Union Ridge Church

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

by Reverend Dan on October 27, 2020

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.”

                                                                        Proverbs 29:2


Homer’s school achievements, he modestly admits, were many. His graduation record in high school was “the only one in their records as 100 percent.” One of his professors called him a walking encyclopedia and said he regretted he could not give Homer 110 per cent in all his subjects. Later, at the university, Homer “spruced up” on his “Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Sanskrit, and learned to preach impromptu in seventeen languages,” including Hindustani, Arabic, Cantonese, Urdu, and Russian.


“Brother Homer,” as he was called, brought into the Church of God “banjos, fiddles, both called devil’s instruments,” and “guitars, and every instrument in the Sears and Roebuck catalog” and played them. Tomlinson claimed to have assembled one thousand instruments of music, and to have been the first to bring “sacred songs of our mountains, known as “hillbilly singing” to the Southern hills. He traced the beginnings of Southern folk music and today’s thriving music industry at Nashville to his Church of God songs. Elvis Presley, he said, grew up in one of their churches in Memphis, and rock-and-roll dancing is merely a “vulgar adaptation of our dancing and rejoicing in the spirit of God.”


Tomlinson, if his memory didn’t play tricks on him, also was a close associate of such men as F. N. Doubleday, Charles Scribner, Theodore Roosevelt, Leonard Wood, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, Bruce Barton, and other notables. “My work brought me in closest contact with Eisenhower,” he said. Eisenhower was “my personal friend and collaborator,” and General Patton was “my World War l buddy.”


When A. J. Tomlinson, the father, died in 1943, his two sons, Homer and Milton, slugged it out for the job of general overseer of the church. Milton got the upper hand, and Homer was expelled from the church. But the irrepressible preacher moved to New York City and began his church all over again. After many a battle to counteract the evils and schisms among the sheep of his fold, Homer recollected, “I modestly said  many times in those days, we would hit with the power of forty thousand herds of elephants.”


In March 1950 Brother Homer astounded his denomination, “shook and rocked my own people,” by announcing he would run for the presidency of the United States in the 1952 contest. Previously most of his members had refused even to vote, thinking politics too rotten for Christians to dabble in. But Homer convinced them that good men not only may run but must run. He quoted Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” Some of his followers got the idea and ran for public office in cities and counties. To celebrate their new venture into politics the Church of God held a celebration, with “dancing and unrestrained singing and shouting in the spirit.”


Of course Brother Homer strongly favored peace among nations, and dramatized his peace candidacy by setting up a forge in a churchyard in Childersburg, Alabama, where he actually beat a sword into a plowshare of sorts, and a spear into a pruning hook. He attached the plowshare to a farm tractor, climbed up to the wheel, and began to cultivate cotton beside the churchyard. Then he took the pruning hook in hand and pruned trees and shrubs.


(to be continued . . .)


“Father, Thank you for stories of faith and history, and the people who make them. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”