Scott Ross: a teacher tribute

Scott Ross -- the 1970s

Scott Ross — the 1970s

I went to Cornell University in 1972 to study electrical engineering. After the death of my best friend, Steve Clarke, I became a committed Christian but I was a new Christian with only a year’s worth a Bible training under my belt. Though new, I was diligent. During the prior year I had been in Baptist circles studying authors from Dallas Theological Seminary — fundamentalism.

But leaving my hometown to college live at Cornell, I had no Christian “family”. I don’t know how it happened, but I found “Love Inn” — a Jesus Freak commune run by Scott Ross. They were essentially Charismatic Christians — condemned by the cessationist dispensationalism of the fundamentalists that I had studied before.  But I loved these guys.  Deep emotions, heart felt prayers and cool music abounded.  And they were young!  Half the crowd have given up drug and free sex of the 60s.   I had escaped the grey-headed, pew-sitting, 200-year-old hymn singing stiff Baptists.  This crowd was hip and they loved Jesus and they countered the stupid secular values I found at Cornell.  I put a big poster on my dorm window declaring my love for Jesus.

“Love Inn”, Scott Ross and other teachers would be great support for those first two years of college. During my second year at Cornell, I moved out of the dorms and into a house with 7 other Christian guys who also attended Love Inn.

"Love Inn" - Freeville, NY

“Love Inn” – Freeville, NY

Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton where converts under the influence of Scott Ross during those days. Ross hung with the Beatles and others. Here are some links about this amazing fellow:

New Song Documentary (1975) part 1, part 2 — 2 years after I was there. At the end it shows the barn we worshiped in, just outside of Ithaca NY where Cornell is.

Scott Ross was incredibly charismatic, smart and a fantastic leader. In his later years, we worked with the deplorable 700 club. Scott Ross taught me about charismatic power, certainty and love. Only later in my life would I untangle those.

This will be part of my “tributes to influential teachers” series.  These teachers changed my life in one way or another. Link coming as more posts evolve.

Question to Readers: Tell me about an influential teacher you had, who you’d disagree with today but are thankful for your time with them.



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

11 responses to “Scott Ross: a teacher tribute

  1. Hello Sabio,

    From my understanding, Dillon was dating a girl who attended my alma mater (CFNI) for two years and that’s how he came into what he now calls his “Christian phase”. She was enrolled from 1980 to 1981 and he had visited her while she was a student there.

    My parents were Jesus People in the early 1970s when I was a baby. They traveled back and forth between Detroit and Pontiac to attend meetings and coffee houses. I’ve got a picture of them when I was one year old. I was sitting on one of their laps and I promise you, they looked like John and Yoko!

    Not a big fan of the whole movement myself. It was to break away from traditionalism, but the renegade men ended up being exactly like their predecessors that they had once despised! Any baby boomer man that I have known personally from the whole Jesus People movement are like that. My dad and the pastor from the Hawai’i church I was more less kicked out of were the worst ones. That pastor came from California and was heavily involved before moving to Hawai’i.

  2. Interesting story, Charity. I try to tell these stories pretty objectively and not fill them with post-hoc judgement. My years at Love Inn were great. It is fascinating how people harden up into old people.

  3. Hello Sabio,

    I’m sure that there were free loving hippies in that movement who honestly wanted the best for people. I just think that the two men I gave examples of were the kind who always wanted to be in control. That’s what drew them into the whole Jesus People movement, they saw it as an opportunity to lead a spiritual/revival revolution.

    I think that by the time it turned into the Charismatic zeal of the early 80s many people began to “sell their souls”. I remember that’s about when Robert Tilton, Marilyn Hickey and others really got caught up in the whole prosperity message. It just went along with the whole materialism trend of the era.

  4. I agree that people use theology and movements to support their temperaments — perverse and otherwise.

  5. shelly

    Tracey and I were 15 years old when we hopped a bus to Ithaca one weekend. We were fresh off a visit by Scott Ross and company to “Our Lady Of Mercy” high school in Rochester NY. Scott was making the rounds , spreading the Gospel in those days,,helping to usher in a fresh new move of the Spirit to rattle our traditionalist ways.
    That it was unconventional quickly became evident. Nuns were dropping like flies as the Holy Spirit was released on those gathered in the auditorium, Unhindered by ‘ mans;s ways” Spirit was doing a drive-by past our intellect landing softly on our souls as people were ” falling out ” under the power. We were awestruck ….and dumbstruck…. and were never going to be the same.
    What WAS this “Jesus” thing all about ? But more importantly , who were those guys Scott brought with him? CUTE !!!!!!!
    We probably had 10 or 15 dollars between us after bus tickets… babysitting money…. and two thumbs to get us from the bus stop to Freeville. Freeville ! Love Inn !!!! What could be more “Woodstock” than that in those wild , hippie , free spirit days? We may have been too young for Woodstock, but not even our parents would deny us a God experience like lOVE INN. . It was nun approved !
    We had the pleasure of staying at a house next door to Love Inn, owned by Peg Hardesty, a widow. We were clueless teenagers , looking for adventure , but Peg was a woman supernaturally healed by God one night while she listened to Scott’s radio broadcast She became a believer, and offered Scott the barns next to her house if they wanted to use it for Christian gatherings . What a kind woman . and a grateful soul, wanting to give back to God for what he gave to her. Scott apparently took seriouslyher kind offering and ” Love Inn” was born.
    Unable to enter in to the whole Jesus thing at that time , Tracey and I continued to look for adventure elsewhere. She ended up moving to Florida with her family and I ended up involved in things much less pure. Eventually though , I came back to the roots sown in a 1971 high school auditorium and a bus trip adventure to place of promise. Supernaturally healed of cancer , I joined with many other grateful hearts like Peg Hardesty . I can’t not believe.
    What an adventure !!!
    Thanks to Scott Ross and all the people who taught us so much and for the opportunity to say so, here. : )

  6. @ Shelly — that was a sweet story and well told. A different path than mine. Glad all is well with you.

  7. I was one of those hippies that experienced a dramatic life change through Scott Ross’s ministry at Love Inn. After spending the day, Dec. 17, 1971 talking to people and experiencing the supernatural Presence of God, sharing dinner and seeing real miracle provision of things they needed, I had very dramatic experience with Jesus and have never been the same. I was a stoned out college kid from Cortland State, a COMMUNEist radically changed by the power of God, lured to God’s Commune by a very pretty young lady and stories of miracle provision.

    Not very long after I got saved I had to deal with a bad attitude. I had studied techniques of propaganda, what make commercials effective, ways to stir up a crowd and things like that. The Pastor, Scott Ross, seemed to me to be using those techniques. My intellect and the enemy teamed up. Although I didn’t say anything about it, I became very antagonistic towards him. A group of us, including the pastor, Scott Ross, were about to get together for a prayer in a room upstairs in the barn. I walked out to the stairwell and stewed as the conviction of the Holy Spirit was all over me. Finally I gave in to the Lord and went in ready to repent. The Pastor was walking to each one in the circle individually. When he got to me I expressed that repentance to him and he embraced me. As he did, everyone in the room felt waves of liquid love emanating from us. It was an unforgettable, supernatural experience.

    Another night, there was a large group of us sitting in a circle near the large fire place and the Spirit of God was moving among us. Scott said that the Lord was dealing with someone about cigarette smoking. I knew that was me. The he said that the Lord wanted that person to deal with it publicly. I got up, threw my cigarettes into the fire and Scott prayed for me. Never again tempted to touch tobacco.

    Scott was such a radical, loving guy empowered by the lord Jesus to start a very important ministry. I am ever thankful for that Divine set-up to reach this old hippie who is still walking with God 47 years later (as of this writing in 2018).

  8. Thank you for sharing, Andy. Interesting stories.

  9. Gus Wanner

    Interesting memory about Dylan’s conversion. I was listening to “Free Love” on Radio TNT in the Republic of Panama ca.1974 when Scott Ross made the announcement that Dylan had been born again. pre “Blood on the Tracks”, pre “Desire” and very pre-“Slow Train Coming”. In many ways Mr. Ross was a good teacher from the aspect of love and enthusiasm. Introduced a planet to Larry Norman and a joy that was needed in those days. I loved his stories about the rock and roll world before his awakening but was saddened as he descended into fundamentalism and knee jerk conservatism.

  10. Bob Kouk

    Is this the same Scott Ross who came to Martinsville Va. around 1970 and changed my life forever? Praise God!


  11. @Gus & Bob: Yes, a fascinating man, different impacts to different people at different times.

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