Keener, Christian

12/16/1897

CHRISTIAN KEENER, A.M.
December 23, 1847 - December 16, 1897
 
Between December 23, 1847 and December 16. 1897, Reverend Christian Keener lived his earthly life. Our Bro, Keener served these works in the Louisiana Conference, at Evergreen and Big Cane, Alexandria and Pineville, Baton Rouge, Alexandria District, Louisiana Avenue, New Orleans District, Opelousas District, Minden and Mansfield. He built churches at Big Cane, Pineville, Alexandria, Rayne, Sulphur Mine, Grand Cheniere and Carrollton.
Some one has said that “duty is the broadest word in our language and the grandest thing to do is to stand bravely by duty.” If there ever was a life that exhibited a singular and persistent exemplification of devotion to duty in its minutest details, it was the life of our Brother Christian Keener.
The moral and intellectual training of the home and school had been so well and thoroughly done, that when life with its wonderful possibilities and grave responsibilities opened to his young and vigorous manhood, he felt himself equipped for its work. There is inspiration in the thought of being ready for work when it comes. Readiness for the work which presents itself is not only the first half of the battle, but it inspires a confidence which gives a hopeful assurance of victory in the last half of the battle. The athlete rejoices with strong confidence in’ the muscular vigor, the quick eye, the steady hand and the quiet nerve which long and careful training has given him and he feels himself ready for any task in his line of things, no matter how intricate or how difficult. So when a young man whose morals have been modeled after the New Testament pattern, and whose intellectual faculties have been developed and strengthened and sharpened by judicious courses of study, comes to the opening vista of real life, he rejoices in the fact that there is much to do and that he is prepared to do and is willing to do the part assigned him in the arrangements of Providence. “He rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.” I think this was the condition of mind and heart in which our Brother Keener came to the work of life to which our Lord had called him. Why should not a man’s developments in mental and moral power give him confidence in his ability to do the work to which he is called? And yet this confidence is often misunderstood when exhibited by young men starting out in life. I think this was so in Bro. Keener’s case. The confidence he had in his ability to do the work assigned him was regarded by some persons as an exhibition of that bad spirit which rejoices in a superiority over other people. Those who knew him best know that he never gave place in his heart where such a spirit could be entertained. His self-confidence was conspicuous to everybody, but to his intimate friends his humility was equally as conspicuous, and in the conjunction of these two he was fortified against the angry dash of many evil things which wear away the lives of other people.
Having come to his life-work in the frame of mind above indicated he was immediately put to the proof. In a very few years he had gone the full round of a Methodist preacher’s work. He labored on Circuits, in Stations and on Dis-tricts, and everywhere he exhibited faith in himself and in the Church as well as an abiding confidence in God. Whether on the Circuit or in the Station, or on the District, few men excelled him in painstaking and thorough work. He had a genius for carrying out his work to the minutest details. He rejoiced to see the least, as well as the largest piece of Church machinery fitting closely in its proper place and moving smoothly in its proper work. This attention to the details of his work developed and brought out to a large prominence the grace of patience and this patience grew with the growth of difficulties, and strengthened with the strengthening opposition and usually won the day over all difficulty and over every kind of opposition. Throughout his whole ministry, whether preaching or doing pastoral work, whether superintending the temporal and spiritual affairs of the district, or with his own hands wielding the hammer or driving the saw in constructing church houses and parsonages, there was always exhibited confidence in himself, humility before God, and patience in the face of difficulties.
I do not think that Brother Keener was what is commonly called “a popular preacher.” Except on rare occasions, he was slow in delivering his sermons, and this is by some people, considered an evidence of dullness. The criticism emanates from dullness. Slowness in delivery invariably invites the listener to anticipate the thought in the mind of the speaker and thus the anticipation creates the impression that the speaker is doing no more than the hearer could do were the conditions reversed. Though Brother Keener was a slow speaker, very few “could anticipate his thought.” Not that his thoughts were especially novel or original, but there was a subtlety of thought and an aptness in expressing that subtlety which very few could anticipate, and which nobody could imitate. In the critical analysis of a subject he displayed the mind of a master moving with care among the intricacies of a subject, and solving difficulties that baffled other minds, and laying open to view the chief and important points. Being a close and diligent student of’ the Scriptures he knew thoroughly the great doctrines of religion and defended them with a logical precision and power not excelled by many. The whole of his preaching, his whole treatment of Scripture, showed an humble man, sitting at the Master’s feet and learning His blessed lessons.
Brother Keener was most happy and blest in his domestic relations. His esteem and regard for his family were most beautiful and his home was a little Eden where purest love presided and a generous hospitality was cordially dispensed.
His love for the Church was as simple and sincere as the love of a child for its mother and showed itself in continuous and indefatigable labors for her welfare. But these arduous and incessant labors wrought ill to his highly organized nervous system and prostrated him. Friends hoped and prayed for his restoration, but the case proved irremediable. All that love could do, all that the enlightened science of medicine could suggest, proved of no avail and on December 15, his spirit returned to God who gave it. We rejoice to believe that the mental aberrations have now all been corrected by the skillful and tender services of the great Physician, and the mental power reawakened and illumined by reflections from the Eternal Light, and that he now sees eye to eye and face to face, mingling his cleared voice with the Choir that sings the “Song of Moses and the Lamb.” “These things saith the Son of God, who bath his eyes like unto a flame of fire and his feet like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service and faith, and thy patience and thy works and the last to be more than the first.”
Source: Journal, Louisiana Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, January 1898; Pages 37-38: By C. W. Carter .