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Baptisms in 2021 Neared Pre-Pandemic Levels

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Chesapeake Conference celebrated 436 baptisms/professions of faith in 2021. 

Towar Whitehead stands with Pastor Tom LeBlanc, former interim pastor of the Sussex Central church, prior to her baptism at Lewes Beach in Delaware on Sep. 4. 

Baptism totals in Chesapeake Conference churches approached pre-pandemic levels last year. 

The Evangelism Department reported 436 baptisms/professions of faith for 2021, a 231% increase from 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak significantly altered many planned evangelistic efforts. In 2019, the last year before the pandemic began, the conference reported 499 baptisms/POFs.

“The churches that experienced growth in 2021 were churches that were actively doing ministry during the pandemic,” says David Klinedinst, Chesapeake Conference evangelism director. “They continued to reach out and didn’t let a pandemic dictate what they do. They continued to do ministry and adjusted to the context they were in.”

The Wilmington (Del.) Spanish and Glen Burnie (Md.) Spanish churches led all churches with a baptismal growth rate (baptisms divided by membership) of 20.75% and 20%, respectively. Among English-speaking churches, the Bell Branch (Gambrills, Md.) church had a baptismal growth rate of 6.12%, and the Providence (Elkton, Md.) church had a rate of 5.32%.

“When you focus on ministry and souls, growth happens,” Klinedinst says. “Yes, COVID happened, but if that’s all we’re going to focus on, then we come to a complete standstill. So for 2022, it should be full-fledged evangelism planning to move forward for the whole year. Based on the evangelism subsidy requests we’ve received for 2022, it looks like that’s what a lot of churches are doing.” 

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