The four day conference that stared on September 13, 1856 with the theme of “Live Your Religion” had an emphasis on reformation – including re-baptism to bring the Saints back into focus in the work of the Lord. According to the counsel of President Young, the Twelve were baptized, and,
“This,” wrote Apostle Woodruff, “we considered a privilege and a duty…. We felt like renewing our covenants before the Lord and each other. We soon repaired to the water, and President Young went down into the water and baptized all his brethren of the Twelve present. Brother Heber C. Kimball baptized and confirmed President Young…The whole camp of Israel renewed their covenants before the Lord by baptism. There were 224 baptized this morning, making 284 re-baptized during the last three days.” (Jedediah M. Grant, p. 130, 138)
Deseret News reporting on September 1856, p. 228 remarks, “nearly 500 Saints were immersed under the direction of President Grant… The Spirit of God was poured out to a great degree, and peace and happiness characterized the whole assembly.”
and page 266…
“The congregation seemed to be lighted up with the Holy Ghost: they prophesied, spoke in tongues, had the interpretation thereof, and the blessings of the Almighty God rested upon them.”
Wow! Can you imagine that kind of reporting today from Deseret News? Can you imagine an assembly like that today in our Church? Sadly, I cannot. Where are our re-baptisms? Where are our prophesies? What does it really mean to speak in tongues, and why, in our Church, is it associated with other languages and missions, but in the Scriptures it is associated with a manifestation of the Spirit after conferring the Holy Ghost?
Obviously these gatherings and re-baptisms were pleasing to the Lord, otherwise His Spirit would not have rested so heavily upon them.
In a letter from Brigham Young to Orson Pratt, he instructed, “when they have sufficiently cleansed the inside of the platter, let them cleanse the outside, and renew their covenants in the waters of baptism.” (Church Chronology p. 58)
These group re-baptisms are replete in the accounts of many early leaders journals and reportings: Huntington Diary, Hosea Stout Diary, Life of W. Woodruff, Deseret News, John Bushman Diary, Journal of Discourses, Life of John Taylor, Autobiography of P. P. Pratt, History of Utah, C.H.C, D.H.C, Millennial Star, and Church Chronology.
*Continue to The Doctrine of Re-baptism Part IV
* The research for these references comes from Ogden Kraut. For more information on the topic, I suggest reading his book, Re-Baptism.