March 16, 2017 | Kingston, Jamaica | Philiip E. L. Castell/IAD
For Church Elder Michael Vernal and the members of the Regent Street SDA Church, in Kingston, Jamaica, March 11, 2017, will long be remembered as a very special day in the life of the church.
It was the first time that Vernal ever baptized anyone. His first candidate was his mother with whom he had shared the Word of God for more than 30 years.
“Today has been a tremendous day for me,” said Vernal in an interview after baptizing his mother at the Regent Street Seventh-day Adventist Church. “The opportunity that was afforded me to do the baptism was a tremendous joy, unspeakable joy,” added Vernal, who has been the head elder of the church for more than 15 years.
Being an elder in the Adventist Church for so many years, Vernal would have attended numerous baptismal services, assisted the pastor in the Communion services and lead out in evangelistic campaigns and outreach events. His vast experience, never included baptizing someone, church leaders said.
Vernal’s mom was just as happy to be part of the historic baptism with her son.
“I am feeling happy, I am feeling light. This was a day that I longed for,” said Citrian Smith who was previously baptized in a Sunday church, before becoming convinced of the importance of observing the seventh day Sabbath according to the teachings of the Bible.
“Now I know that the seventh day is the day on which you are to worship God because God rested on the seventh day from all his labor so that is why I made up my mind after going into several churches,” added 83-year-old Smith.
Smith said she asked God to show her the right church. “I am glad that I have become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and with the strength and faith of the Lord, I know I will go on to the end,” Smith said.
That Vernal was able to baptize his mother will be one of those memories that will be difficult to erase, he said. Vernal and wife Dr. Lorraine Vernal–who currently serves the church in Jamaica as Women’s Ministries and Children and Adolescents’ Ministries Director, have given outstanding service at the Regent Street Adventist Church and to the church in East Jamaica. Their two adult daughters have also remained faithful to the Lord and are committed to the Church.
Elder Vernal also had the opportunity of baptizing a husband and wife couple. He thanked church leadership at the Inter-American Division for the Lord Transform Me initiative to allow elders to baptize persons they had worked with on the special baptism day.
“Today I am elated and I know the church will be better for these initiatives of having local elders participating in this type of service. I am happy and I know heaven is rejoicing, my mom is happy and I know that by the grace of God she will remain faithful to him,’’ Vernal said.
While March 11, 2017 was not the first time that elders in East Jamaica were allowed to baptize candidates with whom they had studied, it was the first time that so many elders had embraced the challenge to prepare someone for baptism the special day of baptism and celebration across Jamaica and the Inter-American Division.
According to local church leaders, of the 105 persons baptized on the special LTM Baptism Sabbath, 85 were baptized by elders in the East Jamaica Conference. Fifty five elders from 18 of the 31 pastoral districts across the conference participated in the baptismal event.
Pastor Eric Nathan, president of the church in East Jamaica was delighted for what had transpired and said he believes the event foreshadowed a time that was not far away when the church would be growing at such a rapid rate that enough pastors would not be available to handle the numbers.
“I am excited that we are getting a small glimpse of what total membership involvement TMI is all about,” said Pastor Nathan.
“As I went from church to church and listened to elders speak of the joys of baptizing people with whom they had worked including their own mothers, daughters and family members, I am very happy for what is happening,” said Nathan. “This seems to be opening the door for greater things.”