Simpler Times – Shall We Gather at the River

by Cindy Hester

My Grandfather, Bro. C. L. Moore, after
Baptizing Three New Members

of Bethel Baptist Church, Bold Springs

Long before baptisteries, new Christians who wished to follow Jesus’ example of believer’s baptism experienced that baptism in a river, creek, or pond. I will always remember my baptism which was performed by my Dad in a lake near the Chesswood Baptist Church, Livingston, Texas.
Dad had felt a calling from God to form a mission church on the south side of town near Chesswood Subdivision. He stepped out in obedient faith, and serving as a local missionary of the Polk County Missionary Association he began and organized the Chesswood Baptist Church where he pastored for 29 years before “retiring”, then serving as Pastor of Soda Baptist Church for 15 years. The charter members of Chesswood Baptist Church originally met and worshipped in homes until they were able to lease a small hamburger “joint” (as Dad used to call it.) Sunday school classes met anywhere from the walk-in freezer to the outdoor awning of the small restaurant.
There were many sweet days of fellowship in that little restaurant. I laugh whenever I think of my mother teaching the Sunday school class in the walk-in freezer. We had a few mischievous boys whom she was terrified would someday lock her and the class in it. She would teach that class with her chair sitting in the doorway. If anyone was going to close that door, they were going to have to move her and her chair to get the job done!
Home-made pews filled what used to be the main dining room of the restaurant, and an old, slightly out of tune piano filled the building with hymns. A couple of the keys stuck every so often, but it did not matter. The spirit flowing from that musical praise grabbed the heart and soul in a way that only divinely inspired worship could.
Dad had a heart for lost souls. He knew what God’s love could do for them. He knew what God’s love had done for him. It was his mission, his very heart to spread that message. Those charter members felt that same calling. It was a wonderful place to be, and I always looked forward to Sundays and Wednesdays there. God was at work in ways that left a lasting impression on my life.


Chesswood Baptist Church as it Looks Today

The church grew and was able to purchase prime property on Highway 59. It was in the original sanctuary on the new property that I came face to face with my Heavenly Father. The congregation was singing “Just as I Am” and my feet would not stay planted in that pew. It was uncomfortable for me as a child to walk that aisle to the alter in front of everyone, but it was even more uncomfortable to stay put. I walked to my Daddy’s waiting arms crying the entire way. My heart was stirred and in awe of something far greater than I could understand at the time. He talked with me to ensure I understood the step of faith I was taking. He then presented me to the church as having asked Christ into my heart and wanting to follow Jesus in believer’s baptism. It was one of the most profound moments of my life.

Once we got home, he called me back to a quiet room, sat me in his lap and talked more with me about this decision. At the time I was a young child of 5, and he wanted to make sure I fully understood the plan of salvation. My heart overflowed with love as Dad held me close reading from the Bible and praying over my life and for continued understanding of God’s plan for my life. I later reached an age of greater understanding of my need for a Savior. It was at this time I was baptized in that lake with those dear souls singing “Shall We Gather at the River.”
I cherish the days I attended baptisms watching my Dad and grandfather walk out into the water carrying a pole or stick ahead of them to ensure there were no sudden deep drops in the bottom of the pond. I treasure the remembrance of the sound of katydids and frogs breaking the reverently quiet air as new Christians followed into the water to publicly demonstrate a symbol of their faith. I value what that symbol represents. Troubles did not magically disappear, and sudden perfection had not been reached. Through salvation, however, an Omnipotent Power had arrived, and an all-sufficient supply of grace and mercy had become available. Through baptism, a beginning act of faith and obedience was acheived. Thank God for His power, mercy, and grace to continue drawing us to a life of faithful obedience.
My Dad, Bro. Frank E. Hood, baptizing my little brother, Andy Hood,
at Chesswood Baptist Church, Livingston, Texas.
Matthew 3:13-17
New International Version (NIV)
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.
14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Published by cinderellascorner

Hello everyone. My name is Cindy Hester. I have a lot on my heart to share, much of which has already been posted on my site. I hope you will enjoy visiting that site as well as the blog info I share on WordPress. I have much life experience to share. I was reared in the loving home of an Aggie Baptist preacher and his beautiful bride, Gracie. I married at a young age to my high school sweetheart. As the result of an unhealthy, abusive relationship, I found myself to be a divorced mother of three teen and pre-teen children at the ripe old age of 35. I re-married four years later to a good man who was rearing his two children. I have been through the challenge of combining families, losing a precious father, and coming to grips with real issues of real children from divorced families. My faith has been tested and has not always come out on top at the moment. I have learned, however, there is a God who loves, cares, and understands all that I face, and He is not afraid to stand by my side in the midst of the storm. I love reminiscing about the past…a past that my children will never have access to due to the major swing in technological and social advances. I hope you enjoy these writings, and I pray you will find my subject matter worthwhile enough to purchase in books someday. Thank you for taking the time to hear what is on my mind. I hope it blesses you in some special way. Cindy Hester (aka Mom, Mommerella, Cinderella, Daughter, Wife, Sister, Friend, Co-Worker…)

8 thoughts on “Simpler Times – Shall We Gather at the River

  1. Reading this made tears flow…your family has always been so special to me, and your dad was one of the Godliest men I have ever known. Thank you so much, Cindy, for sharing this with me.

  2. Oh Cindy, the tears are flowing. This is beautiful and it made me look back on the day that I gave my life to our Lord & Savior. My life has changed so much since that day and I am so thankful for the sacrifice He made for all of us. Thank you for sharing.Lisa Bentley

  3. Cindy, thanks so much for posting this. I think I was baptized in the same creek as you. This all brings back wonderful memories as does the "hamburger joint" when it all started!!! Love to you and family, Linda

  4. My, My, My Cindy, that sure does bring back alot of memories and sweet times that I remember so well. Your Dad and Your Whole Family were such sweet people to Us and We'll always be Grateful to God for putting Us and You'all in that time and place. luv'ya all so very much and May God Continue to Bless Each One of You in a Special Way. Stella

  5. Thank you all so much for your sweet feedback. You just don't know how much your memories and words mean to me. You also cannot imagine how much it means that these stories touch your heart and bring back good memories to you as well, because they come from deep within my heart. Miss Stella and Linda I love you all, and I'll never forget the bond that was forged in the early days of working togehter in that young church. Colleen, you and your family brought more heart and dedication when your family came along. Chelsey, my sweet daughter in love, your encouragement means the world to me. And Lisa, God bless you, you have been an inspiration to me through your emails and your Facebook page. I pray that God continues to bless you and your family. Thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  6. cindy i have really enjoyed reading all your storys ,i have cried laughed and shared with my mom and kathy, on sundays , at mom ;s ,please keep them camimg ,mom has really enjoyed them ,and looking at picture;s of your mom and dad ,she just ask sunday if i though you would say anything about chesswood , i told her i bet so cause that was a big part of your life there at chesswood ,we love you and your family so much ,ya;ll or in our pray;s ,we miss your daddy so much to , and i have always said there will never be another man like your daddy ,he was one of a kind ,always there for everyone that needed him,love you Tina(Hopson) McGown

  7. I love you too Tina, and I'm so glad you have enjoyed reading. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a note. I love hearing from you and your family. Love you all.

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