Our pastor, along with an identical twin brother, was born September 28, 1949 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. His name was John Francis McManus IV, but through Divine providence and after a parting of the ways by his birth parents (both of whom he eventually met and found to be enjoyable experiences); his brother, Thomas William and he were adopted into a thoroughly Christian home. Roland and Betty Daniels of S. Ryegate, Vermont gave them the wonderful opportunity to become established in the faith, to have a loving home and stable upbringing. They had a daughter already, Mary Lou; of course she became their sister and both loved her very much.
Pastor Jack’s (as we affectionately refer to him) father was a stone cutter by trade, worked in the little town where he walked back and forth from the “stone shed” each noon for dinner (as they called it). The boys often met him after school and walked home with him. They raised sheep, pigs – and the boys always had a dog. It was certainly a perfect environment to raise a family.
The church Pastor Jack attended and to which his parents belonged was the Groton First Baptist Church; in those days, a Conservative Baptist church and one which certainly preached and taught the Word of God. Life for him consisted of home, school (around the corner) and church! His mother was a housewife/homemaker, and was always present when the children were home. Much time was spent in the educational process, learning math tables, English and Bible. As a common routine Pastor Jack’s family would gather around the table in the evening and after dinner would read around, each one taking a section of the Biblical chapter before them and reading it aloud.
Pastor Jack believed it was this exercise that taught him to excel in grammar, reading and comprehension; after all, the KJV was a bit difficult, but was all he knew at the time. Around that same table they read the old, unabridged version of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (several times) as his dad would explain the many connections to Biblical doctrine and every day living. This proved unimaginably profitable, as he would discover in later life, grappling eventually with those great Doctrines of Grace.
If our pastor were to describe the greatest attribute which led three children, Mary, Tom and him to conversion, repentance and Christian maturity, each marrying in the faith and leading godly lives, it would be that of “consistency”! His parents practiced what they taught. There was no facade, no pretense, what you observed with his dad and mom was what they were. Almost always, except for school weekdays, when the church doors were opened for services, Sundays, missionary conferences, Christian educational programs, youth and Christian Service Brigade, his folks were sure they were there and it was definitely a joy. That, along with the faithful home, led him at the age of 10 to experience conversion under the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God while an evangelist, Mr. Ted Fix, with his song leader, Roy Thomas, both of Oklahoma, were conducting evangelistic meetings at his home church. Whenever there were missionaries or speakers at the church it seems they dined at the Daniels’ home and/or stayed with them. These men and others left a great impression of love and godliness in his mind to this very day.
The pastors of the church were godly men and even if the particular sermons do not remain, their love for the Lord and faithfulness stand out greatly. Three that come to pastor’s mind specifically are Rev. Guy Kinney, Rev. Wayne Fraiser and Rev. Don Macomber; all are still living and ministering as God leads, even during their “retirement” years.
Pastor Jack loved Sunday dinners, especially when others would be invited, which was quite often. The linen would be removed from the closet, the silver distributed and his mom was the greatest cook in the county. Although he was no doubt unaware at that time, it seems the conversations did get absorbed into his mind – maybe because he lived under certain popular rules of that day that when grown ups were present, children were to be “seen, and not heard”? Well, it did serve him well as he looks back on those joyous days.
His dad was always a studious type, and had his Bible marked from Genesis to Malachi. He was particularly a student of the Old Testament. He was a quiet gentleman, one who loved God and sought to raise his family to do the same. He evidently did not require much sleep because he would be in his “den” at his roll top desk studying the Word late at night and early in the morning before he went to work.
Eventually there were Bible studies in the house on Monday nights, something that lasted for years, with the complete sanction of the Groton Baptist Church. The principle teacher for the most part was Dr. Bruce Morgan, the founder of the Northeast Gospel Crusade. Pastor and his brother Tom’s room was directly above the dining room where the study took place. He remembers so clearly how much he enjoyed the teachings even at that young age. Except for the several times his mom scampered up the stairs to silence them, and the very few times his dad did the same, he and Tom would fall asleep hearing the words of the Bible. The Book of Hebrews, taught by the skillful mind and lips of Dr. Morgan still rings in his ears.
Not far from the town where they lived was an extremely small settlement always referred to as “Limekill”. His dad began a Sunday afternoon Bible study there, and for a few years faithfully taught those who came. The numbers were few, to be sure, but he was there regardless of the numbers. Pastor Jack remembers at one time they gave his dad $5 out of any “offering” that came in, but he also recalls how his dad always put it back in the plate. He considered himself a “tentmaker” for the Gospel, and soon joined the Northeast Gospel Crusade as a lay preacher.
Then came the Bible study in Moscow, Vermont, a town just outside of Stowe. Pastor’s dad traveled there each Tuesday after working all day and often the boys would accompany him. During those years the leadership of the Groton Baptist Church approached his dad and requested that he be ordained. Pastor Daniels declined, saying that he already felt the hand of God, but they insisted. He was a humble man and seemed not to make a “big deal” of his endeavors for the Lord. Well, he finally agreed and was duly ordained to the Christian ministry. The ministry at Moscow had gone well and became incorporated as a church. Pastor Jack’s dad, Roland Daniels was the founding pastor, and was till his death, given the honorable title of Pastor Emeritus. He later accepted a call to the South Northfield Little White Church, and was pastor there as our Pastor Jack went off to school in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
It was there after many years of ministry that Pastor’s dad was forced into “retirement” due to his health. Strokes had come upon him by the dozens, and after preaching multiple times leaning on a cane, then in a wheelchair, he had to relax at home, receiving his help from the Lord each day in a special way. His wife, Betty, labored many years taking good care of him until his homegoing, a faithful, devoted and untiring wife. She will most certainly be rewarded greatly in heaven some day for her service to her family.
It was during the time of ministry in Northfield that Pastor Jack left for school. The Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music was the choice he made, a school founded by John Miles, a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. Pastor graduated from that school in 1974.
During his school years Pastor met his future bride, Rebecca Michael. What a joy she was to him. Pastor Jack “lights up” when he thinks and speaks of his dear bride. She also came from a pastor’s home living in Pinckney, Michigan. She is the second child in a family of eight children. Her dad was pastor of the Hiawatha Beach Church in Hamburg, Michigan for 15 years. He was also a missionary with the Rural Bible Mission in Michigan for even more years. The year before Pastor met Becky, her dad was suddenly taken to be with the Lord through a tragic accident as he and other men worked on the new addition of their church, leaving Mrs. Michael (Mary) to continue raising the children, one in college, three in high school, and the other four in grade school. It is a tribute to Mrs. Michael that all her children carry on in the faith. Many are in the direct Christian ministry to this day.
Pastor says this about her: “Becky was and is everything a man could possibly desire in a wife, particularly a pastor’s wife. Patient, kind and of wonderful humor, though she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, every joint in her body aching constantly through the day and night. It is not the arthritis that she is noted for, however, but her constancy and faithfulness to the Lord, her family and church. God has indeed blessed me with that ‘choice’ during my school years. We were married just after she graduated, leaving one more year for me”.
After graduation the Lord led them back in New England. During Pastor’s high school years in Vermont he had been actively involved with the New England Fellowship of Evangelicals, the Rumney Bible Conference and Happy-T-Ranch in Rumney, New Hampshire. It was during those years that his brother and he blossomed in the faith. Rev. Tal McNutt (Executive Director) and his wife Evie were like second parents, and they taught the same things that were taught in the Daniels’ home and church as well. Not enough can be said about the value of consistency in a youth’s upbringing.
Pastor began as a camper at “Camp Hope”, operated by the Fellowship at the site of Pineridge and Cathedral Pines. In those days release-time Bible teachers would go to the public schools once a month (if memory serves correctly) and for the great task of memorizing 300 Bible verses/passages, children were given a free week at Camp Hope. Then came the time that Pastor and his brother began working on the staff; Tom labored in the maintenance department under Charlie Woodworth and Pastor Jack in the kitchen under Lloyd Stratton. A more pleasant and productive place for teens could not be found, it is certain. Many lessons were learned and Pastor carries them to this very day. Eventually he ended up at the Conference grounds as a waiter, and “singing” waiter (he sings and plays trumpet and piano) and would sing between the main course and dessert.
After getting married they joined the staff of the New England Fellowship of Evangelicals. Becky worked in registration while he was Assistant Director under Tal. Then they went to Danvers, Massachusetts to continue year round – Jack as Field Secretary and Becky as financial secretary.
They were happy with that life, and enjoyed visiting churches and doing the administrative duties connected with their positions. Pastor did have a long-term desire, however, to pastor a church. This was no doubt due to the wonderfully positive experience relative to the local church as he grew up at home. One thing he thinks about a lot these days is, despite any problem that existed in the church (and he learned about those many years later), his parents never spoke of them in front of the children. There is so much wisdom in that and both Becky and Jack are thankful for such an upbringing. They only knew good things and had great fellowship with all in the church.
The fulfillment of a pastorate still pressed strongly upon Pastor Jack, and it was in the fall of 1975 that he did indeed candidate at the Free Baptist Church of Limerick. Without going into detail here, he remembers well his inner thoughts. He was called almost immediately, and wondered what he would do; being scared, apprehensive and wondering what God had in mind. Well, he did accept, and November 2, 1975 was his first week as the new young pastor, and Pastor and his wife have never questioned God’s providence and grace that brought them to this place.
There were few times that Pastor ever begged God to make His Divine will known, and accepting this pastorate was indeed one of those times. They asked the Lord to do specific, miraculous things to show them His plan, and folks, He did in such a way as to make the answer completely evident. This was in itself necessary, for it was not long before Satan attacked, big time, and they never wavered! Thank God for firmness of conviction. They have continued in the church now for over 39 years (February 2015) and God has been so precious to them, providing wisdom, comfort and wonderful friends.
About six years after their arrival Becky could not move her muscles well. Everyone was quite concerned because she was a very active woman. As it turned out she had the beginning signs of rheumatoid arthritis. Little did they know how devastating a disease this could be. It was relentless. A number of changes needed to be made including the building of their own house a few miles out of town in West Newfield, right beside the New Hampshire border. That is where they have resided to this day.
About that time, Becky and Pastor Jack became acquainted with an organization founded by Larry Burkett, Christian Financial Concepts. It is a Christian based organization raised up to help people who believe in the Biblical mandate that they must owe no man anything, except the debt of love. Knowing so many believers who struggle with this important matter, they investigated this ministry. Having traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and receiving the proper training, they became CFC counselors. This was found to be very worthwhile personally and also for those who wanted to do better in that area of life. Then there was the matter of doctor’s bills, constant therapy and travel. Both Tom and Pastor were interested (that is putting it mildly) in flying as they grew up, and both worked to get their pilot’s licenses.
Tom (he and Jack were identical twins) was bi-vocational, doing itinerant work with his wife Kay, traveling all over in the United States and the Maritimes, singing and preaching the Word. Then as their kids grew up, he added to his work a local charter/freight pilot’s job out of Pontiac, Michigan. Sad to say, on August 9, 1990 he was departing about midnight from Greenwood, South Carolina to Pontiac with a load of freight for a car company. The plane was a twin engine Beach 18 with radial engines. One of them “swallowed a valve” on take-off. Being only a few hundred feet in the air, Tom feathered an engine and began the process of returning to the airport, but could not make it. He crashed and burned a very short distance from the airport boundary. Though this is still a great heartbreak, all of us who knew Tom are resting in the conviction that he is with his Lord today.
Jack received a call from someone at Songtime, USA, a well-known Christian radio daily program out of Cape Cod in Massachusetts owned and operated by Mr. John DeBrine, asking if they might do a tribute to Tom. Many folks from the Northeast knew him and his family and had been calling to request this. As a result Pastor did a telephone interview with them and they aired it not long afterwards.
Now back to Limerick! Jack began a bi-vocational life as well. In the early 1980’s he was approached by Maine Aviation in Portland to be a flight instructor. He did that for a couple of years then transferred into their freight/charter department, flying Cessna 402’s, 340’s and the like. In June of 1987 he became employed as a pilot for Delta’s Northeast commuter, Business Express. Being based in Boston was a chore, but in less than two years he had worked himself up in seniority, become a captain, and was usually able to work his days to be free when needed back home as well as weekends. The equipment he flew was the Beach 1900, the Shorts 360 and the Saab Fairchild 340, all jet prop aircraft seating from 19 to 36 passengers. He praises the Lord, for not only allowing him to provide for his family financially, but also for giving him the two greatest desires of his heart, that of the ministry and flying.
After flying constantly for 13 years and being as faithful as possible to both vocations, he knew he was getting tired and not any younger. The church was so understanding during those years, but Becky and he both knew they had to make a decision to stop flying, for never once did our pastor ever consider the airlines as his primary “job”. He resigned Business Express effective January 5, 1996. Though he does miss flying with the crews and working with the fine folks at the company, he does not miss the hassle of juggling his life’s duties whatsoever. “I do not regret that bi-vocational experience, nor do I regret being back ‘home’ in Maine, doing the Lord’s work here”. Now he does a little instruction at the local airport and also flies part-time for three wonderful clients in their corporate aircraft. He also does volunteer flights for a much-needed organization called Angel Flights, Inc. They specialize in flying folk (many are children) to hospitals. These are seriously ill, and require ongoing care, but transportation is problematic for them. This is a wonderful ministry, and he is proud to be one of their volunteer pilots. Visit their web site at Angel Flight NE.
All three of Pastor’s children were born in Sanford, Maine, and are healthy and profess Christ. John Roland graduated from Liberty University with his degree in Government. He owns his own landscaping and arborist business called Creation Property Services, Inc., and is doing quite well. Thomas Charles graduated from PBU with his Masters in Counseling and is now completing flight training in North Philadelphia (PNE). He is planning a career as a pilot with the airlines. Tom is very musical – singing, playing the piano and guitar in his local church, and is looking forward to the Lord’s continued leading in ministry. Kelly Marie graduated from PBU as well with her BS in Health and Physical Education in May (2004). She is currently a police officer in East Hartford, CT. and is planning marriage to a Christian man, Justin Dayfield in August. We pray constantly for their success in the Lord, no matter their vocation.
The things mentioned are so memorable to our pastor and wife and trust it will be inspirational to you as well. People ask sometimes if he and Becky will ever be going to another church someday, after all it is the first and only church in which they have ministered. His response is, “I cannot think of one reason to leave Maine, these dear people of the church or the community. Of course, if the Lord were to make a move known, we have always been of the mind that His will is ours, as well. I do not see a move in the future though, so we are looking forward to another 38 years here – if He so wills!”