Monday, April 25, 2011

The Baptisms

Week before last we held a Baptism at Douglas Mill Baptist Church. It was the first Baptism to which I've been witness since returning to my home Church. Actually, just walking in the front door door is forever a source of amazement to me. It is so very different from the Church of my childhood that it boggles my mind.




I spent every summer with my Grandparents, Dwight and Nancy Douglas, from a small child into my teens. I was a Summer Baptist, you understand. A Catholic girl when at home with my parents, a Baptist girl when with the elders during the summertime. The Douglas Mill of my childhood had broad planked wooden floors and hard backed pews, burned oil in a big old oil burner for warmth in winter and wooden window sticks for air conditioning to cool you in the summer...oh and those wonderful Miller Rivers Funeral Home fans on a stick for constant movement of said air. The pulpit was a simple wooden stand to hold Preacher Entzminger or Preacher Giffen's Bible, a simple wooden chair to rest in during singing. We had Deacons but they took up the offering and as far as I can remember never sat either side of the Preacher during the Sermon.



So, last Sunday I was witness to a Baptism that took place in the Baptismal water that is directly behind the Pulpit. Preacher Wayne had accepted that Harley and Will knew their hearts and had accepted Christ as their Savior and proceeded to make their knowledge Word. I watched them along with other family members as these two young people made their way into the water and Preacher Wayne took care of the rest. I couldn't help but remember the days when Baptisms only took place in late Spring and Summer. The entire congregation would walk down to Douglas Mill Pond and the Preacher would take the person down into the pond water to baptize them. In my mind I see them dressed in white sheets, but I'm sure it was Baptismal robes only worn for this special occasion. I can hear the singing as we walked down to the pond, the voices rising with pure joy as we went, I AM A POOR WAYFARING STRANGER.... listen to Trace Adkins bring it home...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXX0S9P1SUo&playnext=1&list=PL68A5F68E91A00717


So, now in our little church by the roadside (where everyone is someone) we have stained glass in the place of plain window glass, the carpet is appropriately red, the pews offer comfort rather than rigidity and the Pulpit is still plain but oddly lovely. There are three chairs behind the Pulpit, one for the Preacher and one each for the Deacons, though I've never seen a Deacon sit there. We have central air and heat and no longer can you raise a window to get a breeze. But that's okay, there are ceiling fans to keep that air moving. But still, I missed my little Miller Rivers Funeral Home fan of long ago. My grandparents and Uncle Gary and Aunt Edith (Douglas) would be so pleased to see the changes that a constant congregational offering has wrought. It's such a lovely little Church that anyone would be happy to attend the Services. But I can still see the original rough draft and can smell the honeysuckle scent that came through the upraised windows, held open with simple wooden sticks. I can see my grandmother on the second pew, fanning a grandbaby with that little fan. I can feel the texture of the religious tracts she kept in her Bible, the ones we would read when the Preacher's sermon became to long and complicated to keep our attention. My favorite was always the one about the man who wept because he had no shoes till he saw the man who had no feet. Yes, our little Church is lovely, but my memories of how she was are precious to me. Nostalgia causes lumps in throats and hitches in hearts. I wouldn't trade the way Douglas Mill Baptist Church is today for that church of long ago, but the memories, I wouldn't take a million dollars for a one of them.

29 comments:

Vee said...

Perhaps Baptist churches are very similar everywhere for the Baptist church of your youth and the Baptist church of this recent baptism sound much like the evolution of the Baptist church here in my corner. It was my home church as a child. Now I visit for special occasions and I love to see the improvements. The pews are ever so much more comfortable for starters.

Your descriptions are so rich and sure that I know my own experience all the better.

Jeni said...

Your post brought back a lot of memories for me too of the churches I have attended -and belonged to over the years. There have been four buildings over the past 66 years but many of the same families in the congregations of each church. Why? Because the first church of which my great-grandfather was a founding member, merged with the second church -the one of my teen years. That church burned to the ground 44 years ago after being struck by lightning so our congregation then merged with a parish about 4 miles away. The building there was very, very small, so after about 20 years, using the insurance money from the fire, a new church was erected which is the one my family and I belong to today and it is very similar inside to the way you describe the current church in your area -red carpet, comfortable seating in the pews as well as behind the pulpit for the pastor and acolytes to sit. No air conditioning though here and windows still can be opened but we do have fans (overhead) to help circulate the air when it does get a bit too hot for comfort. So many memories associated with each church building and I cherish the fact that I am a fourth generation, with a fifth and sixth generation now following behind the footsteps of my great-grandfather in this little community.

Lee said...

Sandi, this is lovely! I can remember sitting next to my grandmother in church singing our favorite hymns. Momma always had something for me to do to keep me still when it was hard to sit quitely. When Daddy was active he wore a robe and a cross as he was a lay reader. Fond memories. My sister got baptized befoe I did because she knew her heart and mind before I did. But mine was special too. It was heart felt, shared by friends and family in the Bay of Corpus Christi. What wonderful memories your story has brought up. Thank you so much for sharing. I wouldn't take a million dollars for any of my memories either.

Love,
Lee

Debbie Lo said...

Sandi,

It sounds like your church was lovely when you were young, and is still lovely today. How wonderful that you have such vibrant memories to carry with you! God is GOOD!

Anna said...

I witness when old testament greek catholic baptism, the baby boy was immersed into the water. Because he was getting sick often, they had to postpone the baptism few times. Sandi, thanks for sharing your story. Anna :)

ancient one said...

Sounds exactly like the Baptist church of which I am a member. Way back when I was baptised, we borrowed another church which had a baptisry (sp?)... My two sons were baptised in a local pond. ...such sweet memories you ...

Maggie May said...

That was a lovely post.
We go to a Baptist church and I was Baptised in my forties in the Baptistry there!
Must be awesome to be Baptised in a river.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Annesphamily said...

This was a lovely story and perfect for Easter season. Hugs to you and all your beautiful stories that you write. Anne

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I remember those hard pews! In my grandparents old church, the men sat on one side and the women on the other. I was happy to be a girl as my grandmothers lap was cushier that my grandfather's! The preacher was prone to stuttering and was longwinded. I would snuggle down on that hard cold pew and doze with my head in her lap and her gentle, loving hand on my back.

Sally said...

Awww, you have evoked a lot of precious memories here, Sandi. Yours are wonderful, and I could almost copy word for word the last commenter. Falling asleep with my head in Big Mama's lap. :)

P.S. Did your grandmother make tea cakes? Oh, how I loved those! :)

SandyCarlson said...

You post had me thinking of all the signs I saw on Topsail advertising sunrise Easter services on the beach. There is power, beauty, and wonder when faith and the landscape, whatever it is, come together. The vastness of the universe comes into play and we see again how small we are. That's a wonderful thing. Thanks for a great post.

Coffee Bean said...

You paint a lovely picture with your words!

Casdok said...

Lovely memories :)

Merisi said...

It's not what is around us, but what is in our hearts.
What a beautiful Easter story, thank you, Sandi!
Hugs,
Merisi

Finding Pam said...

I really enjoyed this lovely post about your church. So descriptive and so beautiful.

Thank you for sharing.

Hilary said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful church memories - each so different from the way I grew up, but with a nostalgic feel to it nonetheless.

Carver said...

You are so great with descriptions. I enjoyed reading about your memories.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I can see that little church as she was as well! You paint a good picture! And the memories of my childhood church came flooding in...with it's open windows and hard benches...and three chairs up front. Now...we have cushy comfort...air-conditioning that is far too cold for my liking...and baptisms on the stage as well. I love our church...but like the memories of the way things once were as well!

Brian Miller said...

really your church sounds like the one i grew up in...love watching baptisms...about 2 years ago i was honored to be a part of baptizing about 300 people in one day...totally mind blowing experience.....we had to set up portable pools...

Love Bears All Things said...

It all sounds familiar...I was baptized in a pond as was both my children even after we moved back and the church was air conditioned...they finally got a baptistry before Mom and Dad went home.
Thanks for the remembrance.
Mama Bear

Anna said...

Any time Sandi, I don't think he will mind lol (the power to win). Anna :)

Candy said...

I too, love the Wayfaring Stranger but another song also comes to mind while I read through your memories...the little brown church in the vale. We just sang this one at the retirement home my MIL lives. She has started a Kitchen Band and I'm her sue-chef.
Glad you came by for some bitter-sweet memories on the Boardwalk.
Blessings ;-)

diney said...

That was a lovely story brought vividly to life. Super for Easter.
I laughed at the comment you left on my last post by the way - I had no idea that you used to do that for a job (I won't let out the secret here!!) but it amused me no end that you were so candid about the snikering!!! You seem far too kind, gentle and lovely to have been doing that! :o))

Shrinky said...

Awwww Sandi, you have such a way with words, I was sitting directly next to you in that pew, and I heard and understood every emotion you write of. Even if we wanted to we can't still time, but warm memories always have that gift to linger on.

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

What wonderful memories....
Hugs,
Penny

Suldog said...

There is little so special as a holy place we love. Nice piece.

NitWit1 said...

That was full of similar memories. Baptists and several other churches, including mine baptize by immersion. I remember the creeks of Texas when they had water. We had a Bayou near my hometown. I had three fans for a long time from our summertime heat, before air conditioning.

My Dad was baptized in a pond which we called water tanks in Texas.

Now we have comfy pews or even theater-like seats and a baptistry, sometimes with an pastoral scene painted on the walls.


I remember tent revivals. As teenagers we often visited the revivals of any church just to see what was going on. This occurred when we were cruising through town on the "drags" that teenagers know they might find their cohorts.

Thanks for the memories.

Wanda @ Just Vintage said...

The church of my dreams. I attended a church similar, but they had air conditioning by the time I started going there. Shortly afterward, they tore the wonderful old building down and built a brand new, brick church with a Baptismal. Right after that, I was Baptized. Even then I was disappointed that I didn't get Baptized in the river.

Loved your Lady Banks story. And can certainly sympathize. We have them too. I know our meter reader gets annoyed having to walk under an arch of them hanging down, hitting him in the face and having to fight off bees.

Lynne said...

Your memories sound like a different way of life to me, one I'm not familiar with.
Yes it seems funny that I've run out of books to read, but living in a foreign country where I haven't mastered the language yet, means that English books are hard to come by. Tho' I suppose I could resort to Amazon.