Sunday, December 11, 2011

Guest Blogger: Jerry Patton

Jerry Patton is the grandson of Oliver Smith (who was a preacher from the Oklahoma Followers of Christ). He and his wife of 27 years, Paula Renee, live in Arkansas. He is a software engineer by day and an Elder/Shepherd for his church.

Below, Patton recounts the memory of his baptism by Walter White.

If I wasn’t the last one to be baptized, I was awfully close. I think it was March/April/May 1968 when Walter White decided that one particular evening would be the last time he would baptize. At some time in 1967, we were living in Oklahoma City and my mother had received a letter from her brothers telling her about a vision or dream Walter had and that the time was short so in early 1968 she moved my brother and me out to Oregon City to join the FOC there. I remember being taken to the bathroom for a talk about being baptized, first by my mother (I really didn’t want to do it) and then by my uncle. I think they were very kind and understanding about how I felt, but it was something that had to be done and I needed to do it. I think I was anxious for some approval so I went along with it. It was never my idea. I was 7-1/2 years old.

That evening I remember being relieved that the baptism part was over, but there was more. After being baptized in the baptismal as the old church building, we gathered in the newer building for the Lord’s Supper, then Walter laid hands on those just baptized, and then there was feet washing. Another thing I remember: when they did have the Lord’s Supper, it was always in the evening. If it were to be done earlier in the day – that would be the Devil’s Dinner.

As I got older, my baptism experience bothered me. Eventually, we moved back to Oklahoma and when I was 19 or so I left the FOC. There were so many questions and those questions could not be answered and things just didn’t make any sense. I was later really baptized (my idea) and that has made quite a difference.

I believe baptism is a door you step through to begin your walk with the Christ. It is only the beginning, but it is an important step on the path that leads to an abundant life. It is a pledge to be a faithful apprentice, a disciple of Jesus. Baptism isn’t owned by anyone. It is free to all given by a God that loves us more than we can possibly comprehend and wants us to know that He is big enough, strong enough and wants so very much to rescue us and weave us into His life.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30


  1. Thank you Jerry. I appreciate reading your view point and the memories you have of Walter and the events around your baptism. You have added first hand historical information to Suzi's very interesting blog.

  2. Jerry your post gave a clear contrast to the way things are now and the way the church believed and was organized when Walter was alive. It is interesting that the group has stayed together all these years without a leader but based on the strong beliefs Walter taught while he was alive. Also interesting is how the church morals has disintegrated without leadership.

  3. Suzi had you heard Jerry's version of baptism and the rituals that follow while growing up in the foc church? If no what were you taught about the way baptisms in the history of the church while Walter was alive?

    Jerry stated he hesitated about being baptized and did so because he felt the urgency of his mom and uncle. Did you experience pressure from adults in the church to act or behave in certain ways? if so how did this effect your moral development and spiritual growth?

    What were you taught about baptism when you were growing up?

  4. We were told that we were "born into the church". Some had left and had children out "in the world". After a time they would return with their children to live out their lives in the church. There was even a controversy over whether or not their children were ",born holy ,out there" and should recieve a church wedding.

  5. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing your story here. Great comments and questions. I will put up more baptism posts in the future.

  6. I've been studying in the book of Acts this year, and came upon the scripture Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. NKJV
    I personally had hands laid on me the evening after my bapitsm. I don't practice that doctrine anymore, and wondered why they did that back then, if the Holy Spirit was to come on them through their belief in Jesus?

    1. That’s a very keen observation. I believe typically, the Holy Spirit is given us at baptism. Earlier in the book of Acts, Chapter 2, verse 38, Peter is preaching to his fellow Israelites about what they must do to be saved, “ 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” There is no mention of the laying on of hands, however, it is assumed they received the Holy Spirit. I think it’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit is not a power, but a person and He has power – the power of Almighty God (because he is God). He is sovereign and can use His power however he sees fit in establishing, overseeing, and furthering the body of Christ. In Acts 19:6, I can only think that Paul was compelled through the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the believers mentioned. As a result, they spoke in tongues (real languages, not some emotional generated babel) and prophesied – basically glorifying God for all to hear no matter where those around them were from or what language they spoke. This was bound to have impact on all those that witnessed this take place and the hearts that were fertile to hear the message of God would respond to God calling them. Another example of the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit is in Acts 10. Peter has been compelled by the Holy Spirit to tell Cornelius the Centurion, a gentile, the gospel story, and then: (verse 44-48) “44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.” So there again, the Holy Spirit moved whenever it decided to and on whom it had selected. The Spirit did that then; I believe he does it now and whenever he chooses in order to grow and feed the body of Christ.


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