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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)

TITLE: Baptisms Are Not For the Faint-Hearted
By Mariane Holbrook


Lookin’ back on it, 73-year-old Reverend Billy James Brewster remarked sadly, “Just like Casey Stengel, I never shoulda showed up. I shoulda ‘stood’ in bed.”

Three people had been saved and Brother Billy was rushin’ to get them baptized. The Bible isn’t clear about what happens if the newly-saved die before bein’ baptized, but Billy wasn’t takin’ any chances.

The new converts chose not to be baptized in Long Bottom Creek but to use the church baptistry instead. The deaconesses swept out the spiders and empty coke cans and scrubbed the baptistry so the deacons could fill it with water. Emma Pruitt washed the ragged white graduation gowns donated to needy Baptist churches by the county high school.

The baptistry had a 2 foot high piece of clear glass across the front, so we could all be sure the dunkin’ was a complete immersion, I guess. There was a Methodist church in nearby Elkin so if people didn’t want to be dunked, they could go down there to be sprinkled. We called them “Wussy Christians” not to be baptized the Biblical way.

Come Sunday night, everything was ready. After some singin’ and a short sermon by Billy entitled, “Sprinklers Belong in Your Yard and Not in Your Church”, the three candidates for baptism were introduced to the congregation. Each one testified and promised to support the church with their attendance and their tithes. (The pastor’s “Welcome Letter” would gently remind them of that second promise.)

First, Billy led Sandra Billings down the steps into the water. Like the others she wore only her underwear under the heavy graduation gown which was okay because you couldn’t see through it. Billy put a folded, white handkerchief over Sandy’s nose and baptized her in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

“Amen” and “Praise God!” we shouted and clapped as she made her way up out of the baptistry.

Next came Clarence, her husband, who was slender and not likely to bother Billy’s annoying hernia.

Finally, it was Juney Orr’s turn and that’s when everything started coming apart at the seams, so to speak.

First of all, Juney was scared to death of water. Second of all, she was a mite short at 4 foot nine inches. And third of all, she weighed just shy of 225 pounds.

As Billy led Juney carefully down the steps, her graduation gown began to float on top of the water. It spread out like a huge parachute over the Battle of Normandy. Billy reached over quickly and placed his folded, white handkerchief over her nose and that’s when it happened.

“I’ve dropped her!” Billy yelled, reaching for the microphone. Instantly Matt Campbell, who runs the old sound system donated by the high school, banged down on the “off” button so hard that it created a boom loud enough that everyone thought the furnace had exploded in the basement. If Matt hadn’t cut the power instantly, Billy would have been electrocuted. What on earth was Billy a-thinkin’?

Terrified, everyone jumped to their feet, many rushing out the open front doors. Sister Ella Johnson, not realizing her foot was sleep, jumped up from her pew and crashed down between the rows of seats breaking her ankle. A fleeing church member knocked Shirley’s baby out of its carrier and the baby was screaming bloody murder.

And Brother Billy kept searching for Juney under that voluminous graduation gown, scared to death he might grab some part of her that might not be acceptable in church or anywhere else, for that matter.

Suddenly, two fat, little bare feet came straight up out of the water, churning and splashing furiously.

Four deacons sprinted over the altar rail and up onto the platform to assist. Finally, Billy felt what he hoped was an arm, pulled it up and it was Juney, with the graduation gown wrapped around her neck and her underwear a-showin’.

Now, Juney, having been a bar maid before she was saved, let go with a string of bar room words before she finally coughed and choked, “What are you people tryin’ to do? Drown me?”

It was pure, total chaos but it had two redeeming qualities:

In the back row, all the teenagers stood on their pews a-laughin’ and high-fivin’ each other, vowin’ to never miss another service at this crazy, excitin’ church.

And two weeks later, waiting her turn beside the baptismal fount at Elkin Methodist Church, stood a very contented Miss Juney Charlene Orr.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 10/25/07
Pretty cute!

The dialect was fun, but maybe a bit inconsistent--some paragraphs seemed to have none at all, and others were heavily dialect-icized.

I get a big kick out of the teens in the back of the church.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/27/07
I enjoyed very much this delightful read. The descriptions put us laughin' and high-fivin' right ,in the back row with the teens.
Sara Harricharan 10/29/07
Hilarious! I just loved this. It had just the right amount of character to it and was pretty well done. The descriptions were excellent, especially the ending and your title! ^_^
Loren T. Lowery10/30/07
This is sooo funny and reminds me of the song "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival" of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Great job of story telling and keep it up!
Allison Egley 10/30/07
Hehe This was great.

Just one little suggestion. The sentence "
It was pure, total chaos but it had two redeeming qualities:" breaks the mood a bit. You really don't need much re-wording to fix it. Try something like "It was pure chaos. And it led to a couple of things that no one was expecting. That's not too great either, really, but I can't think of anything better right now. :)

I loved this story. Although I must say, I felt a bit bad laughing. ;)
Joanney Uthe10/31/07
What a circus, um, I mean service! Loved every minute of it.
Anothervoice Sunstar10/31/07
I read this several times before finally deciding to comment. I think writing humor is very challenging. I must always remember that if the person the "humorous" events are happening to is NOT finding humor in the situation, then it is not going to come across to the reader as all that funny.

Three things prevent me from finding this story exceptionally funny. One is the fact that Juney was "scared to death of water". This is a REAL fear for some and she should have been applauded ever accepting the idea of believer's baptism. The second is the over-use of obesity as being funny. Third is the fact that the teens were standing on the pews to get a better view of someone in distress; a sad comment on our society.

I'm sorry that this is a true story. I could see the humor being salvaged if the ending could be changed, i.e. Juney coming out of the water thanking the pastor for being able to teach her how to swim in just three minutes, when she had been trying to learn all of her life...

Good luck in future attempts.

Pam Carlson-Hetland10/31/07
I found this absolutely delightful. All I can say is that it's sure a good thing that the Lord loves us all-- no matter how we come to Him and even when we laugh at the humanity of others, as the teenagers in the back pews of this story did.

I don't believe that any Christian author on this site would deliberately and maliciously poke humor. Being a person who is both afraid of water myself and have my own hassles with the bathroom scale, I can still see the humor in this story.

The characterization in this story is magnificent. Great writing!
Edy T Johnson 10/31/07
Sometimes humor happens right in front of our eyes, and you did a super job of giving us a peek (and of wishing we had been there to see it, too!). This character deserves a novel with her as major heroine. From Bar Maid to Baptismal Fount, I think every reader would like to get to know her better. She sounds like a genuine loveable star.
dub W10/31/07
Laughed till I had tears in my eyes. Seems like it was told by a minister who watched. The writing was great, the wit was perfect, loved every word and character. I know a couple more true stories just like this one, too bad we can only tell one.
Kristen Hester10/31/07
It is rare that a story causes me to laugh out loud--yours did. Bravo.

You have a talent. Please do not take up basketweaving. You still have some years of writing in you, granny.
Sheri Gordon10/31/07
Really good voice. I could see the whole thing unfolding -- slowly and painfully. I wanted to jump in and help, but I was too busy laughing. Cute story -- I love humor in the church.
Cassie Memmer11/01/07
Hilarious! I loved it and laughed out loud, which seldom happens when reading. And this: First of all, Juney was scared to death of water. Second of all, she was a mite short at 4 foot nine inches. And third of all, she weighed just shy of 225 pounds. is just the facts, not demeaning at all and never mentioned again. No offense here. Just laughing myself silly, as I can see this very thing happening and even see myself in this account. It could have been me! LOL
Joy Faire Stewart11/01/07
Loved this...great job and congratulation!
c clemons11/01/07
I thought the story was cute and not at all offensive as one of the other commenters (And you thought I was a harsh reviewer):) Good job, and I loved the title.
Janice Cartwright11/01/07
In the eye of the beholder is certainly true for me here. I don't think any other of your readers saw what I did. Your scrumptious story took me on a sojourn back into the Midford series I hated so to leave behind at the last episode. You are a great writer and this should become a book!
Sheri Gordon11/01/07
Congratulations on your highly commended. This is a great story.
Shari Armstrong 11/01/07
Wonderful! -and I could relate to that fear of water thing.....
Marilyn Schnepp 11/01/07
Don't sweat the small stuff, Mariane, (like negative comments); it's the Judges that count - and they liked it! Congratulations! I never cracked a smile at Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges either...but they made millions! Everybody has a different funny bone, Right? Kudos on your placement.
Joanne Sher 11/03/07
Delightful, Marianne. Congratulations, my friend!