News Articles

‘Movement of God’: Church’s ‘Unashamed Sunday’ stirs 146 people to baptism

BRANDON, Fla. (BP)–Having witnessed the baptism of 146 people at Bell Shoals Baptist Church on “Unashamed Sunday,” pastor Forrest Pollock described it as “a movement of God unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

And, by the end of four services on the church’s two campuses, nearly 40 others had walked up the aisles to make various decisions for Christ.

The day of baptisms was the culmination of a promotion of the ordinance over several weeks at the Brandon, Fla., congregation. Members had received a “Baptism Matters” pamphlet in the mail explaining baptism, written by Rick Shepherd, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s prayer/spiritual awakening department.

Pollock challenged those who had not been baptized to be immersed Jan. 8. His sermon, titled “Just Add Water,” focused on the meaning, method and moment of baptism, exploring the facts of Jesus’ baptism as recounted in Matthew 3.

“Knowing that we would be asking people to immediately obey God’s Word, I didn’t want people to respond out of sheer emotion,” Pollock said. “I wanted them to have all the facts about what baptism means before they made a decision.”

The number of people responding to the invitations necessitated the conversion of the Bell Shoal’s choir room into a hub for spiritual counseling — and the church’s offices into changing rooms. The congregation also heard pleas from the podium for more counselors, called “encouragers.”

The marathon of baptisms exhausted the Bell Shoals campus’ supply of baptism robes and towels. A stash of 200 mission trip T-shirts was brought in for the baptism candidates and various members rushed to their homes for more towels, while others scooped up wet towels and hurried to a nearby industrial laundry.

To complicate the logistics of baptizing more than 100 people, Pollock stepped into the baptistery only to discover that the heater, which had performed flawlessly for years, was not heating the water.

Also, as the number of baptisms mounted and time for the other services came and passed, members readily made their schedules flexible. The last of the morning’s three services at the Bell Shoals campus ended at 1:20 p.m.

The chilly water and lengthy services did not cool the enthusiasm of those baptized. The congregation watched as married and engaged couples and entire families were immersed together. One baptism candidate chose to be baptized in spite of a longtime fear of water; another reported being saved more than 20 years ago but never being baptized.

Bell Shoals’ West Bloomingdale congregation, led by Pastor Billy Hodges, regularly meets at 11 a.m. on Sundays to hear Pollock’s recorded message from the 8 a.m. service at the main campus. The Jan. 8 service, with about 100 in attendance, also included baptisms and reported sensing the same movement of God’s Spirit, minus the logistical challenges that the main campus encountered. That Sunday, Pollock recounted, “… the cool wind of heaven brushed through our church. That gentle breeze became gale-force winds before our very eyes. It was truly a God-thing. That’s the only way to explain it.”
Reprinted from the Florida Baptist Witness, newsjournal of the Florida Baptist State Convention.

    About the Author

  • Staff