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Take Me To The Water: River Baptisms

Discussion in 'Mid-19th Century Life' started by Dedej, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    4a31436r.jpg

    I absolutely LOVE seeing old pictures of river baptisms. They are beautiful to me. I know it's a practice and folk tradition Baptist of all - white and black -- and usually perform in rivers, bayous, and lakes.

    Immersion baptism, understood as demanding total submersion of the body, is required by Baptists, as enunciated in the 1689 Baptist Catechism: "Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the person in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit",[173] indicating that the whole body must be immersed, not just the head.

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    The tradition of submerging someone in a river to wash away their sins began in Europe, came to America in the 18th century and spread across the South by Baptist ministers, Daniels says. The Christian tradition replicates Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist 2,000 years ago.

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    Baptisms were generally held during the summer or early fall so the water would be warm enough. Outdoor baptismal locations tend to be used traditionally in a community, with various churches using the same spot for generations. Source


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    1890​

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    1848 Daguerreotype of former slaves receiving baptism on the Island of Martinique after emancipation.

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    A large group of African-American spectators stands on the banks of Buffalo Bayou to witness a baptism (ca. 1900).

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    African Americans Post Civil War- Baptism in Georgia Late 1800’s

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2017 at 11:39 AM

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  3. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    When the ritual was done in Antebellum/slavery times - many Africans embraced due to similarities to other African religions - specifically Ifá, Mami Wata, Vodou/Vodun -- which is completely different from Voodoo and Louisiana Voodoo)

    The most important practice in the Baptist church was immersive baptism, which had similarities to the African practice of water cults. Raboteau, Slave Religion

    *Note: "
    Water cults" is not what they were - to learn more - I recommend reading about Traditional African Religions.
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    Blacks took comfort in the message of evangelical Christianity as they faced the perils of the Second Middle Passage and the cotton revolution. Slaves saw in baptism and camp meeting worship similarities to traditional African practices, and they enthusiastically embraced worship that paralleled the traditional style. Blacks brought in other styles of worship and expression taken from traditional practices, and whites were often impressed by the emotion and vitality that the traditional practices could bring to black worship. Source



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    But in studying the funerary and baptismal practices of slaves and their descendents, certain patterns of similar practices begin to emerge. This is particularly evident in the use of water as a dual conductor of death and life, particularly in the Christian faith as adopted by enslaved Africans in the Americas and their progeny. Apart from syncretized religions such as Haitian Vodou or Candomblé, which also have a particular sacred relationship with water, many African-Americans have retained a spiritual affinity to water, yet attached them to Christian practices. Water as Death and Life: Traces of the Atlantic Slave Trade in Funerary and Baptismal Rites


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    Accompanied by song, shouting, and ecstatic behavior, baptism—especially for Baptists—was perhaps the most dramatic ritual in the slave’s religious life. “De biggest meetin’ house crowds was when dey had baptizing’,” noted a former Georgia slave. “Dey dammed up de crick on Sadday so as it would be deep enough on Sunday.… At dem baptizin’s dere was all sorts of shouting and dey would sing ‘Roll, Jordan, Roll, De Livin’ Waters,’ and ‘Lord, I’se Comin’ Home.’ ”


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    Dressed in white robes and attended by the “brothers and sisters,” the candidates proceeded “amidst singing and praises” to the local pond or creek, symbol of the river Jordan, where, according to Baptist practice, each was “ducked” by the preacher. Sometimes the newly regenerate came up from the baptismal waters shouting for joy at being made new in the Lord. Source




    Antebellum Baptist: http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1836



     
  4. Crazy Delawares

    Crazy Delawares Sergeant

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    Very interesting! The fifth picture from the top looks as if it was done after chopping a huge hole in the ice. Is that correct?!?!?!:cold:
     
  5. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    08a82a916a277c8c325ef7dcd19c3bd5--african-americans-mississippi.jpg

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    Appalachia​

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    Rodgers Studio, [River baptism, Illinois], ca. 1900​

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    Unidentified Photographer, [River baptism], 1903​


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    Tennessee River Baptisms-1905 by Decatur Public Library, via Flickr

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    International News Photos, [Baptism, Potomac River], September 1933

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  6. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    Yes! It was..lol - I can't imagine. I'm from Michigan and I stay in the car until the car warms up and defrost :smile:
     
  7. AshleyMel

    AshleyMel Corporal

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    Gosh, I love these! Very emotional!
     
  8. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 Sergeant Major Trivia Game Winner

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    That had to be one chilly awakening.
     
  9. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    b669914b40fcf0075bdda511585ff3f6--mississippi-delta-the-river.jpg

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    Baptism at Sides Mill, Haymore Memorial Baptist Church, around 1912.

    baptism%2Bin%2Blaurel%2Babt%2B1930.JPG
    Baptism in Laurel Delaware about 1930

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    Baptism, Cuyahoga River, Ohio

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    River baptism, New Iberia, Louisiana


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    Source for many images

    unidentified_photographer_2007_107_153_448664_displaysize.jpg
    River baptism, Greenwood, Texas


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    River baptism, Tallulah, Louisiana


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    An old-time baptism at Martin's Ford on White River about 1917
     
  10. EJ Zander

    EJ Zander First Sergeant

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    River/ creek baptisms were still being done when I was kid growing up in MD.
     
  11. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    My great grandfather and my grandfather were Baptist preachers... when I look at old baptism photos, I always hope I'll see them.

    One word of advice... never be baptized in a dress with a full skirt. :help:

    Thank you for this thread. I love them, too!
     
  12. Robert Rutledge

    Robert Rutledge Private

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    Well when you think about it, the icy water might be the best option when you consider all of the cholera outbreaks that popped up in warmer weather. All of those rivers probably had some quantity of sewage running through them.


    There still are river baptisms to this day, though not as common.
     
  13. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    These are fantastic! Thanks for putting them up. That's the old time religion for sure. I remember one time when the preacher was doing baptisms along the river - our river is considerably less placid than these - but there was a swimming hole he was using. He dropped one of the kids! Kid swam between his legs and went a little down stream under water then came out but what a frantic hunt - where is he, where is he! Sure kicked the fund drive for the installation of the baptistry into high gear... :D (Don't know if that baptism took or not...:x3:)
     
  14. AshleyMel

    AshleyMel Corporal

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    The little church we used to belong to rented a building and was without a baptistery! It was up in the mountains and Hubby performed a Baptism once in an above ground pool right after a hail storm. We went out and bought a hot tub after that!
     
  15. Crazy Delawares

    Crazy Delawares Sergeant

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    Makes me kind of wonder: if this is really cold, then how hot is Hell???:hot:
     
  16. WJC

    WJC Sergeant Major

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    Thanks for posting these great photos!
    If I remember right, my grandfather-whose family were Presbyterian-was baptised in a creek.
     
  17. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    My dad was a boxer when he was younger and was a big, square guy. He was something of a challenge to baptize - Woody Allen would be bulkier than that little preacher! :laugh:

    These pictures are just wonderful, though.
     
  18. EJ Zander

    EJ Zander First Sergeant

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    Our swimming hole was used to. Out of respect we would cease our antics and get out of the water for the duration. Jumping back in afterwards.
     
  19. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    How wonderful thank you! Dad was a Lutheran minister and I can't count the number of warm, cozy, inside, head-only, baptisms I witnessed- boy would we have kicked like mules if we'd have caught wind, as children, of outside baptisms? Mass conversions, if we could discover the word.
     
  20. Gladys Hodge Sherrer

    Gladys Hodge Sherrer Sergeant

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    Baptizing below Union Grove Bridge, Guntersville, Alabama, late 1800's. This spot is near one setting in my book, Trapped in the Crossfire. Baptizing Covered Bridge Union Grove-Gville Dam picture  2 of 2 (2).jpg
     
  21. Lusty Murfax

    Lusty Murfax Private

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    Here in farm the country the rivers are very muddy. Rocky or gravel river beds are rare. Sand bars are usually covered in thick silt. Outdoor baptisms were usually conducted in ponds, where the congregation could more easily join on the bank without getting stuck in mud.
     

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