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Gardendale FBC goes ‘unashamed’comment (0)

October 21, 2010

By Kristen Padilla

One hundred-fifteen people were “unashamed” Oct. 3 as they came forward for baptism as part of Gardendale’s First Baptist Church’s first Unashamed Sunday.

Like every Sunday, the gospel was clearly presented, and an invitation to accept Christ and to become a member of the church was offered. But it was the invitation to immediately be baptized that made this service unique.

“Everyone has a different DNA and for some folks just having  spontaneity is the thing God uses to trigger them to make the right decision,” Pastor Kevin Hamm said. “Giving options for the Holy Spirit to move in people’s lives, that’s the idea.”

During the 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. service, Hamm presented the gospel and then explained the importance of baptism. After showing a brief clip about baptism, Hamm asked the congregation, “Who’s ready to be baptized?”

“You always have an excuse,” Hamm recalled telling the congregation. “We have eliminated your excuses.”

Hamm’s ministerial team made Unashamed t-shirts and baptized people in them. They also provided shorts, towels, hairbrushes, hair dryers, curling irons, mascara wipes — basically anything that would eliminate someone’s excuse for not being baptized.

“Many times coming down is intimidating, so we wanted to release all intimidation,” said Executive Pastor Mark Harrison. “You came in with your dry clothes and you’ll leave with your dry clothes.”

They had no idea what the response would be, Hamm said. But when people began coming down one right after the other to be baptized, “It certainly blew us out of the water,” he said.

“God always does more than you dream or anticipate,” Hamm said. “We prayed and thought we’d celebrate if we have a handful.”

As the invitation was given newlyweds, siblings, parents and children and grandparents and grandchildren came forward for baptism. Thirty-two were baptized in the first service and 83 in the second service.

For one woman, who lost her 39-year-old husband to cancer recently, Unashamed Sunday was her first Sunday back to church since he died. As she indicated on her blog, the day proved to be more than she expected.

“Last Sunday my aunt April and her husband Shane went to church with me for support because it was my first Sunday back without Billy,” she wrote on her blog. “Unbeknownst to me, my church was having a special service that was about the importance of baptism, and at the end, the baptistery was open to anyone who wanted to get baptized and rededicate their lives to Christ.

“April and Shane walked down and got baptized together as husband and wife,” she continued. “Shane had never been baptized and April had a christening as a baby but never (had) been fully immersed. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this would have never happened without Billy.”

There were many stories like this one, Harrison said, but one he remembers in particular was a mother and her two sons, one son with cerebral palsy, who came forward for baptism.

“When God shows up and does something it’s just extraordinary; we realize He is God and we’re not,” Hamm said. “This is really not about us but about the Lord and for His glory.”

Following the Oct. 3 service, the staff has been following up with all those who were baptized, plugging them into small groups and making sure they are being discipled.

And as for this happening again in the future, Harrison said their hope is to make this an annual service on the first Sunday of October.

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