Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Daniel Venegas (far right), pastor of the Buckhannon church, introduces the newest members to the congregation, (left to right) Hanna Welch, Sheri-Lyn Sapp, Alan Wingfield, Benny Shifflett and Vann Parker, following their baptisms.

‘And Forbid Them Not’

Story by Liz Bailey

Daniel Venegas, district pastor of Mountain View Conference's Buckhannon, Braxton, and Glenville churches, planned to baptize four people at the Buckhannon church late last year.

One by one, the candidates entered the water, ranging from young to old—the oldest being 91-yearold Benny. As Venegas finished the baptisms, he asked if there was anyone else who wanted to commit their lives to Jesus. A little hand shot up. It was Vann Parker, a first grader who had been raised in the church. Venegas smiled and acknowledged him, stating, “That’s great, we will talk.”

But Parker’s hand stayed up, his smile still beaming. Looking at the child’s face, Venegas prayed, Should I baptize him now or wait? Parker hadn’t had formal Bible studies, but he had attended Sabbath School and church since birth.

“I felt the Holy Spirit weighing heavily on my heart that I needed to baptize him then and there,” Venegas says. “I was surprised to hear my voice calling Parker to come forward and saw him eagerly walking up the aisle. [As he was getting ready], I told the congregation a story of a child who once wanted to get baptized but was withheld and never made the decision again. I told them I did not want to be that person, as I recalled the words of Jesus: ‘[And] forbid them not.’”

As Parker walked into the water, Venegas asked him, “Do you love Jesus?” Without hesitation, Parker exclaimed, “Yes!” and he was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

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