Although I have attended many baptisms for eight-year olds, today I attended my first adult baptism. As an eight-year old, I recall seeing baptism through the lens of duty and right and wrong moral decisions. I didn’t see baptism as an opportunity to enter and serve in a community, because I was already part of the Mormon faith. I saw it as a duty to check off if I wanted to be exalted and free of sin. But the adult baptismal service I attended emphasized being welcomed into the community more than duty, which caused me to see baptism in a new and refreshing light.
Those who spoke and conducted framed the convert’s baptism as an extension of the faith in Christ that she developed long ago and of her spiritual journey. Surprisingly, they rarely mentioned that she was joining the “true” church and they downplayed the theological urgency of needing to be baptized now by reminding us that everyone will eventually have the chance when they are ready; rather, they focused their remarks on how through the church and the Holy Ghost she would expand her faith and receive additional support. Two highlights of the baptismal service emphasized these points. First, after the woman was baptized, her visiting and home teachers were introduced. To me, it is beautiful that the first thing that occurs after someone is baptized is to be welcomed into a community that offers support. Next, a prayer was offered that thanked the new convert’s parents (who were not members) for raising a daughter who knew who she was and was of such worth. Although I suspect that seeing a daughter convert to a different faith is often hard, this prayer graciously acknowledged the essential role that the convert’s family played and plays in her spiritual life.
Today’s baptism moved me by emphasizing not just our belief in Christ’s church and the goodness of all faiths, but also the promises we make to give our support to others and the support that Christ promises to those who follow him. Through simple acts like introducing ward members available to serve the new convert, this service made literal and immediate the blessings that God brings to those who follow him.