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Weekend of Joy: Four Baptisms in the Guadalupe River

Engaging in mission first, new church development attracts unchurched and dechurched into worship as they affirm their new life in Jesus Christ

October 27, 2011

A woman is baptized by other people.

Melissa was baptized by immersion. She was moved by the love of God evidenced through the pastoral care that Community Fellowship gave her aunt. —Photos courtesy of Community Fellowship.

As told to Paul Seebeck by Community Fellowship’s organizing evangelist, the Rev. Helen Boursier

In late September of 2011, Community Fellowship Presbyterian Church, a new church development in New Braunfels, Texas, went to the Guadalupe River for four baptisms — one sprinkle, one pouring and two immersions. The congregation went to the Guadalupe River for the first time in March 2009 — barely three months after their first service of worship — and the invitation/option for baptism in the Guadalupe became part of their DNA.

The newly baptized are from unchurched and dechurched backgrounds and came to affirm faith in Jesus Christ through the missional praxis of this new church development. Community Fellowship is a new paradigm church which begins in mission by engaging in the needs of the suburban community-at-large; then moves to worship and then back to mission. Reformed in theology, worship is more like summer camp and includes a blend of the ecumenical faith traditions represented by the racially, culturally and ecumenically diverse group.

Below are pictures of each baptism, with a brief story of how each became connected to Community Fellowship, affirming new life in Jesus Christ.

Several people baptize a baby in a river.

Baby Mayala's parents came to Community for the July Blessing of the Animals Service, reaffirming their faith shortly before their daughter's baptism by sprinkling.

Baby Malaya’s parents had not connected with a church since their relocation to Texas several years earlier. They made a reaffirmation of faith shortly before their daughter was baptized by sprinkling. The family came to Community via the July Blessing of the Animals Service and then VBS in August.

A toddler is baptized in a river.

3-year-old Emily was baptized by pouring.

Emily, 3, was baptized by pouring, and her mother, Melissa, was baptized by immersion. This family came to Community because of the the church’s pastoral care and TLC for “Aunt Bev,” who had a double mastectomy in May. Melissa had never participated in a church and was moved by the love of God evidenced through the pastoral care that Community gave her aunt.

A boy is baptized by several people.

11-year-old Nick was baptized by immersion. He came to Community through the first backyard VBS in the summer of 2009.

Nick, 11, was baptized by immersion. He came to Community through the first backyard VBS in the summer of 2009 and attended the missional events for children for two years before becoming a regular participant in worship and responding to God’s call through baptism.

Editor’s Note: Initially Community Fellowship began in July 2008 with no funding, no building, no land and no people — which is known as “a parachute drop.” Launched and blessed by Mission Presbytery, Synod of the Sun, the General Assembly Mission Council and the office of Evangelism and Church Growth, they received a $100,000 mission program grant in 2009 (payable over seven years). 

The gathering group purchased a former llama ranch in September of 2008, gradually turning the rustic location into a welcoming place for ministry, mission and worship. Many churches in San Antonio and Austin made Community part of their mission, helping with various aspects — such as clearing trees, tearing down fences, hanging drywall and donating items like chairs, tables, speakers, a sound system and a refrigerator.

Community Fellowship’s organizing evangelist, the Rev. Helen Boursier, is writing her Ph.D. doctoral dissertation on the role of mission in the postmodern Church.

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