UM expert on baptism dies

GayleFeltonDurham, NC — The Rev. Dr. Gayle Carlton Felton died yesterday according to an announcement posted on the Calvary UMC (Durham, NC) website. Felton was 73 years old, and had been battling cancer for several years. Felton was the pastor of the Calvary church, and a former faculty member at Meredith College and Duke Divinity School, as well as serving as an adjunct faculty member at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Felton was best known for her work in helping to clarify and interpret the United Methodist Church’s theology of baptism and holy communion.  A regular consultant for the General Board of Discipleship, Felton served as the primary author of the GBOD’s “By Water and the Spirit” document which was adopted by the General Conference as the official statement on baptism for the UMC. Felton would later adapt her work into a book by the same title which is widely used in United Methodist Churches as a resource on the meaning of baptism.

There will be a visitation service for sharing stories and memories of Felton at Calvary UMC on Tuesday Jan. 28th from 4-7 p.m. The funeral will be held at Apex UMC (100 S. Hughes St. Apex, NC 27502) on Wednesday Jan. 29th beginning at 11:00 a.m., with a burial to follow at 3:30 p.m. in Pinetops, NC.

UMReporter Staff

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8 Comments on "UM expert on baptism dies"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Donna Fowler-Marchant
Donna Fowler-Marchant

Just for the record, Gayle was 71. She was far too modest to call herself an expert on baptism, but her years of research into the practice and theology of the sacrament culminated in her dissertation, which became the book This Gift of Water, and the UM study on baptism. She was my professor, mentor, and friend, and I and many others mourn her death but rejoice in her homecoming. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Jay Voorhees, Former Executive Editor

Thanks Donna. We listed her age based on information provided by the church, but we understand how things can get confused in a trying time.


What makes one an expert on baptism? An expressed belief in a Savior’s Blood Sacrifice for a sinner and an outward declaration of an inward change!! Perhaps the umc should reconsider and have only infant dedication services as opposed to baptism…………..


What qualifies one to be an expert on baptism–except if one is not of the cloth and performs a baptism, all, ummmmm, hades will take place. One of my most cherished “refrig” photos is of my son in the baptismal of his church with his son–my youngest grandchild–getting ready to immerse him. That is sacrilege in the umc!!!

Oh, and what should one remember about baptism: one has expressed that one is a forgiven sinner and espouses Father/Son/Holy Spirit as ones personal Savior and is making testimony to that faith to the world………………………..

Wes Andrews

We always include the families in the Baptism process and invite them as spiritual mentors to Baptize their loved ones with my assistance and oversight.

Dani Quevas

I found my strength to come out of the closet and express my true self because of this fine Sister! What a pioneer!
May the UMC feel the judgement of God for denying LGBTQ children of Jesus all the respect and rights due! Marriage equality now!

Wes Andrews

Why, oh why does everything have to do with gay people or their self-focused issues? How about making things about Jesus?

Thomas Coates

Truly a loss for the UMC, and for LGBTQ equality within the church.

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