Churches track history through baptisms
The baptism ceremony unfolds, and joy wells in worshippers’ hearts. Here is a new member of Christ’s family! Perhaps the pastor carries an infant out into the congregation. Sometimes members rise and move forward to welcome adults and youths at the altar. Baptism is one of two sacraments—the holiest sacred moments—in The United Methodist Church. (The other rite is Communion.)
For the Adair and Lone Grove church families, the ritual bears an additional layer of meaning.
Six generations of the Watkins family have been baptized at the Lone Grove church. The Wilsons trace their Christian story across five generations at Adair UMC.
On Oct. 7, Trace Watkins, in the company of his family, presented himself for baptism at Lone Grove-First UMC. Age 6, Trace represented the sixth generation of the family to belong there.
His family’s membership begins with his great-great-great grandparents, William and Susan Webster, and continues through his great-great grandparents, Henry and Inez Cooper; great-grandparents, Jesse and Inez Patton; grandmother Jessie Nolan; and Trace’s mother, Kristi Watkins. His brothers Brayden and Damon also recently became members.
"What a true honor it is to celebrate this legacy of faith!" said Pastor Harold Hunt.
West of Ardmore, the Lone Grove church was established in 1886 and renamed First Church in 1908. Other long-standing members include Theron Price Jr., Martha Payne, and Robin Porter, reported Karen Hunt.
In northeastern Oklahoma last year, at Adair UMC, Pastor Trish Harris baptized the youngest Wilson family members, two cousins. The ceremonies took place on separate days.
She learned the extent of the Wilsons’ faith story when church staff searched records for any members affiliated 50 years or longer with the church.
The family matriarch, Bess Kinion, age 96, has been a member for 82 years, Rev. Harris disovered.
Linked to the United Methodist family through their baptisms, the Wilson generations are, from oldest to youngest: "Bessie" and Clarence Kinion, the late Jimmy Kinion, Ginger Kinion Wilson, brothers Justin and Dustin Wilson, and five great-great grandchildren. Rev. Harris looks forward to baptizing a sixth great-great-grandchild, expected in March.
Ginger Wilson said the family attends church regularly, except for Justin, in the U.S. Air Force. Ginger has filled leadership roles including youth director and treasurer. She oversees the family ranch; she and her sister live on the original acreage.
"Bessie is still in her own home, and she walks 2 miles a day," Ginger said.
When Ginger was between 8 and 22, the family lived in Ohio. When they returned to Adair, "I thought my kids needed to go to church in the town where they went to school," Ginger said simply.
She reflected on the special moments in 2012. "It made me very proud my children wanted to carry on that tradition, their children being baptized where we all were," she said. "It was very heartwarming to know there were generations that had all been doing the same thing."
– Holly McCray