LONGVIEW - In a pair of jeans and a black and green t-shirt, Pastor Glynn Stone asked people participating in Mobberly Baptist Church's worship services to proclaim one simple yet powerful message through action: I am not ashamed.
They did it in droves.
Eighty people were baptized Aug. 18 after the pastor explained the significance of the ordinance and provided biblical examples of getting baptized as a public display of a decision to follow Christ.
"Baptism is a sermon of you committing your life to Jesus Christ," he said. "Today, we get to celebrate that."
The church attempted to remove all barriers that may make people postpone getting baptized. Horse troughs were set up on the platform as baptisteries. Individuals who came forward were baptized that morning. The church provided clothes people could wear if someone felt they weren't dressed appropriately.
Some people put off getting baptized, Stone said in his sermon. The longer they put it off, the harder it is to get around to doing it. But Christ's example of baptism by immersion remains.
"The longer you wait to do what's right, the harder it gets," he said. "That's just the reality. We have a whole lot of people packing the pews of different churches who know Jesus as their Savior who have never been baptized, biblically baptized."
Of the 80 baptisms, 32 were of people who made first-time professions of faith that morning. The rest were following up on a profession of faith they had made earlier in their respective lives.
An 84-year-old man was baptized roughly 60 years after committing to follow Christ. A woman who had just moved to Longview was baptized. A couple that was living together was baptized and sought a marriage license the next morning.
Jay Shepherd, the church's minister of outreach and assimilation, said the excitement in the special services was palpable. People were eager to get baptized. The congregation held a similar day last year and baptized 55 people. The large number of people making decisions this year further reflects the need for churches to give people the opportunity to testify about their faith.
Mobberly Baptist Church is deeply rooted in the Bible and seeks to present the gospel clearly and often, Shepherd said. People are encouraged to live out their faith in their day-to-day lives. As they declared "I am not ashamed," they took another step in that journey.
"We make the gospel readily available to the people," he said. "We train people to live out their faith. Everyday faith is what we call it."