“It is Joy, Unspeakable Joy “ – says Elder after Baptizing his eighty two year old mother on Special LTM Baptism Day
Written by: Philiip E. L. Castell - Director, Communication, Public Affairs & Religious Liberty | Wednesday, March 15, 2017
For Elder Michael Vernal and the members of the Regent Street SDA Church, March 11, 2017 will long be remembered as a very special day in the life of the church.
For starters, history will record that this was the first time that Elder Vernal ever baptized anyone and to top it off, his first candidate was his mother with whom he had studied the bible and shared the word of God for more than thirty years.
“I was more than overjoyed,” Vernal said in an interview after baptizing his mother at the Regent Street Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Today has been a tremendous day for me. The opportunity that was afforded me to do the baptism was a tremendous joy. It was joy. Unspeakable joy,” said Vernal who has been the first elder of the Regent Street SDA Church for more than fifteen years.
Being an elder in the Seventh-day Adventist Church for so many years, Michael Vernal would have attended numerous baptismal services, participated and assisted the pastor in sharing the emblems of the broken body of Christ through the Communion service on numerous occasions and even lead out in evangelistic campaigns and outreach events where he was the preacher. His vast experience however never included baptizing anyone which made the special Lord Transform Me baptismal service for elders who had worked with candidates extra special for him.
Vernal’s mom was just as happy to be part of the historic baptism with her son when we caught up with her after the service.
“I am feeling happy, I am feeling light. This was a day that I longed for,” said Citrian Smith who was previously baptized in a Sunday church.
before becoming convinced of the importance of observing the seventh day Sabbath according to the teachings of the Bible.
“Now I know that the seventh day is the day on which you are to worship God because God rested on the seventh day from all his labor so that is why I made up my mind after going into several churches,” said the newly baptized mom with her son by her side.
“I asked the Lord to show me the right church and on this day I am glad that I have become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and with the strength and faith of the Lord, I know I will go on to the end.”
That he was able to baptize his mother as his first candidate will be one of those memories that will be difficult to erase. Elder Vernal and his wife Dr. Lorraine Vernal, who currently serves the SDA in Jamaica as the Director for Women, Children and Adolescents’ Ministries, have given outstanding service at the Regent Street SDA Church and to the Adventist Church in East Jamaica Conference. Their two adult daughters have also remained faithful to the Lord and are committed to the Church.
Elder Vernal also had the opportunity of baptizing a husband and wife couple, Fiona Wright-Green and John Green who were recently married by church pastor Kahnai Lumbsden who was right there by the pool side to assist the new baptizer should the need arise.
Vernal thanked the leadership of the SDA Church at the Inter-American Division for the initiative to allow elders to baptize persons they had worked with on this special baptism day.
“Today I am elated and I know the church will be better for these initiatives of having local elders participating in this type of service. I am happy and I know heaven is rejoicing, my mom is happy and I know that by the grace of God she will remain faithful to him,’’ he said.
While March 11, 2017 was not the first time that elders in East Jamaica Conference were allowed to baptize candidates with whom they had studied, it was the first time that so many elders had embraced the challenge to prepare someone for baptism on this special day of baptism and celebration across Jamaica and the Inter-American Division.
Of the one hundred and five persons baptized on the special LTM Baptism Sabbath, eighty five were baptized by elders in East Jamaica Conference. Fifty five elders from eighteen of the thirty one pastoral districts across the Conference participated in the special baptism. The facts reveal that on this day, more elders were in the pool doing baptisms than pastors.
Conference President, Dr. Eric Nathan was delighted for what had transpired and said he believes this foreshadowed a time that was not far away when the church would be growing at such a rapid rate that enough pastors would not be available to handle the numbers.
“I am excited that we are getting a small glimpse of what total membership involvement (TMI) is all about,” said Pastor Nathan.
“As I went from church to church and listened to elders speak of the joys of baptizing people with whom they had worked including their own mothers, daughters and family members, I am very happy for what is happening. This seems to be opening the door for greater things and I hope I will live to see the time when there will not be enough pastors for the amount of people to be baptized,” Nathan said. “This seems to be an indication that we are heading in the right direction.”