Bethsaida Baptist reopens 19th century baptismal pool

On Kent and Laura Tabor’s first trip down to Alabama from Michigan they came for the hogs. 

“It all started with a hunting trip,” Laura Tabor said.

But it wasn’t long before they were thinking about staying a little longer. They found a local realtor ready to show them a place to live — but even more he was ready to introduce them to a new way of life.

“Don’s a very outgoing person,” Kent Tabor said of Don Donald, a member of Bethsaida Baptist Church, Pine Apple. “He invited us to his church and we went there and everybody was outgoing and welcoming. It was the first time we had been to a church where when we left we were smiling because we had really enjoyed the church.”

Laura Tabor said the whole community “just opened up their arms to us.”

Monumental occurrence

And Sept. 22 the couple was baptized in Bethsaida Baptist’s baptismal pool — a monumental occurrence in and of itself. The pool sits out back and Donald said to his knowledge the pool hadn’t been used in at least 120 years.

“It was used for a few years as far as our minutes go somewhere around 1900,” Donald said. “You had to fill it up with buckets of water from a hand-drawn well so it was a pretty laborious process back then.”

Somewhere along the way the church had started borrowing other churches’ indoor baptismal pools for their services. The most recent baptisms before this one were held in Donald’s swimming pool.

But as they talked to the Tabors they thought it might be time to revive the old baptismal pool. And with a water pump belonging to Bethsaida pastor Don Bell the whole process was a lot faster, Donald said.

“We cleaned it out, put a new top on it, relined it with a concrete finish and built new steps,” he said.

And on the day of the baptism a “good crowd” showed up even though the temperature soared to nearly 100 degrees.

“It was quite an exciting service,” he said. The Tabors’ grandchildren came down for the event and sang “Amazing Grace” and everyone had dinner afterward at the Furman Civic Center, which doubles as the fellowship building for Bethsaida Baptist.

“We are blessed to have the Tabors as part of our church and Furman family,” Donald said. 

But the Tabors say the blessing is all theirs.

“We’re glad we found it and they found us,” Laura Tabor said. (Grace Thornton)