Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Peter Keyser

Leadership of the early Brethren include some familiar names: Alexander Mack, his son Alexander Mack, Jr., Peter Becker, and the two Christopher Saurs to name a few early leaders.

And then there was Peter Keyser who was elected to the ministry by the Germantown Church in 1788 and served the congregation for 61 years and the elder and leader of the church for 47. He was a man of great physical strength and a natural athlete. He was capable of an immense amount of work and study. He was a tanner until 1794 when he moved to Philadelphia and established a wholesale lumber business.

Peter was a public-spirited man and served as a member of the Philadelphia Board of Health, inspector and treasurer of the prison, and the first director and controller of the city public schools. He could speak equally well in English and German and was considered one of the great preachers of his day.

As a young man he was put to work grinding bark for his father's tannery and, eager to learn the scriptures, he prepared a shelf over his work on which he placed an open Bible. So he began his practice of memorizing long sections of scripture. Over a period of years he completely memorized the New Testament and major portions of the Old Testament.

Later in life, Keyser became blind but that was no handicap for the preacher who could announce a chapter and repeat it from memory without missing a word. People who knew him often said that if the Scriptures were destroyed by accident, Peter Keyser could replace them from memory.

Perhaps in memory of Peter Keyser, you would like to memorize a verse or two today and throughout this 300th Anniversary year.