Believer's Baptism by Immersion
Believer’s baptism and baptism by immersion were major topics and monuments in the lives of people who had been raised in the Anglican church. Having been baptized as an infant was normal. Many believers, after see the Bible’s teaching and description of baptism in the New Testament, were convicted to be rebaptized.
This often happened amid great pressure and persecution from one’s denomination to honor their infant baptism. Getting rebaptized often resulted either in one’s voluntary departure from their denomination or in their being rejected by their institution. This illustrates how seriously the topic of baptism was.
There is little written evidence that M. E. Barber was re-baptized1 by immersion when she left the Church of England; however, many factors make it highly likely. Robert Govett’s and D. M. Panton’s own experiences would have had a huge impact on the culture of the congregation. Both men, when seeing the truth of believer’s baptism by immersion in the Bible, promptly underwent the sacrament and left the Church of England to follow the Lord and their conscience alone.
In 1907 when Miss Barber resigned from the C.M.S. , she felt it would help the committee to accept her resignation by learning that she was to become a member of Surrey Chapel. Implied in this is that she was not only resigning from the Society, but was leaving the Anglican Church. Believer’s baptism was likely a part of this radical move.
Back in China, Miss Barber would lead many to leave accept the Scriptural practice of believer’s baptism even at the expense of leaving their denomination. Watchman Nee, his brother George, and mother He-Ping all were at odds with their Methodist denomination when they went to Miss Barber for baptism.2 Dora Yu lost many preaching appointments when she went to Miss Barber for baptism. Faithful Luke incurred the wrath of his uncle and his principal when he took the same step.
How could M. E. Barber so boldly lead these saints down this path that she herself had not trodden?
1 - Only Kinear, “When on furlough in England in 1909, however, she felt God had challenged her about baptism as a believer, and she went for this to D.M. Panton, minister of Surrey Chapel, Norwich.” (Kinnear, Angus. Against the Tide: The Unforgettable Story of Watchman Nee (p. 47). CLC Publications. Kindle Edition.) However, the date “1909” should be questioned as the 1907 letter shows.
2 - see Kiner, Angus Against the Tide