Monday, November 24, 2008

Manley Deeter

This story has to do with a Brethren minister who purchased a house trailer and went camping.

Manley Deeter was born near Pleasant Hill, Ohio in 1865. His father William was preparing for a teaching career when he was called to ministry and gave up teaching to focus on ministry. In 1881 the Deeter family moved to Milford, Indiana where William became a church leader. In 1925 the W.R. Deeter cabin was named for him and was the first building constructed at Camp Mack.

Manley was baptized by his father in January 1884 and became a member of the Bethel congregation in Milford where he was chosen as a deacon in 1896 and called to the ministry in 1897. For many years he served with his father in the ministry of the Bethel congregation. He also served on a committee to establish a Brethren camp for youth that led to Camp Mack.

He very early became interested in Manchester College as a factor of a better educated ministry of the church. He served as a trustee of the college from 1909 to 1915 and later as a field representative among the churches of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan raising thousands of dollars for improvements at the college.

His wife Ida died in January 1939 after nearly 55 years of marriage. Manley was 74 years of age but rather than retiring he became interested in carrying the Gospel message to out-of-the-way places. He began in upper Michigan where he organized a new church. After returning to Northern Indiana, he decided to travel and camp in the hills of Kentucky for a season. At the age of 77, in the autumn of 1942, he left his friends and brethren around New Paris, Indiana and set out with his house trailer in search of a community not served by any organized church.

In Clay County, Kentucky he got in touch with a man known as "Preacher Adams" on Big Creek who directed him to the post-office town of Creekville. The Postmaster of that town gave him permission to park his car and house trailer under an ash tree across the road from the post office and general store. The post office had no mail routes so all the mountaineers came to that place to receive their mail and purchase supplies.

Brother Deeter, the "kindly man with the beard," talked to the people on their way to or from the country store. He also learned that they were very kind but suspicious of newcomers.

He never neglected his daily devotions alone in his house trailer. One night, as he was praying aloud, two men were passing by and heard him. They heard him praying to His Heavenly Father to open the hearts of the people. Those two silent listeners soon spread the word among their kinfolk and friends that "we need not be afraid of this stranger, as he has come to help us."

Brother Deeter labored and preached to the people he met but being in his seventy-eighth year realized the task was too great for a man of that age. He appealed to the General Mission Board and they requested the Mission Board of Southern Ohio to assume the supervision of this mission point. The Flat Creek Church was soon organized with Brother Ferdie Roher as pastor and Elder Manley Deeter as moderator.

One year after the church was organized, sentiment was expressed for the need of a church building. The lumber for this church building was a gift of more than 100 logs from the Ford Motor Company, which were taken to a saw mill and sawed to specifications for the structure. The labor was supplied by the local people as well as the two ministers. Brother Deeter at that time had passed his eightieth year.

Source: Lest We Forget and Tales of Yester-Years, Vol. III, Rolland F. Flory