Walden Pond Baptism – Chilly, But Meaningful

Post a Comment » Written on December 2nd, 2008     
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BROOKLINE, MA (December 2, 2008) – Joshua Throneburg, pastor of Highrock Covenant Church in Brookline, and five baptismal candidates wore wetsuits a week ago Sunday during a baptismal service at Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau.

The church chose to do the baptism in Walden Pond because of its accessibility and not because of its history, Throneburg says. Still, he adds, “It’s a great thing to be able to say you were baptized in Walden Pond.”

The church decided to conduct the service at this time because people attending the newly planted church increasingly were asking about baptism, Throneburg says. The congregation decided to not wait until warm weather because that would mean another six months.

Seventy-five people braved the weather to watch the baptismal service, Throneburg says. The temperature was around 30 degrees with a “stiff wind.”

Throneburg had to convince the company that holds the church’s liability policy for any offsite activities that it would be safe to proceed with the service – some church members had expressed reservations.

Despite the frigid conditions, “The baptism candidates were all pretty excited about it,” Throneburg says.

Baptism twoHoward Burgoyne, East Coast Conference superintendent, attended the event. He had preached earlier during the regular service about the role of baptism and new life in Christ. He remained an observer later in the afternoon.

“We didn’t get Howard into the water,” Throneburg laments. “Besides, we didn’t have enough wetsuits.” The church had rented the suits from a local dive shop.

One of the biggest challenges for the service was to avoid concentrating on the weather. “You don’t want the baptism to focus on the fact that it was cold,” Throneburg explains.

The Brookline congregation was planted by Highrock Covenant Church in Arlington, Massachusetts, and held its first worship service in August. It averages around 150 people each Sunday.

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