Peter Whitezel, a United Brethren minister in Virginia, passed away on February 22, 1837. He became a minister at age 28, traveled regularly to serve a circuit of churches under his care, and died four years later at age 32. Bishop William Hanby described him as a “faithful minister” who left behind “a young and affectionate family.”
That’s all we know about Peter Whitezel. We don’t know anything about his spiritual journey, how he became a minister, if he farmed on the side (probably), or anything else. Nor do we know how he died. It could have been an accident of some kind, or cancer. But more likely, he died from something which, today, would be treatable or entirely curable. Such were the times.
Perhaps Peter Whitezel would have gone on to become a United Brethren leader, maybe even a bishop. More likely, he would have spent his life just like thousands of other United Brethren ministers from the 1800s–continually traveling by horseback to remote communities, leaving a mark as he met with small groups of believers and non-believers, and eventually being joined in heaven by many people who were there only because of his influence.
But something struck Peter Whitezel down at age 32. Similarly, numerous other ministers and spouses, not to mention missionaries, passed away too early. They served faithfully, and could have made significant contributions to the Kingdom…but it was not part of God’s plan.
Let’s allow Peter Whitezel to represent the numerous anonymous ministers like him who pepper United Brethren history–men and women who perhaps left no discernible legacy to be recorded in a UB history book, but who served their Lord faithfully during whatever years they were afforded, and entered the gates of heaven to angelic shouts of “Well done!”