“Is there another?” Minister Freddie Creary calls out as he wades from the water at Spotts Beach with a newly baptized member of his flock.
“Is there another who will answer the call to serve the Lord?”
It’s an otherwise typical Sunday afternoon and the crowd of well-dressed worshippers from the Bethel Refuge Apostolic Church stand out amid the beachgoers in their swimsuits and T-shirts.
Tourists sit in the generous shade of the scattered palm trees, stretch out in the sun or snorkel in the warm, shallow water searching for sea turtles.
These ocean baptisms have become an almost weekly event at Spotts Beach. For many, the dramatic ceremony provides an interesting sideshow to a day at the beach.
For some, it is a more profound experience.
Julie Miller, a visitor from the U.S., was moved to ask to be baptized herself after witnessing a baptism at the beach last month.
According to Pastor Christopher Murray, five people were baptized that day, including four who made an on-the-spot decision after witnessing the ceremony.
“As the baptism was coming to close, an appeal was made, ‘Is there another?’ and folks just started coming out of nowhere,” he said.
“An elderly guy came forward and said for years he had been meaning to be baptized and he believed this was the moment. An American girl said the same morning she was praying and she asked the Lord to reveal himself to her. She too was baptized.”
Beach baptisms are nothing new in Cayman, but Pastor Murray says for his church they are becoming increasingly frequent. And this year is the first time he has noticed tourists joining in. Some are baptized on the spot in their swimsuits or in robes borrowed from the minister.
“What has really got me excited is the interest from tourists,” said Pastor Murray.
He said the church, which does not have a baptismal pool, had baptized more than 30 people since January – already more than the total for last year.
“It is thrilling, it is exciting. You have some naysayers, but most people on the beach are pleasant and folks are praising the Lord too.” He said the church’s philosophy was to bring the word of Jesus to the people. As well as outreach ministries at the prison and the hospital, it hosts street services.
“We decided we would be like Domino’s Pizza; we were not just waiting in the church for people to come to us. We were bringing the word of God to them.
“There are people that will not come to us, but Jesus tells us to go out on the highways and byways. We can get comfortable in our pews and forget what our duty really is.”
On a Sunday, a few weeks ago, Justin Wright, a young man who had lost the use of his legs, was baptized at the beach. Last Sunday, a girl from the Frances Bodden Children’s Home was baptized.
Pastor Murray says the church is keen to baptize anyone who is prepared to follow the words of St. Peter, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”