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A private Christian school in North Carolina has issued an apology letter to parents who were disappointed they were not notified of their children being baptized during a school holiness week event. The controversy started over a week ago when over 100 middle school and high school students of Northwood Temple Academy were baptized. The school posted about the baptisms on its Facebook saying, “Today we had over 100 middle and high school students spontaneously declare their faith and get baptized today.” Soon after the post, school received some criticism that noted parents weren’t present to observe the pivotal moment. “I would be happy for my child if she chose to be baptized. HOWEVER…I would want to be present for this event in my child’s life. ALSO, I would’ve wanted to make sure that they understood exactly what baptism is, why people do it, that is not a requirement, and that is THEIR CHOICE to do so, and that they’re not just following friends or feeling pressured to do something [they’re] not ready to do,” said Amber Rose Barnhill on the post.

In the letter which clarified the events of the day, Renee McLamb, head of the school, noted that three baptisms were scheduled that day as part of the school’s Spiritual Emphasis Week. An invitation was then made to the others students, which led to the other students stepping forward. “The Spirit of the Lord moved and the invitation to accept the Lord and be baptized was given and the students just began to respond to the presence of the Lord,” wrote McLamb. She also noted that the school normally notifies parents before a baptism occurs but that the school had moved according to the Spirit, without any intention of doing anything behind parents’ backs. She apologized to any parents that missed the baptism of the students but added, “I pray that at the end of the day we will all rejoice because God truly did a work in the lives of our students.” She also expressed the surprise the school had at the number that stepped forward, writing, “We were not expecting such an overwhelming response to the message that was spoken, but as a mother I certainly can empathize with why some parents were upset.”

Overall, McLamb wrote that most responses she had received from parents had been positive, though some parents had expressed disappointment at not being present, with at least one parent being concerned that their child, who had previously been baptized, had somehow undone the previous baptism. The issue has revealed the fine balance that educators in Christian settings face when following God’s leading in the lives of their students. The week had been filled with the theme of discipleship, with 1 Timothy 6:19 being the theme. A substitute teacher at the school recalled witnessing a high schooler who had been deeply affected by the messages all week. The day of the baptisms, the student, who was new to the school, stepped forward to be baptized. “Parents that might have been upset because they wanted to be there or they didn’t want to bring dry clothes have to realize that saving just one was worth it all,” the substitute said.  “This young man would not have been baptized that day if he had to get permission. The Holy Spirit was working with him that day. It was a perfect day.”

 

 

 

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