Brother John Kerr was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. Even while serving his state as a member of the United States Congress, the Lord blessed his church with at least two periods of great revival. In 1831 the church recorded 555 baptisms.
Earlier, on this day in 1826, Mrs. Archibald Thomas planned to be baptized by Bro. Kerr and to join the Richmond church. When she told her husband he had a conniption fit. The church didn’t have an indoor baptistry, so the baptism would be held in a very public place, exposing his wife to curious and vulgar people. This spectacle of his wife disturbed Mr. Thomas more than the baptism itself. On the afternoon of the 17th, Catherine Thomas dressed appropriately for the baptism but was confronted by her husband at the door. “Where are you going?” “To follow my Lord in baptism.” For a long moment husband and wife faced each other in silence, then Archibald lowered his eyes. “Wait for me, please.” He went out and returned with his coat, hat and a cane. Mrs. Thomas became concerned, because she knew her husband had a temper. She asked, “Where are you going? “I’m going with you, If my wife is to be the object of scorn for rude people of this city, her husband’s place is by her side to lend his protection.” When they got to the place of the baptism, a crowd was already gathering – some reverent, some scornful and some just curious. Pastor Kerr explained the symbolism of believers’ baptism, and Archibald Thomas understood for the first time what conversion and baptism meant. Suddenly he stepped forward and politely asked: “Is there anything in the regulations of your church which forbids the acceptance of a candidate for baptism at such a time?” The pastor answered, “Nothing, provided the church is assured that the person who makes the request has repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour.” “Then,” said Mr. Thomas, “I wish to present myself as a candidate for baptism and membership in your church.” Immediately the men of the church were called together. They listened to the man’s very credible expression of faith, and they voted to accept Archibald Thomas for baptism. He and his wife were then immersed, along with several others. At the next business meeting of the church, Archibald Thomas took his place with his Christian brethren, and until his death 1861 he was one of the most faithful and useful members of the First Baptist Church of Richmond.