The nearly 500-year tradition of rebaptism was alive and well at College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind., on Oct. 1.
Eight of the 25 adults who joined the church that day had been baptized as infants in Catholic churches in Central and South America.
Most of the others who joined did so with letters of transfer or upon confession of faith. Two were baptized for the first time.
Since 2021, College Mennonite has had a Sunday Spanish-language service, led by pastors David and Madeline Maldonado. Once a quarter, the English and Spanish services are held jointly. Both worship services have simultaneous interpretation.
Those who were baptized told of their appreciation for the congregation’s acceptance of newcomers. (Due to documentation sensitivities, only first names are used in this article.)
When Kleimer arrived in Goshen in 2021 with her two children, friends welcomed her and invited her to church. The next day she attended for the first time and “from that moment fell in love with the church,” she said.
Diana requested baptism because “the way the church has decided to coexist with and work at integration with persons of different cultures . . . and cooperate with them is Christ-like,” she said.
Jose “Paco” was baptized and became a member because “God is the creator of everything, and not a leaf falls from a tree by itself but by the work of God,” he said. He hopes that College Mennonite will continue to support all people no matter where they are from and that it “will receive everyone with love as it has done until now.”
Dianefr (pronounced “Dee-anna-fer”) joined the church because “there is a worship service in my mother tongue, and the music is familiar,” she said.
“It was a joy to welcome newcomers to CMC,” said pastoral team leader Phil Waite, “especially given the difficult nature of their journeys to be here in Goshen. Now our journeys are joined together as we seek to be faithful to the way of Christ.”
Pastor Madeline Maldonado said: “The efforts of CMCers simply saying bienvenido or using a translation app to communicate with Spanish-speaking immigrants and refugees as they walk in the doors has created a safe space. These persons who have left their countries, loved ones, friends, homes and all of their life’s hard work behind have found a home at College Mennonite, where they are embraced with Christ’s love.
“Because of these simple actions of grace and love, many of these persons have told me that they have experienced a living God.”