4 baptisms by church plant grace SBC building's lobby

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jan 30, 2012 5:22 PM
4 baptisms by church plant grace SBC building's lobby
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- When a crowd gathered in the lobby of the Southern Baptist Convention building to watch the baptisms of four children, it was a teaching moment for some in the urban community who were not familiar with one of Baptists' foundational experiences.

Mosaic Nashville is an eight-year-old church plant that has been meeting in the downtown SBC building for about two years. The children's baptisms in December were the first the congregation had done in the building.

The setup meant everyone had to stand to see for the baptisms, and people were squeezed into the lobby as well as up the staircase and onto the second floor balcony, the church's pastor, Gary Morgan, told Baptist Press.

"I don't know if people's engagement changes because they're standing, but they were all around the baptistery," Morgan said. "Twenty people could touch water almost -- everybody's just packed around pretty tight. It was a really, really neat time for us."

Though the church meets in the building's auditorium on the second floor, they moved downstairs for the baptism in order to access water for a portable tank shared by four Nashville church plants that don't have traditional baptisteries.

"It's pretty exciting to see the trough cruising around Nashville going to some different churches," Morgan said.

Two of the children baptized at Mosaic had been reading through Scripture and came to the baptism decision on their own, Morgan said, and two other children had questions and were guided through the process by their parents.

"For us, the baptisms were unique in that both of the dads are in ministry," Morgan said. Both fathers baptized their children that day. One father is preparing to go overseas with the International Mission Board and the other graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in December.

Morgan, a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, was meeting with one father and his 9-year-old daughter at a Nashville ice cream parlor when she told her pastor why her baptism was so important to her.

"I think about baptism not just for me," the girl, whose parents are becoming missionaries, said, according to Morgan, "but for where we're going because our hopes are that people there will know Jesus and get baptized too."

"So baptism for her wasn't just about herself and her relationship with Christ," Morgan said. "It was really linking with their getting ready to leave America, and this is a 9-year-old and the commitment that she'd made. So we're in an ice cream parlor, all three crying, trying not to slobber all over our ice cream."

Children are the smallest demographic attending Mosaic, Morgan said.

"We're predominantly singles, young couples, college students and then couples with kids," he said. "I don't know if that's just the urban context that we're in."

A significant number of those who attend Mosaic are exploring Jesus and Scripture but aren't yet followers of Christ, Morgan added.

"So we can talk about baptism and we can even see pictures of it, but to be right there experiencing it has created a lot of conversation with a lot of people who do not know Christ," he said. "There's a couple right now that I'm interacting with, and different kids from families that don't know Christ. They've asked so many questions it's moved their parents to say, 'Can you help us answer? We don't know.'

"They're not families that have grown up in church, and for them to even sit with their kids and walk through that is a new thing for them."

For Mosaic, ongoing conversations often lead to commitments, Morgan said. "It's about us talking about what is our story -- how did we come to follow Christ, how were we baptized - everyone continuing to tell their story."

Also, it's helpful to meet in the SBC building. Many people who attend Mosaic had not been receptive to denominations, Morgan said, so for the church to move into the location where so much Southern Baptist business is conducted was significant. (The SBC building houses the convention's Executive Committee, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Foundation, Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives and Seminary Extension.)

"Let's say out of 150, that would be the heritage for 20 of us and the rest are from all kinds of denominational backgrounds or have no denominational connection," Morgan said. "So to be in that facility was a tough move for them, but to be there has been really great for them to work through a lot of baggage in their life and a lot of struggles with Scripture."

Among those who attend Mosaic, baptism is something that is not taken lightly, Morgan said. Some struggle with the decision for a while, knowing that once they make a public proclamation, they've deepened their commitment to follow Jesus.

"We have a young lady who said, 'This has been a three-and-a-half-year journey. I think I'm there. If I make a decision to follow Christ, you know that's what I'm doing,'" Morgan said.

Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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