Word of the Week

My First Baptism

Today at Washington Plaza, we celebrated a service of baptism for two adults who have joined the church in the last several months. I was an exciting day on many levels for all of us. I walked into Sunday School this morning to find the usual crowd quite giddy with energy. We were all happy for Steve and Barbara.

Several folks asked if this was the first time that I had baptized anyone. The answer was no. Especially in the second year that I served at First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg, I was often in the pool. To my best count, after today, I've now baptized 10 persons.

Baptism in the Baptist tradition is done by immersion instead of sprinkling babies (as most other churches do). While I have great respect for parents who seek to baptize their children as infants (and believe it "counts" as baptism-- immersion is not the only way), Baptists wait to baptize folks until they are able to confess faith for themselves. Often times this happens to older children, youth and even adults.

For the pastor doing the baptizing this week, it is a "full body" experience as well. You actually get in the pool (either found in the sanctuary or at another location like a river if the church is not built with a pool) with the candidate and guide them under the water. However, going to a Methodist seminary, I did not get baptism lessons when I studied there . . .

So, when time came for my first baptism back in February of 2007, I knew I needed to practice especially as the first person I baptized was a very tall man originally from Chad, AFRICA. So, our friend, Jeff volunteered being about the same size to "practice" with me one afternoon at the church. Jeff, as a devote Catholic found the whole experience very educational. He'd never seen a pool in a church before, calling it at first "Sea World Over Jesus."  Jeff was a good sport, patient with my inability to get him under the water until we tried probably over 20 times. Baptism is harder than it looks! (But, secretly I think he was trying very hard not to go all the way under . . . )

Kevin recorded the hilarous event and just for a joke Jeff later posted it on You Tube. To all our surprize, "Baptist Baptism Gone Bad" was a big You Tube hit. Actually it sparked a long debate in the comment section about the authority of women to be pastors. Read it for yourself.  Kevin, Jeff and I are still shocked about some of the things that people said.

Here is your pastor's first attempt at baptizing, laughter and all: