Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:19-20
Those words have been the marching orders for the Church for the last 2,000 years. This Great Commission has been lived out in many ways by countless millions of Christians over time. New followers of Jesus have been baptized in every landscape around the world and in every circumstance. Whether a baptism has been in secret for fear of persecution or by the thousands in a Las Vegas parking lot, the Church has not stopped working to see the Great Commission fulfilled.
We are shareholders in that same Commission and have had, in our short 13 years, ample opportunity to live this out and have our commitment to it tested. In every challenge we have faced, we have held to the promise that Jesus would build His Church and that there is no adversity we would face that could stop us from being who He has called us to be as a community.
It is this tenacious spirit that has had us add our own interesting baptism landscapes to the thousands of others that permeate the story of the Church throughout history.
Summit’s first baptisms were held in the backyard of Sid and Kathy Mair (a great Summit couple who are now part of the Waterford campus) who have a beautiful spot on Lake Pickett. Those first baptisms were idyllic in so many ways, with the only disruptions coming from boats full of weekend warriors taking the opportunity to show off (not always in appropriate ways) to the unexpected audience of those gathered to celebrate the baptisms.
Since then we have baptized people in wind and waves, during a jellyfish infestation, at a dog park (one of our worst ideas), and we even accidentally baptized people in a fetid retention pond (don’t ask how it is possible to accidentally do that). And of course, we have baptized people under the bright, cloudless skies during the best beach weather Florida has to offer.
In these unique baptism services, there have been at least two things that have been true throughout. First, we have lived out our resolve to be the Church, “come hell or high water.” Second, we have a maintained a 100 percent survival rate for those being baptized.
This Sunday, with the near certainty of there being “high water,” accompanied by torrential rain and a lot of lightning, we have decided that the best way to keep true what has been true of all our other baptisms is to move the celebration into the Herndon building.
As I write this, I am sitting in the middle of our bustling offices as our team of staff and volunteers work to organize the celebration. I love that this is happening, and I love that I get to be part of this church. This Sunday will be one of those wonderful days in Summit’s story where people will mark their time here by having been there “that one time when the weather was horrible and we did the baptisms in tubs on the floor because we couldn’t stand the idea of not doing what God has called us to do simply because of some deadly weather…”
You will not want to miss the chance to be a part of the celebration.