Campbell River Baptist Church
260 South Dogwood Street Campbell River BC V9W 250-287-8831
After a fine night at Discovery Inn, I drove my Harley up Dogwood past the RCMP. I suspect the nearby police keep the church folk in line when they get carried away singing Hallelulahs.
Campbell River Baptist Church is a big and very beautiful new church. A real community treasure. Big hall for it’s large congregation and lots of basement room for young people and recreational activities. It runs the Christian School next door too.
Barry greeted me making me feel welcome. He told me he was from Cumberland and he prayed daily that Jesus would help his town overcome the drug problem that was ravaging the children and young people. One of the church leaders joined us and told me about the church’s Christian Recovery program they were organizing in conjunction with Nanaimo’s Edgewood Treatment Centre.
I saw Bill Mewhort then as he headed back of the alter so I excused myself and followed him to the baptismal staging area. We shook hands and hugged. “It’s real good of you to come.” he said. I gave him the NIV leather bound Bible I’d brought for the occasion. Then I left him to prepare himself.
Baptism is a celebration for sure but a serious matter, nonetheless. Bill, in his late 70’s looked a bit like a groom before the wedding.
The band was incredible. Praise music at it’s finest. Voices and hearts uplifted. A young dancer reminded me of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet students. Such fine interpretation.
Seven in all were baptised. A video of each of them with their words of decision proceeded the whole body immersion.
Raised Baptist I was taken back to childhood when I thought our pontificating minister seemed to forget he had a new member under water. None of these came up looking like they needed CPR. In fact the young people were smiling. Bill looked thankful.
Later the Lead Pastor, Randy Evans, presided over communion and the congregation joined in bread and grape juice.
At the end of the service I joined Bill as everyone came over to congratulate him. Agnes and I found ourselves reminiscing about our own baptisms which then reminded me of the time I swam in Jordan River
The pastoral team included Stan Parker, Robin Martens, Mark Myles. A lot of kids were present. Young people and old people and everyone happy. Someone invited us down stairs for burgers and salad. There Marsha made Bill feel welcome while I had the priviledge of meeting Dr. Carl Ivey. He and Bill's sister Catherine's friend, Sharon were a delight.
Next to me a young pastor with three lovely children and a beautiful wife was interested in my Harley having just got started himself with the indomitable, Honda Rebel . "A group of us road down to Courtenay for breakfast one day." I told him of the Westcoast Biker Church and how Terry the minister had blessed the thousands of bikes in the Ride for Dad. "There's certainly enough riders, we might be able to get a ministry going here."
“A lot of things just started happening that made me realize that something more than me was in charge," Bill told me. " I think my daughter marrying a fine Christian man and seeing how their lives turned out. The people at this church really welcomed me and made me feel cared for. I attended their Sunday School, something called Christianity 101. It was good. It all helped me make the decision. Having friends like you, too. “ he said.
After visiting Bill and the dogs at his place, I got back on the motorbike and headed south to the ferry. Campbell River Baptist Church was a fine experience. I was once President of the Almagamated Baptist Youth Groups of Winnipeg. Somehow I never found another Baptist church like my Mother's and Aunt's. The United Church and now the Anglican. If I lived in Campbell River though I’d probably have stayed Baptist. It’s that kind of welcoming church. Involved in the concerns of the community, caring for children and old people, active in the lives of the young people and quite simply filled with the spirit.
I was happy for Bill. To have such a community. What a friend we have in Jesus!