Retired DOM reunites with woman he baptized in 1949
Baptist and Reflector
JONESBORO, Ark. — In 1949, Raymond Atwood was a college student at Southern Baptist College (now Williams Baptist University) in Walnut Ridge, Ark.
While in college he served as pastor of Big Creek Baptist Church in Hooker Switch, Ark. The church held a baptismal service in the Cash River, about one mile from the church, recalled Atwood, who later served in Tennessee as director of missions for Loudon County Baptist Association, based in Lenoir City, for 14 years before retiring from that role in 1995.
After baptizing several people, he reached out to help 22-year-old Ellen Williams into the water.
As church members on the bank of the river sang, “Shall We Gather at the River,” Atwood slipped and he pulled Williams under the water.
Fast forward 70 years. Atwood returned to Big Spring as interim pastor and recently had an opportunity to reconnect with Mrs. Williams, now 92, and living in a nursing home near the church.
“It was such a joy to visit with her,” he said.
Her health doesn’t allow her to attend church much anymore but she still has a beautiful smile and spirit, Atwood added.
Atwood, now 87, remains active by walking three miles every morning. He has served numerous churches as interim pastor since his retirement as a DOM and his return to his native state of Arkansas.
He estimates he has preached nearly every Sunday since “retiring.”
During his seven decades of preaching Atwood has gone on numerous mission trips, preaching in 27 different countries.
“Preaching is what God has called me to do,” affirmed Atwood who began preaching at the age of 16.
He noted that people occasionally ask, “Why don’t you just quit?” His response, “I have never read in the Bible where a preacher ought to quit.”
Noting that he “does not like to stand still,” Atwood observed that “God has blessed both me and my wife Wanda with good health and we’re still serving Him.” B&R — Lonnie Wilkey