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Methodist elder says learning about proxy baptisms ‘reconciled her unrest’ about her deceased father

Theresa Dear
The Rev. Theresa Dear at the 110th NAACP convention in Detroit, 2019.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Reverend Theresa Dear, an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and member of the national board of directors of the NAACP, toured the newly renovated Washington DC Temple last month.

Dear wrote an article for Deseret News reflecting on her experience in the temple, which she describes as “a special space that invites us to walk closer to God. In this temple,” she writes, “there is an obvious presence that has nothing to do with the beautifully curated rooms and has everything to do with the holiness of God.”

During her tour, Rev. Dear learned about ordinances performed for those who have passed away. “The great revelation for me was the proxy baptism for deceased ancestors, wherein a family member can be baptized on behalf of a deceased member who was not baptized before death,” she writes.

“This principle made a lot of sense to me, because when my father died, I heard his sister say, ‘I don’t think he went to church or was baptized,’ and I wondered.

“I wondered because although I did not grow up with my father, I never knew him to go to church, refer to God or even pray. I thought he was a good man, who, like all of us, was flawed and tried to work things out on life’s journey. I thought he did the best he could as a man and parent. My memories of him are loving. Yet, the words from my aunt have haunted my soul. I have wondered if I would see my father again. After more than 30 years, the proxy baptism for deceased ancestors helped me reconcile the unrest I carried for decades.”

Rev. Dear went on to say, “While the grandeur of the temple may be a cultural norm for Latter-day Saints, for me it was a majestic experience which inspired me spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. My only comparative experience is when I visited the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy, where I saw Michelangelo’s statue of David and all I could do was stare as tears rolled from my eyes.”

Read more of Reverend Dear’s reflections on her visit to the temple at Deseret News.

▶ You may also like: The mistakes and miracles behind the massive new Second Coming painting in the DC Temple

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