By Vernalee
mourners bench Mourner’s Bench

The baptismal tradition in the South was a serious undertaking. The first step was to pray before the church as you kneeled on the mourner’s bench. It was a “coming together” because the church prayed with you and for you. After successful prayers of forgiveness and repentance, you became a candidate for water baptism. On a designated Sunday morning, dressed in pure white, baptismal candidates prepared for their immersions.
800px-River_baptism_in_New_Bern Water’s Baptism

In my home town of Glen Allan, Mississippi, the baptismal candidates, their families, the pastor and congregation marched to the bank of Lake Washington. It was a major celebration as most of the town looked on to witness those being “born again” as they came to Christ. The traditional old Negro spirituals that were sung included “Take me to the Water to be baptized,” “Wade in the Water,” “Precious Lord” … among others. After coming out of the water as a new baptized saint, it was your duty to serve the Lord! Your conduct was to be reflective of a new you with a renewed Christian spirit and heart! The Mothers of the church would invariably sing “Something got a hold on me” and the pastor would say, “Let the church say Amen!” Reminiscing, I say Happy Sunday and Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Oh yes, the traditional words, “Give me that old time religion. It was good enough for my Mother and it’s good enough for me” … have never been truer. God bless!
Photo reprints:;