History of the Restoration Movement


  Floyd Arthur Decker
 
1898-1960
 
 
Life Of Floyd A. Decker
 

Floyd Arthur Decker was born February 26, 1898, at Geneva, Kentucky. In 1905 his father, E. A. Decker, moved the family to Ballard County in West Kentucky and later to Cairo, Illinois. Decker lived at Cairo, Illinois, until he volunteered for Army duty on April 15, 1918. After three years of duty in the Army he returned home and married Miss Elizabeth Hodges of Bandana, Kentucky. This wife bore him two daughters, Mrs. Carlos Phillips and Mrs. June Gilbert.

Decker moved his new bride to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he worked as an automobile mechanic. His first religious commitments were under the preaching of Billy Sunday. Soon after this religious experience, he was privileged to hear a Christian Church preacher in nearby Sand Springs, Oklahoma. On hearing the second sermon, he made the good confession and was baptized.

He began, immediately, to preach for the Christian Church. His first work was at Kellyville, Oklahoma, where he preached for only five months. He then preached for the Christian Church in Vienna, Illinois. He left there to attend Cincinnati Bible Institute, where John W. Tyndale was president. Here, at his study at the Cincinnati Bible Institute, he preached at Hartsville, Burnsville, Brownstown, all in Indiana. In October of 1925, he moved to Paducah, Kentucky, and became the "pastor" of the Murrell Boulevard Christian Church.

While living at Paducah, Decker heard J. Petty Ezzell preach on the difference between the Christian church and the church of Christ. Decker became sufficiently aroused to respond to Ezzell's sermon. The following Sunday night, from the pulpit at Murrell Boulevard, T. C. Wilcox, who preached for the church of Christ in Paducah, sent Charles Houser, Jr., to hear Decker's sermon. Houser invited Decker to preach the sermon at the 19th and Broadway Church of Christ with the provision that T. C. Wilcox would answer it. After two nights' discussion, between Decker and Wilcox, Decker took his stand with the loyal brethren.

His first work with the brethren was with the Highland Avenue Church, Montgomery, Alabama. He was unusually successful in his evangelistic work. A number of Christian churches abandoned the use of the organ and took their stand with the loyal brethren as a result of his preaching. He baptized many sectarians.

One chief goal of his life was to start at least one man into the full-time ministry of the Word for each year that he preached.

This goal he realized. Decker's work, as a minister of the gospel, included the following places: the Highland Avenue Church of Christ, Montgomery, Alabama, four years; Paris, Texas, three years; Bonham, Texas, nine months; Gladewater, Texas, five years; the Church Street Church, Mobile, Alabama, two and one half years; mission work in Monroe and Tallulah, Louisiana, for two years under the direction of the Gladewater, Texas church; the church in Haynesville, Louisiana, three years; Jacksonville, Texas, two years; Shreveport, Louisiana, three years; the Jackson Street Church in Monroe, Louisiana, three years; Tupelo, Mississippi, three years.

In 1933 while living at Paris, Texas, Decker's wife died. In 1935, he married Miss Barbara Couch, the daughter of an elder of the Paris, Texas, church. Barbara Couch Decker, a wonderful helpmeet and preacher's wife, bore him two sons, Floyd A. Jr., and Larry.

Decker loved his brethren. He was continually engaged in bringing about peace where churches had become divided. He had a big heart and holding a grudge was not one of his weaknesses. He was longsuffering with people, and he made many allowances for human frailties.

A faithful minister of the church for 31 years, Decker passed to his reward January 23, 1960. Funeral service was held at the church at Marshall, Texas, with V. E. Howard officiating. He as buried in the Elisian Fields Cemetery at Marshall, Texas. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; two daughters, Mrs. June Gilbert and Mrs. R. C. (Jenny Eva) Phillips; two sons, Floyd A. Decker, Jr., and Larry C. Decker.

 
-Gussie Lambert, In Memoriam, pages 66-68
 
 
Eighteen Years Ago
 

A little more than eighteen years ago I gave up what is known as the Christian Church. The principles I gave up then I have never seen reason to re-embrace. I have never regretted one moment of service I have rendered in the church of the Lord. Today I see no reason to go back to the "Christian Church" and see no reason to accept the principles, advocated by some now, which would lead me back into the practice of the same things I practiced in the "Christian Church." Do we need some other organizations within or without the church to assist us in our educational, benevolent and "missionary work?" If we think so let us say so—let us take a stand out in the open and be just what we are — preach and declare publicly that which we would like to advocate privately.

Before leaving the "Christian Church" I learned many lessons concerning the evils of the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS). I learned that the thing itself was evil and amounted to nothing more or less than a political machine with all the ruthless tactics of the same, rendered more evil because of the guise of religion. The UCMS was a giant octopus with tentacles running out in every direction—into every congregation grasping and choking until what little respect for New Testament authority remained was released. The manhood of the preachers and elders was sapped and their faith in God drained off until what started out to be a movement to advance the Cause for which Jesus died ended up in decay and death. The only advancement made is material unless it is in the realm of worldliness. They advanced now to where the inspiration of the Bible and the divinity of Christ is denied by many of the very ones who launched the program to advance the will of God on earth.

The result of the local autonomy destroying society is an old story. The destruction was not accomplished overnight. It took years of subtle planning and constant work of some of the most influential men—the so called "Broad-minded." Those who knew just how "broad-minded" to be or appear to be and where. In some places one could hear them all but preach it straight, while in other places where they felt they were among the "more learned" they would come out in the open more.

I say I learned these things before coming out of the digressive church. Who would expect me to forget their manner of working? This thing nearly cost me my soul, for if I had not found out I was being deceived by these affairs—if I had not learned the truth, and separated myself from this religious farce I would have been lost. I would have deceived others, myself, and spent eternity in a devil's hell.

I struggled and tried to reform the congregations where I preached. However, I found then what I know now. It is all but impossible to reform any institution which has left the very principles that brought it into existence. Men seldom reform churches. In such work there must be some destruction before one can do much construction. It is impossible to have a New Testament church resting upon the doctrines and commandments of men—or to have a New Testament church where the principles of men crowd out the simplicity of the gospel. All I could do eighteen years ago for the Christian Church where I preached is what I am now try to do, point out the evils of such and try to save some individuals within and keep as many as I can from going into institutions not approved in God's sight.

Much has been said recently concerning the right of a local congregation to support institutions. Institutionalism has such an evil reputation and has resulted in such great corruptions, especially when connected with churches or religious movements, that it seems to me we should know enough without further discussion to turn away from them. Speeches supporting the idea of the "College in the budget" come with very poor grace from those who are to be benefited. Why not leave the discussion to those whose motives can not be charged? Oh, I see now! You say if we did that there would be none to make the speeches!

There is no scriptural argument for a local congregation, as such, supporting any kind of an institution, as such. When churches of the Lord become tributary to an outside institution, by whatsoever name called, it will eventually become subsidiary to the same. Who was it in the "policy making committee" where it was urged to appeal to the congregations for direct support from their budgets and when one attending asked: "What if the local preachers oppose it?" the answer was returned by some one there to the effect: "Put it over any way?" Who said that? The congregations, these days, write often to the colleges for recommendations of preachers. Suppose Don Morris found out in some way that I opposed the idea of the church supporting "our" educational institutions from our treasury? Would he not be in position to do me much harm with those whom he knows among the churches? Could he not pass out the information that "Decker is all right but—?" That is the way the digressives worked and work today to keep their preachers in line. I love peace but when I see that the price for peace is the compromise of God's word, I would rather have war. No Christian will pay that high a price for peace for it is much better to have "tears and sweat and blood." Want a good reference ? Here it is, Matt 10:34. There are times when God wants us to have trouble. "A man's foes shall be they of his own household" — applies to ones own immediate family all right but also to the family of God. When we remember this maybe we will not be so bitter against those who attempt to correct the errors within the church as well as without the church.

If and when the congregations generally put the colleges and other institutions in their budgets it is only a matter of time until they appoint congregational representatives to meet once a year to help form the politics and guide the institutions. They would be foolish if they did not! Who wants to continue to contribute but have no voice. This would be as silly as sending the contribution in the first place. But let me tell you now before it gets that far that you might as well not attend your representative meetings for the "Executive Committee" will meet within three weeks to decide what the general conference meant by its resolutions and interpret the resolutions made by the "General Educational Conference" out of existence. This will come to that sooner than you expect. Well, you say, will we then have preachers who will claim this procedure scriptural? Oh, yes! Why by that time they will be quoting book chapter and verse. I venture this though, they will never get around to II Jno. 9 which would keep them from taking the first step toward destruction. This condition will not come about in four or five years, but come it will unless the support of institutions by local congregations is stopped. Alma mater zeal rather than love for the truth seems to be the rule of the day. About all the trouble the churches have ever had, I mean serious errors concerning the truth, has come through educational institutions. It will continue to come that way. This is the reason I would not give even a good word toward the endowment of one. As long as they are poor and struggling for existence they do good — but when the day of prosperity comes and they are able to get more "big shots" in the trouble starts. (Hos. 10:13.) They get too big to look up to God, if they see Him at all they have to look down for there is nothing above them.

Is it God's will to support colleges through the churches? Did God create the church for that purpose? Has the purpose of the church changed since God gave it to the world? Would you state while preaching on the work and purpose of the church: "It is God's will, and the God given purpose of the church is to support the colleges so they can educate our preachers, elders and deacons?" Is it not indeed sad that the churches had no elders until we developed our present educational system? When the colleges finish making elders for the churches will those elders be smart enough to have the colleges in their budgets. And too, for it does come in the realm of possibilities, what if the congregation won't have these elders you have produced for them? Will they put the pressure on through other former students in the congregation and force the issue over the will of some ignorant preachers and members who do not have their special brand of education?

This is my first article for the Bible Banner. I have read and enjoyed the Banner for a long time. The reason I have said but little in days gone by is for the simple reason that others were doing a better job than I thought I could do. I still think so but want all to know where I stand. I have not always agreed with all I have seen in the Banner or anywhere else except in the Bible. However, I have known Foy E. Wallace, Jr. since I have been in the church of our Lord. I want you to know and I want him to know that I stand with him on the issue and on most of the other issues which have confronted the churches from time to time.

May God help us take the warning from the Christian Church. They have gone far astray from the word of God. Since I left them they have gone farther faster than I thought they would. There is yet hope for many individuals within that body but as a body there is no hope of recovery. Brethren let us think now and stop the downward plunge. We are not drifting — we are plunging! Back to the Bible, back to the church of the Bible, back to the organization of the Bible, back, Back, B-A-C-K to where we started and where we must be found and where we will wish we were when the world is on fire.

 
-Floyd A. Decker, The Bible Banner, January, 1948
 
 
At Rest
 

Decker.—Floyd A. Decker was born near Bandana, Ky., sixty-one years ago. He had been a faithful gospel preacher for thirty-five years, preaching over a great part of these United States. He always had a greatand grand work wherever he went. At his death he had been with the church in Tupelo, Miss., for three years. Floyd A. Decker was in deed and truth a great Christian gentleman and gospel preacher. Surviving him are his wife, four children and four grandchildren. Final services in his honor were conducted in Tupelo, Miss. January 25, with the writer of Smyrna, Tenn., and Theo N. Kirkland of Montgomery, Ala., In charge. A second service was conducted January 28 in Marshall. Texas. with V. E. Howard and Leonard Coker in charge. Burial was in the Marshall Cemetery. Truly a great soldier of the cross is gone to his reward.

 
Joe Morris, Gospel Advocate, February 18, 1960, p.111
 
 
Gospel Advocate Obituary
 

Floyd A. Decker was born December 26, 1898, at Geneva, Ky. He died January 23, 1960, at Tupeloa, Miss., at the age of sixty-two. Thus came to a close the life of a very useful man in the church. He preached for several years in the Christian Church. He had served churches of Christ in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. His work was widely known and his counsel was often sought when churches were involved with internal strife. Brother Decker made it his goal to encourage at least one young man to begin preaching the gospel each year. The first of December, 1959, he learned that he had cancer in both lungs. In less than two months he had fallen victim to the dread disease. He died at his home in Tupelo, Miss., January 23. Funeral service was conducted in Tupelo January 25 by Joe. H. Morris, Claude C. Caudle, Theo N. Kirkland and Rex A. Turner. Another service was conducted at East Burleson Street Church in Marshall, Texas, January 26, by the writer, Leonard Coker and V. E. Howard. His body was laid to rest in Marshall, Texas. He is survived by his wife; two daughters, Mrs. June Gilbert, Mrs. R. C. Phillips, Jr.; two sons, Floyd A., Jr., and Larry; and two brothers.

 

Gussie Lambert, Gospel Advocate, February 25, 1960, page 127.

 
 

GPS Location
32.50712883811863N, -94.31520223617554W
(OR) 32° 30. 429' x 94° 18. 916'


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Directions To The Grave Of Floyd Decker
 

Floyd A. Decker is buried in the Colonial Gardens Cemetery (The old Calvary Cemetery) in the East Texas city of Marshall. On I-20 take Exit 620. and go north about 1 mile. Go to the north entrance and enter the cemetery. Just behind the sign on the right will be what looks like a plot of infant graves. About eight rows further up the road and on the right is the Decker monument. (It will even with where the cross-road connects with the drive you are on.) Grave faces east.

Note: I took these photos just after dawn on one morning in early January, 2010. The ground was so cold that it made a crunching sound as you walked on it. My grandmother always said the coldest places on earth were the cemetery and on a railroad track. That morning left me in total agreement.
This was the second effort I made to look for the grave of Floyd Decker. The first time was in 2003 or 4 when traveling out to Texas again. The instructions I had was that he was buried in the Elysian Fields Cemetery. After traveling all

 
 


Looking Toward The Front Of The Cemetery


Floyd A. Decker
Dec. 26, 1898
Jan. 23, 1960
Soldier Of The Cross
Prince Among Men

 
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