Faith of Our Fathers

By: Glenda G. Lofton, Ph.D

Jun 11, 2019

Over the years, Father’s Day has become a time for celebrating not only our fathers but our forefathers as well.  Often the hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers,” written by Fredrick Faber in London in 1849, is sung on that day, and I marvel at the first few words…”Faith of our fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword…”                 

The Loftons have traced their family tree back to July 12, 1636 when Leonard Loftin, aged 20, arrived in America on the Ship “West” and settled in Pennsylvania – just 16 years after the Pilgrims.  Tradition says that the Loftins/Loftons, like the Pilgrims, went first to Holland for freedom of religion and later a branch returned to Yorkshire, England, and from there came to America.  The descendants of Leonard took an active role in helping a young country grow; one of the sons from whom our family descended moved to North Carolina, where he served as a member of the colony’s General Assembly.  A copy of his will gives evidence of his faith and provision for his family: “I give and bequeath my soule into ye hand of Almighty God my maker to receive ye same again through ye meritorious death and suffering of Jesus Christ, my redeemer…I give and bequeath unto my loving son…”  The family genealogy records a number of Loftons who were “circuit rider preachers,” meaning they rode on horseback around the South to share their faith.   

When Tommy’s dad, Sam, was born in Mississippi in 1902, one of nine children, the Loftons were still “carryin’ on the old family tradition,” and the brothers and sisters, all musically talented, often shared their faith through gospel music.  When Tommy’s dad died unexpectedly in his sleep in 1955 at the age of 52, he was singing in the choir at Weller Ave. Baptist Church.  At his funeral the church was packed, and his place in the choir was left empty, indicating the void he left in the lives of many. In 1955 the economy in Baton Rouge was not good, and shortly before his death, some questioned Sam’s decision to leave the monetary benefits of his job at Oak Ridge, Tennessee – the production site that developed the atomic bomb where he had worked during the war.  His response, “Here in Baton Rouge, my faith has grown so much.  That might not have happened if I’d stayed in Tennessee.” He had borrowed $200 the day he died, but he left behind a faith that is priceless and some musical ability that he passed on, as well.  

Almost 375 years after Leonard Loftin landed in America, his legacy of faith lives on – in Tommy, our sons and their wives, and our four grandchildren.  Evidence of this was demonstrated when Bret invited family and friends to celebrate Samuel’s 13th birthday.  In keeping with the Judeo-Christian principles on which our faith is based, Bret noted that according to Jewish law, when children reach 13 years of age, they are considered adults – morally and ethically responsible for their decisions and actions. Traditionally a ceremony is held to celebrate the occasion, which includes a blessing by the father.  In keeping with this tradition, at Samuel’s 13th birthday April 15, 2011, Bret gave the following blessing:    

Samuel, you are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.  You are no longer a little boy.  You are now a man.  You are well equipped with everything you need to fulfill your destiny as a man of God.  Before the foundation of the earth, God Almighty planned for your life and planned for you to be a man.  Psalm 139 says that He created your inmost being.  He knit you together in your mother’s womb.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  All the days ordained for you were written by God even before you were born.  There is nothing that you will ever need to do to become a man because God made you one.  Tonight, we are simply recognizing publicly what God has done in you.  Samuel, God has made you intelligent – you have a strong mind.  God has made you beautiful and handsome.  I’ve also noticed since the time you were a little boy that our Lord has given you a great ability to understand right and wrong, good and evil.  You are able to quickly read and understand people.  You get along with everyone and are well-respected and well thought of by others, young and old alike.  You are a leader and have used your leadership skills to make wise decisions concerning your friends and in many other areas of your life.  I am beyond joyful that God has given you to our family as a gift.  You are a wonderful son.  I love you and bless you with the promises of God.  You are His and have been set apart from the world for His Holy purposes.  I bless you with God’s everlasting love, wisdom, peace and joy.  I bless you with sexual purity, marital fidelity, and many children of your own.  May God continue to keep His hand of favor and prosper you in all that you do, and may you serve our Lord Jesus Christ all the days of your life.  Amen.  

I think Leonard and Sam Lofton would have been very proud.  I know Tommy was. Father’s Day is a good time for reflecting on the faith of our fathers, our forefathers, and family tradition. What traditions have been passed down to you? What traditions are you passing on to your family?     

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