Taking the Plunge
Brad decided to be baptized, but he had too good of a relationship with his elders to pass up an opportunity for a prank. The night before his baptism date, Brad called up the elders in the wee hours of the morning, as he often did.
“I don’t believe in any of it. It’s total garbage. Sorry guys. You guys might as well go play in the baptismal font tomorrow,” Brad said.
His words were met with silence. Brad let it sink in for a few minutes before he caved. “I’m just messing with you guys. Go to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”
He’d never heard missionaries so mad before, but the next morning, on June 28, 2008, he was baptized.
Brad on his baptism day with his parents Jackie and Greg Parr. Dustin Cooper, the friend who first invited Brad to stake conference and performed the baptism, stands behind.
“But it was good, you know,” Brad said, speaking of his elders. “I’m still good friends with both of them . . . and the way that they loved me and put up with me was a testament of how much they loved me and loved God and were willing to serve him.”
Brad and his missionaries, Elder David Rummler (left) and Elder Cris Stiles (right), at a church meeting after Brad's baptism in 2008. Brad is wearing the tie he wore to his first stake conference.
Getting baptized didn’t make life easier, though. Brad was still living with his parents, and they “freaked out” about their son’s transformation. “They were afraid they were going to lose me . . . they thought I was going to become some judgmental jerk . . . and hate their guts and condemn them,” Brad said.
His parents did attend his baptism, but as a new member, Brad was constantly berated by his parents, especially when they were drunk. Their opposition, however, only made Brad more resolute in his new faith. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s that inner rebellious kid in me or something,” he said.
His friends weren’t big fans of his new identity as a Latter-day Saint, either. They too were afraid of losing a friend, and continuously tried to pull Brad back into old habits. At one point Brad had to sit down and have a frank conversation with one of his best friends. “I’m not going to get stoned with you. I’m not going to drink. I’m going to still love you and still be friends with you. . . . You can do it around me; it’s fine. It's not going to bug me, but don’t offer it to me or else you’re never going to see me again.”
His ward was supportive as Brad made the transition, especially his bishop. When Brad went to get his first limited-use temple recommend and the bishop asked the question about dealings with family, Brad was honest. “Bishop, I can’t answer that right,” he said. “You know my family situation and you know what I have to deal with, and you know I get upset at times.”
Brad shares the words from his bishop: “That’s okay. Because you’re not meant to be perfect in order to get into the temple, and your situation is different from that of a typical Latter-day Saint family. So here’s your recommend. Go use it and get the strength you need to love your parents more.”
Brad said that answer had a profound effect on him. Later, Brad's mom would tell Brad's wife that deep down, she was proud of her son.
Nine Years Later
Today, Brad still thinks he ties a pretty sloppy tie, but he's still strong in the Church. He’s also married and has three little girls.
“All girls. I am so freaked out about that, because I know how I was at the teenage phase, and if they ever bring home anybody that was like me at my age, they’re dead,” Brad said.
Brad, his wife, and their two oldest daughters.
Photo credit: Jackie Ermini
Mini Moments Photography & Production
Brad's youngest, born recently.
Brad is working towards a Bachelor’s degree from BYU Idaho’s online Pathways program. His goal is to become a seminary teacher, which would, in a roundabout way, fulfill his teenage dream to become a minister.
Brad loves studying about Church history and doctrine, as well as other religions, and he believes that this love, combined with his prior experience as an anti-Latter-day Saint, would be a valuable asset in helping teach the next generation of students. He says that it's not a matter of if students come across anti-Latter-day Saint literature, but when. "I want to answer them honestly, and not push it under the rug or be defensive," Brad said. “I think sometimes when people go inactive or start questioning, we get defensive and scared when we need to pull back and continue acting normal.”
Brad also said that he's drawn to the Church education system because "I feel like I owe it to God to make up for the people I pushed away from Him."