The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

March 25, 2012

Minister celebrating 40 years at Crockett Road Church of Christ

PALESTINE — Local minister Dan Manuel is celebrating several special occasions this month — his 44th anniversary to his wife Audrey on March 16, his 65th birthday on Saturday and his 40th consecutive year to serve Crockett Road Church of Christ.

“We moved to Palestine on March 27, 1972 from Natchitoches, Louisiana. We had no idea how long we were going to be here, but we figured it would be three or four years,” Manuel said about the 40-year milestone. “Very few preachers have had the opportunity to stay at a place as long as I have, (it’s) such a blessing.”

When they arrived in Palestine, Manuel was 25 years old. Their daughter Danna was 3 with their second daughter Amanda born the following September.

“At the time, the congregation had about 85 members,” Manuel said, noting the congregation currently sits at about 400. “The church has continued to grow, flourish and do well. The church has become very youth-oriented. We have lots of young children, close to 30 under age and several on the way.”

Through the years, the church has been involved in several building programs that have resulted in an education wing in 1971, new church auditorium in 1977 and a family life center in 1993. There also have been numerous remodeling projects.

Last Saturday, the church held a surprise reception and catered fellowship for the Manuels with more than 200 in attendance.

“They presented us with a beautiful cake with old pictures, a new sports jacket for me, crystal for Audrey and money contributions,” Manuel said. “It was a wonderful surprise. Our children were involved and really had us going. We thought we were going to a new place our kids told us about, but instead they drove us back to Palestine for the reception.”

As Manuel steps up to the pulpit on Sundays, he is surrounded by memories.

“I have so many precious memories of the members here, especially those who have gone on to a better place,” Manuel said. “I am so blessed to work with wonderful people. I plan to keep working as long as I can be effective and my health will allow it.”

Over the years, Manuel has led more than 450 revivals across the country.

“It’s mind-goggling to believe it has been 40 years,” Manuel said. “It seems like yesterday.”

Manuel is well-known for his work with the syndicated television program “Give Me the Bible,” where he serves as producer and director of the panelist-led program.

“It airs on NBC KETK 56 and has been broadcast for the past 23 years,” Manuel said.

“Give Me the Bible” broadcasts feature East Texas ministers discussing various religious topics each week and answering viewer questions. The program is taped at the KETK studio in Tyler twice a month and features a toll-free number for listeners to call in questions or comments, or to enroll in a free Bible correspondence course offered on the program each week. The course takes an in-depth look at scripture and assists students in studying the Bible.

In addition, KETK also broadcasts the syndicated commentary, “Something to Think About,” featuring Manuel with a positive thought, each weekday at 6:55 a.m.

“We started that three years ago,” Manuel said of the “Something to Think About” segment. “It gives you a positive motivational thought for the day.”

Both the “Give Me the Bible” and “Something to Think About” programs are broadcast on satellite television on various networks such as Gospel Broadcasting Network, Trinity Broadcasting Network and the Inspirational Network.

Locally, Manuel is known for starting the Dogwood Jamboree production, which started its eighth year of Branson-style musical production in Palestine on Saturday. Manuel serves as producer as well as singing.

“I had no idea the Dogwood Jamboree would take off like it did. It’s becoming very popular. We’ve had good reviews in national and regional publications such as Coast to Coast Country Music Magazine, American Profile and even had a Texas Monthly mention,” Manuel said. “The talent search sponsored by local businesses helps young people have the opportunity to advance their music careers.”

Some members of Crockett Road Church of Christ, as well as Manuel’s extended family, help with the Dogwood Jamboree.

“It’s a classic country show that is very family-oriented, so it works well to that audience,” Manuel said. “We try to keep it very clean.”

Manuel has enjoyed singing and entertaining audiences since he was young.

“I started singing when my mother bought my first guitar when I was 10 years old. I always love the opportunity to sing on stage. It’s a great experience that I use to open the doors for the Lord,” Manuel said. “We’ve had several conversions at the Dogwood Jamboree, in fact.”

Manuel also has provided singing and after-dinner entertainment for events across the country upon request. He has a CD of classic country songs called “On the Right Track” and a Christmas album, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

Manuel credits his wife Audrey for helping him with the church and the Dogwood Jamboree.

“My wife is a large part of our ministry.  She is a blessing in my life,” Manuel said. “She is very involved, teaching the ladies Bible class on Wednesdays, coordinates the Children’s Bible Hour on Sunday and teaches first- and second-grade kids on Sundays.”

Manuel also is thankful to his extended family — some of whom even perform with him on the Dogwood Jamboree — including a son-in-law who plays drums and two grandchildren who sing.

Their oldest daughter Danna is married to Bobby Collins and teaches third grade at Elkhart Elementary School. They have two children, Chloe, 9, and Clayton, 5.

Their youngest daughter Amanda is married to Billy Lane and teaches fifth grade at Cayuga Elementary School. They have two children, Luke, 13, and Susan, 3.

“My daughters have always helped us in any way they can,” Manuel said. “They are good preacher kids.”

Over the years as a minister, Manuel has seen a lot of changes.

“It’s been a wonderful experience. The church is at peace and harmony. We have weathered a lot of storms. You have to be resilient and try to get along with people,” Manuel said.

Manuel also is very happy be a part of the Palestine community.

“We love the people in Palestine. They have been very good to us,” he said. “One lady told me ‘You’re everybody’s minister.’ I have preached at so many funerals and weddings and have counseled a lot of people who are not members of our church here. I’ve always tried to do what I can to help people in the community regardless of the color of their skin, their background or religious beliefs.”

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