Celebrating the New Birth of 26 Baptism Candidates
30 Dec 2021
On 5th December 2021 at 2PM, CERC held another baptism of the largest cohort yet to be seen – 26 candidates in total. There were almost 450 witnesses gathered, both physically and virtually for the event.
Most of the church members from the morning gathering crossed over to the garden of No. 32, the adjacent rented church premise to witness the ceremony. COVID precautions were maintained as the team set up the premise, hauling over large speakers, monitors, microphone stands and cabling from CERC Central. Seats were placed 1 meter apart, and a few large yellow canopies were set up along the nearby road to shelter friends and family who had turned up for the special occasion.
Umbrellas were quickly handed out by the ushers to the arriving guests as well (pictured above), as the sky had darkened, threatening an afternoon shower. The baptism candidates came dressed fully in black to signify the darkness of their old selves (pictured below).
Some of the baptism candidates had waited for years to get baptized, having taken the time to explain their personal decision to follow Christ to unbelieving family members. A few had waited patiently since the end of the last baptism class in 2020 due to the COVID lockdown. “I’m very nervous but also excited to finally be baptized. My baptism class was actually in October 2020, so it’s been a year and 2 months,” said Shanice Lye, one of the candidates.
Shanice Lye with her parents
Another candidate, Wendy, who became a Christian about 5-plus years ago, also shared how encouraged she was to be baptized with 25 other brothers and sisters in Christ. “I’m encouraged to know God worked in so many people’s lives. I hope after this baptism, we will persevere until our King comes again.”
Many of the candidates shared in their personal testimonies that life before Christ had been mostly about acquiescing to society’s expectations and living the way they had been raised – living ethically moral lives according to the accepted social standards i.e. being a good daughter, a good student, getting good grades in school and aiming to be successful in life by earning money. Most had some exposure to Christianity from family members and friends, but related that they had not treated God as their sovereign King, and mostly lived their own lives autonomously, apart from God’s Word. Much time and energy was devoted to chasing personal interests like dancing, watching Netflix, pursuing money (or the pursuits which promised to lead to money), and living in a self-centred way, treating God as “my genie from Aladdin,” as one candidate put it.
Others shared about being nominal Christians, growing up and going to church as a Sunday routine without truly understanding the gospel. One brother described the moment worship was explained to him from Romans 12 as “the first time I saw someone explain things by opening the bible, literally” although he had been attending church since childhood and had visited a few churches.
All of the candidates, though, found that learning Christ from the Scriptures gave them meaning in life whereas life before Christ had been purposeless. Each of them relayed feeling lost, somewhat floating through life, purposeless, not knowing why they were living the way they were.
Charmain Chan wrote in her personal baptism testimony, “After reading the Scriptures, I am amazed by His story, His cosmic plan towards humanity. Now, I know the purpose of my life which is to give Him the glory that He deserves with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. My life is not about myself but is all about God as He saved me, the undeserving one, to do good works for Him when I was still a sinner.”
The ceremony began at 2.35p.m. with a slight drizzle, emceed by Elder Mark Leong, with a live broadcast.
Elder Robin Gan then began the baptism liturgy, reading from the third chapter of John’s Gospel, and explained what it meant to be ‘born again’ and ‘born of the Spirit.’ This was followed by individual public declarations by the baptism candidates of their renouncing of “the empty show and false values of the world” that they used to live for, witnessed by their friends and families.
Clement Tan renouncing his old life, and committing to following Christ as King
The public renunciation is not mere ritual but is meant to be an outward reality and commitment to an inward reality of a new life committed to turning away from sin, following Christ and living for Him as King.
Jonathan Kan, in a victory pose, celebrating his new life in Christ as symbolised by baptism
After the baptism, pastor-in-training Jerome Leng and CERC’s General Manager, Penny Lai, prayed for the baptism cohort, for the men and the women respectively, thanking God for the new life given to them and asking for God to persevere these candidates in godliness in order for them to live boldly for truth.
This was followed by a prayer by Elder Joel Lee (pictured above), exhorting the newly baptized Christians to live for God wisely in the world, encouraging them to invest in the kingdom of God, and hold on to an eschatological hope, instead of having the same hope as the godless.
Elder Robin Gan ended the baptism ceremony exhorting all Christians present to remember Christ’s death and the resurrection by which all Christians have new life, and closed finally with the benediction.
Baptism candidates group photo after the ceremony
Baptism candidates post baptism. From left (back row): Kimberly, Yang Lin, Ching Fang, Ching Lin, Suet Ling. From left (front row): Shu Yan, Melody, Yu Cheng