Sunday, June 19, 2016

Faith of My Fathers

Halford Francis Potter, 1919-2006
Today, June 19, 2016, is Father’s Day in the U.S. and a few other countries. I have been thinking  of my father and the faith that he and some of my other ancestors had in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My father, Halford Francis Potter, was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He along with my mother and two older brothers were living in California. My father drove the city bus and one day the LDS missionaries got on his bus. They rode to the end of the line and talked to him for a while. My father asked them to dinner and he took them home that night and the rest is history. My father was baptized on March 18 1949, my mother chose not to be baptized at that time. Dad moved his small family to Provo, Utah so he could attend BYU. While there my mother was baptized on February 25, 1951. Normally couples not married in the temple have to wait one year before going to the temple to be sealed. The ward my parents attended would go by bus from Provo to the Salt Lake Temple (about 45 miles) once a month. Those with children would trade months baby-sitting while the parents took the bus trip to Salt Lake City. My mother was pregnant with me at the time, and they wanted to be sealed before I was born. Because they did not know when they would be able to go to the temple, permission was given for them to be sealed two weeks before mother’s one-year anniversary. On February 11, 1951 my father took his small family to the Salt Lake Temple and were sealed as an eternal family.

After graduating from BYU, my father moved his family to Argos, Indiana where he worked as a teacher until he retired. While in Argos, three other children were added to our family. We were the only members of the LDS Church in Argos and had to drive about 30 miles to South Bend. We attended as a family and I was baptized when I was eight years old but shortly after baptism my parents stopped going to the LDS Church. They attended the Methodist Church all through my teenage years and for a few years after I left for college. Sometime in 1974 my family moved from Northern Indiana to Southern Indiana. There was a branch of the LDS Church in their town and they started going again.

In July 1975 I was married to my wife in the Washington D.C. Temple and my mother and father were with us. From that time until my father’s death on August 29, 2006 my father was an active, faithful member of the LDS Church. My parents served a mission to South Africa in the mid 80s. My parents were modern day pioneers that now has four generation of members that have served as missionaries, bishops, temple workers and many other callings.

Faith in Jesus Christ did not start with my family, but we have a rich history of believers in Jesus Christ. My great- grandfather, Arthur Elmer Potter (born 1880) was a member of the Salvation Army. My mother’s family were members of the Christian Scientist Church. One of my relatives was Governor William Bradford, who came with the pilgrims on the Mayflower, he was the Governor. of the Plymouth Colonies.  My tenth great-grandfather was Elder John Strong a minister in the Universal Church in the 1600s. My sixth-great grandfather, John Gill, was a contemporary of John Wesley and was a minister for the Church of England but was kicked out of the church because he read the bible in English to his congregation. He also wrote several books on religion and in one of them he wrote about the Trinity and how God the Father and Jesus Christ have physical bodies and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. That got him in trouble with the Church of England as well. My great-great grandfather John Lorimer Gill was one of the wealthiest families in Cincinnati Ohio, he sent two train loads of food and supplies to help Chicago recover from the great Chicago fire on October 8, 1871.

What a blessing it is to know that I have many ancestors that were faithful believers in Jesus Christ and withstood persecution for their beliefs and followed the example of our Savior to minister to the poor and relieve the suffering. Knowing the faith of my father’s gives me the courage to stand for the truth and minister to those in need around me.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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