July Sharing Time: When the Prophets Were Baptized

Preparation: Familiarize yourself with the stories of the latter-day prophet's baptisms below. Decide which stories to share with the children.

Obtain the Gospel Art Kit picture for each of those prophets (GAK 400, 506-520). Obtain a picture of a baptismal font (GAK 601). Post the prophet pictures on the board.

Presentation: Explain to the children that baptism is a commandment from Heavenly Father. Show the picture of the baptismal font. Explain that most people are baptized in a nice, clean font that is made just for baptisms. Tell the children that have not yet been baptized where the font is that they can be baptized in. Ask a few of the older children who have been baptized to share where they were baptized.

Tell the children that in July we celebrate pioneers. A pioneer is someone who has gone before us and helped prepare the way for us. Explain that all the prophets that have lived since the Church was restored are pioneers, since they help show us the way. Tell the children that each of the prophets has been baptized, but most of their baptisms were not in fonts. Ask a child to pick a picture of a prophet. Share the story of that prophet's baptism. Repeat until all the pictures have been chosen.

Joseph Smith was baptized in the Susquehanna River by Oliver Cowdery, as directed by John the Baptist, May 15, 1829. Following his baptism, Joseph baptized Oliver. After they were baptized they "experienced great and glorious blessing from our Heavenly Father." The Holy Ghost fell upon them and they prophesied many things which would shortly come to pass. They also understood the scriptures better than they ever had before. (See Joseph Smith-History 1: 73-74.)

Brigham Young was baptized in his own millpond near Mendon, New York, April 14, 1832 by the missionary Eleazer Miller. It was a cold and snowy day. With the ordinance came "a humble, child like spirit," confirming in his mind that his sins were forgiven, as the Savior had promised. Then Elder Miller astonished Brigham by ordaining him an elder before his clothes were even dry. Three weeks later, Brigham's wife, Miriam, also was baptized. (See Lion of the Lord: Essays on the Life and Service of Brigham Young by Susan Easton Black, Larry C. Porter.)

John Taylor was a minister for a different church when he was taught the gospel. He was taught and baptized by Parley P. Pratt, who was an apostle and a missionary. John Taylor was baptized in Black Creek in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada on May 9, 1836. (See The Lord Needed a Prophet by Susan Arrington Madsen.)

Wilford Woodruff and his brother Azmon were baptized on December 31, 1833. While driving two horses pulling a sled to the baptism, several loose boards on the floor of the sled gave way, and Wilford suddenly fell to the ground. With Wilford holding onto the harness with all his might, the two frightened horses raced down a hill, dragging him along. Luckily, the ground was slick with snow, and he stopped the horses without serious injury. When Wilford finally got to the lake, the ground was covered with three feet of snow. Chunks of ice were floating in the water. Nevertheless, Wilford eagerly stepped into the water, was baptized by immersion, and came up filled with joy and excitement. He made a promise to the Lord that day to do anything, go anywhere, and sacrifice everything, if need be, for his Heavenly Father. (See The Lord Needed a Prophet by Susan Arrington Madsen.)

Lorenzo Snow studied the gospel for a long time. Finally he gained a testimony and decided to be baptized. On Sunday, June 19, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith arose to the pulpit just before the meeting closed and said: "A young man by the name of Lorenzo Snow wishes to be baptized, and Brother John Boynton (who was then one of the Twelve Apostles) will baptize him." After the meeting Lorenzo was baptized in the Chagrin River, a stream that ran through Kirtland, Ohio. Lorenzo was confirmed by Hyrum Smith. (See "How Lorenzo Snow Found God" by Leroi C. Snow, Improvement Era, 1937.)

Joseph F. Smith said of his baptism: "I remember the testimony that filled my being when I was baptized. At that time City Creek flowed down through the heart of the city, and in that stream I was baptized when a boy, and when I came out of the water my whole being was filled with the testimony that my act was accepted of God." Because his father, Hyrum Smith, had been killed when Joseph F. was seven, it wasn't until after they had settled in the Salt Lake valley and he was thirteen-years-old that he was baptized. (See Eighth Annual Conference, M. I. A. in Improvement Era, 1903.)

Heber J. Grant was baptized June 2, 1864, in a wagon box rigged up as an outdoor font behind Brigham Young's school in Salt Lake City. (See William Hartley and Rebecca Todd, "Our Prophet's Places of Baptism," The Friend, Aug. 1997, 42.)

George Albert Smith was baptized on June 6, 1878, a little over two months past his eighth birthday. He was baptized in City Creek, which then ran down the west side of the temple block, by Elder James Moyle. He was confirmed the same day by his father, John Henry Smith. (See Presidents of the Church by Preston Nibley.)

David O. McKay's father was called to go on a mission to the British Isles when David was seven-years-old. He responded readily to this call and left his wife to manage the farm and look after the little family of five children during his absence. It was a McKay family custom that the children were baptized on the day of their eighth birthday. When David reached his eighth birthday, September 8, 1881, he was baptized in Spring Creek in Huntsville, Utah by Peter Geertsen and confirmed a member of the Church by Francis A. Hammond. His father returned from his mission in April, 1883. (See Presidents of the Church by Preston Nibley.)

Joseph Fielding Smith's father baptized him July 19, 1884, in Salt Lake City, Utah, but records do not say where. It was a hot summer day, so he was probably baptized outdoors in City Creek. (See William Hartley and Rebecca Todd, "Our Prophet's Places of Baptism," The Friend, Aug. 1997, 42.)

Harold B. Lee's journal contains this recollection of his baptism: "I was baptized a member of the Church on June 9, 1907, at Clifton, Idaho by Lester Bybee. The place was known as 'Bybee Pond' at the old lime kiln, located on the Bybee property. This was on a Sunday morning. I was confirmed the same day by Bishop E. G. Farmer." (See Harold B. Lee: Prophet and Seer by Brent L. Goates.)

Spencer W. Kimball was baptized on his eighth birthday. His father baptized him in a big metal vat that they sometimes used as a bathtub. But four years later someone suggested the baptism might not be quite right because his father wasn't standing in the water with him. So, Spencer was baptized again in the Union Canal where the boys often went swimming. (See The Lord Needed a Prophet by Susan Arrington Madsen.)

Ezra Taft Benson was baptized in the Logan River Canal near his home in Whitney, Idaho, August 4, 1907. (See William Hartley and Rebecca Todd, "Our Prophet's Places of Baptism," The Friend, Aug. 1997, 42.)

Howard W. Hunter grew up in Boise, Idaho. His mother was a member of the church, but his father was not a member. When Howard turned eight-years-old, he wanted to be baptized, but his father explained that he wanted him to wait until he grew up so he could decide for himself which church to join. When Howard turned twelve, he begged his father to let him be baptized so he could become a deacon. Finally, a few months after Howard's twelfth birthday, his father agreed to let him be baptized. He was baptized on April 4, 1920 in a big public swimming pool, called the Natatorium, since the church had no baptismal font in Boise at that time. (See Boys Who Became Prophets by Lynda Cory Robinson.)

Gordon B. Hinckley was the only latter-day prophet baptized in a font. He was baptized by his father April 28, 1919, in a ward house baptismal font in Salt Lake City, Utah. (See William Hartley and Rebecca Todd, "Our Prophet's Places of Baptism," The Friend, Aug. 1997, 42.)

Testify to the children that though all the prophets were baptized in different places, they made the same promise we make at baptism: the promise to follow Jesus Christ. All fifteen of our prophets have kept this promise; they have followed the Savior, and in time were called to be special witnesses of Him. We can follow their example by being baptized and following the Savior.

Sing songs about pioneers and baptism such as, "To Be a Pioneer" (Children's Songbook, 218), "The Handcart Song" (CS, 220), "Whenever I Think About Pioneers" (CS, 222), "When I Am Baptized" (CS, 103), and "I Like My Birthdays" (CS, 104).

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