baptize socal
Oceans Church/YouTube

The pastor responsible for a historic mass baptism last year is now setting his sights on what could once again break records and lead hundreds or thousands of people to Christ. Pastor Mark Francey of Oceans Church in California shocked the nation last year when he hosted Baptize SoCal, an event that attracted thousands of spectators and led to nearly 4,200 baptisms.

At the time, it was reportedly the largest recorded baptism in U.S. history. One year later, Francey is gearing up for an even greater effort: Baptize California, a state-wide initiative that could shatter other historical baptism markers to become the “world’s largest synchronized baptism.” Francey told CBN News his baptism efforts started with a vision from God. His church was just three years old when he embarked on the ambitious Baptize SoCal event, which unfolded last May, and, at the time, he wasn’t looking to launch into such an endeavor.

Francey said, “I’m originally from California, but [had] spent the last 17 years in a different state, so moving here, starting a brand new church, treading … water after COVID — the last thing on our mind was uniting … this global baptism initiative.” But after reading a book about one of the largest water baptisms in American history held at Pirate’s Cove in California, he was surprised to learn the mass immersion took place in the 1990s. Francey said he assumed it would have been much earlier. He was also intrigued by the fact it took place at the very same location where the late Chuck Smith baptized masses of young people 50 years ago during the Jesus movement. Pirate’s Cove continues to impact people’s lives today profoundly.

All of these themes and ideas coalesced into a vision that changed everything for Francey. “I had almost like an open vision,” he said, noting the vivid experience from God included worship and very specific details. “I saw boats from guys I knew in our church parked along Pirate’s Cove.” Francey, who isn’t prone to these sorts of images from God, said he told his church about it a few weeks later, and people got excited. That’s when he felt the Lord pushing him to organize and fund Baptize SoCal. At first, he was reluctant.

He said, “I tried to talk God out of it. I’m like, ‘There’s a lot of other guys here — fathers, mothers here that are doing great things. You know, I’m a nobody.’” The preacher said God wasn’t interested in his insecurity. Francey knew he was called to embark on the baptism mission, and he decided to listen. Just weeks after Baptize SoCal took place May 28, 2023, and broke baptism records, Laurie’s event inspired by “Jesus Revolution” — also held at Pirate’s Cove — shattered the Baptize SoCal record, with over 4,500 baptisms. Ultimately, these events showed the power of spiritual resurgence in the air.

All of this brings us back to Francey’s vision, which went well beyond his Baptize SoCal efforts. He said he also felt God called him to expand the efforts, which brought us to Baptize California, this year’s endeavor. Next year, Francey is already planning to launch Baptize America — with global pursuits in sight.

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