Understanding church as a community of Jesus’ followers gave us space to reimagine its ancient traditions in modern ways. Starting with Baptisms in 2004.
If there were water and faith, we were ready to baptise. But, if believer’s baptism was about joining a family of followers, then the more people who got in the water to help baptise, the better it felt. Lots of us were getting wet, gathering around the new believers, jointly baptising them.
It was 2o04 and we were discovering that everyone in church got to be a priest! There was wide open opportunity for all to participate in the baptisms and welcome the new people into our midst. We had stopped being one church minister and were becoming a community of people ministering to each other.
With no church building to hold us back, we headed for Chalkwell Beach in Westcliff for some of our earliest baptisms. Many people found it helpful to be baptised in sight of the town where they would live out their faith. And in the winter months when the Westcliff sea was too cold, we used a school pool in Leigh on Sea and borrowed baptisteries from several local Baptist churches.
However, we were not yet a church of the poor and marginalised. And this was still troubling us…