DECK, Norman Cathcart (1882-1980) • Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography

DECK, Norman Cathcart (1882-1980)

John Stuart Mill, ,

DECK, NORMAN CATHCART (b. 1882; d. 31 Aug 1980). Dentist and Brethren missionary.

Norman Deck was the fourth son in a large family; his aunt was Florence Young (q.v.). In part a result of her ministry, many of the Melanesian Islanders had become Christians during their time in Australia. Three of Norman's sisters, Kathleen, Joan and Constance, and brother Northcote (q.v.) were already at work in the Solomons as missionaries, when Norman, a dentist, sold up his practice and joined the family team in SSEM, known at the beginning as the 'Deck Mission'.

He made some great sacrifices, being both an accomplished pianist and a black and white study photographer of note. Pianos and photography could not exist in the high tropical humidity because of rust and mildew. Theology was to fill the vacuum caused by the loss of his two great loves. He wrote a book countering Seventh Day Adventism which was beginning to infiltrate the Islands. It is reported that The Lord's Day or the Sabbath published in late 1920 so unsettled Adventists in Brisbane that all copies available were bought up and destroyed. Later unpublished works were written on Women's Ministry and Believer's Baptism. When sinless perfection teaching was introduced by two missionaries returning from furlough, Deck's clear Biblical exposure of the error caused the SSEM to take strong and immediate action and the missionaries asked to resign. He travelled around the Islands every six months on the Mission vessel Evangel, the care of the churches being his responsibility. Keeping to a pre-arranged programme, mountain village churches all came down to meet the missionaries for meetings and any needed medical attention.

He will be remembered by the Melanesians as one who really loved the people, and they, in turn, loved him. He married Mary Maltby in the early 1930s who patiently endured his somewhat scholarly absent-mindedness as they travelled around the Islands together. Able to bring Biblical truth down to the level of primitive non- or semi-literate people it has been said that the Solomon Islanders were some of the best Bible-taught people in the South Pacific. Two islands, Rennell and Bellona, were out of bounds to all white influence. In 1934 the way opened for missions to enter and it was Norman's privilege, with others, to see the Gospel make its impact and finally the development of a strong and growing church.



Electronic Version © Southern Cross College, 2004

Content © Evangelical History Association of Australia and the author, 2004


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