This is one of my favorite church pictures ever.
Every baptism at Rock Harbor Fullerton was special. We always had to end our service early, ask the family to walk outside because the auditorium we were renting wouldn’t allow that many gallons of water on stage. Let’s be honest, they saw our baptismal; which was a inflatable kiddie pool (that we covered in black linens) because that’s all we could afford. So a few of us would take turns trying to blow the baptismal up, then a couple guys would carry 2 gallon buckets of water and pour them into the baptismal. The water was ice cold. Ice cold actually makes that water seem warm. It was the kind of cold that literally made your spleen bleed. It was terrible.
We’d wrap up service early, invite the RHF family outside to celebrate people saying yes to Jesus. Food trucks would often come. People would be standing around the baptismal and also on the second story overlooking the kiddie pool. We had one lousy sound system where we would sing a few songs and then people who were getting baptized would come share their story. One by one, people came forward and talked about who they once were and then they’d share about a person who came alongside them. Someone who took a risk. Someone who listened. Someone who made an invite. Someone who never gave up on them. That someone always had a name. They were always in attendance. And when they got called out, our people would lose their minds. We loved celebrating the Risk-Taker, those who truly embodied this invitational life.
When they were done sharing their story, this bizarre tradition, which was a mixture of initiation and rite of passage began where people started a slow clap as they headed to the ice cold inflatable pool. As one of the pastors would be praying over them the slow clap would build and build until the person went fully under the water and came bursting out of the water. As they came out up out of the water the people would cheer and welcome them into the family. It was beautiful. Honest & Human.
I’ll never forget those services. Even though they ran so late, they were my favorite. It was sheer unadulterated joy. Filled with Tears. Laughter. Community. Jesus. Redemption. Slow Claps. Expectancy. Answered Prayers. Ice Cold Water. New Creation. New Family.
it was a powerful reminder of what happens when a church loves welcoming people into the family.
*photo cred: one of the slow clap originators Nick Fox