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Lead Pastor Shawn Paris, left, introduces the baptismal candidates to the congregation. Also pictured are Chaplain Mark O'Ffill, second from left, and John Rengifo, associate pastor, far right.
 
On Sabbath, July 15, the Atholton congregation in Columbia, Md., celebrated five baptisms. Fifth-graders Israel Fernandez, Sebastian Lizarraga, David Powell and Alec O'Ffill were baptized by Pastor Mark O’Ffill, Atholton Adventist Academy (AAA) chaplain. The friends have attended AAA together since pre-kindergarten and were intentional about being baptized on the same day. O’Ffill was privileged to baptize his son.

“When I asked for those who were there specifically to support these boys in their decision for baptism, half the congregation stood,” he says.

Last fall, during the student-led Week of Prayer, O’Ffill challenged the final speaker, student Marlyn Antwan, to give a formal call for baptism and Bible study to her peers. “With much prayer and practice, she did, and God blessed her bravery with 48 decisions to study and/or prepare for baptism,” he says. As of July 29, 16 will have been baptized directly as a result of Antwan’s appeal, and more than a dozen are in continued Bible studies at the school or with their home church pastor.

Aisha Phang (pictured left with Pastor John Rengifo) was also baptized. She started attending Atholton church last fall. As a child, her grandmother took her to a Seventh-day Adventist church, however, she had been away for several years in adulthood. When Atholton church hosted the Revelation Speaks Peace meetings last year, Phang came to the series and rediscovered faith in Christ. 

“[Aisha] has been growing by being part of a small group, active in prayer meeting and is now beginning a ministry that helps members share compassion with the homeless,” says John Rengifo, associate pastor at Atholton. She has prepared "Bag of Blessings" to be distributed to the homeless around where members may live.

Phang says, "I see God opening ways for me to do a ministry." 
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