Nov 11, 2008

Record number of students baptized

by Amanda Thomason

In comparison to previous semesters, Liberty has had three baptismal services this semester, presenting many new public declarations of faith.

All students baptized at Liberty have chosen Jesus Christ as Savior and professed their faith in him. The first two services included about 50 people each, while the final service, held on Nov. 5, had a smaller number. A total of 125 people were baptized this semester, according to Campus Pastors Michael Miller and Chris Deitsch.

An increase of students who desired to be baptized has occurred this fall. Deitsch said this is happening because of the growing number of students who were saved at the beginning of the semester during Spiritual Emphasis Week, and because students are learning the importance of baptism.

Sophomore Rita Wieland, Spiritual Life Director on Dorm 27-2, has been a Christian since her freshman year in high school, but had never been baptized. Last year she started thinking about it but was nervous to be in front of a large audience. Wieland knew this year was the right timing and wanted to have the opportunity to be baptized at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

“It meant a lot to me to be able to declare my faith and salvation in public,” Wieland said. “I do not like going up in front of people, but through it I was able to show God that I was doing this for him and I wanted everyone to know I love him.”

After the baptisms concluded, the congregation had a time to worship the Lord. Pastor David McKinney Jr. said he enjoyed looking out at the crowd to see them cheer and rejoice over the joy of those baptized, even during a tiring time in the semester.

Students have expressed how they enjoy services as a time to praise God and remember all he is doing.

“They are one of my favorite church services to go to because I like how Liberty makes it more of a celebration for the body of Christ instead of trying to quickly get it over with,” sophomore Laura Johnston said. “I think ... there is definitely a sense of joy and true celebration.”

The process of baptisms begins with students expressing their interest, and then the group is divided among the campus pastors.

Some students request to be baptized by a certain pastor, but all of the pastors get a chance to meet those who they are baptizing before the night of the ceremony.

“I love watching them come out of the water and seeing their faces fill with the joy of Christ, understanding the public declaration they just made to their peers,” Deitsch said.

Baptism services are open to anyone and are not confined to the students who attend Liberty. At least one person from the local community has been baptized during this semester’s Wednesday night services.

With the increase in the number of baptisms this semester, plans for next semester have already begun. More opportunities will be available during the spring semester on Feb. 18 and March 25.

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