MANSFIELD — The Richland County Board of Commissioners recently proclaimed October as Clergy Appreciation Month. Commissioners are encouraging Richland County residents to show their appreciation and support for the clergy whose efforts help make the community a better place to live.
Established in 1992, Clergy Appreciation Month recognizes pastors, missionaries and religious workers, and was first observed in north central Ohio in 2017.
The proclamation was presented to Rev. Jody Odom and Rev. Bruce Philippi, and describes religion and morality as ”indispensable supports to political prosperity.” The Commissioners also noted clergy efforts in leading the community to prayer and preventing social vices from influencing society.
There is no question Pastor Philippi’s congregation at Journey Life Center makes the community a priority. Near Shelby, the fellowship participates in a drug rehabilitation ministry called “Project One” that sends clients to rehab facilities for several months and helps them find employment as they transition back into society.
The church also operates a food bank that feeds hundreds of people. In addition, members do “acts of kindness” several times a year at county events to have a tangible impact by showing the love of GOD. Outreach for youth and senior adults take place in a 5,000 square foot church in Crestline recently donated to Journey Life.
Where Journey Life Center leaves off, Pastor Jody Odom’s Ambassadors for Christ Church picks up. Ambassadors for Christ conducts weekly Bible outreach classes at Harmony House homeless shelter in Mansfield. Odom also serves as a chaplain in area county jails. A few months ago, Odom had a second book on marriage published entitled “I’m Fit to Handle my Marriage, Now Bring It.” Odom says that the companion book “gives insight on how to handle a spouse with love and how to cover your spouse in prayer.”
When visiting Ambassador for Christ Sunday services at 152 Cline Avenue, occasionally Odom can be seen painting on a canvas while preaching his sermons. According to Pastor Odom, “Life is a gift, living is an art form, and I connect art with the Bible.”
“When I was a young man, one role model that made a real impression on me was Bishop Norman Wagner,” Odom said. “I knew him for 16 years and he always had a passion for Godand to disciple other leaders. Bishop Wagner was a real statesman for his community.”
Philippi, who led efforts to bring the “March for Jesus” movement in Mansfield in the early 1990s, is a chairman of a Sabbatical Support Team for his denomination which encompasses two hundred and forty churches.
“In my 36 years as lead pastor, I have never seen a time where people are expecting more from pastors than ever while contributing less to the church and its ministries. Without a doubt I have seen an increase in ministry stress and burnout.”