know that until I had taken it home to read it. I was thirty-five years old, and I had never read a New Testament in my life.

   "It blew me away! I discovered the truth I'd been looking for for so many years. It was Jesus!"

   At a party with some old friends one night, "the ten-thousandth party that week, "Barry gave up the last hold on his life without Christ.

   "I just finally yielded. I asked,' Jesus, are you really there?

   " 'Yes.'

Page 73

   " 'You mean all this time...'

   " 'Yes.'

   " 'You mean all these years...'

   " 'Yes.'

   "Then Christ opened up my memory and showed me all the things that my selfishness had done to other people. All the lives that I'd ruinedpeople that I'd turned on to drugs."

   Within three weeks Barry dissolved his contracts with the secular world. He move out of Hollywood and was soon fellowshipping and studying with a community of Christians in Sanger, California. Barry signed with Myrrh Records to continue his singing career, but this time singing of Jesus Christ as the one who he knew as the highest power.

   Seeds, Barry's first Jesus music album, was released in 1973, eight years after his "Eve of Destruction." Barry began touring with the 2nd Chapter of Acts, and after his second LP, Lighten Up, he joined the 2nd Chapter for a live album, To the Bride. He then moved to Sparrow Records and continued his ministry of Jesus music.

   Barry's glowing disposition, his distinctive laugh, and his over all joy became trademarks for a man who was respected throughout the Christian music industry. He told many an audience, '' I love being a full moon, reflecting the light of the Son."

Chapter Eleven  ||  Table of Contents