Lon Morris Baptismal Font Dedicated
A refurbished baptismal font, formerly part of the Lon Morris College Chapel, was rededicated for use at the Rusk First United Methodist Church in October. Under the leadership of the Rev. Jacob Smith, the font was brought to the church and used in the baptism of one infant and three children on that same day.
The history of the font dates back to Jan. 31, 1987, when the Lon Morris College Chapel was “consecrated to the glory of God and became a house of worship within the United Methodist Church,” the Rev. Dr. Jimmie A. Reese told members of the Rusk church at its rededication. Bishop Ben Oliphant presided at the chapel dedication, assisted by Dr. Faulk Landrum, Lon Morris College president; the Rev. Virgil Matthews, college academic dean; and the Rev. Dr. Jimmie Reese, college chaplain. The chapel was deconsecrated in a special service of worship on Nov. 4, 2012. District Superintendent Rev. Sandra Smith, assisted by the Rev. Steven C. Newcomb, director of religious life; Dr. Landrum, former college president; Dr. Reese, former professor and college chaplain and the Rev. Rhett Ansley, former college chaplain, led the deconsecration service.
After the font was brought to the Rusk church, David Hendley of Old Farmhouse Pottery, provided a new basin and pitcher. The basin features an inlayed fish design harkening back to the original baptismal fonts of the ancient church that were called piscina, literally “fish pond” in Greek. Retired UMC Elder Rev. John Birkelbach provided the eight wood panel carvings out of mahogany wood which included ancient Christian symbols for baptism such as a fish and a sea shell, a Christogram, the Holy Spirit, the Jesse Tree, the Sacraments and the United Methodist Cross and Flame.