Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism
August 1997

“Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism,” Friend, Aug. 1997, 42


Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism

Take upon you the name of Christ; … and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in (Alma 34:38).

At the proper time, Jesus Christ went to John the Baptist and was baptized in the Jordan River. There were no clean, tile baptismal fonts then. In times past, and in some places today, people have been baptized in streams, lakes, oceans, water barrels, swimming pools, or wherever there was enough water to completely submerge a person’s body. Of all our Church Presidents, only President Hinckley was baptized indoors in a baptismal font!

Joseph Smith was baptized in the Susquehanna River by Oliver Cowdery, as directed by John the Baptist, May 15, 1829.

Brigham Young was baptized in his own millpond near Mendon, New York, April 14, 1832.

John Taylor was baptized in Black Creek in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, May 9, 1836.

Wilford Woodruff was baptized in an icy stream near Richland, New York, December 31, 1833.

Lorenzo Snow was baptized June 3, 1836, in the Chagrin River, which runs through Kirtland, Ohio.

Joseph F. Smith was baptized May 21, 1852, in City Creek, a creek that runs near the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Heber J. Grant was baptized June 2, 1864, in a wagon box rigged up as an outdoor font behind Brigham Young’s school in Salt Lake City, Utah.

George Albert Smith was baptized in City Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 6, 1878.

David O. McKay was baptized in Spring Creek in Huntsville, Utah, September 8, 1881.

Joseph Fielding Smith’s father baptized him July 19, 1884, in Salt Lake City, Utah, but records do not say where. It was a hot summer day, so he was probably baptized outdoors in City Creek.

Harold B. Lee was baptized in Bybee Pond, an old limekiln in Clifton, Idaho, June 9, 1907.

Spencer W. Kimball was baptized in Thatcher, Arizona, March 28, 1903, in the hog-scalding tub that was also used as the family’s bathtub. His father stood outside the tub, which some people felt was not a correct way to baptize. To be sure that Spencer was properly baptized, he was baptized again, when he was twelve years old, in the Union Canal just a block away from his home.

Ezra Taft Benson was baptized in the Logan River Canal near his home in Whitney, Idaho, August 4, 1907.

After finally obtaining permission from his father, Howard W. Hunter was baptized April 4, 1920, at age twelve, in the Natatorium, a large indoor swimming complex, in Boise, Idaho.

Our current prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, was baptized by his father April 28, 1919, in a ward house baptismal font in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Of the fifteen Latter-day Saint prophets, two were baptized in rivers, one in an outdoor baptismal font, one in an indoor font, one in a stream, five in creeks, two in ponds, one in a swimming pool, one in a canal, and one in a tub and then in a canal.

Though they were baptized in different places, all the prophets made the same promise we make at baptism: the promise to follow Jesus Christ. All fifteen of our prophets have kept this promise; they have followed the Savior, and in time were called to be special witnesses of Him.

Photos courtesy of the Visual Resource Library

Painting of the Savior’s baptism by Harry Anderson

Simulated baptism of Joseph Smith

Spencer W. Kimball

Ezra Taft Benson

Howard W. Hunter

Gordon B. Hinckley