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Saddleback Church celebrates 20,000th baptism

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Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren (back to picture) celebrates with 24-year-old Mario Soto March 19 after Soto became the 20,000th person to be baptized in the church's history. Photo by Jack Barry
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)--Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., celebrated the 20,000th baptism in its 25-year history in a quiet ceremony March 19.
    In an outdoor baptismal pool built of native stone, Pastor Rick Warren immersed Mario Soto, a 24-year-old resident of Aliso Viejo, Calif., after the congregation’s 11:15 a.m. service. Soto was among about a dozen other adults being baptized.
    It had been quite a weekend for Soto. On Saturday evening, he had proposed to his girlfriend. His new fiancée, Amanda, was part of the crowd cheering him on.
    For Soto, his decision to declare publicly his faith in Jesus Christ was an important step on the road toward marriage and starting a family.