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    Entries in church (2)

    Friday
    Sep232011

    Finding Baptism Records in Unexpected Places

    Today I opened my old high school scrapbook in search of the address of the church I attended as a teenager. I wanted to learn what happened to Bethany Baptist Church and hoped to find a photo for my article at the new Catholic genealogy blog, CatholicGene. Unlike Catholic churches that tend to stay put for decades, protestant churches are inclined to come and go with their aging congregations.

    Bethany Baptist Church in Whittier, California was a big church for its time when my family attended in the 1960s and 70s. We had two Sunday morning services, Sunday School, evening service, midweek service, and activities everyb  day of the week. It's gone now, the members merging into other local congregations, moving away from the area, going on to their heavenly reward.

    Protestant church properties are often re-purposed. Sometimes they are converted to restaurants, homes, or theaters. Our old church property remains a church community and is now home to Zoe Christian Fellowship where dance and music are a regular part of the worship service.

    I did find the address on Mills Avenue in Whittier, but I found something even more important to me. Securely glued to the construction paper page I discovered my original baptism certificate. I might have missed it, except for my handwritten note, "I am baptised, finally!" Inside a plain envelope was a 30-page religious booklet copyright 1906, 35th printing 1966, What Saith The Scripture? And buried within the pages, was the handwritten record of my baptism and church membership.

    DML002

    This is probably the only surviving record of these milestone events, and I nearly missed them. Our church was not a part of any large district where records would be maintained, and I have no idea what happened to the church records when Bethany dissolved.

    My mother's baptism certificate is a lovely large-size "real" certificate -- it looks important. My grandmother's is printed on a 5 x 7 card and was overlooked in a box of miscellaneous paper ephemera for years. Sometimes old records hide in the most unlikely places. If you've been missing a religious record, look again. You never know what you might find.

     

     

    Saturday
    Sep032011

    Praying With My Ancestors: A Pilgrimage of Sorts

    At least one branch of our family tree has leaned toward ecumenicalism for at least three generations. My great-granddparents were married in the home of a Presbyterian minister. My grandmother, Arline, was baptised protestant, confirmed Roman Catholic, and buried from a local Bible fellowship. Her sister Mercy was a devoted Seventh Day Adventist. My mother was baptised Roman Catholic but worshiped at Baptist and Evangelical Churches all her life. And her sister married a Texas Bible Church preacher.

    Grandma Brown never went to church without her hat, gloves, and pocketbook. This photograph captures the small community where they worshipped each week.

    I believe this is the Bible Center Church in Santa Ana. Second from left in the front row is my Aunt Frances, next to my grandmother, Arline Brown. Behind Auntie is her husband Benny C. Turner next to his mother, Willie Turner.

    We have missionaries, preachers, Sunday School teachers, choir members, ushers, and summer camp counselors in our line, but no altar boys until my own sons.

    Growing up, Sundays followed a strict schedule -- Sunday School followed by worship services, then home for lunch and "rest," and back to church for the evening service. On Wednesday, we attended mid-week services; as teenagers, we spent Friday nights with the Teen Group, and many weekends attending church-sponsored trips to Disneyland, the beach, or the mountains. Summers always included at least a week of Vacation Bible School and one or two weeks at church camp. When we grew to old to be campers, my sister and I signed up as counselors.

    My grandmother, aunt and uncle attended church in Santa Ana, twenty minutes from our hometown, so I only heard Uncle Benny preach when I stayed overnight on the occasional weekend. I remember him as a tall, handsome, and very kind man. He and my pretty aunt were popular with the congregation and favorites of all the children.

    Birth records for Kansas City are rare before 1900, so I was excited to find this in my grandmother's trunk.

    This certificate holds two surprises: Arline converted to Catholicism in 1929 one year before she married my grandfather, and she is using the name of her third husband, Charles Parker.

    Kinsel arline church cert

    This undated church certificate was probably issued in the 1950's when my grandparents lived in Santa Ana, California.

    This article was written for the September Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.