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Baptism And Microphones

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from our friend Paul Wilkinson. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @PaulW1lk1nson. Many thanks to Paul for sharing this perspective on worship with us!

Monday morning began watching Coldplay on The Today Show playing on the street in NYC in the middle of a rainstorm. (So much for that acoustic piano!)

Watching the rain soaked guitars and microphones reminded me of Kyle Lake.

On October 30th, 2005, Kyle Lake, pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, was electrocuted as he reached out to adjust a microphone while performing a baptism. He left behind his wife Jennifer, and three young children. (UBC was the church founded in 1995 by Christian music artists Chris Seay and David Crowder.) You can read more about Kyle, the accident, and the church here and here and here.

Months later, the family launched a lawsuit against the company that did work on the water heater in the baptismal tank. You can read more on that here. I want to focus on the microphone/baptism issue which will be more common to more churches. (These links are simple “first page” links from a Google search; see the comments re. the resolution of that lawsuit.)

When I read of Kyle’s death, his widow and young children, I immediately pumped out an e-mail broadcast to as many leaders as I knew in churches where baptism by immersion is practiced. I targeted pastors, heads of worship teams, sound crew, and anyone else I knew who might be in a position to rig up a microphone anywhere near a large body of water.

As horrified as I was by the story, I was determined that we all learn from it.

This morning, I attended a baptism service at one of the churches that was on my e-mail list and — you guessed it — they had a live, hard-wired microphone on a stand far too close to the baptismal tank for me to comfortably enjoy what took place. I sat there cringing — and a bit of praying, but mostly cringing — the whole time.

A cordless microphone would have put me much more at ease, and would have put the two pastors and the four people baptized much more deeply inside the safety zone.

So here’s what you do. Immediately, send an e-mail to anyone in your sphere of influence telling them to link to this item at this blog. I know this particular exercise is neither current news nor packed with profound insight; but this is what I felt I needed to write today.

I never, never, never, never want to have to say, “I told you so.” Not on this one.

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