Our Prophets’ Outdoor Baptisms
March 1990

“Our Prophets’ Outdoor Baptisms,” Tambuli, Mar. 1990, 14

Our Prophets’ Outdoor Baptisms

It may be surprising to you, but not one of our Church presidents was baptized indoors in a baptismal font!

Today most candidates for baptism are baptized in clean, shiny, tile baptismal fonts filled with warm, clear water. And they change clothes nearby in comfortable dressing rooms.

But in times past, and still in many places today, people have been baptized in streams, lakes, oceans, water barrels, and swimming pools, wherever there is enough water to completely submerge a person’s body.

Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan. The prophet Alma baptized people in pools or ponds called the Waters of Mormon.

And our modern prophets were baptized in a variety of places:

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph F. Smith (May 21, 1852) and George Albert Smith (June 6, 1878) were baptized as boys in City Creek, which at that time ran near where the Church Office Building now stands in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Heber J. Grant was also baptized (June 2, 1864) in City Creek, but in a wagon box. This was the wooden body of a wagon taken off its wheelbed and placed in the stream to create a baptismal font.

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

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

Harold B. Lee was baptized in Bybee Pond, in Clifton, Idaho, on June 9, 1907.

Spencer W. Kimball was baptized in Arizona on March 28, 1903, in the tub used to clean off the bristles and dirt from slaughtered hogs. The tub was also used as the family’s bathtub. It was large enough for only one person, so 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.

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

Of our thirteen Prophets, two were baptized in rivers, one in a stream, six in creeks, two in ponds, one in a canal, and one in a tub and then in a canal.

After being baptized, all thirteen received the Holy Ghost. Then they kept their baptismal covenants, lived God’s commandments, and in time became God’s prophets on the earth.