I received some questions about the photo that accompanied my post, “True Confessions,” that appeared last Thursday.  I actually cropped that image out of the larger photograph above.  Even this one has been cropped; there is much more water visible in the foreground of the original. 

I was given a copy of this photograph by Nelda Swenson, a member of the McDermott Road church in Plano, Texas, where I served as the preaching minister for nine years.  Nelda found the picture in a family Bible that had belonged to her grandmother or great-grandmother (sorry, Nelda, I can’t remember which one it was).  There was no indication on the photo as to when and where it was taken, but Nelda’s assumption was that it was somewhere in East Texas.  The timeframe looks to be in the late 1800s.  

There is almost complete uniformity in the clothing that was worn by the 200 or so people who had gathered for this baptismal service.  Women and girls are in white dresses; the men sport dark pants and coats with white shirts; the boys are dressed like the men, minus the coats.  The crowd is segregated by gender, with women and girls on one end and men and boys on the other.

In the close-up view below, you can clearly see the minister with his right hand raised and his left hand likely resting on the shoulder or arm of the man about to be immersed.  I am not sure when this tradition arose, but I distinctly remember my father doing the exact same thing every time I witnessed him baptize someone into Christ.  Just before baptizing them, Dad would raise his hand, bow his head slightly, and proclaim in a very powerful, prayer-like tone, “Upon your confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!”  To my knowledge, “lifting up his hand” in this manner was very traditionally and culturally accepted in the church and was never considered to be an issue or a controversial practice.

I really love old photographs like this.  What thoughts or emotions does it evoke for you?  What “story” do you see in the picture?

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