What To Wear To A Full-Immersion Baptism

I met this lovely woman, the Reverend Angela Dionne Madden, at the Festival of Homiletics. What you can’t really see in the photo is how much she looks like a young Liz Taylor:

Rev. Angela

After we talked about shoes and other fun items (like how cute is that bag?), Angela asked me if I had any thoughts about what she might wear for a full-immersion baptism that she would be doing today.

Of course, it being PENTECOST (Holy Ghost power! Holy Ghost power!), we both thought she should wear a flaming red dress, but I’m not sure that was among her options. So I recommended that she wear a cotton top and skirt — heavy enough material that she could pull it away from her body after coming out of the water and it wouldn’t cling too much, wouldn’t be sheer, and could breathe and dry quickly. She said she’d be wearing waders, which is a good idea for anyone who’s taking a new Christian into the Jordan and doesn’t want to wind up getting sucked into the mud. Nothing ruins a beautiful baptism so quickly as a pastor flailing their arms for help and sinking quickly from view. Although…. what a way to go, huh?

Speaking of which, I was just chatting with our town funeral director — who has become very dear over the years — who told me about a woman who died on the massage table. “That’s how I want to go!” I said. Just an aside, darlings, be good to your funeral directors. If you’re a small-town pastor, you can learn where all the bodies are buried from your local FD, and I mean that literally as well as metaphorically.

So ANYhoo, we talked about what Angela might wear — including various alb options — and what I really loved the best was when her friend Julia and I got to practice dipping her back, because we wanted to show her that she really was going to get quite wet. The thing is, baptizing preachers, make sure to really bend at the knee as you dip your new Christian backward or you’ll strain your back. As a Unitarian who sprinkles babies and children with just a teaspoon or so of water as they are blessed, named and welcomed into our covenant, I have no real-life experience with that sort of thing, but it was really tender working it out with Pastor Angela and being a little part of the blessing she would help God bestow today upon some folks in Pratt, Kansas.

So Angela, I’m thinking of you and hoping that you had a beautiful baptism.

And all the rest of you, if you have a hankering to run around praising the Lord and speaking in tongues, well today is your day. You go for it, and let the rest of us more cautious, less-Pentecostal types know how it went.

5 Replies to “What To Wear To A Full-Immersion Baptism”

  1. eww, your the one in the know, (and it it soo late anywho) but i would suggest slacks as opposed to a skirt. There would be just no good way to climb out of a baptismal font with a water logged, clingy skirt.

    Or maybe I am over thinking it.

  2. I’m going to throw a great idea out to the universe, and hope that someone picks it up and makes a nice small business out of it. What we really need are vestments made of high tech fabrics. I’m sick of polyester robes — the fabric doesn’t hang well, they’re hot, etc. With so many excellent high-tech fabrics out there, I want someone to start making vestments from those high-tech fabrics.

    So for full-immersion baptisms, I’m thinking a fabric that drapes well but isn’t too clingy or transparent when wet, and one that dries quickly but is durable and somewhat breathable (full-immersion baptisms count as vigorous exercise, and polyester just won’t do). I’m thinking “Allure,” one of the newer nylon fabrics used for outdoor wear, would be quite good — I leave the exact details up to whomever starts up this high-tech-fabrics vestments business.

    ((Since I don’t do full-immersion baptisms myself, what I’d also like to see are vestments made out of cool, breathable Supplex nylon, because doing a summer beach wedding in a polyester robe is murder. I’d also like to see a fleece-lined robe for those Easter sunrise services.))

  3. The running around & praying in tongues went quite well! As per usual. Well, I think I frighten one of my pastors a wee bit – but the rest of the church seems to find me cute. Thankfully. 🙂

    A further note about those thigh-length “leggings” I found: they don’t stretch much at all. I’m now going to try creating some from nice, medium-denier tights and stretch lace (it’s okay! I’m a professional seamstress! I swear!) and will let you know how it goes!

  4. @Jamie, I don’t know that pants or skirts work very well — a full immersion baptism in a lake is just tough in any garment. I have no idea!

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