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Immersed in belief



Published: Wed, August 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Full-immersion baptism symbolizes a new life for people who have given their allegiance to Christ.

By ELISE MCKEOWN SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

CANFIELD -- "It was different than anything I had ever gone through," Andrea McConnaughy said about her baptism by immersion.

"It's just a really meaningful experience. It's the way Jesus did it, so you feel really like you're making a commitment."

The basis for the beliefs and practices of the Baptist faith are the Scriptures, said the Rev. Tom Fennell, associate pastor of adult ministry and care at Old North Church of Canfield.

"And when you go to the Scriptures, it's very clear that the baptism that is spoken about in the New Testament, the far majority of times, is what we call believer's baptism, which is immersion, said the Rev. Mr. Fennell.

"It's a symbol, and the symbolism cannot be portrayed in any other form of baptism such as pouring or sprinkling. As you are lowered into the water and come back out, it illustrates the burial and resurrection of Christ," Mr. Fennell said.

New life: It also symbolizes the new life of people who have given their allegiance to Christ, he added.

McConnaughy, of Canfield, said she had attended another church for 20 years before trying Old North. Although she was not unhappy at her old church, McConnaughy said she needed something different.

"I just felt like I was in the same pattern and I was going to church because I felt I should, but not really getting anything out of it. I felt I needed to change to find something that had more meaning for me," McConnaughy said.

Jane Gomori, of Boardman, originally went to Old North because someone she knew was speaking there. Although she was not looking for a new church at the time, she found that she, and her family, liked the sermons and wanted to hear more.

"Certain circumstances brought us there, and we just kept coming back," Gomori said.

Attended class: Before deciding to be baptized earlier this year, McConnaughy and Gomori attended a six-week class offered at Old North.

According to Mr. Fennell, the purpose of this class is two-fold. "It's for newcomers to find out about Old North, who we are and what we believe," he said.

The class also helps people decide if Old North is the right church for them, he said, as well as being a prerequisite to membership.

McConnaughy found the class to be helpful. "When I started going to the church I didn't understand much about the Baptist religion, and the class explained everything, what the Baptists believe, why they have immersion."

Gomori, who attended a different church for about 30 years, agreed. Baptism by immersion is "probably the one area where everyone who's coming from a different background is a little hesitant. But once you read the different Scriptures on it, it makes sense."

Gomori, her husband and their two adult children were all baptized.

"We all went to the classes together," Gomori said. "It was a nice thing to join as a family. It was real special."

McConnaughy said the baptism takes place in the front of the church.

"You walk down some steps into an opening that is full of water, and you go all the way under," she said.

"I think it's a decision that you really have to take seriously," "When you decide, you know that because Jesus was baptized that way, you want to live your life like he did," McConnaughy said.

Gomori added, "Once you are baptized you have a spirit-filled feeling. You know you are one of God's children."




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