Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism

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“Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism,” Liahona, June 1998, 2


Our Prophets’ Places of Baptism

At the proper time, Jesus Christ went to John the Baptist and was baptized in the Jordan River. There were no indoor baptismal fonts then. Even today, people are sometimes baptized in streams, lakes, oceans, water barrels, swimming pools, or wherever there is enough water to completely submerge a person’s body. In fact, of all our Church Presidents, only President Hinckley was baptized in an indoor baptismal font!

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

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

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

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

Lorenzo Snow was baptized 19 June 1836 in the Chagrin River, which runs through Kirtland, Ohio.

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

Heber J. Grant was baptized 2 June 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, 6 June 1878.

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

Joseph Fielding Smith was baptized by his father on 19 July 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 near Clifton, Idaho, 9 June 1907.

Spencer W. Kimball was baptized in Thatcher, Arizona, 28 March 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 12 years old, in the Union Canal a block away from his home.

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

After finally obtaining permission from his father, Howard W. Hunter was baptized 4 April 1920, at age 12, in the Natatorium, a large indoor swimming complex, in Boise, Idaho.

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

Of the 15 Latter-day Saint Presidents, 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 15 of our Presidents have kept this promise; they have followed the Savior, and in time they were called to be special witnesses of him.

John Baptizing Jesus, by Harry Anderson

Far left: Portrayal of the Prophet Joseph Smith baptizing Oliver Cowdery from the film Restoration of the Priesthood, photograph by Eldon K. Linschoten