John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 3:16
My two boys will be baptized on Easter Sunday. I view this as the start of their lifelong relationship with the church; a relationship I hope is as rich and rewarding as mine has been. I was baptized and confirmed in the warm and loving church family at Ginter Park longer ago than I care to admit (and I’m only 31). The memories I have of racing around the front lawn, climbing the jungle gym that has long been replaced, exploring the nooks and crannies of the back stairwells (a fine adventure if you have not done it yet), and singing in the choir were some of the best of my childhood.
I grew up in a youth group that embraced the idea that walking with God was a joyful experience. Serving the Lord was not something to be done somberly; bringing the joy of the Lord with you when serving is an incredibly effective evangelism tool. I’ve been racking my brain for specific examples of bringing joy on the many mission trips and local missions we did but all I can remember is the laughter and smiles that rarely left our faces.
This joy of the Lord born and fostered at Ginter Park still lives with me in the continuing relationships I have with some of the youth group members. I attended one’s wedding this year. Another I met regularly (and traveled over an hour to see) when I lived in Washington, DC. A third I was able to embrace at her brother’s memorial service. I’m friends with most of them on Facebook. We have long passed out of the doors of Ginter Park but Ginter Park has never really left us.
This Easter, I am sad to say that my boys will not be baptized at Ginter Park. We have found our local church family at Trinity Episcopal in Portsmouth, VA. But I am truly hopeful that they find the same love of God, the same lifelong friendships, the same spiritual community that I was lucky to have at Ginter Park.
Carrie Clark is an almost lifelong member of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church, and currently in denial about switching her membership. When not chasing after her two young sons, she is a freelance communications specialist and Assistant Editor at Military Newspapers of Virginia. If you can recall her front lawn, jungle gym, and back stairs activities, you also know her as the daughter of Rick and Amy.