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Keith Burden

one to one

The Baptistry


One to One is a regular feature of ONE Magazine. Written by Keith Burden, executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the column explores life, ministry...and grandkids!


The baptistry was officially used for the first time on Sunday, February 24, 1980. Thirty people had been baptized previously…all in an outdoor stream called Spring Creek. The small church building our congregation occupied did not have a baptistry.

In time the church outgrew the facility. Our flock decided to step out on faith and relocate. God graciously provided eight acres of property on the outskirts of our community. Construction began.

Those were exciting days! Much of the work was done with volunteer labor. The floor, the walls, the roof—all the details remain indelibly etched in my memory. I even recall placing the order for the baptistry. It was a fiberglass, aqua-colored, 750-gallon tank manufactured in Florida.

Never again would baptismal candidates have to wade into the frigid waters of Spring Creek to follow the Lord’s command. The new baptistry came equipped with a heater and circulating pump.

The church continued to grow throughout the construction phase. As the new facility was nearing completion we experienced revival. Seven people committed themselves to Christ. They were eager to follow the Lord in water baptism.




Although the church furniture had not yet arrived, the baptistry had been installed and was fully functional. A decision was made to proceed with a baptismal service at the new location. At that time there were no municipal codes or building inspectors to prohibit this.

So, on that wintery day in February a large crowd stood in the not-yet-finished auditorium and watched with excitement. Matthew, a lad who just celebrated his 10th birthday, was the very first to be plunged beneath the water in the new baptistry.

Since then, scores of individuals have made public profession of their faith through Christian baptism in that baptistry. It would be interesting to know exactly how many have passed through those waters and identified with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Many of them are actively involved in a local Free Will Baptist church today. Some are serving in vocational leadership positions as pastors, youth or music ministers. A few have gone to the mission field. As I peruse baptismal records from that era I see the names of some who have since died and gone to heaven.

Twenty-eight years of ministry have passed since then. I remember the day that the baptistry was delivered to the construction site…the wooden crate, protective plastic covering and box of fixtures. None of us could have imagined how God would use it. By the way, that baptistry continues to be utilized on a regular basis. In fact, it was called into service again on Sunday, December 21, 2008. My grandson, Keith Blair, was baptized!


Keith Burden is the executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists. Email Keith at To learn more about the National Association of Free Will Baptists, visit



©2009 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists