One of my teachers (history, shop class and football coach) asked me one day “Walter, are you ever going to be baptized?” I was baptized Into the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) in 1951 at the age of fourteen.
My family had roots in the Latter Day Saints movement. My grandmother’s ancestors (mine too) joined the movement in New York the year it was founded (1830). My grandfather was baptized, ordained and elected to preside over the congregation all the same day in mid-July of 1906.
One might say that I was well immersed in the church. My response to my teacher, Elder Elvin Dennis, was “Nobody ever asked me.” I was baptized the following Sunday. I was subsequently ordained into the priesthood in 1953 and have served since that time.
The following year, I received a spiritual blessing from an Evangelist, William Patterson. I frequently refer back to my copy of that blessing even now for strength and encouragement.
One of the challenges that blessing contained was the admonition to “go on in your studies.” It has been a challenge that has guided my life. Most of my adult life has been dedicated to learning and teaching. For the most part, my focus has been on the two disciplines of psychology and sociology. My formal education ended when I was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy in sociology in 1992 at the age of 55.
My main interests (all of which I see as related) are community, family and childhood development. Most of the current problems within our society have their roots in the weaknesses of these three areas of social life.
I made community the major focus of my doctoral research and the subject of my dissertation. The question for me now is “Can we create community for our contemporary society?”