I do not remember my baptism because I was a baby.
Okay, that’s not quite accurate, I was really a toddler.
By the time I was baptized my family had celebrated my first birthday.
My mom says she remembers her mother, my Grandma Elizabeth (she was Baptist) fussing because she waited so long to baptize me. Mom said, Grandma Elizabeth was even fussing on the morning of my baptism saying, “it was a shame for the baby to walk to her baptism.” That’s all of the story that had come to me through family lore.
So I called my mom up to ask her about my baptism.
I found out she waited so long to baptize me because she forgot?
She said “You were born, your father and I talked about baptizing you, then I looked up one day and you were walking!”
I pressed a bit more, because my mom is a thoughtful, super organized, and very deliberate woman. So just not getting around to it seemed so uncharacteristic of her.
Mom confessed that she waited to baptize me, because she was trying to figure out where she was going to worship. My parents were wrestling with the question that most families of blended faith traditions struggle with: how and where will our newly forming family worship? Who will we be?
Grandma Elizabeth, was old school. She advised my mom to worship where her husband worshiped. Yet Mom was not keen on giving up her church, friends, and the life she had known, to worship at a very different church.
Though the two churches were less than a mile apart, the difference in the worship styles felt more like a day’s journey. While my parents were childless, where they worshiped was no big deal. They sometimes took turns and visited each other’s churches. When I was born Mom said, she was holding out hope that Daddy would just decide to come to her church so we could worship as a family.
After a pause, she said, “I should have known your daddy was too ADHD to come to a Baptist style service. He needed the sitting, standing, kneeling, the walking up for communion of an Episcopal service.” We laughed together thinking of Daddy’s restless nature. (Sometimes on Sunday between the proclamation of the Gospel and the Eucharistic prayer, he would clean and sweep the parish hall!)
So, I was baptized on a Saturday morning in the sunny Narthex of the church where my Daddy grew up. I was baptized in a white dress that never got wet.
Sixteen years later, my mom officially made St. Ambrose her church when she was confirmed the year after my baby brother.
-Rev. Hershey Mallet Stephens, BFL Catechist
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