John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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We are baptised

1965, the year that changed my life
The Knott End campaign

 1. At that time, my joy in the Lord was so great — I was so absolutely glad he had saved me — that I sometimes just didn’t know what to do with myself or where to put myself; it was so frustrating not to be able to find expression for the joy that I had!

 2. One day at church, Pastor Smith came up to us — the three of us, Chris, Peter and me, I think — and asked us if we had been baptised.
 “In the Holy Ghost?” we asked him.
 “No, in water,” he replied.

"Pastor Smith came up to us…" — photo from 1969


"…the three of us, Chris, Peter and me" — from a 1965 photo
 We hadn’t heard much about water baptism; certainly up to that point it hadn’t occurred to any of us that it might be necessary. We had, in a manner of speaking, been “baptised” already when we were christened by sprinkling with water as babies.[more] In fact, I think we raised this point with Pastor, who made it clear that he did not consider infant “baptism” to be baptism at all, in the biblical sense. What he had in mind was the baptism of believers, not babies, by immersion, not sprinkling.
 He probably justified the former point, that infant baptism was not scriptural, by quoting Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved”. Clearly, a baby cannot believe.
 He probably justified the latter point about biblical baptism being by immersion, by mentioning what Paul wrote in Romans 6:4, that baptism signifies being buried with Christ into death, and being raised with Christ to new life. One is symbolically “buried” by being immersed in water.
 I remember also at some time, Pastor likening baptism to coronation. When King George VI died in 1952, his daughter Elizabeth immediately became queen, but she was not crowned as queen till the following year. When a person accepts Christ as Lord and Saviour, he immediately becomes part of Christ, but the outward act of baptism signifying this inward, spiritual work may not occur until later.
[1]
 We trusted Pastor Smith’s wisdom in these matters, and readily consented to be baptised.
[1] See Sunday 13th March 1966: Sunday School, where this analogy is mentioned in my notes.
 3. Some time later — I am not sure whether this was before or after I myself was baptised — I had another of my “shouting louder than you to get my point across” arguments with Trevor.[more]

"Another of my shouting-louder-than-you arguments with Trevor" — Trevor, ca.1968
 Trevor reckoned that the baptism he had received as a baby was sufficient, and that he had no need to submit to our church’s baptism in addition. I argued that you might as well eat “a jam buttie” (a jam sandwich) in Communion. I am not sure whether I clarified this point to Trevor, but what I meant was that if the primitive practice of baptism by total immersion in water had been changed later into the more convenient sprinkling, there was no reason why the taking of bread and wine in Communion shouldn’t also be changed into the possibly more convenient eating of bread and jam. If immersion could be validly changed into sprinkling, why not change the wine into jam? And if it was not acceptable to do this, then surely it was not acceptable to sprinkle instead of immersing.
 I can’t remember the outcome of the initial argument with Trevor, but I believe he was indeed later baptised by total immersion.

 4. I heard people tell what a wonderful experience baptism was, and so I was quite eager to undergo it myself. If it was even half as amazing as the experience of being “born again”, of everything seeming new and different, or half as thrilling as being filled with the Holy Spirit, then I would be well satisfied.

 5. Our baptism took place one Sunday evening, and for the occasion part of the wooden floor of the raised platform at the forward part of the main hall had been removed to uncover the baptistery: a tank about four feet deep with stone steps leading down from the right end. I can’t remember if there were similar steps leading up at the other end.

"The raised platform at the forward part of the main hall" — i.e. the area behind the pulpit in this late 1968 / early 1969 photo
 6. The procedure for candidates for baptism was to dress in white (or at least, in the case of the men, to wear a white shirt, whatever colour their trousers were), and immediately before their baptism give a short “testimony”, standing on that part of the platform in front of the baptistery from which sermons were preached. What was almost a tradition had sprung up among the less imaginative of the Pentecostals, when giving this testimony, of simply (and to the speaker, I guess, meaninglessly) saying:
“I thank the Lord for saving my soul, and by his grace I mean to go on.”
 The practice probably persisted because the candidate, fearful and anxious of having to stand up there, asked someone who had already been baptised, “Oh dear, what shall I say?”
 “Just say, ‘I thank the Lord for saving my soul, and by his grace I mean to go on’!”
 Even those who spoke intelligently and didn’t merely recite this formula, seemed to have a need to add, “And by his grace I mean to go on”, as if the testimony wasn’t complete without it — a bit like the constraint one feels to say “Amen” after a prayer.

 7. It was Pastor Cartwright who officiated at the baptism. Pastor Stanley suffered from psoriasis and wasn’t able to do it.
[2] I think that Pastor Cartwright wore some sort of waders that came up to his chest. I am not sure whether anybody else was in the water, to assist him. He reached out his hand to help the candidate down the steps into the water (which was heated), and then with one hand on his forehead and the other behind his shoulders, asked him something like, “Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart as your Saviour and Lord?”
 “I do.”
 “Then on confession of your faith,” he said, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Pastor Cartwright, however, might have said, “Holy Spirit”, because he used the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.)
 Then he plunged the candidate backwards into the water so that the head was just covered and immediately drew him out again. (Pinching of the nostrils by the candidate to prevent the entry of water was optional.)
 There was somebody standing by at the top of the steps with a towel — particularly in the case of women candidates for reasons of modesty — in which to wrap them as they came up.
[2] It was Pastor Cartwright who officiated at the baptism. Pastor Stanley suffered from psoriasis and wasn’t able to do it: After the church moved to Elm Street and Pastor Stanley died in 1969, Mike Smith (Pastor Stanley’s son, who took over the pastorate at Fleetwood) and my Dad used to do it. The baptistery at Elm Street was rather shallow, and it needed two people to get the candidate under and back up again. On one occasion, my Dad slipped on the top step and went head first into the baptistery. The Fleetwood Chronicle got hold of the story (13th July 1984):
Minister in the drink
 A Fleetwood minister this week found himself totally immersed in his work — literally.
 The Rev. Charles Cooper slipped on steps during a baptism service at Full Gospel Church and fell headlong into the water.
 The Rev. Cooper, who was assisting the Rev. Doctor Michael Smith, was none the worse for his dip.
 He assured the congregation that he had not been paid to take a dive but, as church treasurer, was willing to consider this to raise funds.
 Seven people were baptised during the service.
 8. Because the Lord Jesus himself was baptised, the rite was often referred to as “following the Lord through the waters of baptism” (why the plural “waters” was used, I don’t know), and so the chorus of hymn no.492 in Redemption Hymnal, was seen as very appropriate for singing on such occasions:
Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus;
Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!
Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Anywhere he leads me I would follow on!
So, each time someone was baptised, the chorus would be struck up on the piano.
 “I do.”
 “On confession of your faith… Father… Son… Holy Ghost.”
Splash! Swoosh!
 “Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus…”

 9. The new attender at the church from Knott End, Mr. Dobson,
[1] was baptised that night, possibly before me. I seem to remember people being moved by the gratitude to the Lord that he expressed, as he wept while giving his testimony.[2]
[1] Mr. Dobson: He first appears in The Knott End campaign. The following year, when I was going out with Audrey, Mrs. Wood, her mother, was afraid to tell me, lest the knowledge should so upset me as to destroy my faith, that Mr. Dobson was a crook and was now in prison. He used to pick on well-off old ladies, trick them into marrying him, then make off with their money. He had various aliases; Pastor Williams, for example, knew of him as “Peter deLyon”.
[2] He wept while giving his testimony: I was later told that although Pastor Stanley Smith unreservedly accepted and warmly welcomed Mr. Dobson, Mrs. Smith, Pastor’s wife, “discerned” his true nature (see 1 Cor. 12:10: “discerning of spirits”). “That man’s a crook,” she said to her astonished husband. She also said, “I know why he was crying when he was baptised; he was crying for you for being such a mug!”
 10. Then my turn came. I stood there. I saw the faces looking at me. “I thank the Lord for saving my soul,” I began. “After all, look what he’s saved me from!” I added with a nervous giggle, and there was a brief responsive ripple from the sympathetic crowd. Whether it was understood or not, I don’t know, but what I meant was that I was glad the Lord had saved me from hell, “where the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever”. I said a few more, rather disjointed words; and whether by his grace I meant to go on, I can’t remember.

 11. I stepped down into the warm water, there was the question, my “I do”, the tripartite formula, then splash! swoosh!; and there I was, wet — hair wet, shirt wet — with water up my nose, blinking because of the water in my eyes. (To be more accurate, it was spla–! gurgle!; I didn’t hear the –sh! because my ears went under the water. Spla–! (gurgle!) –woosh!)
 As far as the expectation of a wonderful experience was concerned — well, it wasn’t wonderful at all, it was just wet.

Sunday, 10th October 1965
 12. Pastor Cartwright was the one who baptised my Mum and Dad as well, but I am not certain whether this occurred on the same evening as my baptism or not. My Mum and Dad have an entry in a 1965 diary which reads, “10th October, Water Baptism — Pastor Cartwright.”

"My Mum and Dad" — photos from 1967
They were in a time of revival at Lowther Road, Fleetwood, and families had started coming into the church; and so they were having baptisms every three or four weeks. The church had suffered a split before we started going, and the numbers in the congregation had gone down considerably. Then ours was one of the first families to start going, and several families followed.

 13. My Mum didn’t want to be baptised; she refused at first. Perhaps I was one of those who spoke to her about being baptised; but she thought that she was too old, and that it would be too terribly embarrassing. But of course, in the end, she gave in. Elsie Gooding, Peter’s Mum, was baptised the same evening, too.

"Peter's Mum" — late 1968 or early 1969
 14. On both sides of the platform there was a door in the far wall: the one on the right was to the vestry, a private room where the pastor and guest speaker, if there was one, could go to pray before the meeting, or where people who responded during the end-of-sermon appeal could be taken for counselling; and the one on the left was to the kitchen, at the far end of which was the back door giving access to the outside toilets.
 During baptismal services the vestry was used as a changing room for the men, and the kitchen for the women.
 My Mum recalls being in the kitchen, drying off, and Mrs. Winifred Smith, the pastor’s wife, coming in. My Mum had just been drying her hair, and she was pressing it into waves with her hands, and remembers that Win mentioned something about it.

"Mrs. Winifred Smith"
The Knott End Campaign, and what followed


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