NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (BP) – Many of the reported 4,500 who were baptized at Harvest Christian Fellowship’s “Jesus Revolution” baptism July 8 climbed rocky terrain and were subject to state fees to enter Pirate’s Cove Beach.
The baptism number Senior Pastor Greg Laurie reported surpasses the estimated 4,166 who were baptized at Pirates Cove in the Baptize SoCal event May 28, sponsored by Oceans Church.
“They were here, there and everywhere,” Laurie tweeted of those attending the 8 a.m. event, estimating the crowd at 20,000. “There was a line that was like half a mile long of people waiting to be baptized.”
Victor Chayasirisobhon, California Southern Baptist Convention president and director of missions for the Orange County Baptist Association (OCSBA), said at least 20 of the association’s 152 membership congregations participated in the event.
“It is great to see the Lord move in a powerful way. It is always great to come together in unity to fulfill the Great Commission and to see it happen on such a wide scale,” said Chayasirisobhon, lead pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Anaheim. “I applaud Harvest Ministries and our family there, and it continues to be a joy to partner with them helping volunteer, baptize and even do things like translate for the Harvest Crusade, which many of us grew up going to.”
Pirate’s Cove is memorialized as the site of thousands of baptisms during the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s-1970s. Laurie was himself baptized during the 20th century movement, telling his story in his 2018 book “Jesus Revolution,” the subject of the box office sensation of the same name.
“We never had a baptism (during the Jesus Movement) on the scale of this one,” Laurie tweeted. “This is new. This is fresh. This has never happened before. And it happened where? In California.
“We give God all the glory for this,” Laurie said. “I this is a real sign of spiritual awakening.”
Chayasirisobhon expressed hope that the event, which followed the July 1-2 capacity crowd SoCal Harvest Crusade at the Honda Center in Anaheim, becomes an annual post-Harvest Crusade event.
“I hope to see this happen every year after the Harvest Crusade,” Chayasirisobhon said, “and that the Jesus Revolution movie continues to make an impact around the world. Belief and baptism are wonderful first steps and we are also glad as these people find church homes that many of them will be disciples in our OCSBC (and) CSBC churches.
“We continue to look for other creative ways to partner to fulfill the Great Commission.”
About 32 percent of California’s 39 million people identify as Christian, but Chayasirisobhon said California’s attractive climate gives the state unique challenges in reaching the lost. Many choose to locate in the state, he said, and not all of those who identify as Christian are practicing the faith.
The SoCal Harvest Crusade drew 32,500 over the two-night event, with 6,794 making decisions for Christ. It was not clear how many of the 4,500 baptized at Pirates Cove accepted Jesus at the crusade.
Laurie said those at the beach expressed joy in attending.
“My son Jonathan was talking to people and they were happy and enjoyed it,” Laurie tweeted. “They said, ‘Oh, we wait in lines longer than this for Disneyland. We’re happy to do this.’ And people literally came from all around the world, all around America, of course, as well.”
The baptism is estimated to be one of the largest baptism by immersion events nationally if not worldwide.
The largest baptism in modern history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, was not through an evangelistic outreach, but rather by the nontrinitarian congregation of Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Philippines, when 18,272 were “baptized” by sprinkling Sept. 7, 2019.