Faith, 100 years in the making

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Hugh Gillenwater, 100, took a spiritual plunge.

He was baptized by Pastor Lonnie Jacobson on Aug. 29 at Sequim's Faith Baptist Church on Old Olympic Highway.

Born Feb. 25, 1910, Gillenwater said he became a Christian more than 45 years ago.

He attended church off and on throughout his life and as a child went to Sunday school.

Being baptized was something he wanted to do to confirm his faith.

"Well, I made a commitment to Jesus Christ as my personal savior and (baptism) is part of the ritual to do so," Gillenwater said.

Jacobson had mentioned the possibility a few weeks earlier, at the baptism of four young children.

"I asked him if he'd like to be baptized and he said he'd think about it," Jacobson said.

Later they had a discussion about the afterlife, which led to Gillenwater's baptism.

"I told him I wanted to see my mother, father and brother," Gillenwater said.

"He told me the only way I'd be able to do that is if I accepted Christ."

Gillenwater said he lost his brother Eugene 95 years ago in a shipwreck near Coos Bay, Ore.

The boy was 7.

He and Carol married in 1943. They have two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"We've been married for so long that some of things he said didn't make me think he was saved," Carol said.

"But I know he is a wonderful man. I chose him as my husband."

Gillenwater worked for Boeing for 27 years. The couple has lived in Sequim the past five years.

Church support

Jacobson said baptizing Gillenwater was a remarkable and unique experience.

"The gospel is open to all ages," Jacobson said.

"As I told the congregation in the first part of August, I baptized a 7-year-old earlier and it shows there's certainly room for anyone to come to Christ."

Church member Sandy Stoddard said the congregation was thrilled for Gillenwater.

"When Hugh came up out of the water, everyone clapped their hands," Stoddard said.

"We are all so happy for him. He is an encouragement to all of us."

"Whether a person is 7, 77 or 107 years old, it's never too late in life for us to know the importance and power of knowing, loving, trusting and being obedient to God," Stoddard said.

Reach Matthew Nash at

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