I first noticed that Brethren and Baptists baptize differently about six months after I started attending the Church in Manassas. I was surprised to see the youth baptized in a forward motion. Baptists go back, in fact, since my father was an American Baptist pastor, I had seen some pretty funny things happen in the baptistery.
My good friend flopped back so hard her feet came up. She was the daughter of a retired preacher and trouble often showed up when we were together so I suspected she did the flopping on purpose. . so did my dad.
Not only was I surprised to see Brethren go forward in the baptistery, but once was not enough! It took a good THREE dunkings for brethren to be baptized. Not long after, I had a conversation about the theology behind the practice with Pastor Fred Swartz when I asked to join the church.
I learned I didn’t have to be baptized two more times, because Brethren recognize the baptism of other denominations. So when I joined the church, I affirmed my baptismal vows, as did my husband and our letters were transferred from other churches on the same day our son was dedicated.
It was a very meaningful day. There have been a few similar vow-taking days since that first one in the baptistry with my father. The day of my licensing to ministry and the day of my ordination to set-apart ministry were two more where baptism imagery and promises were remembered.
I never imagined the day I was baptized by my father that I would some day follow in his footsteps as a pastor. What I didn’t realize completely then, was I was following his path from the moment of my baptism. In May 1964, I was ordained to ministry in a much more important way than the ceremony that followed my graduation from seminary. Each person who sits in a pew tonight or tomorrow and recalls their baptism has been ordained to ministry. It is an awesome responsibility and the joy of a lifetime. May you be blessed in your remembering.