“God is building a church not of bricks and mortar but of flesh and blood,” the Rev. Chip Freed told the congregation of Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church (North Coast District) during Sunday’s sermon, Building in the Broken Places.
“If you understand the brokenness, if you feel the brokenness, if you can be honest about the brokenness, God can come and build something new with the pieces,” Freed said.
During services at the South Euclid-location of Garfield Memorial UMC, eight baptisms and 13 reaffirmations were celebrated. The youngest person baptized was an infant. The eldest person being reaffirmed was 100 years young!
Before entering the water, each person shared a brief testimonial – some read aloud by the Rev. Terry McHugh, others shown on the large video screen at the front of the church.
“I want to come out of the water, leaving some things in there to never surface again,” Delissa Nicole Churn said.
“I was baptized as a young child and at that time I knew in my heart that Jesus loved me. Somewhere along the way, I seemed to forget that,” Rhonda Reid shared. “By taking this step to reaffirm my baptism, I am affirming that I am loved by God in spite of my flaws and in spite of what the world may want me to believe.”
“I am taking this step because for me being a Christian means that I must give up my life to follow the teachings of Jesus,” Michael L. Churn, Sr. shared in his testimonial. “Lead me to the cross!”
He didn’t take that step alone. He was joined by his wife, the aforementioned Delissa Nicole, their daughter Janiya Shaunice, two nieces, a nephew-in-law-to-be and two great nieces – all of whom were baptized or reaffirmed during the service.
“The people here at the church are so great, so accepting, so real,” Delissa Nicole Churn said. “Not once have I felt that I was not a part of this church and when I come here, I believe I do see the Kingdom that I think God wants for us.”
For more information about baptism, view the video produced by Garfield Memorial UMC, titled, “Why Baptism?”
*Rick Wolcott is director of communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.