Baptism Stories

As part of our church-wide conversation about baptism, we will be sharing personal baptism stories from members of our church family. Thank you to those who have shared their stories!

If you'd like to share your personal story, email Blane Baker at [email protected] 



Cathy Baker
Jerry Cain
Bobbie Chasteen
Ed Chasteen
Angie Fuller
Allison Lassiter
Heather Lewis
Connie McNeill
Gwen Phillips
Jacque Stouffer
Carole Tanner
Luda Teterina
Daniel A. Triplett
Ron Whited
Kristin Wooldridge
Sue Wright


Cathy Lynn Wheeler, born December 16, 1963 to James and Helen (nee Kohler) Wheeler
|Baptized on July 25, 1964, at Concordia Lutheran Church, 505 S. Kirkwood Road Kirkwood, MO 63122
Baptized by the Reverend N.A. Fisher

Godparents: Frank & Florence Rouse

Recorded in Concordia’s “The Practical Church Record" under Baptisms on page 22, NO 293

I don’t remember much of that first baptism. To be honest, I actually forgot all about it. I was the last of four kids, and Mom said that by then she was just too worn out to make a big to-do about things. So I don’t have the fancy dress or the cute pictures to remember it by. I know that it was important, especially to my mother and her side of the family, but to my dad and his side — the Baptist part of the family — not so much.

It’s the one that took place ten years later that I claim as my baptism. It was never a question of if, but when I would be baptized. Growing up in the church, I learned at an early age that Christ was my Lord and Savior and that baptism was the outward “public” expression of that faith. But those that know me best would know that it’s that “public” part that was toughest.

I remember oh so well sitting in the 5th pew on the right side (the Wheeler pew) of Hope Baptist Church, nestled in between Mom and Dad. Grandma and Grandpa were in their spots at the end of the pew with my brothers and sister in between. As the Hymn of Invitation began, the churning inside that I had become familiar with in the past few weeks also began. I had asked Jesus into my heart a long time ago but hadn’t made it public. I’m sure I told people. I know I talked to my mom and dad and probably Brother Manning, but I dreaded making the walk down that long aisle (I know I said we were on the 5th row, but it was still a long aisle!). Being the center of attention and having everyone look at me is something I still dread to this day. But this was something important I wanted to share with the world.

I squeezed behind Dad to make my way to the end of the pew. As the first and second stanzas played on, I did the little one foot in, one foot out dance over and over. But as the congregation began to sing the last verse, I stepped out. Our pastor was a larger than life kind of man and his face was beaming as he opened his arms and welcomed me. I remember Mom and Dad joining us up front, and when Dad bent down to give me a kiss, he smashed my nose! Something I can still feel when I remember that day. It was a day of great joy, but also great relief. I had made that long walk, and now everyone in my world knew beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus was in my heart.

The actual baptism took place a few months later when our new church building was finished. I was one of the first three people to be baptized that first Sunday. They didn’t have the new baptism robes yet, so we had to just wear our street clothes. And there was no real heater in the baptismal, so the warm water that had filled it earlier had cooled down quite a bit by that time in the service. I remember Bro. Manning raising his hand in exclamation asking if I professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and then I remember coming up out of the water. At that moment, being the center of attention was not so bad and didn’t seem to bother me at all. 

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Though it happened 62 years ago, I still remember it. The water was cold. The preacher was R. L. Davis. There were three of us boys to be dunked on that Sunday. I was 8 years old and at that stage of life we did not know why girls existed so this baptism went on swimmingly without them. After the service I remember walking the one-inch pipe that served as railing around the church flowerbed and I did not fall off on the sidewalk nor into the thorn infested roses, so my baptism worked.

Though it happened 46 years ago, I still remember it. The weather was toasty warm and dry. The preacher was Jerry Johnson. There were about 50 present. I was 22 years old and at that stage in life, I had discovered why girls existed and this wedding proceeded in a delightful manner. After the service I remember dodging friends wanting to decorate my car only to be stopped a policeman for coasting through a stop sign. The wedding worked.

These similar events are among about six defining moments in my life that mark milestones in spiritual formation (or sanctification if you need a KJV word). I had no idea what the Christian faith entailed, nor did I know what marriage entailed but each was approached through a ceremony that is both life-changing and memorable.  

At 8 years old, I knew that Jesus loved me and I wanted to respond to that love so I went forward at the end of a Sunday evening service in a Baptist Church and told the pastor I wanted to be baptized. Fourteen years later, I knew I loved Linda Powell and wanted to express that love in marriage so we exchanged rings on June 1 in the Baptist Student Center at Eastern New Mexico University.

I know there are times when Jesus and Linda are not pleased with me but I made a commitment to love and serve them the best I could and sealed that commitment with water and a ring. I still love them even when I do not understand them. I am loyal to them even when the culture would push the other way. The mystery of these two commitments continues to be a deep well of wonder springing forth from rich resources.

My baptism is meaningful because it announced to the public a life-altering and empowering relationship with my creator.  God wanted to be a part of my life and I wanted that also so I took the plunge. Though the water has evaporated away, the memory and the commitment remain vital and valid.

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I have been baptized twice. I have gone to a Baptist church all of my life. I have a Certificate of Promotion from the Cradle Roll Dept. (nursery) to the Beginner Dept. from the First Baptist Church in Bay City, Texas. My dad was a deacon, and we went to church every time the doors were open, so I became a Christian at a young age. It was either after a 2-week revival or maybe Bible School that many of us that were 8 or 9 went forward to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and were baptized. I don't remember many of the details except that it just seemed to be a part of growing up. If I received a certificate, I don't know what happened to it.

My second baptism was much more meaningful. Ed and I had the opportunity to take a trip to the Holy Land with a tour group led by Methodists. We visited all the sites of the ministry of Jesus. A person from our group was assigned to read the Scripture appropriate for each place and have prayer. I read the Beatitudes at the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Ed read the Scripture and had a devotional and prayer on the Sea of Galilee. When we came to the Jordan River, we had the opportunity to be baptized after Scripture and prayer. Being a Baptist, it never occurred to me that this would be done by sprinkling. I asked if someone in the group could perform ours by immersion. We found a Rev. Leon Pomeroy, a former Nazarene minister, who said that he had done a few baptisms by immersion, but it had been a long time. Thus, Ed and I were baptized in the Jordan River by Leon the Methodist on February 15, 1998, by immersion. No one in our group had ever witnessed a baptism by immersion, and it was a meaningful experience for all. I remember each and every detail and how I felt. I treasure my certificate from that day. It meant so much to me that I didn't even mind wearing wet clothes the rest of the day.

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Huntsville, Texas, from 1948 until 1958 was a wonderful place to be young, white, Baptist and in school from seventh grade through college. We won the state high school football championship when I was a high school senior. I was baptized in First Baptist Church when I was 13 and married Bobbie in a nearby Baptist church where her dad was a deacon when I was 21.

As I lived that decade in that place, life was perfect. As I reflect on that time, I see the hurt others lived with around me. I never knew. But now I do. Rather than waste time being defensive or feeling guilty, I choose this time in this place to help others navigate the maze.

Some things I picked up from overhearing conversations in church chilled my soul when I was young. As did some teachings from those in authority. Others, though, touched my heart and opened my mind. I choose to remain a member of THAT church. Not only a member. An advocate for. An ambassador. A bridge builder.

Baptism is a symbol, my way of making plain to myself and those who witness or hear of it that I choose. Other symbols might do for other folks. I have no problem with that. Some symbol, though, I think we need.

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“Love God; love others…”  Four simple words that embrace the core of my faith. They summarize God’s commands and what Jesus taught and demonstrated. I love how they are symbolized during baptism at Second Baptist. Believers enter the water professing that Jesus is Lord and leave the water with tangible reminders to share Jesus’ love.

My own baptism looked different, yet it still acknowledged relationships with God and with others. I was baptized when only a few months old, following the tradition of my family’s Reformed church. The meaning of infant baptism varies among and within denominations who practice it, but for me it was a sign of two priceless gifts. It signified the grace God freely offers me, and it identified me as part of a family of believers who taught and shared Christ’s love with me. I grew up knowing I am “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). God offers grace, but I must accept that gift through faith. My salvation comes only through my personal belief in Jesus, which I should publicly profess.

I was first convicted of my need for Jesus at age four, when a story in our family’s bedtime devotional prompted my questions. My older sister was led to answer with a simple explanation of how I could become a follower of Jesus. While lying there on her bed, I asked Jesus into my heart. My understanding deepened over time, and I was ready to publicly profess my faith when I was thirteen. I shared my faith story with my church’s elders and deacons and then stood before my congregation to acknowledge that I had committed my life to Christ, wanted Him to be Lord of my life, and would work with fellow believers to glorify Christ and build His kingdom.

From childhood on, it has been my privilege to have Christian friends from diverse denominations. I have served and worshipped in their churches, and I value differences in practice – including baptism. So although believer’s baptism by immersion is not part of my personal story, it is still important to me. I affirm its biblical roots, value it as a sacred moment in one’s journey of discipleship, and consider it an integral part of the faith tradition in which my children are growing.

During my 19 years at Second Baptist, I have admittedly been prompted to question if my baptism “counted” or was “good enough” and have been encouraged to demonstrate my commitment to this congregation by getting re-baptized. I pray that the ways I love and serve among this faith family prove my devotion just as much or more than a moment of immersion at this or some other Baptist church. To me a public profession of faith is not merely one occurrence in front of a congregation – whether or not it is accompanied by baptism. Rather, it is a lifetime of words and actions that glorify God and love God’s people. I am convinced that when I stand in heaven – shoulder to shoulder with Christians from all languages and denominations – our methods of worship, baptism, and ministry in this world will no longer be relevant. All that will be asked is if my earthly life shows that I love God and love others.

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My mother grew up Presbyterian, and my father grew up Catholic. It was very important to my grandmother that they were married in the Catholic church; however, my father refused to promise the Catholic church that he would raise his children in the Catholic denomination, and was thus denied the right to be married in the church. They ended up married in the local Presbyterian church, and my mother raised us Presbyterian.

Still today, my father harbors resentment for what he deems a silly and arbitrary rule that prevented his mother from getting her wish. So, my mother raised us in the Presbyterian church. It helped, however, that some of the Presbyterian traditions more closely mirror my father’s own upbringing: one of those being baptism. My brother and I were both baptized as infants in the Presbyterian church. I grew up actively involved in Sunday School, VBS and Wednesday night activities. My family left our home Presbyterian church before I had the chance to be confirmed and the church that we went to traditionally confirmed at a much younger age. So both my brother and I missed the window for the completion of the traditional baptism process in the Presbyterian church: baptism followed by confirmation. However, it was important for my brother and me to complete the process. Note that I say my brother and me and not my parents. While I am sure it was important for my parents to see this process through, it was a personal decision for both of us to make a public statement of faith. Since I had passed the traditional age for confirmation, I, instead, decided to join the church as a member, a process in and of itself. This choice was echoed by my brother as well. I met individually with the pastors of the church, whereupon they asked my confession and statement of faith, followed by other questions about my faith’s role in my life. Then I made a public declaration of faith in front of the congregation.

It is clear that this is not the typical path for baptism; however, I find value in pursuing that path of my own accord. My brother and I grew up in homeschool and private school faith communities, and the reason I mention that is to explain my reluctance to be baptized again. I consider myself to be a Christian rather than a Baptist, a Presbyterian or a Catholic. I have friends from a vast array of faith backgrounds who believe in different theological tenants. I have found nothing more crucial in my faith journey as a teenager as the opportunity I was given to critique and evaluate different theological differences between denominations among my own peers. I feel that I understand and respect the decisions of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and that I have come to terms with my own theological beliefs without blindly swallowing the doctrine my home church gave me. Contrary to some Presbyterians, I do not believe in predestination to the exclusion of free will and I believe that woman have every right to be in church leadership. But in accordance with that denomination, I do believe that infant baptism and subsequent confirmation is equally as valid as infant confirmation and later baptism.

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The word baptism for me conjures feelings of confusion, guilt, embarrassment and surrender. Probably not the typical feelings associated with baptism…

I was baptized as a baby in the Methodist church. My dad was in the Army, so our family moved every two or three years. The various churches we attended along the way were not Baptist, and being baptized as a child was not emphasized. I was a Christian and grew in my faith throughout my childhood and teenage years, but I wasn't baptized. Imagine my surprise (and confusion) when I picked Southwest Baptist University as my college and started hearing about baptism from the Southern Baptists! It didn't take too many chapel services for me to start feeling like something must be wrong with me and my faith.

Guilt and Embarrassment
This confusion led to feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Did the baptism as a baby “count”? Did I miss something? How did I get this far without being baptized? Was I too late? What would everyone think if they knew I hadn't been baptized (other than as a baby)? I didn't want to walk down in front of lots and lots of people to advertise the fact that I had never been baptized. They would think I was just now becoming a Christian.

After college I moved to Kansas City, and Nathan and I got married. We attended an awesome non-denominational church that focuses on reaching the "un-churched." They are really good at making faith and God accessible to anyone, not just people who grew up in the church. As a result, lots of people become Christians and get baptized every year. They have one big baptism service a year when they would go to a lake, eat picnic lunches and then baptize lots of people. It was a huge day – they always referred to it as the most important day of the year.

Every year when they started talking about the baptism service I would have an overwhelming, almost crushing feeling that I needed to be baptized now, as an adult. But my feelings of embarrassment held me back. Finally, after a couple of years, I knew God was telling me I needed to do this. And so I did. Surrounded by friends and family, and with Nathan in the water by my side, I was baptized as an adult. I had to surrender my pride and embarrassment. I wish I could say it was a magical, awesome experience. But it wasn't. Rather, it was a feeling of relief in knowing I had obeyed God and I could stop worrying about it.

I share this not to complain or make you feel bad for me. Rather, I share my story with the hope that we can learn from it as our church considers how we think and talk about baptism. Many strong opinions are attached to the topic of baptism. May we hold those opinions and emotions loosely as we move forward with grace.

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We went to church in town so we had an indoor baptistry! I knew great family stories of baptisms being done in one of the many creeks around my growing up area. I had always been taken to church. My mother’s family and my mother considered the church an important part of their lives. That was the tradition I adopted.

I don’t remember a time I didn’t accept the existence of God, but there did come a time in my life when I began to consider what that meant for me personally. Between watching Billy Graham crusades on TV, being in Bible study in church, a conversation with my mother and spending rich time in the outdoors, I began to feel the need to do something more in how I related to God. I felt the need to declare that relationship. I think I felt that by doing so, I could be held accountable by God, myself and others who knew the commitment I had made. So, in my Baptist tradition that meant baptism, and the result of being baptized meant that I would be a voting member of a Baptist church. That all felt like the deeper level of commitment that I was feeling the need to make firm.

Within a six month span of time, I made a public profession of my faith, was baptized and joined our church, and responded to an urging I felt to enter ministry as my vocation. At fifteen years of age, I don’t think I realized what any of this fully meant. I did know that I felt that my commitment to God in my life personally was somehow at a new level. I felt blessed and loved and in a relationship in a way that I had not felt before. I still feel that way.

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I was raised in Jackson, Tennessee through the third grade. In the spring of the year, my family attended a week-long revival at my church, West Jackson Baptist. I grew up in a household that was active in all areas of the church and my parents were always in leadership roles. So, it was just a natural thing for all of us to be in worship every night that week. I don’t remember who the revival preacher was, and I actually can’t remember anything specific that the preacher said! But, I vividly remember the feeling that came over me that evening as I sat in the pew. My heart was pounding and when we sang, “All to Jesus, I surrender…” I just knew that I needed Jesus to know those words were true for me. So, I walked forward to talk to my pastor, Dr. David Byrd. He was a “daddy” type of pastor and I felt very comfortable with him. I cried and cried, but they were happy tears and my heart was so full. 

My baptism took place that next Sunday, and I don’t remember much about it at all – if others were baptized also, if it was in the morning or the evening, if we had a special dinner afterwards – no memory! What I do remember to this day is the overwhelming desire to tell Mrs. Smith, my third grade teacher, the next day. I loved her and I knew she loved me, even though she was pretty strict and was always reminding me to stop talking so much. I was nervous all day long and just waited until school was over so I could hang back and talk to her before I walked home. I can remember saying that I loved Jesus and had asked him to live in my heart and was baptized at my church last night. She hugged me tightly and said, “I can’t wait to watch you grow up and see what all God has planned for you.” I’ll never forget those words.

We moved to Nashville that August, and I assumed I would never see Mrs. Smith again. However, 16 years later, when I sang with the seminary choir and we went to Jackson to sing at Union University, Mrs. Smith happened to be in the audience that evening and came up afterwards. She said she knew immediately who I was and was glad to see that I was still following God’s leadership in my life.

I wish I could tell Mrs. Smith what a powerful role she played in my baptism story.

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I didn’t know how to swim. I was old enough to know how, and my dad and sister had tried to teach me, but I just didn’t know. Wouldn’t even put my head under water. This was a problem in many ways, but especially for a girl who wanted to be baptized. The big pool of water in the sanctuary scared me to bits.

Our pastor at the time was Paul. Pastor Paul. My mom was the church secretary, so I spent lots of time after school and during the summer in and around the church and Pastor Paul and I were friends. He decided to offer a “Pastor’s Class” for children who wanted to be baptized – to talk through all the ins and outs and exactly what baptism meant. The class was going to meet on Sunday mornings for six weeks, and then everyone in the class would be baptized on the same Sunday when we finished.

The class was not the answer to my "I can’t swim" problem, but it was the answer to my "I’m scared to do this by myself" problem, so I signed up for the class. I went the first Sunday to discover I was the only girl, but I wasn’t the only one who was scared. We were just a bunch of small-town kids who loved Jesus, had known Jesus all our lives, and who wanted to claim Him through baptism, but, you know. We were scared.

I have really fun memories of Pastor’s Class. Our little group of four or five got first-class access to Pastor Paul. We got to sit at the giant church conference table in giant church conference room chairs on Sunday mornings and read the Bible and talk about Jesus and learn about why people even get baptized in the first place. Of course, the big pool in the sanctuary was still out there waiting for me, but I was so happy to be part of a group who was learning and laughing and doing our best to figure it out.

Just before our big day, Pastor Paul told me he knew about my fear of water. He told me he was going to bring a handkerchief just for me and let me hold it over my nose and mouth while he baptized me. Pastor Paul was true to his word. And I made it!

Every memory and thought and feeling of my baptism is tied to Pastor’s Class with Pastor Paul. I can picture sitting in that conference room with boys I’d grown up with and feeling a connection to them. I can picture going underwater with Pastor Paul’s handkerchief over my nose. And I can feel God’s love through all of it. It was a good start for me, and the view of what was to come – community, learning, laughing, handkerchiefs at just the right time, doing our best to figure it out, and God’s love through all of it.

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I was born in Lima, Ohio, to Presbyterian parents. We were an active church family. My mother sang in the choir; my dad was a deacon. I know I was baptized as a baby, but I have no record of that.  When I was 12, I and many other friends the same age, together with some adults, took a required confirmation class. We met every Saturday morning for several weeks to study the Bible, and when we finished the “course,” we were eligible to join the church, though I really wanted to be baptized, thinking my infant baptism just wasn’t good enough. The confirmation class felt too much like school and not like I was a Christian yet, but I did join the church after making a public profession of faith and was received into full membership in a Good Friday service on April 4, 1948.

After we had moved to Beaumont, Texas, and I had graduated from Beaumont High School, I went to Louisiana State University on a music scholarship. During my freshman year, Billy Graham and his evangelistic team came to Baton Rouge for a crusade in the football stadium. Some of my Baptist friends urged me to go with them to hear him preach—and to hear George Beverly Shea sing—and I did go. What a thrill that service was! During the invitation hymn, along with many others, I walked down and gave my heart to Jesus. That moment is still as fresh in my mind today as if it were yesterday.

All I needed now was a real baptism, which occurred at The First Baptist Church of Beaumont, a baptism by immersion, with the pastor, Dr. T. A. Patterson, officiating. (Dr. Patterson, father of Paige Patterson, also officiated at our wedding on August 28, 1958, in the chapel of that church where Jim and I met.)

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The story of my baptism always reminds me about my faith and commitment to Christ. My father was an associate Baptist pastor, so I practically grew up in the church. I do not remember a time when I did not go to church. Growing up and watching my family and adult friends participating in the holy sacraments made me want to be a part of the church family, fully and completely. I knew that was not possible without accepting Christ and becoming a church member through baptism. In my church, Central Baptist Church of Moscow, Russia, only adult baptism by immersion was accepted at that time. Adult was defined as someone 18 years of age or older, so I had a long time to wait. Because our church was large, a group of 20 or 30 people would be baptized during the same service. The entire service was about baptism and what it means for a believer.  Watching others being baptized year after year, listening to the sermons, and singing the songs, all made me feel like I was an outsider looking in. I felt incomplete, and oh! – how I wanted to stand there with people in white robes, to be a part of this. I had already loved Christ and promised my life to Him. All I needed was one more step to be fully accepted as a member of His body, with all rights and responsibilities. It is a powerful feeling to belong, to be a part of something bigger than me, something for which Christ died.

The day finally came when I, with 20 or so other brothers and sisters robed in white, came to the foot of the altar to be baptized. April 5 – I will never forget that day – was a little over one month away from my 18th birthday. I was so happy and proud that I will celebrate my birthday as a baptized Christian!  The service was wonderful, and everything was exactly as I imagined it to be.  My father did not baptize me – that day was not his turn to perform baptism – but he prayed over me with the laying of hands after the baptism. It was very powerful and moving to have all of us, newly baptized, kneel at the altar and all ministerial staff and deacons laying their hands and praying over each of us individually. And it was a holy moment for me and my father.  After the prayer, we were served our very first communion, with real wine, of course.  And after that – there was celebration, flowers, hugs, tears, and more hugs. 

As I reflect back on what baptism meant for me then and what it means today, I think that making a public statement of professing Jesus as Lord placed a seal of belonging in my heart like nothing else. It just feels right, as a first step forward in living out our faith. Baptism makes us complete – not perfect! 

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I was baptized on July 28th, 1946, at Second Baptist church by Dr. Allen Cutts. It was a normal Baptist baptism with no fanfare.  As I recall there were several 10 year old boys baptized at the same time. We had been to a Royal Ambassador camp at Lake Mauer in Excelsior Springs when we made our profession of faith and were baptized soon after in our church. We had quite a group of ten or twelve boys the same age that stayed together in our church all the way from junior high through high school.

My baptism has always been meaningful to me because of being able to make the decision on my own. The immersion part of baptism is significant to me, but I do not feel that it is a requirement to be a professed Christian.

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I came to know the Lord in the summer before 7th grade at age 12 on a Wednesday night at KCYFC summer camp. At the time, I was attending a Disciples of Christ's Christian church. A well-meaning elderly lady told me that I needed to be baptized or else I would not be saved. I knew better. My independent self said I didn't need it, I was saved and that is all that mattered.

At age 16, I was called to be the organist at Temple Baptist Church, and shortly thereafter became their Minister of Music.  The pastor, R. L. Decker, explained to me why baptism was so important: a step of faith, not necessary for salvation, but an outward sign of an inward change. I agreed to be immersed, and found it to be a very meaningful experience.

I have since found that baptism means a lot of different things to others and over the years have learned not to question others' experiences but to celebrate what most baptisms symbolize. It is the personal identification with the greatest act of human history—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No wonder I get tears when we share this ordinance at 2BC!

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My Faith Story—shared Easter Sunday, 2016

I am here today to be baptized again as an outward symbol of my call to ministry.

My faith story is not of a sudden revelation of finding faith and God. My relationship with God was given to me as a sacramental gift by my parents forty years ago on Easter Sunday 1976.

As a nearly three week old infant my parents, Keith and Janet Kay brought me to the baptismal fount to be baptized into their faith community and my family’s faith heritage.

But that gift was not a fleeting moment. It was developed as it was nurtured. I grew up faithfully traveling to Kansas City each week for church services and Sunday school with all of my immediate and extended family, including my maternal grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my cousins.

Later in my junior high years, I attended two years of weekly confirmation classes. I was confirmed in my faith in May 1990.

My parents nurtured my faith and gave me a continuous relationship with Jesus.

The faith they gave me is the foundation of who I am as a follower of Christ and my baptism today rests on that foundation.

I have contemplated and wrestled with the idea of being baptized again, but to live into my calling of ministry and be ordained by my faith community of Second Baptist, I am here today to profess Jesus as Lord.

I cannot say that I clearly understand how God is at work in my life or in my calling. In a world where everyone wants to know what is next for me after seminary, I find comfort in knowing my baptism is the outward declaration of an inward call to ministry that God has divinely challenged me with.

At times I am lost like the sheep that Jesus stopped everything for and went after. I need of clarity and consoling. In those times, I will keep my faith in God’s provision and divinity.

Thank you for witnessing this moment of my baptism as I remember my 40th anniversary of my first baptism. I will cherish both days always. 

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I felt very old that Holy Week night. Old because everybody else I knew, most importantly most of my closest peers, had already taken the step I deemed myself tardy in taking. And old, because the path I chose was a Biblical one paved for me over 2,000 years ago.

My heart beating to the throbbing chords of “Where He Leads Me I Will Follow,” I remember rising to leave the pew where I sat beside my parents without daring the tiniest glance at either of them. One look at my mother and I knew she would burst into a Noah’s flood of gloried weeping that would drown us all, including Dr. De Lozier, the revival preacher standing at the pulpit.

The aisle at Mt. Washington Baptist seemed a mile long as shy little me FINALLY began to walk its uncomfortable gauntlet of teary smiles, the loud “Amen!” which would echo through the sanctuary once I passed the Amen Lady who sat middle front, and that potential of collisions with other sinners on the same route to redemption as I.

Sadly, there would be no flock to grow the evangelist’s soul-saved count that night. Only me. Maybe that’s why our regular minister hugged me extra hard before I was introduced to the congregation then voted into the church, a full-fledged sheep.

I’ve always felt a bit guilty because I made my public profession of faith at the call of a stranger rather than in response to one of the rousing sermons of our beloved pastor, Loren Goings. Forever the worrier, I feared his feelings must have been hurt I hadn’t waited to come forward on a Sunday morning and to the familiar strains of everyone’s favorite, “Just As I Am.”

Dear man that he was, however, Dr. Goings would simply make this loving offer: “Sue, if you want, we’ll baptize you tomorrow night and afterwards you can celebrate the Lord’s Supper with us.” No need to think, I cried out an excited yes. And so, in one night, I was privileged to experience both baptism and my first communion in meaningful sequence.

I wish my mom were still alive to reminisce with me whether I was more the floppy perch or graceful porpoise bobbing the waters of the baptismal. All I recall is feeling thoroughly ready and happy as a clam I was giving my life to Jesus.

Sixty-two years later, it seems silly I should have felt that left behind. But by a nine-year-old girl’s Sunday School standards, it was way past time for me to get right with the Lord and be baptized. It was an emotion of heart-deep urgency I will not forget. Nor will I ever want to.

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