Letter to Pastor Al Tervo of Bethel Baptist Missionary Church
On the topics of Altar Calls and Baptism
15 January 2008
Dear Pastor Tervo,
My family and I visited Bethel Missionary Baptist Church a few weeks ago (3 Feb) as part of a project we’re doing. My husband and I were raised in evangelical Presbyterian homes and became Episcopalians as adults. We realized that we’d inadvertently raised a “cradle-Episcopalian”, and decided that we wanted to introduce our daughter to the wider body of Christ before she decides to be confirmed in the Episcopal church. As part of the project, and because the different churches we’ve visited (and will visit) have very different practices, we’ve had many questions that can’t be answered with one visit.
The first question was if the altar call at the end of the service is a regular part of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church’s service? It was the first one our daughter had seen, and we explained afterward, that often, one or more people will respond to the call to Christ, come to the front, and are then prayed for and with by the clergy and members of the congregation.
The second question was about baptism. The gentleman who led the final prayer alluded to anyone responding to the altar call having the opportunity to be baptized. If there had been someone present who had wished to accept Christ and be baptized, would the baptism have happened that same day, or be scheduled for a later time? What is the process for being baptized at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church?
Thank you for your consideration of my questions, and the hospitality of your congregation.