Bay of­fers heal­ing, re­birth

Com­mu­nity bap­tism held in North Beach

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By TA­MARA WARD tward@somd­news.com

For 20-year-old Ash­leigh LaPerch of Deale, a quiet stroll in North Beach turned into a life-chang­ing event.

“I just came out on the board­walk and it led me here — to God’s grace,” emoted LaPerch about her per­sonal jour­ney that day.

LaPerch was one of two walk-ons who joined 53 can­di­dates in the in­au­gu­ral Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay on Satur­day. The faith-based event was ded­i­cated to re­birth, for­give­ness and re­newal.

Or­ga­nizer Karen McConell-Jones said she re­ceived a call­ing well over a year ago to host the bap­tism.

“I was on my 40-day fast and I al­ways try to make sure I lis­ten to God to hear his mes­sage and his pur­pose for me,” Mc- Con­nell-Jones said. “It was a time for peace and heal­ing in our com­mu­nity … be­cause of cor­rup­tion, vi­o­lence and the shoot­ing in [New­town, Conn.]. I thought of a bap­tism and I’m from the South and what bet­ter way to do it than the ole fash­ioned way — to go to the river so we can come to­gether

as a com­mu­nity.”

Mul­ti­ple churches were in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the com­mu­nity bap­tism. Seven churches of many de­nom­i­na­tions par­tic­i­pated in the Chris­tian event. Apos­tle Den­nis Pow­ell of the Heaven on Earth Wor­ship Min­istries in Lau­rel of­fi­ci­ated over the in­ter­faith cer­e­mony.

“You are part of some­thing great,” said Pow­ell, greet­ing the crowd of more than 100 par­tic­i­pants and on­look­ers. “It’s bet­ter when we do it to­gether. One thing that we are for­get­ting to do as a peo­ple, as a na­tion, is pray. We must come back to a place of prayer.”

Prophet Macxin Mwamba wa Ngoy, se­nior pas­tor of The Rev­e­la­tion Church in Sil­ver Spring, per­formed a scrip­ture read­ing in French from John 3 where he told the crowd that in or­der to en­ter the king­dom of God they must be born of wa­ter and the Spirit for a “mirac­u­lous heal­ing.”

Mary­land Del. Jose­line Peña-Mel­nyk (D-Anne Arun­del, Prince Ge­orge’s) and Del. Dar­ryl Barnes (D-Prince Ge­orge’s) pre­sented in­di­vid­ual ci­ta­tions from the Mary­land Gen­eral As­sem­bly. North Beach town coun­cil mem­ber Jean Ha­gan wel­comed the group and read a procla­ma­tion from Mayor Mark Frazer ap­plaud­ing the group’s ef­forts “to pro­mote peace and heal­ing in the com­mu­nity.”

Re­tired airman and Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor James Dula tes­ti­fied about the power of God and his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with prayer dur­ing a se­vere ill­ness.

“When you wake up to­mor­row, wake up with new shoes on. Wake up with a new at­ti­tude. Wake up with joy in your heart. … Wake up and thank Je­sus Christ for sav­ing you,” said Dula, speak­ing to those be­ing bap­tized and en­cour­ag­ing them to find a men­tor to guide them on their new path.

Mem­bers of the faith com­mu­nity re­leased 15 doves over the bay to sig­nify the pu­rity of Christ and God’s prom­ises.

“As soon as Je­sus was bap­tized he went up out of the wa­ter. At that mo­ment heaven was open and he saw the spirit of God de­scend­ing like a dove and light­en­ing on him...” Pow­ell read from John 3:16-17.

Scores of peo­ple de­scended upon the beach to watch as can­di­dates one by one were bap­tized. Watch­ing the cere- mony from the dock was 89-year-old Ella Jacks of North Beach. Jacks was ac­com­pa­nied by her daugh­ter, Sue Jacks, who held an um­brella over her mother dur­ing the en­tire cer­e­mony to shield her from the sun and the 96-de­gree tem­per­a­tures.

Each bap­tism par­tic­i­pant was min­is­tered to by a leader of a church com­mu­nity be­fore be­ing dipped into the warm wa­ters of the bay. For the Rev. Joe Jimer­son of the Springs of Liv­ing Wa­ter in La Plata, the event was truly a fam­ily af­fair. Two of the nine can­di­dates for bap­tism were his fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing 9-year-old grand­daugh­ter Ta­mara Jimer­son and his adult daugh­ter, Leah On­uoha. Onuha had been bap­tized as a child, but re­newed her faith and com­mit­ment dur­ing the day.

Cel­e­brat­ing her re­birth on her 14th birth­day was Kiera Robin­son of Wal­dorf. Robin­son and her mother, Marie Thomas, had planned to get bap­tized to­gether. Six­teenyear-old Kevon High and his mother, Mary High, of Ch­e­sa­peake Beach were in­tro­duced to the event through the Ch­e­sa­peake City of Praise Church in North Beach un­der the lead­er­ship of Pas­tor Vi­o­let Jones, took the lead on the re­cep­tion and re­served the board- walk with the Town of North Beach.

Young and old alike par­tic­i­pated in the re­birth. Sev­enty- nine- year- old Prince Frederick res­i­dent Robert H. Wills, who learned about the event from his daugh­ter, be­came over­whelmed with emo­tion as he ap­proached the wa­ter.

“I al­ways wanted to get bap­tized. So, I came out to get bap­tized,” shared Wills, who is now look­ing for a church home.

McCon­nell-Jones ini­tially planned this as a one-time event but has now been en­cour­aged to make it an an­nual cel­e­bra­tion.

STAFF PHOTO BY TA­MARA WARD

Leah On­uoha prays mo­ments be­fore her bap­tism in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay at the Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism event held in North Beach on Aug. 13. Onuho, who was re­new­ing her bap­tism, gave the hon­ors to her fa­ther, the Rev. Joe Jimer­son, right, of the Springs of Liv­ing Wa­ter Church in La Plata.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TA­MARA WARD

Karen McCon­nell-Jones per­forms a litur­gi­cal dance to “Rise Up” by An­dra Day for her sis­ter, who is re­cov­er­ing from an ill­ness. McCon­nell-Jones or­ga­nized the Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism event in North Beach on Aug. 13.

Tata Il­lunga rises out of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay im­me­di­ately af­ter be­ing bap­tized at the Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism event held in North Beach on Aug. 13. Pas­tors Tony Mas­samba and As­sani Saidi of the Rev­e­la­tion Church in Sil­ver Spring of­fi­ci­ated over Il­lunga’s bap­tism.

Six­teen-year-old Kevon High of Ch­e­sa­peake Beach emerges from the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay dur­ing his bap­tism. High and his mother, Mary, both got bap­tized at the Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism event in North Beach on Aug. 13.

Pas­tors and min­is­ters from var­i­ous churches re­lease 15 doves over the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay rep­re­sent­ing the pu­rity of Christ and God’s prom­ises. The mem­bers of the faith com­mu­nity and lo­cal pub­lic of­fi­cials came to­gether for the Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism event in North Beach on Aug. 13.

Leah On­uoha re­joices mo­ments af­ter her bap­tism in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay at the Com­mu­nity Holy Bap­tism event held in North Beach on Aug. 13.

A group gath­ers in North Beach to be bap­tized in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay on Aug. 13.

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