Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Deseret News: "Many hands help with not-so-typical baptism"

Traditional Mormon baptisms are performed in fonts located in chapels, like the one pictured here.

But baptisms do not need to be performed in a designated font. They can be performed virtually anywhere there is water. For example:

But I have to say, I had never heard of a baptism being performed in a physical therapist's hydro-therapy pool until now.

A recent story in the Deseret News recounts the amazing experience of Clifton Russell Jr., an elder in the Lincoln Ward in Tacoma, Washington, and his friend, Bobby Merritt. Brother Russell, a long-time member of the church, was confined to a wheelchair due to the effects of diabetes, which also took his vision. He shared a room in a nursing home with Bobby, who also suffered from physical limitations. One day, the local missionaries visited Brother Russell and also met Bobby, who expressed interest in their message and ultimately decided to be baptized. The Deseret News tells the rest of the story:
As the appointed baptismal date drew nearer, the elders and Lincoln Ward mission leader Gordon MacDonald felt it would be wonderful if Russell could baptize his friend. They enlisted the help of Pat Garlock, a physical therapist and former bishop of Soundview Ward in the Tacoma Stake, who owns a sports medicine facility with a large hydro-therapy pool. 
“I felt tremendous gratitude that we had something that could help and accommodate both the person doing the baptism and the person being baptized,” Garlock said. 
After the opening portion of the baptismal service, the nine men in white carefully put a life preserver around Russell, edged him into the pool and floated him over to a submerged chair. Several others cautiously led Merritt down the steps into the pool. 
Then, with his right hand and his left hand holding his friend’s hand, Russell pronounced the baptismal prayer and the men in the pool helped immerse Merritt. 
“I had been practicing the ordinance, and I was so excited to exercise my priesthood,” Russell said. "I really feel blessed and honored to do this, with all my challenges. Bobby likes everything about the gospel and he’s really excited about being a member.”
What a great experience. And here are two pictures showing all the many men who helped perform the baptism in Brother Garlock's hydro-therapy pool.

And now, for a look at the lighter side of baptism, after the jump you can see the baptism of Delmar O'Donnell from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? While it is a comical depiction (with a bit of mild language, sorry!), Delmar's speech beginning at about 2:20 of the video is a fairly accurate summary of the purpose and effect of baptism. Enjoy.

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