My father, M.W. Spickard, and I, following a Gospel meeting, circa, September 1991, in Diggins, Missouri
I wrote about my father last year, in a Part One piece. This will be Part Two of his unofficial biography. Here is a link to Part One, so that the reader can have some continuity:
To summarize to this point, from my earlier article, my father was of German and English, or rather Welsh, stock. His great-great-grandfathers both served in the American Revolutionary War. My great-grandfather was a victim, in the border state strife of Missouri, of being “bushwhacked” at the time of the Civil War. In Missouri, there was another civil war within it, being fought. This was conspicuous at the time. On the Union side, you had U.S. Government regular troops, and a sort of paramilitary arm attached to it, called one sort or another such as “Border Ruffians,” or the “Redlegs.” There were also some “bushwhackers” on the Union side as well.
On the Southern side of things, you had those loyal to the Confederacy and assisted the “Cause,” who were called “partisans.” Those that took a more active role were called “Partisan Rangers.” They frequently engaged in “guerrilla warfare,” and were a throwback to the tactics of “Swamp Fox” General Francis Marion, of American Revolutionary war fame. Some of these, were at times, interchangeable with being “bushwhackers,” as well.
Some of these “bushwhackers,” on both sides, were nothing but nihilists, who sought to pretty much to take advantage of wartime events, to steal, kill, and destroy.
After the loss of my great grandfather, who left a family of five young children along with a bereaved and destitute widow, of which the youngest child was his son, age 3, named William Franklin Spickard. This bereft family underwent considerable hardships in trying to support themselves without a breadwinner, which back then, was appreciable. My great grandmother eventually married a gentleman who had modest means but who was willing to take on such a burden.
W.F., as he liked to be called, became a Holiness preacher at an early age, probably in the early 1880’s when he would have been in his mid-twenties. The Holiness Movement, came out of frontier American Methodism, and the events of the Keswick Conventions, going on in England. The Holiness Movement espoused a second work of grace, besides salvation, called “sanctification.” This is pretty well documented by the literary work of Vinson Synan, published in 1971.
W.F. became an itinerant Gospel preacher, following after the Wesleyan Methodist example, of having a “gospel preaching circuit” of this Holiness persuasion, or “heart-felt” religion. He ministered in northern Missouri and southern Iowa. He traveled by mule, or horse, from town to town, village to hamlet, ministering out of pretty meager donations. About 1888, W.F. met a Nancy Jones, at a Gospel meeting. She was of Welsh extraction, and like many of Welsh stock, was drawn to music. She was a pump organist who could belt out many Gospel music favorites of the time, as it was a popular idea that was trending at that period and has carried over ever since to post-modern times, as in the example of Dwight L. Moody with Ira Sankey, that to be a successful Evangelist, you had to have a music and song component to go with the ministry of preaching. In little time, W.F. married her, and she ministered with him the rest of her life.
Eventually, my grandparents settled in Springfield, Missouri. This town became a focal point in the later Pentecostal Movement. For the time being, W.F. had a small house church, of about a dozen or two adherents, and kept his ear to the ground for any new developments, as the 19th century was coming to a close, and something momentous was felt to be happening in the coming 20th century among nearly all fundamental Bible believers.
In little time, in fact, on New Year’s Day of the new century, an Agnes Ozman associated with the ministry of Charles F. Parham, received what is now known as the Pentecostal experience, in Topeka, Kansas. By the time, this Pentecostal event got to Springfield, it had already been to southwestern Missouri, and southeastern Kansas, in powerful meetings held by Parham there, in which Parham ministered this new experience with “signs following.”
Agnes Ozman, the first recipient of the Pentecostal Blessing of the Twentieth Century. My father later met her.
My father, as an early Pentecostal “pioneer,” knew several of its leaders. From left to right, D.C.O. Opperman, who baptized my father and family; Howard Goss, who my father met and conversed with on a train trip to Hot Springs, AR. Goss later became the leader of the United Pentecostal Church. E.N. Bell, who my father knew, as Bell, Opperman, and Goss were original principals of the Assembly of God denomination based in Springfield, MO. And, on far right, a Brother William Sowders, who was a sort of rival. My father ministered in some of his “campmeetings.” Sowders went on to establish what was now called the “Gospel Assembly” fellowship. There are only a few of these left nowadays, as some of these fellowships fell into disrepute.
These meetings then extended deep into Texas with tremendous revival results which later culminated with the Azuza Street Revival of Los Angeles, California, in 1906. This revival was fueled by several other linking events at the time, such as the Christian Armenian exodus of hundreds of Pentecostal type Armenian believers coming out of Turkey and Central Asia, propelled by prophetic ministry, JUST before the event of the Armenian Holocaust, which would occur just a few years later.
My grandfather W.F., became intensely interested in this new revival, and became involved in it. He, and my father, and my Uncle Herbert attended revival meetings such as the Pentecostal revival meetings, in northern Arkansas. There its leader, a D.C.O. Opperman, operated a Bible school and revival meetings featuring this Pentecostal experience of the Infilling, or Baptism of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues. When the “Oneness” issue later took hold, which focused on the Name and Person of Christ, as opposed to a traditional Trinitarian view, W.F. accepted it, and was baptized, along with my father and uncle, circa, 1915, by Opperman, who had also accepted the “new message,” according to the scripture reading in Acts 2:38. They also received the Pentecostal Blessing, or Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
W.F. and his wife, Nancy, who was also a recipient of the “Holy Ghost,” later became registered ministers with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), and were on their rolls as late as 1930 or 1931.
Meanwhile, circa 1915 or 1916, my father, who was in his early teens, was called to undergo a “fast.” Fasting is often common in the Bible, and among more fundamental Christian groups, as a means to gain intimacy with God. My father thought it would be a three-day fast, as was popular at the time. At the end of this period, he was prompted, by the Spirit of God, to continue it, to a seven-day fast. This was not unusual either for these types of believers.
At the end of seven days, my father started to commemorate the end of this fast, by opening up a candy bar from its wrapper. No more than my father had put the candy bar in his mouth for a big bite, but the Spirit of God spoke to him, saying …”You are not done yet,”… and that my father was not “released” from this fast. In the Bible, such fasts are described as a “chosen fast.” This is a fast put upon an individual by the Holy Spirit, in which a specific purpose, or answer from God in response to prayer, or revelation, is received.
Hence, my father continued his fast to ten days, then fourteen, then 21 days. At this point, my father took to his bed, as he started to lose strength and could not work at the market that he had been employed at, delivering groceries and goods to folks, who made grocery orders at the local market. The fast then stretched out to 28 days, and his mother, Nancy, became more concerned. As the fast continued to 30 days, more folks became concerned for my father’s health as he was also not drinking much water. The lack of food and proper hydration was putting my father in a danger zone in their estimation.
As the fast went to 35 days, individuals started to try to convince my father and his parents, that the fast was becoming dangerous. A doctor was called in, and he reported that, with his scopes and whatnot, that my father’s esophagus and stomach had, what was thought to be small hair follicles growing inside, from the lack of digestive activity.
At this time, there was some prophetic utterances in which my father would have a ministry, which would be prophetic in nature, and would be anomalous in its nature. Several are welcome to scoff, but, well, the Bible is full of such atypical stuff.
At the end of forty days, the Spirit lifted, the fast ended. My father received food and water and started to get his strength back. In little time, my father was up and running again.
It is interesting to note, that some prophets who had undertaken fasts in the Bible, that their fasts lasted of a forty-day duration, as well.
However, my father did not go immediately into any ministry. Instead, he worked dutifully to support his family. When he got a little older, about 20 years of age, he started working at a dry cleaning plant in Springfield, owned by a Jewish man. He rose from being a “pressman,” to supervising the plant. He met his first wife there. They married and their union produced two daughters.
As an aside, what is interesting about my father being a “pressman,” is that I liked to “iron” my own clothes, for years and years… as a practiced custom on a weekend evening. I did not know of my father’s similar vocation until much later in my life. Since then, I have stopped…as it is a sort of drudgery… I sure like perma-press anymore…
After a few years, my father got into the “oil” business. The automobile had taken on in the mid-1920’s in this area, and with the event of Route 66 connecting much of the nation, my father went business to business, selling oil and gas products up and down Route 66 from St. Louis to Joplin MO and up to Kansas City MO to northern Arkansas below Springfield, Missouri. He succeeded in building up his own business, which he called, the Quality Oil Company, despite the very poor national economy in this period of the Great Depression.
He did this endeavour for about thirty years.
The Pentecostal Outlook Magazine had an obituary of my grandfather, W.F. Spickard, in its June 1943, issue. W.F. passed away just a couple of months earlier.
Meanwhile, my father, my uncle, and their parents continued his father’s “house” ministry of about two dozen people. In this fellowship, there were three outstanding sisters of faith. These women were saints and ministered daily in prayer. I remember one being a Sister Morell, and another, I am not sure of, as a Sister Hubbard. The other saintly sister, I do not recall.
One day, about 1936, my grandfather W.F., announced that he was going to “slow down” his ministry and scale back, in a Sunday meeting. My father used this opportunity to announce that he would “throw his hat into the ring,” an old amateur wrestling phrase, and eventually my father would assume his father’s, W.F.’s ministry. W.F. was approximately 77 years old. He later would pass away in 1943. His wife, Nancy, had preceded him in death by a few years. My father continued the home meetings, and sought to expand the fellowship by financing public meeting places and free meals to go with, that of his speaking ministry.
This was sort of unheard back then, to furnish meals, unless it was a Salvation Army meeting, or a inner-city rescue mission, for alcoholics and homeless men. My father did a bit of the cooking as well, literally fulfilling the scripture of a servant leader. My father would also usually be fasting, quite an incongruity, when he was flipping burgers and grilling potatoes. He just was never tempted to eat…as he had no desire to do so, when in the ministry of a fast, and speaking the “Anointed Word,” in these public meetings.
My father was a very studious man, who had singular insights in the interpretation of Scripture. He started to preach a message that was later copied to an extent by others. His signature preaching was to reject the established Church, as it being a false one, and proposed a “coming out,” of those who were God’s People from the System of organized Christianity.
This, few had ever done before at that time.
My father called the Church system and its political secular influence, “Great Babylon,” which description was from the Bible. He warned those listening to him, to become… “come-outers,”… and to form their own fellowships and assemblies. My father was perhaps the first Holiness/Pentecostal preacher in the area, to start wearing, when preaching on hot days, … short sleeve shirts…. As soon as he felt the anointing come upon him, off came the suit coat, the sleeves were rolled up, or if he was wearing one, as in summer, the short sleeve shirt was exposed, and his necktie, removed. This caused quite a stir in that time, particularly in the Ozark Mountain region. Since there was no television, my father ‘s methods, and his preaching, were considered to be somewhat entertaining to more than a few. I talked to one sister, when she was a young woman, which she and others expressly went to hear this preacher, in “shirt-sleeves.”
In addition, to his message being different, my father preached solely from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He would not preach with notes, or read from the Bible. His command of Bible verses and scriptures was quite large and at the ready. This inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was known at the time to be called,… “the anointing…”
This also brought an interest in his ministry, as few had ever done this or attempted this on any sort of regular basis.
Many, many times, in which my father preached, he would preach under this “anointing.” Those that heard him, said… that there was no one else was like him, in this ability to preach under the “Anointing.” He drew quite a bit of peripheral interest in the exercise of this gift as others tried to copy him.
My father’s ministry came into its own, after the passing of his father. He financed “camp meetings,” and drew crowds, along with many other talented preachers. He had other gifted speakers like a Brother Everitt Ramsey, and a Brother Monday, a Black minister, to assist him, as well as others.
Toward the end of the World War Two era and a year beyond it, my father’s meetings became more and more anointed and the presence of the Holy Spirit started to increase. Like many historic ministries who have experienced this phenomenon and visitation of the Holy Spirit, throughout church history, folks became more and more expectant in their thinking that the Lord Jesus was soon to Return. My father was taken of this notion as well. Like the Thessalonian fellowship of the New Testament, he started thinking that this increasing presence of the Spirit was a bellwether of something more significant to come, namely, the Second Coming of Christ.
My father intensified his message of “coming out” of the Church system, and to announce a soon coming of Christ, who would gather his people out of this system into a more pure fellowship, in which no “spot, or wrinkle, or any such…blemish” would be the result.
He became convinced also that what is called the “Latter Rain” revival, as prophesied in the Old Testament, by the Prophet Joel, would soon commence.
However, like many such movings of the Spirit, my father was a bit mistaken. He thought that the particular and exceptional moving of the Spirit in his ministry and in his meetings, was to bring in the return of Christ and his Kingdom. As just stated above, this was not an uncommon conclusion, which the Scriptures themselves note with the Thessalonian Church, and other disciple’s expectant hopes would be immediately fulfilled.
ON TO PART THREE, at a later date…
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2016. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited