By J.N. Howard and Roy Howard
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (June 30, 2015) -- Members at Signal Mountain United Methodist Church recently studied the meaning of baptism, discussing the various forms used by church groups.
Members learned that several Bible scholars believe Jesus stood in a shallow part of the River Jordan and John cupped his hands to raise water over his head, since this was a form used in baptism or consecration in that day.
One church family offered access to their property, bordering the Sequatchie River, for those who wished to be baptized in the river (immersion) or by pouring. Persons began to approach Rev. J.N. Howard, pastor at Signal Mountain UMC, saying they wished to be baptized in the river, since they had made recent deeper commitments to Christ even though they had been baptized previously.
At the same time there were some new professions of faith in the congregation, and those persons wanted to be baptized in the river. Eventually a date was set and the invitation was made for baptism either by immersion or pouring.
By the time Saturday, June 13 arrived, 15 from the congregation and two others (neighbors of the hosts) presented themselves for baptism.
There were seven new professions of faith, the youngest an eight-year-old boy, some white and some African American, two physicians, and other men and women from a variety of occupations and one man just released from jail. A strong contingent of supporters were present to sing "Amazing Grace" after Rev. Howard, assisted by lay leader Shane Beasley, carried out the baptisms.
On June 14, Rev. Howard concluded 12 years as pastor of Signal Mountain United Methodist Church. He was serving as a retired elder.
The Rev. Roy Howard is a retired pastor living in Chattanooga, Tenn.