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Coastal Christian has baptism in the ocean - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Coastal Christian has baptism in the ocean

The reason? Pastor Stokes: You’re actually being baptized in living water

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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2018 11:00 am

OCEAN CITY – A crowd of people went to the 59th Street beach in Ocean City Sunday afternoon, not to get a suntan or to ride a boogie board in the ocean, as some bathers did, but to participate in a Christian ritual. 

Forty-eight people were baptized in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, June 24, according to Coastal Christian Teaching Pastor Matt Maher. Coastal Christian organized the event. 

Maher said his church has baptized up to 80 people at one time. 

“(It’s) people coming out and associating themselves with Christ,” he said. 

Lead Pastor Matt Stokes said baptisms are usually held twice each summer. 

In 2017, however, there was so much demand that the church held an additional baptism in the fall. 

He estimated they baptized 155 people in 2017. 

Coastal Christian has been holding ocean baptisms since 2004. 

“Jesus said, ‘come unto me so you might have life,’ and when you’re being baptized in the ocean you’re actually being baptized in living water,” Stokes said, “and Jesus talked about living water that would come forth from us, so there’s something precious about being baptized in a church, but when you’re actually baptized in literal living water, water that’s teeming with life, there’s something that’s all the more special about that.”

When asked why it was important for those who want to be baptized, Stokes said that “one of the last things Jesus said, after his resurrection and before he ascended, was for us to go into all the world and make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

“It’s your public declaration of your faith in Jesus,” Stokes said.

Barbara McGowan, of Egg Harbor Township, was baptized Sunday with her three grandchildren: Kierstyn Zinckgraf, 14; Amelia Zinckgraf, 13; and A.J. Zinckgraf, 11.

McGowan said her daughter, the mother of the three grandchildren, invited her to attend Coastal Christian about a year ago. 

McGowan said about a year ago “I accepted the altar call to accept Jesus Christ into my life and today the baptism was the exclamation point at the end of the sentence.”

Since making that decision, McGowan said that “there isn’t one thing (in her life) that hasn’t changed.”

She said she had “a new joy in my life.”

After being baptized, standing on the beach with her grandchildren, McGowan said she felt peaceful. 

For her grandchildren, the experience was meaningful. 

“My relationship with God can be better (now),” Kierstyn said. 

Amelia said she felt “like a new person.”

When asked what McGowan liked about being baptized as part of a large church event, she said that “this is my family now. Your church should be your family.”

Alyssa Barrett, of Stratford, said she wanted to be baptized because she “wanted to go public with what I was feeling inside.  It just cleansed me from the inside and now it’s just more visible from the outside.”

This was her first time being baptized.  

She said that, although she lives an hour away from Coastal Christian, she and her family go whenever they are in Ocean City.

When asked what baptism means to her, she said it “means just showing, in a visible sort of way, how God can just cleanse you from all of your sins.”

She said that she liked that the baptism happened in a public place, “so you can go more public with your faith.”

Barrett described the baptism as a really great experience.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be baptized in the ocean before. I thought maybe a lake would be calmer, but it is kind of symbolic because you’re out in the ocean, just like the world has a lot of waves trying to knock you down, but you’re surrounded by people who are holding you up and that’s how I feel about my faith.  No matter what is trying to knock me down God is lifting me up,” she said. 

Jennie and Bill Roggio, both of Medford, were baptized for the first time as adults on Sunday. 

They had been baptized as babies. 

Bill Roggio said that he was saved by Matt Stokes two years ago, after Stokes answered questions Roggio always had. 

“I talked to other preachers that could never give me an answer that made sense, and so I questioned religion in general,” Roggio said, “and his sermon answered some questions that were sitting open for me for years.”

He said he wanted to be baptized as soon as he was saved. 

So, when they saw that Coastal Christian was doing baptisms on Sunday, “we were like, we’re going to the shore today,” Jennie Roggio said. 

When asked what has changed for them in the last two years, she said that she relied on God a lot more. 

“It changes you from the inside out,” she said. 

The baptism, for her, was “a renewing.”

“I knew I was already where I wanted to be before, but it definitely feels like you just washed away all of your sins and now you’re just a new person,” she said. “It gives you strength, I feel like.”

Coastal Christian usually holds ocean baptisms Fourth of July weekend and Labor Day weekend. 

For more information, contact Coastal Christian at http://ccoceancity.com or call (609) 399-4747. 

 

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