LAKE CITY, Tenn. (BP)–While it has not happened in all of his years in the ministry, pastor Tom Byrge has worried about someone losing his or her balance while being baptized and thrashing around out of control.
“I tell people not to panic. I have never drowned someone yet,” Byrge, pastor of Clinch River Baptist Church, Lake City, Tenn., noted with a grin.
Some people have a fear of water, Byrge noted, and occasionally someone will momentarily lose control when his or her feet come off the bottom when immersed. “People at times reach up to grab the edge of the baptistry to stabilize themselves,” the pastor said.
Byrge mentioned his concern last year to church member Cormey Shultz, who just happens to dabble with inventions. Shultz immediately began experimenting on a device to help the pastor and the person being baptized to maintain control.
The result is a “Baptismal Aid Baptistry Seat,” which sits in the baptistry pool unnoticed by those in the congregation and can be used for adults or children.
It provides a seat for the person being baptized complete with a handhold for the seat and a brace for the feet.
The device was completed late last year and Byrge has already used it twice.
“This is a needed device. It is safer and makes the baptismal service more reverent,” Byrge said, noting it is easier to dip the person into the water, with no ripples or splashing.
Shultz took on the challenge because he enjoys inventing things and working with metal. “I enjoy trying to make something to make things work better,” he said.
A retired truck driver, Shultz has invented various things over the years and had one patented.
His new device is currently going through the patent process which normally takes about six months, he said.
He already has secured a local company to manufacture the baptismal aid device. He plans on marketing it on a limited basis while the patent is pending.
The device is 30 inches wide, 72 inches in length and fits easily into baptismal pools. It is lightweight and could be moved to a pond or creek, Shultz noted.
While the exact cost has not been determined, Shultz anticipates it selling for less than $400, which would be a one-time cost since it will last for years.
Shultz hopes his idea will be received well by other churches and that his baptismal aid device will become widely used. If it doesn’t, however, he said he’s happy to have made something his pastor suggested would be helpful in his work.
Individuals or churches wanting more information about the baptismal aid device can contact Shultz at (615) 426-2641.