Baptism stories come in all shapes, sizes
by Nelson Price
March 30, 2014 12:00 AM | 760 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I listened enthralled recently as a rabbi told of some of the absolutely hilarious things that had happened at the synagogue. He inspired me to reflect on some I know of or have been involved in at church. Church can be a very funny place.

These all involved baptism, which Baptists do by immersion.

Skyler Batson (don’t you love that real name) was a pastor on the Gulf Coast. One recent convert asked to be baptized in the Gulf. He said he and the candidate along with a number of church members gathered on the beach. As the two waded into the water those on shore began singing, “Shall we gather at the river.” They waded for what he thought was an eternity and the water never got knee deep. As the singing faded in the background he realized they must be some distance from shore. When he turned and looked those on shore were thumb sized.

He sat down and scooped out a hole and had the candidate sit in it as he immersed her.

While serving as pastor in New Orleans the water in the neighborhood of the church was cut off on an afternoon when there was to be a baptism. It became apparent the water would not be deep enough to baptize. We ran hoses from a neighboring house, but that still wasn’t going to be enough. The baptistery had a curtain which was closed until time for the baptism. I got my big friend Dave Golden, who weighed over 300 pounds, to stand in the corner of the baptistery where he could not be seen. I had him squat down just as the curtain was drawn and the water came up high enough, almost too high.

One of my little buddies growing up was Bull Travis. The Travis family was a poor family that did not have running water in their house. The only time Bull was in water was when swimming in the summer.

Bull walked to the edge of the top step in the baptistery and entered the water the only way he had ever seen anybody enter water. He dove in. It was quite a splash.

This one I have heard in various forms, but I experienced it in this form. In a south Louisiana town I was visiting in the home of a family where I was preaching in a revival. Little Jenny had seen her first baptism that week and heard for the first time the minister say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Through the picture window we could see Jenny in the back yard beside a tub of water dunking her dolls in one at a time. The mother said, “Listen to what she is saying, ‘I baptize you in the name of Daddy and Bubby and in the hole you go.’”

I had been engaged in teaching basketball star Pete Maravich the Bible for some weeks when he called from New Orleans and asked if I baptized people. When I said I did, he asked, “Is it the dunking kind?” When I assured him it was he asked if he flew up that weekend would I baptize him? I did and the renowned athlete said that was the happiest day of his life.

That wasn’t funny, but it sure was a joy — for him and me.

The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.
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