What does it feel like to be an adult convert to the LDS Church? Joseph Freeman describes those vivid feelings as he rose up out of the waters of baptism.
GT: All right. So, I guess my biggest question. I mean, here you were. You’re a Holiness preacher. I mean, you said, it didn’t bother you that you couldn’t hold the LDS priesthood.
Joseph: Let me explain it like this. There came a time, I guess, when I was in Hawaii, as I would have the opportunity to speak in various churches, I felt the spirit with me. But I felt something was lacking. That’s why I kept fasting and praying and trying to reach deeper and be closer to God, because I knew something was not there that should be there. I didn’t know if it was authority, or what. I had received a license to preach the gospel through the church that I had grown up in there in Greensboro. The minister awarded me a license. It was actually to the government, as well. You have to apply for it. But he sent me the certificate while I was in Hawaii. It just seemed like there’s something still not there that should be there. So, when people begin to tell me about the priesthood, I begin to think, “Is this the reason I’m feeling this way? Is this the reason that something is missing in my life, in the authority, in whatever it is that I’m doing?” I couldn’t put my hands on it. But I know this. The day that I was baptized, that feeling disappeared. So, it wasn’t the priesthood, or not having the priesthood. It was becoming a member of this church. I can remember. The bishop baptized me, and then one of the missionaries confirmed me. There were two missionaries, I can’t remember the name of one, but one was Elder Harris. The second missionary, I know, he lives here in Utah, but I don’t remember his name right now. But as I was dipped into the water, I came up, there was just a beautiful feeling. It’s like, I guess, if I could describe it like this standing under like an April shower, outside, and it’s just cool and refreshing. I felt like, I was washed clean, cleaner than I’d ever been in my life. That was just a very special feeling as I joined the Church. The one thing that, I guess resonates with me, as a member, I feel the spirit stronger in my life on an everyday basis. I know that people in other churches have the spirit, and they feel the spirit too. But there’s something special about being a member of this church and feeling the Spirit. I could never go back to where I came from. I feel the spirit different times when I visit other churches. But there’s something about being a member of this church that’s constant. It’s constant, and it’s right. I feel the spirit in a little bit different way. That tells me what I’m doing is the right thing, where preaching this gospel is the right thing. When I read the Book of Mormon, it’s the right thing. Every time I go to church is the right thing. I have never felt to go back where I came from. Just keep moving forward. Yeah.
GT: So how did your family react differently? Can you tell us about how they reacted when you joined the Church?
Joseph: My mother and father are both very religious. My father just had a birthday in March, he turned 100 years old. My mother passed away a few years ago, when she was 87. My mother never spoke anything against the Church. I remember–I don’t think I even told her that I had joined the Church when I was baptized, but somewhere along the way, I told her. I remember when I was visiting with her in North Carolina, we lived in Greensboro. She said, “Oh, the Mormon people, that’s those rich people on the other side of town.” Well, where the church was located, there was only one chapel that I can remember in Greensboro at that time. There was another chapel that was outside of town a little bit. It was in a very wealthy neighborhood, and so it was a new area that had been built up.
Joseph has had a job maintaining temples in Colorado, New Mexico, and Montana and shares his experiences there. What are your thoughts on him joining the church knowing he couldn’t hold priesthood? Would you have done that? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversations with Joseph!