Agape Acres:Part 1

By Marilyn Kettering Badger

August 14, 2017

From the Agape Acres Souvenir Booklet:

AGAPE ACRES

(Ah-gop-a) is Greek meaning God-love.

“Dedicated to Retirement Happiness”

 June 12, 1960

     This is the story of two people, a church and their pastor, an idea and a wonderfully generous man.  How they all got together and what they did is our story.  In the scriptures, we read that the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man “availeth” much.

     Our story begins with a unique idea and prayer.  Two folks growing old together saw some of the heartache that older folks go through, the loneliness, the loss of freedom, and insecurity.  Their desire was to do something to help alleviate some of this suffering.  As they prayed about it, an idea began to evolve.  Why not have a retired folks community?  A place where older folks could live on retirement income and still make a contribution to a community.  This idea was shared and prayed about for nearly ten years before things really began to tangibly and physically happen. We are sure that God in His knowledge knew that spiritually much had already been done

     When Ivan, the third son of Samuel E. and Lola Fausnight, saw that his parents were intent on going ahead with their plans, even though they were already past seventy, he determined to give them whatever assistance he could.

     It was at this time things really began to go forward.  One of the problems was where shall this development take place.  Soon after Ivan consented to help, a neighbor close to the Maple Grove Church of the Brethren of which Ivan was pastor stated that he wished to sell eight choice acres from his farm.  This was ideal since it was on a state route which was one of the requirement of the basic idea.

     Ivan promptly took an option on it and when his folks saw it and noted its location they were pleased and promised to make arrangements to buy it. Before this could be done the Lord took a very evident part, that was to make the idea mushroom into reality.

      It was the summer before when a green Cadillac drove into the church drive and the occupants proceeded to the cemetery to view the graves of relatives.  The Pastor of the church was working in the yard and the folks as they were returning, stopped to talk.  The ladies asked if they might go in and see the church.  This they did, but the gentleman drove the car around and visited with the Pastor while he waited.  In the conversation, the gentleman stated that he was interested in the community and stated that he had financially helped a

college of our denomination.  This of course was interesting but no thought was given to the fact that he might be willing to help do something for the Maple Grove Church Community.

     However, when the Retirement idea began to develop and the eight acres were soon to be purchased, since the elder Fausnights had placed their home for sale in order to do this, Ivan determined to tell his summer visitor of the idea and see how he felt about it.  Up to this time the planning had been on a small scale, but with the sending of this letter the course of action began to change.  (The person written to wishes to remain anonymous so we shall refer to him as the Donor.)  When the Donor received the letter from us he was in the process of thinking about buying an antique clock that had belonged to Elder John Beeghly one of the originators of the Maple Grove Congregation. 

     He requested that the Pastor examine the clock and report its condition as best he could, which he did.  The Donor then purchased the clock and gave it to the new Retirement center which was just an idea and an option on eight acres of land.  It was soon after this, that the neighbor decided to sell the rest of his one hundred five-acre farm and came to let the Pastor know.  This was on a Thursday evening and the Pastor asked him if he would hold up contacting the real estate man till Tuesday of the next week to give him time to see if the whole property might be purchased in some way.  Friday, it came to the Pastor that perhaps the Donor of the clock would be willing to give some financial assistance towards the acquiring of the entire property.  Sunday, he and his wife went to see the Donor and after hearing the story he consented to finance the project with this stipulation: that the Maple Grove Church receive the funds and support the project by conveying the funds to it, that a farmer in the community evaluate the property, and that an abstract title be secured.  Also, that in some way it should be a memorial to Elder John Beeghly.  (The clock was in the Big House and at some point it was returned to the Beeghly family as a part of their heritage.)

     On the way home, the elder Fausnights were informed of the good news and rejoiced thanking God for his goodness and answer to their prayers.  Sister Lola Fausnight had once answered a person who inquired in this way about the idea.  “When are you going to carry out your plans Lola?”  “When the good Lord sends a good Samaritan to help finance it,” was her confident reply.  Here was the answer to prayer.

      On reaching home the Pastor called the Deacon Board together and on Monday evening they met in the home of Clarence Keener and after hearing the Pastor’s presentation voted without a dissenting vote to sponsor the project.  At the next council meeting the council accepted the action of the Pastor and Deacons and at a later meeting clarified their position as follows.

“We the originating members of the Agape Acres non-profit corporation do pledge ourselves to hold all property and funds of said corporation in trust for the Maple Grove Church of the Brethren.”  This minute cannot be revoked without the consent of the Maple Grove Church of the Brethren meeting in regular or duly called council.  Therefore:  We the Maple Grove Church of the Brethren met in duly called council do declare that the property in Ashland County and Orange Township known as Agape Acres is being held in trust for said congregation by the corporation known as Agape Acres, Incorporated which is a separate and distinct not-for profit corporation whose control is vested in the members of the corporation through their elected trustees which shall hereafter be elected from the Maple Grove Church of the Brethren, nominees, four or five) as are presented for election from time to time as new trustees are needed.”

     The Pastor then found himself representing the originators of the idea, the Donor, and the Maple Grove Congregation.  Since he felt indebted to each of these to represent them fairly and lacking business experience he secured assistance from an experienced business man in the Brethren fellowship, although not from Maple Grove.  This person was Clinton Copeland, a Deacon Brother, who gave invaluable advice and assistance in getting things underway.  Part of the plan was to form a corporation so that the Maple Grove Church would not be held liable for any contingency that might arise.  Then in order that they would always have a voice in the matter, they were given special representation of two members on the Corporation Board.  These Brethren, George Kettering and John Steward, are Deacons also.  These people then along with the Pastor and his wife and parents made up the first Governing Board of the project that was incorporated under the name of Agape Acres, Inc.

     The corporation received the deed when the Donor gave the first gift of $12,500.  Twelve thousand dollars paid for the land, survey, crops in the fields and a tractor.  Five hundred went into the treasury for operating costs.

     Since that time gifts have been received by the Maple Grove Church of the Brethren totaling nearly fifty thousand dollars for the development of this project.

     An Engineer was secured to draw up plans for a Retirement Center.  Since this was a new idea, a pilot project was initiated first and as it succeeds, the idea will be enlarged upon.  The pilot part of the project consists of the remodeled farm house, which has become the Central Building, around which nine mobile home lots have been laid out and equipped with sewer, water, gas, and electric and of course roadway.  These are now available for use with the exception of one which is already occupied.  Residents of the project pay a service fee of twenty-five dollars a month and their utilities.  Water and sewer are furnished along with laundry, storage space (in the basement of the Central Building), a large fellowship room and sewing room.  The latter includes a small library and a piano.  Also included is a comfortable sun porch and a phone room.  Garden space shall be furnished as well as an opportunity for favorite hobbies or a chance to learn new ones.

     Agape Acres will help those desirous of residence to acquire mobile homes and can save them up to fifteen hundred dollars on the new ones.  These can be purchased for cash or on terms if necessary.

     Application for residence is welcome from anyone regardless of nationality, race or creed.

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