BAPTISM - WAY BACK THEN, THEN, AND NOW
THEN. . .
Much of what follows is from the excellent historical work by Edith Gibson in 1961. Additions by the present commentator are in italics.
The Baptist movement was a frontier movement, often preceding rather than following territorial expansion. Near a little town now known as Camp Verde, before a congregation of Indians, cowboys, soldiers, a few ranchers, under a cottonwood tree, James Bristow, on October 9, 1875, preached the first Baptist sermon in Arizona. Since Camp Verde (still there, just off I-19 on the way to Flagstaff ) is located on the banks of the Verde River (which gives the whole area the name of Verde Valley), it is probable that one or more baptisms was held thereafter in the Verde River. Around 1880 churches were organized in various communities, including Phoenix, Prescott, and Tucson. The words of the two baptismal questions, "Do you believe" and "Have you invited", thus began to echo across the territory of Arizona.
About 1900 a small group of Christian people living in the village of Scottsdale organized and conducted a community Sunday school. There were approximately twenty-five of these people, including five Methodists and two Presbyterians. The rest were Baptist. During several of these years, V. A. Vanderhoof, then a Methodist, superintended this school.
As stated before, First Baptist Church of Scottsdale was organized on June 12, 1912 in âthe Little Red Schoolhouse." Rev. Limon Trumbull was selected as the first pastor of FBCS. Pastor Trumbull was crippled and otherwise apparently not in good health, dying early in 1911.
Before Trumbull's death, however, William J. Gordon, a Colporteur missionary who had been transferred from New Mexico to Arizona conducted the first evangelistic meeting for the Scottsdale group. The date of this evangelistic meeting is not known. He was entertained in the Vanderhoof home, and on the last night of the meetings, V. A. Vanderhoof presented himself as a candidate for membership. The following Easter Sunday, which would have been Easter, 1911, the first baptismal services for the new church group were held. Those baptized were Verner A. Vanderhoof, his wife Jane, their daughter May, and a man named Whitney. Very likely, this was the first time the two questions resounded in Scottsdale.
The baptism took place in an irrigation ditch located at the corner of Scottsdale and Indian School Roads, near the present site of the Valley Bank. Incidentally, this place continued to be used for baptismal purposes for many years. The gate could be raised to let in water and closed at the corner, thus regulated to suit the purpose. "A History of First Baptist Church of Scottsdale", Arizona by Edith L. Gibson, 1961.
On the Wednesday morning following this Easter Sunday, Rose Trumbull, the daughter, found Rev. Limon Trumbull dead in his bed.
The irrigation box on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Indian School continued to be used by the church until sometime in the 1930's. About 1916, in addition to the previous photo of the Fred Mathis 1920 baptism, we are blessed with this photo of Rev. R.P.Pope baptizing Manuel Wellington, a Pima Indian. Without a doubt, the questions "Do you believe Jesus Christ died to take away our sins?", and: "Have you invited Christ into your heart as your personal Savior?", were heard by those standing by as witnesses.
The River Jordan as it leaves the Sea of Galilee.
Neither the date nor year is known, but at some point, probably in the late 1920's, and certainly before 1934, the church determined that "The Old Swimming Hole" would be a better place to hold baptisms. Fed by a county owned well (which we have not be able to locate), this was located on McDowell Road near either Miller Road or Hayden Road. Apparently this location earlier became The Old Swimming Hole because it was known to contain very cool water which would have been a luxury in Arizona in the summer in the 1930's, or actually, any summer since then!
Here, on October 7, 1934, Rev. Fred Mathis asked the two questions at least three times. First was to his daughter Edna, whose mother, May Vanderhoof Mathis, was one of the children in the foreground of the earlier photo of "The Little Red Schoolhouse"
Next, Rev. Mathis asked the questions of Mary Jane Zimmerman, whose mother was a founding member of the church. Mary Jane later married Charles Lewis, and both were long time members of FBCS.
And finally, so far as the photos of that day inform us, the questions were asked of Alvin Brown who was also probably shown at a far younger age as a student of "The Little Red Schoolhouse." He may also have been the Alvin Brown who was a founding member of the church.
During the pastorate of Ed Lester who succeeded Fred Mathis, the south end of the building was extended, a baptistery installed, and a parsonage built at 53 West First Avenue. This was probably in the 1940's. At the time, Scottsdale used a different street numbering system than at the present time, so the parsonage address then is not a present day "53 West First Avenue." Since the installation of the baptistery in the original church, each sanctuary since has an indoor baptistery.