The Baptism Department
In early August of 2018 we received a call asking if we would like to care for the baptism at the International Convention in Melbourne during the month of November 2019. Despite not knowing what would be involved, except that, like every other Department, we had a huge task on our hands, we all appreciatively accepted our new assignment.
Although it was still many months away, preparation began in earnest behind the scenes.
The mammoth task was divided into two main areas which were assigned to 8 key men:
- Front of House: this included obtaining baptism pools, organising photography & release forms, moving candidates from seating areas to change rooms, assigning attendants, baptisers and assistant towel holders
- Back of House: this took in the change rooms, attendants, change room assistants, spare towels & t-shirts, ensuring no candidates get lost on their journey to the pools, and caring for the clothes of 500 candidates while they’re being baptised!
A Few Hiccups
The 10 pools that were used for the baptism at the 2014 International Convention had mostly found new homes. Due to the cost in transporting them back to Melbourne, it was decided to have new pools fabricated locally.
We considered using 2-3 large swimming pools, which would have saved dedicated funds. However, Marvel Stadium informed us that, not only would they need to undertake costly underpinning of the playing surface so as to protect the structure
, they also wouldn’t be able to heat the pools! We couldn’t have our candidates getting baptised in the temperatures Melbourne seems to produce, like a possible 10 degrees or up to 40 degrees!
Large pools were no longer an option, and when we looked at fabricating small pools similar to those used in 2014 using local construction companies, the costs were also proving prohibitive. So it was back to the drawing board…
Thankfully, a boiler maker in a local congregation very generously offered to do whatever he could to help. When we asked the question, “How would you feel about fabricating the pools?” His response was, “It would be my absolute privilege!” — a modern-day Oholiab! Full of the spirit, he went to work and our expected expenses were cut dramatically. We really felt Jehovah behind this project.
Although baptism is only an hour or so of the convention, it has proved to be like an ice-berg — so much going on under the surface that it’s difficult to quantify in a report like this.
In anticipation of hundreds of baptism candidates, all needing to be baptised in just over an hour, organisation is key. We need to get candidates from their seats to the change rooms, changed, baptised, photographed, then back to the change rooms and then their seats. So it has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. With sisters changing in one section of the stadium and brothers in another, over 200 pop-up change tents plus additional change areas are required. And attendants are needed every step of the way. So many volunteers were needed that we sourced them from interstate as well.
A large wall, while it may be immense in size, is still constructed one brick at a time. Indeed this International Convention has proved to be a huge wall! But with each person working in our department representing a brick, we really feel that Jehovah has blessed us with spiritual brothers and very capable men. The end product, seen by the audience, is a wonderfully constructed ‘wall’, all to the glory of our Great God, Jehovah!