Sunday, July 29, 2012

Maggie's Baptism

My sister-in-law, Maggie Smith Shumaker, has written three other guest blogs. For today's blog, I asked her to tell the story of her own baptism. For those of us born and raised in the Oregon City FOC group, the decision to be baptized is not an easy one. Please read on to understand the emotional and spiritual struggle that is typical of those who have left this group with so many unanswered questions.

* * * * *

I think the first conversation I can recollect about baptism with an adult was my mom telling me there would be a way made for us younger ones that were not baptized. I think I was 11 or 12 because I was given a thin black King James New Testament and I had been reading it at night in bed. All this reading about baptism, and I didn't understand why or how or when someone would get baptized.

We sang songs at church about being washed in the blood of the lamb, so I thought baptism would wash me clean. I needed to be cleaned from all the lies I told and how mean I was to my friends.  We sang about gathering at the river, and I dreaded having to go into a river in my church clothes. I was told about a "tank" in a storage room where we played as kids. I couldn't see it, but I'd heard people talk about it. That's where the preacher had baptized other people. But no one used it anymore. No one was allowed to baptize anyone else. I was scared to think about having to go into that tank.

The next conversation I can remember was with a friend's mother, at her house, in her dining room. Not sure of the age, I believe I was driving age, but could have been about 14. I'm not sure what happened to spark the topic, but she assured my friend and I that we could possibly be baptized in the rain. God could do anything, and with His power, the rain would make us clean.  I asked, "So, we could be baptized and not even know it?" she assured me, God had that power. I didn't doubt that power, I knew He was powerful and I was scared to death of Him coming back at the end of time.

In 1993, I started a relationship with my best friend. He talked about baptism, wanting to be baptized so badly. I hadn't thought about it much just that I knew I should be. There was no way to be baptized in our church. My companion prayed for it daily. He prayed for a preacher to baptize him. So, I joined him in praying. We were married and then had two children.

Within a few years, I believed the same as my companion. I earnestly wanted to be baptized. There wasn't a way for us in the church we attended to be baptized. If Jesus were baptized, then I should be too. If He didn't care if people were baptized, He wouldn't have instructed them to do so.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Mark 16:16-18

In 1999, this led us in our search for a church. We left in search of the "right church" with someone that that could baptize us. We went all of 750 miles away to a place called Idaho Falls for my husband's job. We searched for churches that believed in full submersion baptism, like they did in the Bible.

"Let's go there." I said, as we drove past Gethsemane Baptist. "They believe we need to be baptized." I added.

We attended Gethsemane for several months, but the preacher there would not baptize me. I was supposed to be born again, saved, and knew for sure I was going to heaven BEFORE he would allow me to be baptized. We couldn't take part in the Lord's Supper until we were baptized. “Well, I'll never believe one can know that they're going to Heaven for sure." I'm doomed!  The more I heard of it, the more I believed that I was saved. Jesus actually died on the cross to pay for the sins of everyone on the planet, so that meant me! I prayed with a lady at church, told my husband, "I believe I'm saved, and I don't care what you think." Wow...what a Godly example!  It took me awhile to believe this for real, as I still couldn't believe that would keep me out of hell, and promise me eternity in Heaven. We kept attending until we found something more along the lines of our beliefs.

A few months later, and a much longer story, we started attending Followers of Christ in Marsing, ID. By March 2001, after my husband had been baptized there, I knew this was where I was going to be baptized.

It wasn't a hot day, but warm and sunny. Church was warm, but again, I was eight months pregnant with my daughter. The last song was called, and we all stood, I was filled with excitement that if they were going to ask for people to give their hearts to Jesus, I would be one of them. I wanted to live for Jesus for the rest of my life, and by living for Jesus, it meant I get to be baptized. Something I'd wanted for about eight years. The time had come, they gave the invitation to give them your hand, and give your heart to Jesus Christ. I smiled at my husband, and he patted my back. I walked up to the pulpit, after about two or three had already gone up. I stood up there, shaking, crying, so elated that I was going to get to be baptized, and have the pureness of what my husband had.

I believe, if I remember correctly, there were 13 baptized that afternoon. It was a beautiful day. We lined up around the water at a couple's house that had lots of property. It was private, and a natural spring, that didn't freeze over in the winter. Everyone sang a song, and watched as each person walked into the water, and was baptized by the preacher that dunked them under and rose them up again. Then, it was my turn. I was very seriously praying that God would help me feel "something". I wasn't sure what it would feel like, but I wanted some feeling.

As I stood there, chilled by the cool water, up to my chest, I bowed my head as the preacher prayed. I kept praying for God to let me feel something. I think I was more concerned about "feeling" something than anything. I don't know why.  I can't remember the exact words, since I was praying in my head, but the preacher said something like "Sister Maggie, I baptize you in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost." (I think)

As I went down under the water, with my eyes closed, and brought back up, I saw a brightness. It was like I could see the sky but couldn't make anything out but light. Then, I was upright again, and so happy. I went to meet my husband at the shore and he wrapped me in a blanket.

There were more that day, and when everyone that wanted to be baptized was done, there was meeting more people, "greeting" them, as they came to greet me with a holy kiss. Now I was baptized, and COULD greet people that were also baptized.

After we left the property where the baptisms were, we went back to my cousin's for a potluck. Then, later that evening, we went back to the church for the Lord's Supper and foot washing. As tradition, every time there is baptism, there is a meeting with the supper and foot washing. I'd experienced this when my husband was baptized. It was beautiful and I wanted to partake of it so badly, but when he was baptized, I was not. I couldn't join. All I could do was sing the songs they called out as the feet were being washed.

Before the supper and foot washing, they had all that were baptized that day sit up on the pulpit. There was the laying on of hands to do before we could move forward. The giving of the Holy Spirit. As both preachers approached me, and put their hands on my head, I closed my eyes as they prayed. I just prayed for a "feeling". I wanted to feel like I'd been struck by the hand of God himself as that Holy Spirit went into me and lived inside me.

We all sat back down, and put our coats on.  John 13:4: “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” If He laid aside His garment, He had taken something off. We used coats to signify a garment.

So, the preachers stood on the pulpit and blessed the bread that symbolized Jesus body. They broke the big pieces of bread that had been made earlier that afternoon and placed the pieces on a tray.

They blessed the wine after pouring it in a large stein.  The Elders passed a tray of unleavened bread and we took a piece and ate it. Then came a large stein of wine. We took a sip and passed it on to the next person. After we took the supper, we removed our coat.

When everyone had partaken of the Lord's Supper, the woman gathered at the front of the building, and the men at the back of the building, as in line to have their feet washed.

After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
John 13:5

Each woman, (where I was sitting and could see) would wrap a towel around themselves and drape part of it over their shoulder. One woman sitting on a bench, and one kneeled down by the pan of water. The woman kneeled would wash the feet of the woman sitting, then dry her feet with the towel. They'd both stand, greet one another, and then gird the woman that just got her feet washed with the towel, and the process would repeat until all the women had partaken of the foot washing. Sometimes, women would have to have their feet washed twice, so another could wash feet.

When the foot washing was over, service ended with a song and a prayer and we all dispersed at about 11:30 pm or later. This was about a 6 hour meeting.

It wasn't too much after this that we moved from Idaho Falls, to Nampa, ID and regularly attended this church. Nine months after moving to a place I'd thought I'd live the rest of my life, my husband moved us to WA for his job. I thought this was the end of my world, it was not a good move for me....I thought.

Little did I know, moving away from there at that time, was probably the best thing for our family's life. I believe that Jesus Christ exists outside of Marsing, ID. Something I had started to forget living in Nampa.  There are believers in Christ all over this world, and I was put on a street with one of the most faithful followers of them all.  She invited me to her women's group, learning the scripture of Titus 2. Wow...women teaching other women how to love their husband and children! This is totally what I need right now! 

News of this did not go over well with some women in ID. But, I believed it was making me a better wife, and mother, and it was biblical. Some called these women "unbelievers" saying I was being unequally yoked. They hadn't met these women, how did they know? They looked the same as the women in ID. Long hair, wore dresses exclusively, made their own bread and clothes soap...I was saddened by their false accusations of them being unbelievers. I'd never seen a woman's bible so worn than in this small group of devoted followers of Christ!

Since then, my views of baptism have changed, and are more aligned to the Word of God. I no longer believe that it washes away your sins. Just as I was told in Idaho Falls, by the pastor at Gethsemane Baptist, it doesn't even clean between your toes.  I do not believe one has to be baptized by a certain man in a certain church. I do not believe that if one is baptized it entitles them to special privileges that un-baptized people are not privy to. I would encourage any believer to be baptized, as Jesus did, but if you die knowing He forgives you of your sins, and you follow him closely, do not fear that you will be burning in Hell for eternity. God does not work that way.

Forgiveness of sin is accepting Jesus as the one and only sacrifice for the sins of the world and allowing Him to dwell in your heart, with His power, gifting you with the Holy Spirit that "saves" you from being a sinner, from the darkness of the world, having your name written in the book of life, forever in the palm of His hand, that nothing can pluck you from.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
John 10:27-29

"Thank you Lord, for opening our eyes to the truth of your word, and instilling it in our hearts to never be swayed again. In Jesus name" 


  1. Was this procedure typical for the Oregon city sect as well? Or is it even still discussed, given their current situation?

  2. My understanding is that there *IS* no procedure for baptism since the death of Walter White in the 1960's, and that no one has been baptized in that church ever since his passing.

  3. Was it similar before his passing?

  4. This is my favorite post on this blog. I love the honesty and how when i read this i was overcome by emotions. thank you for sharing this story Maggie.

  5. how is the baptizing different in other church's?

    1. I have seen baptisms at a few other churches. Sometimes it is done in a tank, other times in a river. I have never experienced or seen the laying on of hands after a baptism to receive the Holy Spirit - though most do have a few people come up before the baptism, lay hands on the person and pray for them. I have never seen foot-washing done.

      I hear a lot of talk of the importance of "full-immersion baptism" but as far as I know, the sprinkling form of baptism is a Catholic infant thing - maybe I'm wrong about that.

    2. not just a Catholic thing...many religions practice this and it is not just an infant thing.

  6. i guess i thought all churches did the part of laying on hands and receiving the holy spirit. i haven't been to all churches.

    i have been to a foot-washing at a seventh day Adventist church.

  7. Maggie I hope you write more about your journey. You have a powerful story.

  8. is where I have started blogging. I'm not regularly posting, but trying to recollect our families journey through our life.

    My son was baptized in our current church. It was a happy occasion, with clapping afterwards. I took several pictures. That was not common practice in Marsing. It is a somber occasion, very serious until you come out of the water.

    My son's baptism won't be accepted as a true baptism by Marsing members, as he will not be greeted by them. We did not do Lord's supper or foot washing after his baptism. He received the Holy Spirit when he accepted Jesus as his savior at age 10.

  9. Replies
    1. Hopefully you are not a follower. That is the most shameful comment on this blog, worse than anything suzanne or Maggie post. Judge not lest yea be judged.

    2. "no he didn't"

      You bring shame and reproach on all of us. Think before you post. Better yet try reading your bible instead of this stupid blog, that is were the answers are.

  10. No he didn't? Wow, you must be a current FOC member. How do you know, are part of their family? Do you personally know the son? Have you been following and having personal experiences with the family? Didn't think so......

  11. You couldn't leave her alone to be happy? Had to cause more confusion huh Devil. Thanks for that!,,,,, monsters!

  12. "no he didn't"? You've just justified everything bad that's ever been said about our church, If something bad was said about us, they were talking about bretheren like you. Thanks for nothing you jerk. Maggie I thought it was a nice story, I'm glad you've found a peaceful life, present company excluded.

  13. This is typical of my family's response. My family told me not to contact them and that I walked a way from the only true church in Gods eyes. When I got baptized into Jesus. They were discussed in me. I am sorry Maggie that someone would post such a comment. That's too bad. I am glad that God will be the judge and it will be a true and righteous judgement. Thank God that you and your son have found the courage to follow Gods word rather than to be crippled in the fear of man and be under that bondage. That is so wonderful to see that your son had gotten into Jesus Christ. It is so nice to see that you have found the peace in Jesus that he promises. I hope that all that read can over come the fear that separates one from Christ. In the book of revelation it talks about casting the fearful of cowards being cast into lake of fire. How we all should rejoice in the action of your sons decision. How thankful I am that my hope or salvation rests squarely on Jesus not on man laws or fears but on Gods word an he can not lie. What a wonderful thing that God can not do.thank you for your post. Also God wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth. So my prayer is that hearts are softened, eyes are opened and that those who have been crippled by the fear of man can over come that fear and into Jesus christ

  14. "no he didn't" WOW!

    It is better to remain silent and have everyone think you are an idiot than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Their are many followers of Christ that are well read and striving to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Then there are others who only know what their dad or grandfather told them Walter said. Their ignorance is truly shameful. I hold nothing against anyone who left seeking the truth. Hopefully many more eyes will be opened and the truth will be known.

  15. Maggie is the response no he did not. Would that be a typical response from the followers in marcing ID. Or other follower groups that you have been to. Also is it true that the different follower groups do not except other follower baptisms. If so how does one choose which group to be apart of. Is it just a case of being born there and gramps told me the other factions are Incorrect. So not only the foc are the only people that have a chance at salvation but each individual group feels the same way. Please shed some light on this if possible. If that's the case than heaven will not be a kingdom but a small village.

  16. My understanding of baptism is that it is an outward display of an inward belief/commitment that is not necessary for salvation or forgiveness. I think the sprinkling of infants is more a family agreeing to raise the child up in the faith.... it is a shame so many people think it is their place to judge.

    1. I have been told that baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace and that sounds nice and flowery. But I have yet to find that in the bible.

    2. You’re right. The phrase “outward sign of an inward change” is not in the bible. But the New Testament narratives show that baptism always followed upon saving faith. The point here is that a heart of faith will produce an obedient and fruitful life. It cannot work the other way around, baptism apart from faith would be an “outward sign of a dead heart”.
      Try thinking of it this way, if an unbeliever were to be baptized, what would be the meaning and significance of their baptism? Would their baptism have centered on the life, death and resurrection? Would their baptism correspond with beginning a new life, having been set free and justified? You can only be justified by faith in Jesus, and it is that faith that produces joyful obedience, because of Jesus.
      It may be helpful to ask the question ‘why’? With so many accounts of people in the bible and in the church today being completely transformed, living their lives with desire to glorify God and proclaim the good news about Jesus, not because they have to but because they want to… why? The answer to that question also answers why people are baptized. If you keep reading, praying and asking that question, I believe you will see the phrase not as an argument but as a resolution, based on biblical teaching.

    3. Garth I love how you explain that and I agree. But when that term is used it cheapens the word baptism to me. Maybe that is my hang up. But if I understand you. If a person gets baptized and does not know or understand the work that Jesus has done for all man kind that excepts him. Than he is simply getting wet. Would you not agree that if a person accepts Jesus as there Lord and Saviour and does not get or go through with a baptism than that persons belief or confession has also been in vain. Now I am not talking about the person who accepts the Lord and then on the way to be baptized gets in a car wreck and dies. We could go on and on with endless situations. That would be between that person who made the decision or confession and God. What I am talking about is the person who makes that confession or decision and does nothing about it. The person who sits on his hands year after year and says maybe some day I will take care of that. Would that be on the same lines? I guess the debate over works and faith that is in the new testament that James and Paul discuss. I believe would be on the same lines. Show me your faith by your works. It is by faith that you hear, believe, repent, & be baptized. They all work hand in hand.

    4. I don’t want to cheapen baptism either but if we put it at such a high level (as a necessity for salvation) we cheapen grace. Grace is the undeserved free gift from God that saves by imputing the righteousness of Jesus into guilty sinners. This saving grace came at the highest price, the death of the Son of God. It was the most horrific crime ever committed in the history of man ̶ the murder of Jesus. The crucifixion of Jesus took place by God’s hand; it was His plan, predestined to proceed upon His own Son. This is what it cost for sinners to be reconciled to God. Jesus willfully giving himself to be mocked, beaten and die on a cross, purchased salvation for those who are His. Salvation by grace alone isn’t simple, easy or flowery. It came at great sacrifice. And if we could do anything to save ourselves, then why did Jesus have to die like that? Read the gospel accounts, see how all the disciples fled and were afraid, you and I would have done the same. But the captain of my salvation went steadfast toward the cross, He prevailed, He accomplished what I could not. He took all my sins with Him, my entire rap sheet was nailed to the cross. This is truly amazing grace. This is a radical kind of love that God the Son would die for an enemy, and that God the Father would decree it. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Is 53:10).
      I’m sure you already knew all of that but I needed to lay some ground work before I give my answer to your question. Look, salvation is all about Jesus and baptism is all about Jesus (His death, burial and resurrection). But if I were to add my baptism (or anything else I could do) to my salvation, I would be proclaiming another Jesus and another gospel. Jesus completely and effectively finished the work of salvation. Here is how the equation works, Jesus plus nothing equal salvation, Jesus plus baptism equals nothing.
      It is on the basis of salvation being by grace through faith that I must answer your question ‘no’. The lazy, or uninformed person that does not get baptized, does not necessarily mean they lack real saving faith. Honestly, I believe we need to spend more time teaching about Jesus and what baptism means in relationship to Him, rather than questioning faith because of not being baptized. I know of four young people at my church who were recently re-baptized because they didn’t understand what they were doing the first time. All this to say… we have to stop looking at baptism as something I can check off my list, it’s much more meaningful than that.

  17. The example in the Bible was a river. I think it's best to follow the examples in the Bible if possible. It was stopped in the OCFOC when it got too big and became a logistical mess. 1000 people going down to the Clackamas river would be a pretty big deal.

  18. Or a blessing 3000 at day of pentacost and the church was multiplied that was not a mess

  19. Every Sunday , in Oregon city? They didn't want to be a spectacle, some wouldn't care, the FOC is private in nature. Do what you like, that was their reasoning, if that's ok with you.

    1. They baptized every Sunday in the foc. Wow, it truly don't matter what I THINK or you THINK all that should be strived to achieve is pleasing God. Not wanting to be a spectacle must have been lost in the past few years. That must have died off. Along with the baptizing, bible study's, lords supper, preaching, teaching, spreading the gospel to the ends of the world.

  20. Maggie what an amazing story !! Very proud of you and your family ! I also have gotten baptized being an ex foc member , and I had an amazing experience , a vision , a sound . It was so overwhelming it touched me in the best way . I cried threw the rest of the meeting ! I'm proud of what I've done . As far as the foc's not wanting to be a spectacle !!!! Too late !!!! There all over the Jews for jot following the laws of the land . When there is sickness or death they park all over the streets causing a huge spot light in them as to what is going on with so many 100's of cars everywhere ! When they could let family be there and stay home to remember them threw prayer ! They an serve their children better by following the laws and not being thrown in jail ! I could go on for hrs about this but what's the point ? Good job Maggie !! And be proud .

    1. Haha best typo ever! All over the Jews!!

  21. :0.... NEWS !!!!! News lol not Jews ..... Sorry everyone .

  22. I absolutely loved your story Maggie. Thank you.


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