Before we got baptized, we were told by the assistant minister that we had to counsel with the minister “twice” before we could be baptized. I know now this was to see if we were “truly repentant” because they had already checked to see how many of their booklets and literature we had studied.
An appointment was set up for Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. and we arrived on time. Along with our minister, who was a divorcee of many years, was a young ministerial assistance, who had recently graduated from Ambassador College.1 They both were sitting in what appeared to be a dreary, dark apartment with one window to the right of the couch where we sat. (I learned years later that there always had to be “two” ministers, or two “representatives” in case someone decided to attack the minister or bring a lawsuit against him later.)
We talked for three hours (the time seemed to fly) with the minister asking us various questions. The only question I can remember, though, is when he said, “What are you supposed to repent of?” My husband answered, “our sins,” but the minister shook his head. Then I piped up with, “our rotten human nature.” That, of course, was supposed to be the “correct answer.” Finally the minister told us that we would be baptized “next week,” the evening after our first service. [Read: My First Service in a Masonic Basement]
Well, we almost missed our baptism service, as we lost the directions to the building (the basement of a music store), and couldn’t remember how to get there. Finally, we found it and quickly walked down the long stairs into the dank and somewhat dark basement. There were four men present (one was the minister) and no one was smiling, but looked quite serious. The room was rather narrow with rooms off to the side. In the middle was a large horse tank filled with cold water.
I arrived in a plain brown, long dress and flat-heeled, deer-skinned shoes. We were instructed to go behind these flimsy curtains and change into some sort of garb and then come out.
Just prior to being dunked in the water, the minister asked a few questions:
“Have you repented of your sins?”
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” (he may have said “Son of the living God”)
“I now baptize you not into any denomination or organization but into the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”2
When I went down into the water and came back up, it felt like there was a sudden, unexplained feeling of quick energy “surging” to me. Imagination? Self-hypnotism? I had to be dunked twice, because my feet came up the first time, and if any part of your body came out of the water, the baptism “didn’t count.” We were also taught that one didn’t receive the “Holy Spirit” until they laid hands on us and said some sort of prayer. So we were gathered beside them, standing up, while they placed their hands on our heads, and started to pray. By the time they had finished, my mind seemed to space out into a fuzzy sort of calm, as if I was in another world. This lasted for a few days, but also appeared from sunset to sunset during the time I was at the Feast of Tabernacles. I know now it was part of the hypnotism3 one could come under in the group. This could not have been the true Holy Spirit, as the Worldwide Church of God was never “God’s one and only true Church,” but a deceptive Bible-based “cult” that taught doctrines of demons. Besides, how many of us really knew what being saved was all about?
The group had a different spirit, a different Jesus, and a different gospel. In spite of this, some of us, prior to our involvement with WCG, were true Christians. We may have even been baptized by another Christian minister in a mainstream Christian church. Nevertheless, WCG told us that type of baptism was “invalid” and we couldn’t be true Christians unless, and until, their “true” ministers baptized us and laid hands on us. This was another of their lies in order to draw us into their pseudo religious organization. Thank God we are now free.
By T. H.
Exit & Support Network™
Note: To even be considered for baptism by the WCG ministers one had to agree that the WCG was God’s one true church.
1 Ambassador College in Pasadena, California was founded by Herbert Armstrong specifically to train men for the ministry: “Regarding AMBASSADOR COLLEGE, all of you know that the purpose for which it was founded is to provide a trained ministry for the Church of God to assist Mr. Armstrong in this world-wide work. We carefully screen applicants for the College — because not all young people are potential candidates for the ministry. The College is not for the purpose of giving all our young people a higher education. Dozens of applications have not been accepted because the candidates — though they may have outstanding aptitudes for other jobs — have not demonstrated their aptitude for the ministry.” – “Who May Attend Our Schools?” Good News, March 1958.
2 The ministers took the words “baptize you in the name of…” from Matthew 28:19 and changed it to “baptize you into the name of…” Making people think they were using this verse allowed them to appear biblical, when ironically they believed and taught that the Holy Spirit was only a force (i.e., the “power of God”). Read: Is the Holy Spirit Only the Power of God?
3 Hypnotism (e. g., hypnotic suggestions) is used in exploitive, mind-manipulating groups and can create a trance-like state where one’s critical thinking is not engaged. Altered states of mind and personality can happen quickly or gradually. (Also refer to the book: Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change by Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman)