Fred Hollomon, a Southern Baptist pastor who served as Senate chaplain in Topeka for over 33 years, died February 13, 2018 at his home in Lawrence after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He would have been 93 next month. Pastor Holloman was well known for his daily invocations that he set to poetry, with some of his poems republished worldwide.
“He’s with the Lord,” his wife, Pat Hollomon, said when his death was announced. “We’re crying part of the time and laughing at other times over things he’d say and do.”
She said her great-granddaughter sang “Jesus Loves Me” to Hollomon shortly before he died.
Hollomon was well known for his sense of humor and ability to get along with people of all political persuasions.
Though Hollomon’s official chaplain duties included only the opening prayer of the Senate each day during the legislative session, he saw what he did as a ministry and many days spent time with legislators and senate staff getting to know them and counseling them when needed.
Along with his work as state Senate chaplain, Hollomon also served as pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Topeka for many years.
When Hollomon retired from Highland Park Baptist Church in 2007, he joined Rev. Cecil Washington’s predominantly black congregation and became an elder in the church. The Hollomons also later joined and served at First Southern Baptist Church of Topeka until they moved to Lawrence as Fred’s health declined.
In an interview with Baptist Press, published in 2012, Pastor Hollmon discussed how he began transforming his prayers into the form of poetry.
“I’ve found that people will read or follow you when you’re rhyming because they want to see how it ends,” he said.
Through the years, Hollomon held weekly prayer meetings at the Senate and officiated at weddings and funerals for senators. He also was known to spend time in ministry with other Statehouse employees, from secretaries to doormen to security personnel.
In spite of criticism, Hollomon ended his prayers by invoking the name of Jesus, the Baptist Press article said.
“I never quit doing that even though I got a lot of criticism about it,” Hollomon told the Baptist Press. “I did it as a witness.”
One of the most famous of the prayers got national radio exposure during his first month in the senate. A reporter heard the prayer and asked if he could get a copy of it. Hollomon thought little of the prayer until a neighbor heard it on the radio. The prayer was read on the Paul Harvey Show.
Since his prayers were printed in the senate journal, he wrote them out every day — a practice he had not done before becoming a chaplain. In 2005, he published a collection of the prayers in a book titled “Uncommon Prayers.”
HOLLOMON AFFECTED MANY
Peggy Mast, former Speaker of the State House of Representatives, remembered Hollomon fondly.
“My memories of Fred Hollomon are very special,” she said. “He is the man God bestowed with the gift of speaking to God in prayer through rhythm and rhyme with a twist of humor that left everyone around the State Capitol waiting to read the previous day’s calendar from the Senate. No one doubted his sincerity or his relationship to the Lord and everyone respected and appreciated his approach. While serving as the Senate Chaplin he was indeed a man acquainted with sorrow and grief by some of the bills that passed before his eyes, but he was consistently a man who brought hope and comfort to the legislators who were trying to hold strong to the values taught in the Word of God, but often failing in our efforts. He and Cecil Washington strengthened the resolve to hold fast and to stand.
Joe Patton, former State Representative, also spoke kindly of Hollomon.
“Fred had a ministry of love, a true minister of the gospel,” Patton said. “He was a gifted Pastor encouraging everyone to serve the Lord in both word and deed. We honor him because he worked so hard urging and guiding us to a better understanding of what it means to follow Christ. We thank God for Fred.”
Holloman wrote a column called “Uncommon Prayers” for Metro Voice Newspaper for many years. Each month it contained one of his rhyming prayers.
“It was something I always looked forward to reading,” publisher Lee Hartman said. “On the times I heard Fred speak in person, I remember he always had something kind or humorous to say. It was always a pleasure to see him.”
Dave DePue, Pastor, Capitol Commission worked with Hollomon through the years.
“I met Chaplain Fred in 1987 when he led Bible devotional meetings in a Capitol fifth floor conference room,” DePue remembered. “One of those joining us in those early years was then State Senator Jerry Moran – currently one of our US Senators from Kansas. Chaplain Fred was a powerful witness in the Kansas Capitol over three decades. He opened the daily Senate session with a prayer that seemed to fit the challenge at hand.“
DePue also recalled how Chaplain Fred boldly prayed “the only access road to heaven is the Name of Christ, God’s Son.”
Phillis Setchell is another who worked closely with Holloman over the years.
“Rev. Fred Hollomon was a gentle soul, while being a strong witness for his savior Jesus Christ,” Setchell said. “He was known for his humor and wit. He was fun to be with. Pastor Hollomon understood the importance of Christian witness in the arena of governmental authority. We look forward to laughing with him again in heaven.
Here is a poem from Pastor Hollomon’s book, “Book of Uncommon Prayers”:
“Praying Too Late”
I’d like to confess a tendency to turn to You only in an emergency.
I work through the day
And do my own thing,
Then at night ask You if You’ll bless it.
And I know I was wrong
In not asking You first,
But then I’m too proud to confess it.
I file legislation
And push it real hard
As for God, I couldn’t care less.
Then the whole thing collapses,
And I’m down on my knees
Asking You to clean up the big mess.
Please help me to learn
To start with a prayer
And not wait till my plans fall apart.
For up until now
I’ve specialized in
Hitching the horse in back of the cart!
I pray in the Name of the Lord Jesus, Amen