Blair C. Adams, founder of Homestead Heritage, passed peacefully from this life at home after a lengthy battle with cancer on July 27, 2021. He departed in the arms of his devoted wife of 50 years, surrounded by family, friends and a caring church community.
Blair was born on January 5, 1944, in El Paso, Texas. Some of his fondest early memories were visits to the ranch of his older cousins near Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he first sat a horse at age three. He spent his early school years in Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas, filling his off-school time working on ranches as (in his words) a “never fully accomplished cowboy.”
Nurtured in this Texas soil, Blair loved the countryside, horses, great big skies and the people and traditions of rural America. He guided the Homestead Heritage community in the path of agrarian living, teaching former urbanites to discover life’s fullness in working the soil, interacting with the land, growing food and building relationships through a rural lifestyle.
Since childhood, Blair gave himself to art, instructed by his professional artist grandmother. In 1962, he enrolled in Texas Tech’s architectural and applied arts school, later transferring to UT at Austin.
In 1964, his father violently took his own life, disrupting and redirecting Blair’s future. He changed majors and ended up in the UT philosophy department, bereft of all conceptual faith about God.
In August of 1966, after 3 ½ years of college, Blair was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War. He was offered a position in Army Intelligence, obtaining a “top secret crypto” security clearance. Stationed in Bavaria, West Germany, for three years, he worked in electronic intelligence, monitoring Soviet and Warsaw Pact activities.
Upon honorable discharge from military service, Blair reentered the philosophy department at the University of Texas for the summer and fall of 1970. But in January and February of 1971, Blair had several life-changing encounters with God. These surprising events convinced him that there was only one God — Jesus — holding out the promise of a powerful spiritual experience to all believers. He also saw the hope for lasting relationships in Christ’s Body, the church.
Blair soon became a minister. He married Regina Mae McDanel on May 7, 1971. They began preaching nightly in churches around the country for the next two years, eventually answering a call to launch an inner-city church in Manhattan’s Lower East Side slums.
Through his experiences in hundreds of churches and then beginning a church in a spiritually desolate place, Blair came to believe the church must fulfill its promise of becoming an alternative to the world’s smoldering cultures, an alternative culture—the “kingdom of God.” This was, in Jesus’ words, a “kingdom not of this world.”
Blair perceived this kingdom as God’s noncoercive rule of love, not only in individual lives but also in an entire community of people from across the earth—people united by commitment to God’s love and vision alone.
Blair nurtured the church in the Biblical convictions of nonviolence and simplicity of lifestyle consistent with the Anabaptist lineage.
Blair believed that the kingdom of God should unfold “on earth as it is in heaven,” finding its embodiment in the sacralized life of Christian community. Such a community, like any living thing, must be whole. Thus, Blair saw that Christian community must become an entire environment, a vital way of living and focusing a people’s vision, labor, conduct and relationships. In short, a viable culture in Christ must include everything essential to sustain life.
Blair’s abiding motive has been to sponsor communities of exemplary Christian existence—communities that could teach people how to live authentically in God’s presence and with each other. Blair hoped such communities would make possible wise choices in religion, culture, relationships, vocations, lifestyle, and on a scale large enough to make a difference in a troubled world. In these communities, children, women and men would share the ineffable delight of experientially knowing God; word and deed would fuse in the authentic unity of a lived life.
Indeed, Blair, Regina and their friends never saw the church institutionally, but as God’s people bound together in deep and abiding relationships of mutual love service. From their early days as Christians, they talked of the church and kingdom in terms of community.
Who could have envisioned how their efforts would unfold when, in the summer of 1973, Blair and Regina first moved into the Lower East Side slums of Manhattan? There they started the small mission church, Voice in the Wilderness, on the same block that the New York Daily News then described as the “worst” in the city, a virtual “pornorama of vice.” Yet from those inauspicious beginnings grew Heritage Ministries and the Homestead Heritage community of Waco, Texas, as well as daughter communities in Montana, Idaho, Virginia, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, Israel and beyond. Homestead Heritage is now visited by over 200,000 people a year. All of its ministries and offshoot communities, traditional crafts, educational and other services now extend worldwide.
From early in his ministry, Blair recognized that writing would be an integral part of his labors. He read and studied his entire adult life about the impact of ideas on individuals, cultures and whole peoples. He sought to understand how unconscious cultural assumptions often controlled people’s thinking, desires and actions in ways that worked against their own deepest needs. He labored and wrote to expose these largely hidden cultural ideas so that people might make real, informed choices about life’s most crucial matters. Blair has authored over 250 titles, extensively and intensively grappling with these and other related topics. Colloquium Press publishes his books in Elm Mott, Texas.
Until his passing, Blair resided with his loving wife, Regina, in Waco, Texas, surrounded by their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many lifelong friends.
Homestead Heritage mourns the passing of a loving shepherd of nearly 50 years. They bid farewell to a man who lived as he preached, walked humbly and loved liberally. They say goodbye to an ambassador of hope and inspiration, knowing his life’s sacrifice and message will live on in a community committed to making real the dream of God’s “city on a hill”—a refuge of peace for turbulent times.
Goodbye, Brother Blair. We miss you already; we’ll love you forever and will strive to honor your life and memory in following your faithful pursuit of Christ’s kingdom—come on earth as in heaven.