Sometimes in ministry, a pastor receives a request that turns into a personal project. That was very much the case when 12-year-old Jack Porter asked to be baptized by immersion on Palm Sunday.

Jack was a member of our confirmation class, this spring. Along with three other tweenagers, Jack spent ten Sunday mornings in the youth room, learning about his Christian faith, in preparation for a service of commitment on Palm Sunday. Unlike the other members of the class, though, Jack had not been baptized. I told Jack and his family that we could baptize him as part of the confirmation service.

Some in Jack’s family are members of the Church of the Brethren, a denomination that practices baptism by immersion – or “dunking,” in the vernacular. Jack had observed such baptisms, and had decided that he wanted to go under under the water when he was baptized. He also asked to wear a white robe, like those he’d seen at Brethren baptisms.

We can do that!, I replied – little knowing just what it would take to offer an immersion baptism in our sanctuary, during the Palm Sunday service.

What it took was the help and/or active participation of at least eleven people! First, we borrowed a livestock tank from Joe and Emily Carson, who run a farm on the fringes of Prince Edward County. Jack and his family took the black plastic tank (or tub, or trough!) home and cleaned it out well, and Jack got in to see if he’d fit. He did.

Rev. Adam Tyler and Farmville Baptist Church loaned us a white robe and gave me lessons for on how to baptize by immersion (previously I’d been limited to sprinkling or pouring) Mike Montgomery and Jim Kimbrough stepped up to fill the tank before the service and to drain it afterwards. The manager at Tractor Supply Company the loaned us a new tank when the first one leaked, and Jo Smith beautified the homely tank with white skirting.

And our Rev. Josh Blakely designed the Palm Sunday confirmation service of which Jack’s baptism was a part. It evidently takes a village to baptize a young man by immersion in a United Methodist church!

Through it all, I experienced the Body of Christ at work. Thanks be to God for the Church, and for Jack’s place in it, through the waters of baptism