Baptism Celebrations in Bristol
4th January 2018
On Sabbath 16 December, Bristol Central church was once again privileged to witness the power of the Holy Spirit, as five young people made a public declaration of faith to follow Christ, as they were baptised in front of a packed church of friends and family. With the majority of the candidates being under the age of 19, it really brought home the importance of our youth making decisions for the Lord, at the right time.
The first of the candidates was Grace Mwilima. Grace was brought up in the Church, and first came to Bristol Central with her family, when she was 8 years old.
She said "I just feel very happy, but more than anything, I feel very calm. There's this overwhelming peace. I feel like I've really made the right decision." Speaking of her decision, she said "The thing which really connected was going to the Youth Congress. I felt like this is where I'm meant to be. I don't want to be anywhere else, so there's no point delaying my decision. Congress really brings young people to Christ, and makes sure people are on fire for God. Sometimes when you've been brought up in the Church, you can take things for granted, but the most important thing is to have that relationship with God, and for me, in the past few years I've really tried to establish that for myself."
Her mother, a fourth generation Adventist, Martha Mwilima, said "We feel blessed. Despite going through challenges, we just kept praying. I feel very happy, and I'm very proud of Grace."
The congregation were delighted to see the second candidate, 9-year-old Danica Dankwa, enter the waters of baptism. Like her brother, Declan, who had been baptised the year before, she had wanted to be baptised for some time, but her parents had wanted her to wait and be sure of her decision. Proud father, Bristol Central First Elder Kwasi Dankwa, said "I'm really happy. Danica has wanted to be baptised for some time now. I think she understands what she is doing now. She's more mature, so I'm happy she waited for a bit." In fact, two years previously, when Danica was only 7, she supported a church singing group in the main shopping centre in Bristol, and was talking to and witnessing to passers-by. Her mother, Vivian, also emotionally recounted how much help Danica was to her around the home, and how caring she was.
Nineteen-year-old, Angela Adjei from the North Bristol church, was baptised next. "I feel excited, and I feel part of the family", she said after the service. She went on to explain that it was something she had been thinking about for a while, including at previous baptisms, wondering whether she should go forward. She is now considering how she can take a more active role in church.
Her family were delighted, as their son Daniel had also been baptised earlier in the year. William Adjei, speaking of both his children who were baptised, said he was very happy, as he recognised how difficult it is for young people in today's society. He shared that "baptism is not a graduation, it's an initiation. It's a challenge because the devil doesn't want youth to commit to Christ, as in most circumstances, he can control and manipulate them very easily. We continue to pray and study with them, so just as they have accepted Christ, they will also walk with Him."
Two Pathfinders, William Adjei, 14-year-old, brother of Angela, and 12-year-old Kieran Atkinson, also from North Bristol, were baptised. They wore their Pathfinder uniforms, flanked by an honour guard of fellow Pathfinders.
Kieran had been attending church with his mum and nan since he was 6 years old, and settled in North Bristol church in 2012. After attending for a while, he joined the Pathfinders, and enjoyed it. It was a positive influence, which helped his decision to be baptism.
Pastor Royston Smith commented after the proceedings, saying he was "excited about the fact that these young people had chosen to commit, and were actively involved in Bible study." Speaking on the importance of church events and programmes and engaging with young people, Pastor Smith said that "One of the things we are looking at for next year for our youth, is to change how we do church for them. We are having meetings with the young people to assess their needs, and see how the church can help them, together with arranging special youth speakers and programmes, so they don't just come to church, but they are part of church, and feel that the church loves them."
Following a rousing message of encouragement to the candidates which was presented by Elder Billy Odumuzor from North Bristol, the whole church gathered after the service to greet and welcome the new members, and encourage them to remain strong, now they had made their decision for Christ.
A selection of photographs, taken by Michael Brown, are available here.