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Baptism News

Pope Francis may be credited with drawing more international attention to religious news, but he is not the only figure making the headlines these days. Baptism has received more press recently and from a variety of denominations. The following are a few examples of what is happening around the world.

Georgian Baptisms Boost Birth Rate

The national birth rate in Georgia was at a historic low when the head of the Orthodox Church offered a solution. The patriarch made a promise to families that already had two or more children that he would baptize an additional child himself. After the announcement, the rate rose 20 percent. The residents of Georgia are 80 percent Orthodox, so a personal blessing from the church leader is regarded by many to be a highly effective incentive. Some officials credit the uptick to more jobs and an improved economy as well.

Back to the Sea

Most modern baptisms take place at baptismal fonts inside churches. While this is largely true of the Greek Orthodox Church, a monastery in Greece is turning back the clock to practice an ancient custom. In Heraklion, Crete, the Koudoumas Holy Monastery recently incorporated Christian Orthodox liturgy to baptize a male infant in the Libyan Sea. The rite was performed by Father Dimitris Michoudis and was attended by the family, the Abbot, Father Makarios, and the monastery monks. The site is ideally situated adjacent to the sea, allowing the service to occur as it did in centuries past, in the water and the open air.

Washed Out to Sea

In California, a man assisting his cousin with the sacrament of baptism was caught in a wave and carried out to sea. The accident occurred north of Santa Barbara near the Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. Attendants were overcome by a wave during the service. Two other people who were dragged out into the ocean were able to swim back, but the victim did not return to shore. A leader for the Jesus Christ Light of the Sky church in Santa Maria said that the church conducted several baptisms of this kind every year without incident.

The Frozen Chosen

January marks the Russian Orthodox Epiphany, a time when many followers take to the icy waters to renew their commitment to their faith. A ritual dip into the waters is a grand event for many churches. As many as 30,000 people line up each Epiphany in Moscow to dunk themselves into the ice. While many participants take pride in this custom as distinctly Russian, some officials caution against using this practice for child baptisms, citing the dangers of the intense cold. These include:

  • Hyperventilation and drowning
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Frostbite

Two-for-One Service

The Anglican Church is concerned that more than two out of every five children born in Great Britain are born to unwed couples. As a solution, the church is introducing its "hatch and match" service, whereby a couple can combine their wedding and their children's baptism in one event. While the proposed combo is intended to rekindle the institution of marriage as part of the family structure, not all church officials are onboard. One bishop quipped, "It's a pity they haven't put in a funeral for grandma as well."

No One Denied Their Rites

Pope Francis commented recently that the Catholic Church would be ready and willing to offer the sacrament of baptism to Martians, if they exist and are so willing. Said the Pontiff, "Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them. And one says, 'But I want to be baptized!' What would happen?" Pope Francis went on to say that he would administer the rite, as the Holy Spirit should be available to all, regardless of planet or atmosphere of origin. Peter baptized pagans, said the Pope, and this would be no different.

Category: Get Ordained Baptism

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