Hermosa, S. Dakota Convention Grounds

Robbed and Rodded in God’s Name

You can indeed lose everything you own because of trusting in men who claim to be godly, but are selfish, entitled and self-righteous as they go about happily backing up everything they say or do in the name of God.

My parents, Verdis and Sue Krisher, had that happen to them when I was a child. I was young, but not so young that I didn’t understand what was going on.

My four siblings and I grew up on the Hermosa, South Dakota convention grounds. My dad, who was not from South Dakota, bought the land, the house, and built all the rest himself. He only hired his brothers to help build the convention grounds. He owned every detail of it.

To that sweet home is where I, their middle child, came straight from the hospital. There we learned to rope and ride, hunt and fish and just to live the simple life. It was seriously wonderful. Mother home schooled us all. We would work all day and school at night. I had a steady job by the time I was 8 years old. Same for my brothers. We learned to live on anything or nothing, as that’s what our parents knew how to do. I professed when I was 14 and was baptized at 16.

I was around 13 when our family ranch (aka Hermosa convention grounds) was ripped away from us. My parents went bankrupt and nobody in the church stuck by them. However, there were workers who left the work over it; friends who left meetings over it; and well, that was the beginning of the end of it for me.

It all began when Joe Hobbs, the Overseer of South Dakota, announced his intention to discontinue using the convention meeting tent. Not because it was worn out, but because Joe decided he wanted a new church building constructed for the meetings—some call these “machine sheds.” And further, he expected Dad to fully pay for it since it would be on his property!

It could well be argued that the building itself was intended to be donated, or mostly donated, but it really didn’t matter. The main issue was Dad had not received help for taxes, utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc., since 1985, and it was already crushing him financially. A big new commercial building would have increased this burden immensely, and he had no reason to believe he wouldn’t be left alone in that, too. Much the same issue that we’ve now heard from the Bainbridge’s.

Joe was insistent—regardless of the preferences or capabilities of my parents, the ones who had painstakingly built the place and worked their butts off (and us kids too!) for 21 years to keep it on the map, make all the improvements, upkeep and host the annual convention.

Dad ran his own cows, sheep, horses, bought bottle calves from the local dairy and fed them up to sell, farmed a few thousand acres using old equipment that he could barely afford, custom farmed a few more thousand acres, and managed 375 head of cattle (sometimes up to 550) for another rancher seven miles down the road for $7 an hour. He was determined to keep his ranch and his convention grounds intact, while also raising five children. I doubt I’ll ever meet a man who could work as hard as my own father and just get by.

When Dad couldn’t afford to build this new church building, the workers told him that wasn’t good enough. The part that really stuck in Dad’s craw was when Joe told him that the new building was to be used for nothing but meetings. So, basically, it was to be a sacred temple.

Dad asked Joe how many stained glass windows he wanted and how tall? (I did get my gift of mouth very honestly!) As you can imagine, that didn’t go over very well. Words got very heated after that on the worker’s end of things. They called Dad everything but a decent human and informed him that he needed to sell everything and give up his place in the kingdom. Further, with his attitude, he wasn’t worthy of owning a convention grounds. Dad kept his peace, chuckled, and said, “Well, that’s up to God. Sorry, that’s not your call. But I’ll do what I can to make it work.”

Then, he started a tree farm on the side, (like he had plenty of free time!) raising all sorts of trees and shipping them around the country in the hope it would raise enough money for the new building. It didn’t. The workers eventually got upset at his financial incompetence. They then withheld the money they had set aside to help pay taxes and told him he had to sell the ranch to someone who could afford the improvements Joe wanted built.

The saddest part of this is that I always thought that financial help had been withheld only for that final period that strung on for 7 years, during which, Dad was trying to sell to anyone who would continue convention. There were multiple interested parties, but as soon as the workers got in the middle of the conversation, these parties backed away quickly. It was only in the last few months, with the climate of honesty we find ourselves in now, that Dad finally revealed that the last help he received was in 1985, when Leslie Olson was overseer of SD. It seems it stopped when Leslie was moved to KS. I don’t know the amount of money, but it was enough to break the camel’s back. Dad managed to make one more year of convention.

The workers found a willing family, the Alinks, to buy it from my parents. They came into our home and inspected it throughout. I helped drive the family around and walked them through and showed them all my favorite parts of the place. We all tried to stay quiet and kind. We all knew already that we were fighting a battle we couldn’t win. The workers were making sure of that every chance they had.

That fall we had a farm auction. Dad sold his equipment and most of our goods. A price agreement was struck to sell the place to the Alinks. The place had appraised for $250,000, Dad was going to sell it for $240,000 to Alinks, if memory serves correct. We were just waiting on the final paperwork. The workers came and told him he had to sell it for $160,000, and to do anything else was “defrauding a brother”, and that they would have no part in that. And then suddenly, the Alinks backed out and said they couldn’t do it! Seems the workers had told them not to!

So, they had waited till we had nothing left—no tools to use, no ammo, no nothing—and then the bank foreclosed and took it from us. Then the Alinks immediately bought it from the bank. That’s what Joe and Ira Hobbs, Richard Harbour and Lyle Schober had set up for them. When my father wouldn’t (couldn’t) bow down to their wishes, they cut him down and out and went on with their plans without us. Of course, the workers blamed my parents. There was abundant slander spread against Dad, mostly claiming him to be dishonest. The most ironic I have heard was Richard claiming Dad was “embezzling convention funds!”

My parents owned, maintained and hosted a convention ground for 21 years (1980-2001, first convention in 1983), only to be betrayed by the workers when they could not afford to build a non-essential building. In essence, the workers forced us out of our home and land—all of this was done in the name of God. My parents and our entire family were severely spiritually, emotionally and financially abused. People talked about it when they learned our family was going to be homeless.

I sometimes wish my parents would have been fortunate enough to have made enough on the sale of their property to buy another home, as some convention ground owners have done. But then again, I’m glad they weren’t. I’d likely never have seen Montana or met my beautiful wife. I’ve since learned that some convention ground owners have not been required to pay for buildings constructed solely for convention.

Amazingly, my parents are still steadfast in their belief. Steadfast is a word I use to describe my parents to this day. I learned it by listening to my father’s prayers. He always prayed, “Please help us to be steadfast.” My parents are truly the most steadfast human beings I know—for no reason except the right one.

I often stop and see my parents. I am a carpenter by trade and have a small one-man construction company. I work all over the place, often close to them, even though I live five hours away. They still struggle to even pay their rent. Dad is in his mid-70s now, and mom’s body isn’t holding up so well—but they still won’t let me help—not because they are stubborn, but out of love.

I’m not wealthy. I’m working on 40 things at once and trying to make a decent living, and they know it. I bring them at least one deer a year. Sometimes I can talk dad into hunting with me even though his eyes ain’t what they used to be. The good news is, sometimes I can now outshoot that ol’ cowboy!

God bless them. I love my parents beyond words, and I pray every day that my whole family will someday manage to leave the church that treated them so cruelly. I left meetings eight years ago in 2016.

If you believe in God, anything, or nothing, that’s your God-given right, my friend. Let us not be led by men again. Any assistance toward my parents receiving justice in this life for what happened to them will be greatly appreciated. This is not a collection plate—this is a warning and a plea for mankind—don’t make this mistake!

Colton Krisher, June 27, 2024

Above account edited to include further details provided by Nolan Krisher, July 10, 2024.
There are a few details which I feel I should clarify if I can, but the main body of the story is pretty accurate to the best of my recollection as my brother Colton wrote it. I did not know he had written anything, or that he was going to share this, and we haven’t spoken much in quite a while. I had written my own account of these happenings recently, but only shared it with a few who specifically asked about the story. I didn’t share it broadly, out of concern for how it
might make Dad and Mom feel/react. I will now tip my hat to my brother for just ripping off the bandaid and will add the details I recall. Nolan Krisher

Comments by Lowell Krisher, July 11, 2024:
Thank you all for your support. There will be a fundraiser active for my folks very, very soon. My wish is that when they see your physical, actual financial help for their physical, actual financial problem, they will realize that there is a community who actually does things for people, instead of saying depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled.

I don’t know of anyone that they go to meeting with, since they have been robbed of what was theirs by the work of their own hands, who has felt bad enough to actually assist them in their situation.

I have learned some of what I know about my parents’ loss of their homestead from my friends growing up and friends that I have reconnected with since leaving meetings. I do remember a lot, however. My parents would never ever tell me anything about it. They would say that it was neither here nor there, it was past.

I 100% agree with and appreciate my brother Colton’s narrative. I remember my folks having unhealthy and unhappy conversations with brother workers. I remember them talking quietly about it at night. (I slept in their room when I was little.) I remember Dad and my brothers lining up all of our farm equipment and tools for the auction when he finally lost the place because no one was allowed to help him anymore. I remember my father’s sadness at how little he was able to sell things for.

I remember just a couple people who were true friends and were on our side no matter who said what. Tom Coolahan, thank you sir. What I remember most are the years that followed. Moving from ranch to ranch. Renting for the first time ever. Dad being a little jumpy to buy anything, because everything he’d put his life effort into had just been taken away from him. We moved all the time. We ran out of a job, and the economy sucked. We were homeless. Spent one summer living in our econoline van. Would get chased out of campsites because we couldn’t pay the fee. Would drop in to a nice campground for 30 minutes and take turns hurrying to get a shower before the park person asked us to leave.

But we still were at meeting twice a week through that. You think anyone ever set up a fundraiser? They just set up my folks. Rumor during that time was that Dad was dishonest with money for the convention grounds. Rumor was whatever Joe Hobbs said it was. We didn’t have any friends among the “friends” for a long time, until all the drama had been boiled out. We got through it.

There is a reason that I got my first job at 13 and left home at 16, though. I was a burden to them financially. They loved us kids to pieces, and we were never without food or kindness. They made no mistakes about loving their children. A saying from both of them that I use myself is “always remember that I love you. ” I heard that very often.

There was nothing to do at home, though, because we were just getting by like we’d done since we left Hermosa. I think my dear dad was mentally crushed by the loss, and it stayed with him for years. He worked a minimum of 12 hours a day 6 days a week from the time he found another job after the homeless summer. Hardest working man I’ve ever met. I had to leave early because I felt I had to make my own ends meet and not be worried that I was making their situation worse.

Anyhow, my folks gave it their best and have gotten about nothing in return for their work. They’ve been renting a place for the last 11 years, and now the lady they rent it from wants to get out of real estate, so she’s selling it. They don’t have the funds to buy it, and they don’t have any place to go yet. I feel like maybe with some real actual help, they might see who is truly on their side. Maybe they’ll see that there are hundreds of people who have kindness that knows no 2×2 bounds. I hope so anyhow. Thank you again for everything. Lowell Krisher

NOTICE July 9, 2024.
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LINK: https://www.advocatesforthetruth.com/donate?
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