CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) – For Brandon Mullis, pastor of Clear Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, Baptism Sunday (April 16) was a particularly meaningful and exciting moment as he had the “overwhelming” privilege of baptizing his 4-year-old daughter.
The unexpected event was sparked when Mullis’ daughter Sullivan noticed a tub full of water in the church and became curious.
“She walked into my office as I was prepping before Sunday school to say ‘Daddy I want to ask Jesus into my heart,’” Mullis said.
“It kind of caught us off-guard. We had no real plan of attack so we just started asking her questions and making sure she understood the Gospel. She was able to communicate it to me better than some adults that have tried to talk to me about the Gospel.”
Mullis said both he and his wife, due any day with their second daughter, couldn’t hold back their feelings.
“It’s emotionally overwhelming to be honest. It’s just a joy to know that our kids have made the most important decision of their life.”
Clear Creek was just one of many churches throughout the convention observing Baptism Sunday. Congregations shared stories of conversions and baptisms using the hashtag #fillthetank.
Several churches reported large numbers of baptisms at their Sunday service.
The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., celebrated 168 baptisms on Sunday.
Hope Church in Las Vegas reported 112 baptisms; First Baptist Church of Naples, Fla., more than 90.
The celebration was shared among churches of all different sizes and ethnicities, including Iglesia Bautista Monte Calvario, a Hispanic church in San Antonio, Texas, that baptized six on Sunday.
Some churches began promoting and emphasizing Baptism Sunday long before Sunday.
Robert Hefner, senior pastor at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden, N.C., said he began promoting Baptism Sunday service almost two months ago.
The emphasis proved effective, as Pleasant Garden baptized 10 people, with several more in process for the near future.
Hefner mentioned one student who was baptized who excitedly shared with his baseball team on Saturday what he would be doing the next day.
“It was very fruitful for us as a church,” Hefner said. “The spirit of the service was just tremendous.” He added that it was a good opportunity to emphasize the importance of baptism as a public expression of faith within a local church.
“I have been hesitant about anything that feels gimmicky,” Hefner said.
“But what I’ve really appreciated about Baptism Sunday is it let us put baptism out in front of our church family and really focus on the public identification aspect of baptism. It helped some of those who had received Jesus sometime in the past, be reminded of the important of public confession in coming before the church in baptism.”
Much like Hefner, Mullis was set on prioritizing Baptism Sunday at Clear Creek long before his daughter would make her decision.
“We had committed we were going to emphasize baptism on this Sunday whether we had a baptism or not,” Mullis said, adding that baptism is crucial to local church ministry.
“I loved doing student ministry and youth ministry, but as I got a little bit older God just started steering by heart towards the idea of leading a local church,” Mullis said.
“I have fallen in love with the local church. The local church saved me in more ways than just spiritually. The local church for me as a teenager was my refuge. When times of trouble were coming at my house, the church was there for me. I developed a love and passion towards the local church.”
Baptism was therefore sure to be emphasized on the commemorative Sunday, even though no one was scheduled to be baptized, nor had Clear Creek baptized anyone in the nearly two years Mullis had been the pastor.
That all changed a few weeks before Baptism Sunday.
Mullis explained he and his wife has been praying for her childhood friend to come to faith for years.
Over time, communication with this friend had slowed, until she reached out to the couple a few months ago with spiritual questions.
She began attending Clear Creek and made a decision to follow Christ just a few weeks before Baptism Sunday.
Mullis said he was amazed by the timing and was content to have a Baptism Sunday to celebrate someone they had been praying for.
But the surprises and excitement were just beginning.
Upon seeing the tub in the sanctuary filled with water, Sullivan began asking her older brother Killian what the water was for. He told her they were baptizing someone, and took a moment to explain what that meant.
This prompted Sullivan to approach her dad, much to his surprise. Not only was Mullis a proud parent, but he was a proud pastor too.
“This church has embraced people in a way I’ve never seen before,” Mullis said.
“I think the church was just about in tears when they saw Sullivan and that she had made her decision, because they’ve come around and been a part in investing in her.
“I think it (baptism) builds excitement in the church. To have an emphasis of baptisms and see baptisms happening … leaving yesterday there was an excitement and a buzz for our church that they want more.
“As a small church it is just encouraging to know what we are doing together as Southern Baptists and as North Carolina Baptists as we work together to share the Gospel. Whether we would have baptized anybody [Sunday] or not, the fact that we can celebrate baptisms happening throughout our country is an amazing thing. It’s exciting to see.”