On Sunday 28 August, St Mary’s Wotton-under-Edge held its first full immersion baptism – which coincided with the 740th anniversary of the church’s dedication.
Full immersion baptism, as the name suggests, is when a person is fully covered in water by submerging under the surface as part of the baptism ceremony, signifying their new life in Christ.
Rachel Tooley, who has been a member of the worshipping community at St Mary’s for a year, decided she wanted to be baptised and chose full immersion baptism.
The Revd Lesley Hewish, Priest in Charge for Tyndale Benefice, says, “Rachel joined our congregation last summer, along with her life partner, Shelley, who has already been baptised. It has been a real joy walking with these two women on their journey with Jesus.
“Rachel’s request for full immersion baptism set me a challenge in finding a pool and praying that the weather would be kind (which it was).
“Shelley helped me baptise Rachel, so we all got very wet; and so did the rest of the congregation as everyone renewed their baptism vows, which involved a branch of rosemary and lots of baptism pool water being shared.”
Rachel and Shelley’s families came from near and far to support them along with members of the wider worshipping community who also gathered at St Mary’s for their special day.
Lesley says, “This was done on the same day we celebrated St Mary’s 740th year of dedication. I wonder if there have ever been any other full immersion baptisms at our church in that time? It caused quite a stir and our congregation was buzzing.”
Rachel and Shelley are looking forward to preparing for confirmation in 2024.
Lesley says, “We are praying this will be the first of many full immersion baptisms and more members of our community explore together what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We are therefore confident that more candidates will join them for confirmation next year. God is doing amazing things.”