Springboro pastor inspires, inspired during pandemic

The Rev. Terry Carlisle practices what he preaches.

The 75-year-old pastor of the Springboro United Church of Christ, likes to bike the four miles to and from the church, demonstrating his commitment to the environment and personal health.

“It’s actually close enough I ride my bike when I can to keep the traffic drown,” he said.

During this challenging year, Daytonians have persevered and banded together. Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News is telling the stories of individuals who have inspired others. Carlisle was nominated by Springboro Mayor John Agenbroad.

Carlisle, a U.S. Army veteran, also is a counselor, helping people through tough times, drug addiction or domestic abuse.

“He’s just got his hands on the pulse of the community,” Agenbroad said.

Whether stemming from problems due to COVID-19 or another cause, Carlisle offers support and counsel to community residents, including the families of military veterans.

“He’s just helped so many people,” added the community’s long-time mayor. “He inspires me.”

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Although a teetotaler and vegetarian, Carlisle sees to it the church and grounds are ready for the annual Oktoberfest, where beer and schnitzel are plentiful and half the proceeds benefit local charities.

“He doesn’t just serve the Lord, he serves the community, mankind,” Agenbroad said.

To widen its message during the pandemic, the church is streaming its worship services and recently distributed door hangers to 5,000 homes.

For 15 years, Carlisle was director of Comprehensive Counseling Service in Middletown, where people go for help with their mental health, addictions or problematic family relationships.

He also sat on the SICSA board in Montgomery County and served as a chaplain at Mercy Hospice in Springfield and the Kettering Medical Center.

He came to the Springboro church in 1987 as a fill-in pastor recommended by a church member, the late Donna Torrence, then served as interim pastor.

“15 years later, they hired me,” Carlisle added.

Currently Carlisle directs grief support groups, as well as gatherings for those affected by domestic or emotional abuse.

While pointing to all in the city government, Carlisle singled out Dan Boron, Springboro’s planning consultant, as an inspiration, due to his role in promoting bicycling and pedestrian travel in the city.

ExploreSpringboro plans 7.8 mile, $7M-plus greenway

In addition, he said Pam Benjamin, a local resident and business owner, inspired him by joining him in Support and Education For Abuse Victims sessions.

“During the pandemic, domestic violence has actually increased,” the pastor added. “She can really help lead people out of emotionally abusive situations.”

He also expressed admiration for Heather Sukola of Heather’s Café and Dave Edwards of Edwards Furniture for their contributions to the church and community.

Rather than talk about the burdens of the pandemic, Carlisle suggested people take the lessons learned, recognize the good things that came from the pandemic and try to make the world better in the future.

The shutdowns have actually benefited bicyclists who can commute with less traffic and breathe cleaner air, Carlisle said.

“Let’s not go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working, " he said. “Let’s rise up and do better.”

“We have to know this time on Earth is a short test for us. Eternity is a long time. Things are going to be better there,” he added.

Those struggling need to find a confidant or counselor, he said.

“You’ve got to have somebody to talk to about your feelings that won’t be judgmental. Everybody needs a good friend or pastor,” he said. “Talking to someone makes you feel less isolated.”

In 2021, Carlisle looked forward to broadening the church membership and completion of a mission building constructed by students from Warren County Career Center.

“I don’t know what all we might do, he said. “We want to grow the church, but not just in numbers.”

Inspire Dayton

Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of people who have persevered and inspired others during this challenging year. Read all the stories at DaytonDailyNews.com/inspire-dayton. Tell us who inspired you in 2020 by emailing jordan.laird@coxinc.com.

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