A Christian school in North Carolina celebrated and then had to apologize after baptizing over 100 students without first securing permission from their parents.
On the morning of September 1, some students were baptized at Northwood Temple Academy as scheduled. However, as part of Spiritual Emphasis Week, the offer was spontaneously made to others who had not been so scheduled, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
The invitation inspired the other students at the Fayetteville, NC school and more than 100 middle and high school students ended up coming forward to be baptized. But not all parents were thrilled upon hearing what had transpired.
“I feel it in my bones, You’re about to move!” a Facebook post by the Academy noted of the event. “Today we had over 100 middle and high school students spontaneously declare their faith and get baptized today. We will have more pictures of these powerful moments posted over the next couple of days!”
Liz Ray of Northwood Temple Academy, described as a pastor’s wife by Daily Mail, reportedly wrote in a Sept. 1 Facebook post, to the reported consternation of some parents and joy of others:
“This morning’s baptisms was closing Spiritual Emphasize week and there were only two souls scheduled to getting baptized. All week long the HS and MS teachers and administration poured themselves out in obedience to Father God. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit stirred the hearts of the HS and MS students and they began to respond to Him to make a declaration of faith —a public declaration of their salvation in Christ. But there weren’t enough towels and the students kept going up wanting to get baptized! We tried to get the towels dry enough for the next person. However, over 100 students responded. May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
“And yes, I got a little happy on my feet praising and thanking God for the privilege of witnessing such an amazing work the Lord did today,” Ray added.
Baptism is a sacrament of the Christian religion. Though some may assume that if a parent sends their child to a Christian school that he or she would be in agreement with their child making the ultimate profession of faith and taking a vow to follow Jesus Christ, this is not necessarily the case. Some parents may send their children for the quality of the general education rather than the associated religious education.
In addition, parents who may be quite overjoyed that their child chose baptism may be very disappointed or even upset that they were not there to witness that momentous and emotional event in the life of their child.
“My daughter calls me from the school and says, ‘Mama, can you bring me some dry clothes? I got baptized today,'” a parent told The Fayetteville Observer. “I said, ‘What?'”
One parent told the news outlet that they felt they had missed out on an important event in their child’s life while another felt like it “undid the baptism that had already taken place at their church.”
“This is what I think they should have done,” a parent who remained unidentified said. “They should have corralled the kids in the back of the church, another room — somewhere — and said, ‘We understand your desire to get this done. We’d love for your families to be here and present with you.”
For these reasons Renee McLamb, head of the Academy, sent a letter to the families with an apology and an explanation.
“The Spirit of the Lord moved and the invitation to accept the Lord and be baptized was given and the students just began to respond to the presence of the Lord,” McLamb wrote in a letter that was obtained by the Observer, adding that “it was not the intention of any faculty member to do anything behind a parent’s back or in any kind of secret way.”
“I do understand that parents would desire to be a part of something so wonderful happening in the lives of their children, and so I apologize that we did not take that into consideration in that moment,” McLamb said. “I pray that at the end of the day we will all rejoice because God truly did a work in the lives of our students.”
The Northwood head of school told the Observer that the students’ reaction was unexpected.
“We were not expecting such an overwhelming response to the message that was spoken, but as a mother, I certainly can empathize with why some parents were upset.”
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