MAn overcomes tough times to celebrate fresh start at community baptism
Accompanied by her friend Jason Mann (left), Hayden Riel of Norwich gets baptized by Pastor Brian Beattie during the 6th annual Baptism in the Square on Sunday in downtown Brantford. Brian Thompson/The Expositor
Roland Murray took another step towards improving his life on Sunday.
“I feel fantastic, on top of the world,” the 31-year-old Brantford resident said after taking the plunge at the 6th annual Baptism in the Square on Sunday. “This is something I really wanted to do.
“I want to show my love for the Lord and I wanted to do it publicly.”
Murray, who was baptized as a child, has gone through some tough times in recent years, losing his job, apartment and all of his money. He was homeless for a couple of weeks before starting to turn his life around.
“I met a Christian friend who helped turn me around,” Murray said. “I’ve got a job now, and I’m rebuilding my life thanks to the Lord.
“That’s why this is so important to me, to be baptized again and rededicate my life to the Lord.”
Murray was among the first to be baptized at Sunday’s event, held annually by Freedom House Church. The event included a service, an explanation of the meaning of baptism, live music and an invitation to embrace Christianity.
Baptism aims to connect people to their faith on a deeper level and while different denominations have variations on the act, the use of water and being submerged is part of the ritual.
Freedom House is a ministry that emphasizes kindness, has a major focus on community work and outreach. It is located in Market Square and holds numerous events throughout the year including Frosty Fest and the annual Easter Eggstravaganza. Both events draw huge crowds to Harmony Square in Brantford’s downtown.
“This is our sixth annual Baptism in the Square and it’s an important event because I think all of us have a longing inside, a knowledge that there is a God who loves us,” Dave Carrol, community pastor at Freedom House, said. “This event – Baptism in the Square – gives people an opportunity to act on that feeling.
“It gives them a chance to take that step and maybe open some doors for themselves.”
The event generally attracts a large crowd. Between 50 to 80 people get baptized at the event with the help of Freedom House lead pastor Brian Beattie and other representatives of Freedom House.
Jenn Baldwin attended the event with her son Joshie Anderson.
“I came today because my eight-year-old son, Joshie, wanted to get baptized,” Baldwin said. “He’s been talking a lot about it, off and on, for quite some time now so I thought this would be the right day for it.
“I’m proud of him.”