Baptism goes wild: horse troughs, hot tubs and hashtags

However, as these 20th century churches age, their once modern baptistery also looks old fashioned. “It’s like eating organic food,” sai...


However, as these 20th century churches age, their once modern baptistery also looks old fashioned.

“It’s like eating organic food,” said Chad Seales, professor of religious studies at the University of Texas at Austin, who has written on the history of interior baptistries. The middle and upper classes now adopt the “primitive” as a sign of authenticity.

Change is not just a question of style. The built-in baptistries are inconvenient. Mold and leaks are a constant problem, and because the tanks are larger than most portable options, they take longer to fill and heat up. “It’s very expensive to maintain baptistries,” said Evan Welcher, until recently the pastor of Vine Street Bible Church in Glenwood, Iowa, which operates two large 19th-century church buildings on the same block. (It’s a long story.)

These days, Reverend Welcher envisions newer and seemingly trendier baptism facilities with something like envy.

“We have two baptistery, and at different times they both fled,” he said. “The cattle trough looks really easy; it looks so much better. People might say “Oh, cool churches are doing it,” but that actually sounds like a better way. Vine Street, which baptized four people this year, spent about $ 3,000 to fix a broken heat pump at one of its facilities a few years ago.

These “cooler churches” are often “church plants” or new congregations established by an existing church or denomination for the purpose of evangelizing in a new place. They usually start by meeting in rented premises like schools, cinemas or storefronts, and they are tuned in to events and aesthetics that will draw the crowds.

Historically, black churches have generally maintained a more formal tradition, said David Latimore, director of the Betsey Stockton Center for Black Church Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. The black church “has always resisted the pull of informality for informality,” said Dr Latimore. Since baptism is a ritual of belonging and “citizenship,” it had a sort of double meaning for much of American history. “There is a deep and deep sense of the deeply sacredness of this ritual,” he said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Baptism goes wild: horse troughs, hot tubs and hashtags
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