2010-08-04 / Front Page

'An Old Fashioned Baptism'

by Wanda Hudgins

Brother Alligood getting ready for the baptism of Arlen Cason, 72, an acquaintance of 30 years ago, in the cool waters of Notchaway Creek Brother Alligood getting ready for the baptism of Arlen Cason, 72, an acquaintance of 30 years ago, in the cool waters of Notchaway Creek “Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”    Galations 6:9

Brother Curtis Alligood of Patmos Freewill Baptist Church in Baker County, and this small rural community witnessed the reality of this verse Sunday, July 11.

Brother Alligood pastored Patmos Church for three years in the late 70s before moving on to another church. Last year, some 30 years later, he was asked to come back and resume the pastorate over a handful of faithful members who did not tire “of doing what is good” and did not “get discouraged and give up.”

Some of the over 100 members of Patmos Freewill Baptist Church and other sister churches gather on the sandy area of Notchaway Creek for the baptisms. Some of the over 100 members of Patmos Freewill Baptist Church and other sister churches gather on the sandy area of Notchaway Creek for the baptisms. This Sunday’s service ended on a sandy bank of Notchaway Creek as Brother Alligood baptized 14 new and rededicated believers!

In my preteen and teenage years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I attended many baptisms (my own included) in Notchaway Creek, but never did I attend one with so many to be baptized. This was a day I will never forget.

The procession of cars that left the church to go to the creek (numbering 60-70 at least) was reminiscent of a funeral procession for a much loved family member. Friends and family from sister churches were waiting as we arrived. There were approximately 100 of us lining the sandy bank as the service began.

Kyle and his sister Kaylie were the first two to descend into the cool waters of the creek for their baptism. All were following the command of God given through Peter in Acts. 2:38, “…turn from your sins…turn to God and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…”.

Next, was 72-year-old Arlen Cason. Brother Alligood had befriended the young Arlen 30 years earlier and planted the seed of salvation. Arlen told me later he was not ready at that time to do what he knew he needed to do. He told Brother Alligood he’d let him know when the time came, and he wanted him to do his baptism. That time came about a month ago when he told Brother Alligood, “It’s time.” I’m sure those words in Galations ran through Brother Alligood’s mind – “…we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”

As Arlen came up out of the water, thunderous applause rang out over the peaceful creek. Arlen’s daughter Melissa and her husband Mark wanted to rededicate their lives and be baptized with her dad. Mark’s young niece, Lindsey stepped eagerly into the waters as her name was called out. Todd, Arlen’s grandson who lives in another part of the state, had been thinking seriously about his life. When Todd heard that his 72-year-old granddad was to be baptized, he called the preacher and told him he wanted to be baptized, also.

Following Arlen’s grandson for his turn in the creek was a middle-aged dad, Tommy. After Tommy’s baptism, he helped Brother Alligood baptize his two fine-looking sons, Winston and Parker, and his beautiful daughter, Heidi, and wife Chloe.

After Tommy’s family left the water, Tommy’s cousin Richie waded in. His arm was broken and in a cast that had been covered with a plastic bag. Someone yelled from the riverbank for him to hold his arm up out of the water. Richie’s response was, “No way, I don’t want any part of me left out!”

As everyone sweltered in the afternoon heat, the last to enter the creek for baptism was Arthur, a handsome, middle-aged, single father. He acknowledged he’s made some bad choices in his life; and he knows there’s a better way to live. Arthur had also known, “It’s time.” As he came up out of the creek, someone began singing “Amazing Grace”.

We left that place knowing something significant had taken place here and in the heavenlies. There is a renewed sense of hope and faith in a world where good news is more prevalent than bad news.

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