November 28, 2022
101 North Commercial Street Morgan, Utah 84050
Religion

Local Church gathers on the banks of the Weber River for public Baptism

The local assembly of Morgan Valley Church in Mountain Green gathered on the banks of the Weber River in Morgan, Sunday, May 29, for their first river baptism. This was not the first baptism ceremony of the church; however, since the congregation of Morgan Valley Church meets at  Mountain Green Middle School, they do not have a permanent baptistry fixture in which to baptize. Previously, their baptisms have been conducted at Morgan Grace Church thanks to the leadership who have graciously permitted access to their facilities. Because the baptism candidate, John Stegman, desired to be baptized before moving out of state, the timeline to arrange and reserve facilities was more narrow than what is typical. John explained in his own words, that he “preferred to be baptized with all his friends and family present” rather than waiting until after his move. 

The river was an obvious solution for the occasion.

Pastor Brent Harm explained his choice for the location, saying, “The whole meaning of the Greek word baptizo means ‘to immerse’ …so we need access to enough water to immerse believers.”  The convenience and accessibility of the river provided an ideal location for this biblical requirement. 

Despite the chilly, drizzle that day, many members of the church were present to support Stegaman in his decision to be baptized. Pastor Harm read a passage from Scripture to review the symbolism of baptism with his congregation and any observers before proceeding to baptize the John. He summarized the content of the passage by stating, “…baptism is a claim by the candidate that they have followed Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection. The ordinance is a public declaration that the candidate has died to sin, just as Christ died once for sin, and has been raised by the power of God as a ‘new’ person, spiritually alive and reconciled to God, and is now living an everlasting life that is not for their own priorities or purposes, but is submitted to God.”

Following this public reminder, John Stegman shared his personal decision to be baptized; he spoke with confidence and the crowd listened attentively to every word despite the brief interruption of a passing train. “I chose to get baptized because when someone becomes a Christian, baptism is commanded by God…I wanted to be baptized as a public declaration that I’m a Christian…willing to do what God commands,” Stegman stated.

The clouds parted long enough to provide relief from the rain during the church’s brief gathering at the river. After Stegman emerged from the water, the people cheered in celebration of the significant occasion, a memory that stands out clearly in his mind.   “The most memorable part of the moment would probably be emerging from the water and seeing all of my friends and family smiling,”  Stegman mentioned.

The backdrop was picturesque and the setting memorable. 

Baptism is a beautiful ceremony respectfully  observed in a variety of denominations, but Morgan Valley Church bases their practice of the ordinance on what is taught in the Bible.

When interviewed for comment, Harm stated that, “Baptism is an ordinance that is presented in many ways from many denominations/doctrinal views. The only one that actually matters is the Bible’s teaching on baptism. In those instances that a denomination or ecclesiastical body has added to or taken away from the Bible’s teaching about baptism, those teachings are to be completely rejected. Because baptism is such a rich and high-resolution representation of the gospel according to the Bible, I encourage folks to compare their preconceptions or beliefs about baptism, and thus their associated positions on salvation, with the Bible’s teaching. When differences are discovered, then the person is presented with a decision about whether to submit to God’s word or man’s word. To study the Bible’s teaching on baptism is a terrific way to understand God’s plan of salvation, and I pray that folks will be challenged to examine the Bible and courageous enough to submit to its teaching.”

Rachel Cordeiro - Features Editor
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