Monday, July 8, 2013

All Wet! - The Value of Church Records

Today marks 50 years ago that I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When are children are 8 years old, and beginning to know right from wrong, baptism becomes the first step on their journey.  The above photo is little Peggy standing in ice-cold rusty water.  My father, Chester Lee Clemens, and a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, had the authority to baptize me.

Now, did I know what I was doing.  I think I knew as much as an 8-year old can understand.  I knew that whatever little sins I had committed were now being washed away, and I was expected to try to be a good little girl.

That has followed me through my life.  I've done my best to try to live up to what God expects of me.
My dad was baptized the very same way I was, but he was 39 years old at the time.  He was baptized in the swimming pool at the YMCA, where our little branch was meeting.  Shortly afterward, they asked us not to come back, for they felt the lint from our clothing was clogging the pipes.  Not long after that, a gas leak blew the building apart.
Just about three years before that, my mom and three older sisters were baptized in the Guyan River in West Virginia.  I don't have a picture of their baptism, but this is the river.
Now, why do I bring this up?  Because I am a genealogist, and church records can be one of the most important records in locating our families.  They can hold a treasure trove full of vital information that may not have been around before states began keeping records.

And, as much as I enjoy searching for those records, I must also remember to record the milestones in my own family's lives.  Certificates of baptism, christening, ordinations, etc. may have been stuffed into a drawer or put into a notebook.  But, thanks to modern technology, those are all scannable items that can benefit those that will come after us.

So, as delightful as it is to trace our lineage backward in time, it is vital that we don't forget to come forward with our own information.  Be a good little girl or boy!

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