November 12, 2016 © Carolyn Smith-Kizer
Passing the Baton
Background: Homer and I met through a singles’ newsletter produced by a group of singles within the Worldwide Church of God (WWCG) in April 1994, today’s equivalent of meeting online. His ad roughly said, “Single, white male, 47, divorced, father of three. Interested in everything from art to zucchini. Marginally civilized.” My ad took up several columnar inches, saying everything I ever had been, currently was or ever hoped to be interested in. Each ad in the newsletter began with the first three numbers of one’s zip code–otherwise, each was anonymous.
In August of 1994 I opened my mail box and inside was a handmade envelope with a masculine scrawl and a zip code that began 832 ... . I went skipping across the parking lot, threw open the front door and hollered up the stairs, “Mr. Marginally Civilized wrote to me first!” Inside the envelope were two sheets of paper, dot-matrix printed with very narrow side, top and bottom margins on both sides–four full pages in all. I was in love after the second paragraph [in the first he took me to task about my understanding of Plymouth vs. barred rock chickens].
Several months of correspondence later, he came to visit me and meet my family at Thanksgiving. As he left, I could sense something was wrong. A couple of days later, after receiving a thank you note and a small copper heart box, but no indication of a furthering of the relationship, I called him and asked him what was wrong. He said, “Nothing.” I asked again, what was wrong–again, “Nothing.” I said, “I’m a big girl, tell me what’s wrong.” He finally said I looked like his ex-wife and he was afraid if we continued a relationship he would slip and call me by her name. I responded, “You big galoot, of course you’ll slip and call me by her name, you were married to her for over 20 years. But if we continue a relationship and 20 years from now you are still calling me by her name, then we would have a problem.” He then said, “Well, in that case, why don’t you come over and go with me to the year end muzzleloading banquet [Homer was an enthusiastic black powder, muzzleloading rifle shooter and gun builder]. Of course, I said yes.
The day of the banquet a snow storm was brewing and when one of the truckers at the truck stop I gassed up at asked me where I was headed, East--he told me I really didn’t want to go in the direction I was headed [straight into the storm]. He was right. I slipped off the road just 25 miles from Homer’s house [and 320 miles from mine]–no damage to my vehicle, but a wrecker was required to pull me back onto the road. After we attended the banquet it was still snowing. The freeway was closing behind us as state troopers escorted us to his exit. It snowed for three days, 3 ½ feet total, before snow plows opened the streets in the little town where Homer lived. When we could finally travel Homer said we would have to get married–everyone in town knew I was there and he wouldn’t be able to hold his head up if we didn’t [he was converted and smarter than I was–so, of course, I said yes!]. We eloped to Nevada and were married by a justice of the peace. But I told him I wouldn’t feel really married unless we had a church wedding, which we had a couple of months later.
About mid-year 1995, the WWCG began to fracture into groups who preferred one minister over another or who held to this doctrine but no longer that one. We continued in fellowship with the local congregation, although our minister was later thrown out by this congregation.
The following year an announcement appeared in the church newsletter that lay pastors would be trained if a man had ten men [John 20:19-20?] who supported his candidacy. I showed it to Homer, whom I thought would make a good minister. His response was he had not been called to be a minister and to do so would be presumptive.
In March 2000 Homer took me back to a women’s workshop on French Colonial reenacting held at Fort de Chartres, IL. Driving back to his daughter’s house in Alton, IL, I decided I really wanted to move there to play in Ft. De Chartres’ sand box. When I told him, he said that was choice coming from one who insisted anyone who lived East of Denver [meaning not in mountains in the West] was nuts–give it all back to the Indians! He told me if I was serious, get him a job. So I searched the internet and found him jobs teaching English at Paducah Community College, KY, and Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg–we purchased some land in Vienna, IL, halfway between both campuses and moved out of the mountains and down into Little Egypt, as Southern Illinois is known.
Fast forward to late Fall 2001. I had found an article written in The Journal about the place of safety by Raymond C. Dick, whom I knew from years prior in the Boise, ID, WWCG. His wife had worked with my mother during WWII while Ray, a Mennonite at the time, was serving in a conscientious objector camp in Downey, ID, and I had attended the Boise WWCG congregation with Ray’s sister’s family and his mother. I asked Homer to read it and tell me what he thought, as I actually knew the author–who questioned how Christ fighting on _a_ day of battle when the Mount of Olives split in two and three and a half years later His return to fight the battle of Armageddon–couldn’t be the same battle--it would later prove to be the baton ... the knock on the door through which Homer strode when he received his calling to reread prophecy.
Just a few weeks later, January 2002, I came home from work and found Homer writing at his computer–I could see there were at least several pages. Homer had done very little writing since we relocated to Illinois, he was too busy grading all of those Freshman Comp papers [he believed in unlimited rewrites as the object in teaching writing was to encourage students to write a lot]. I asked him what the topic was–his answer floored me. He said, “You’re not going to believe this, but it’s religious.” My next words were, “What happened?” He handed me a Bible and asked me to read a passage in Daniel, several verses of which were very familiar. After reading the verses in context, my response was, “That’s not what we were taught those verses meant,” and he was off and running, rereading prophecy. As it turns out, very little we had been taught was true.
When he finished his first book a few weeks later, A Philadelphia Apologetic, he asked who we should send the manuscript to for peer review. I said Ray Dick, Hawkins, TX, Mark Mickelson, UCG a previous pastor of mine who now lived in Spokane, WA, and Michael Bennett, UCG Headquarters staff in Ohio, whose wife I had known in Boise.
Mr. Bennett returned the manuscript unread.
Mark Mickelson returned the manuscript with notations in the margin until halfway through and a note that read since UCG paid his salary, he could no longer read what he could find no argument against but wasn’t what UCG taught.
Ray Dick responded with emails and an offer to pay for a radio show in the Big Sandy, TX, area. Homer visited Ray but declined the radio show–as was his wont, he was a writer not a speaker who could mispronounce almost any word. It was Ray who told Homer about the Advanced Prophecy seminar in which Garner Ted Armstrong had rejected any new revelation about prophecy, the church had everything right. Ray died several months later, but not before he had given Homer the information he needed to question what he had been taught–to actually read the words on the page as they were written–not to read here a little, there a little but always in context.
As Homer was stepping out of the truck to attend Passover Services in 2003, he realized there would be a second passover–as there was a first, there would be a Second Passover and the days of Noah Christ referenced would become the yearly dates for the keeping of a second Passover–a yearly reminder of what was sure to happen. That the physical, visible revealed the spiritual, invisible coupled with Bishop Papias’ notation that Matthew was written in Hebrew style–was the key of David hidden in thought couplets written in the poetry of David and Isaiah. Homer’s greatest contributions have been the warning that a Second Passover is coming and that the chirality of the physical, visible reveals the spiritual, invisible things of God—the key to understanding Biblical prophecy and to the door no man can shut.
He never took a day off until we came to Adak–and then it was because the delay in obtaining electricity and internet service precluded his writing. He had felt since January 2016 that he was just repeating himself.
The morning he died he asked me what I would do if something happened to him. After a few jests [as an aside: jests are terrible things as it turns out] I reminded him of the conversation we had when he first started his work. Since his words went no where without my formatting them for the web, I assured him I would maintain all of his sites. Today that means reformatting his voluminous writing for mobile-friendly devices, a daunting task due to its sheer magnitude. He then asked me how far I had gotten in editing and formatting the collection of essays he had given me the week previous, which ones I had read specifically by title. He seemed a little disappointed when I named the ones I had read–later I would find out why. Within two hours he was dead. Once I recovered my senses I began reading the rest of the essays–and I found the one where he wrote that he loved me and that he appreciated my support of his calling. Oh how I wished I had known so that I could have gathered him in my arms and showered him with kisses and promises to do all I could to further his work until I was no longer here.
I found this in Homer’s pile of papers on the table–it’s just the one sheet.
... I wasn’t happy when I couldn’t load a 400 pound wood range in a pickup bed by myself but needed the help of a neighbor and two come-alongs. Yes, I’m older. But I’m out of shape. My brother Ben, sixteen months younger, can still hike trails; can pass the physical for Forest Service firefighters (he’s a retired G-13 Forester). But I had gotten where it was difficult to walk a few hundred yards, let alone miles. Literally, writing was killing me.
However, after fourteen years, I realized I had said, had written what needed said ...
I wasn’t called to make disciples, to prepare a people. I was called to reread prophecy and that I had done, becoming a Christian iconoclast read worldwide. It was time to figuratively disappear. The work remains out there–that’s both the greatness and the weakness of the Internet. For the last six months I was repeating myself.
I, his wife, Carolyn Smith-Kizer, will maintain and update his many sites so that his work will continue to be available to a worldwide audience. Furthermore, I consider myself to be the richest woman on earth–I was able to share in a work of earth-shattering importance–warning of the coming Second Passover, the climactic beginning of God setting His hand to save His people.
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