Conducting a baptismal interview

I recently had a very rare opportunity for a woman in the church – I got to help carry out a baptismal interview.  My in-laws are serving a mission, and they asked for my help with an investigator who is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He has been taking the lessons virtually through French-speaking missionaries on Temple Square, but the local missionaries had to conduct the baptismal interview, but don’t speak French and the investigator speaks only limited English.  I do speak French, but I live thousands of miles away from their area of service. My mother-in-law asked if I would help resolve the issue by acting as a translator using FaceTime.  I was happy to oblige.

I printed off the official questions in French in advance so I could be certain that I was using the approved terminology in translating what the interviewer said.  I asked a friend to watch my kids for a bit and shut myself in a bedroom so I wouldn’t be interrupted.  I translated the questions that the Elder asked, and then I translated the responses of the investigator.  It was a powerful spiritual experience, and I felt the excitement and joy of someone just discovering the Gospel.

I served a mission myself, not French speaking, about fifteen years ago.  However, only one person that I taught joined the church while I was around to be at the baptism.  Of course as a sister missionary I never conducted baptismal interviews, much less baptized, witnessed or confirmed a new member of the church.

When I express a wish that women could hold the priesthood, I often hear that everyone benefits equally from the priesthood, but that simply isn’t true.  The powerful spiritual experiences that can come through administering in the church and conducting ordinances are not available to me. Were it not for the fluke of necessity and the advantages of modern technology I would never have been a party to any baptismal interview since my own twenty-seven years ago.  I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had to play a role in helping this brother on his spiritual journey, and I wish that it weren’t a once-in-a-lifetime, never met any other women who have done this kind of opportunity.


  1. My nephew is a brand new missionary in a foreign country, and just performed his first baptism. He was called by some frantic sister missionaries who had a family of converts waiting for 45 minutes for the Elders who were supposed to perform the ordinance, but had no-showed. I don’t know what happened – maybe they wrote the day wrong in their planner, or they forgot to write it down at all. If an emergency came up, they didn’t call and let the sisters know they couldn’t make it.

    So at the last second my 18 year old inexperienced nephew stepped in and performed the baptism that almost had to be cancelled and rescheduled. It seemed so sad that the sisters who cared deeply about this family and never would’ve messed up the baptism date for anything were totally useless that day.

    It would be so meaningful to let sister missionaries baptize their own converts.

  2. amen, thanks for demonstrating how this experienced blessed your life. and how women really don’t experience the all blessings of the priesthood without being allowed to exercise it

    • I don’t know. I do know that you don’t interview your own teachees — they want to make sure an outside party has a chance to talk to the prospective convert. Why it has to be a priesthood holder I don’t know — is it one of those administrative things that it has to be a bishop/zone leader and those people always have the priesthood, or whether it is something that in itself is supposed to require the priesthood? Sorry no answer.

  3. Once, in a 5th Sunday meeting in my ward, my bishop talked for a bit about how the priesthood blesses everyone equally. His very next topic was fast offerings and that the deacons were going to come around and collect them at our homes because it gives them great experiences. I looked around the room to see if anyone else noticed the contradiction, but if they did, they were keeping it to themselves.

  4. One of my friends always tells me about the experiences he has in the stake presidency that constantly challenge his stereotypes and broaden his perspective. He is always incredibly moved by seeing how people’s lives are helped by the service so many other people offer.

    Yup. Blessing of the priesthood that is limited strictly to men.

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