Gathering at the river, local pastor baptizes by immersion

Gathering at the river, local pastor baptizes by immersion
Michael Martin crosses his arms as Father Matthew Rusch prepares to lower him into the Ortega River.

In keeping with biblical scripture and historical practices, Father Matthew Rusch of Holy Trinity Anglican Church waded into the chilly waters of the Ortega River at Seminole Park on the Saturday morning before Easter to perform the sacrament of baptism for Michael Martin.

Around 50 church members, neighbors and passersby gathered to celebrate the event with Martin, who said his baptism was “something I’ve wanted to do for many years; I believe it needed to be done. Even though I am a sinner and a work in progress, I feel so much lighter. I don’t have as much guilt. It was a very meaningful experience and it gives me the incentive to try to grow in faith. It was interesting since I don’t swim all that well.”

Father Matthew Rusch, Michael Martin and Rector David Austell

Father Matthew Rusch, Michael Martin and Rector David Austell

Explaining baptism comes from the Greek word “baptize,” which means immersed, and referencing the Scripture in Matthew 3 when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, came out of the water and saw the “Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him,” Rusch said, “I feel the visual is so strong and the image so clear, that an immersion baptism reflects the historical and spiritual significance of the ceremony.”

Parishioner Dawn Hutson remarked, “I see this becoming an annual event. Father Rusch had such a joyous expression on his face. I saw a photograph of him baptizing his youngest son in South Carolina and he had the same look on his face.”

Rusch said, “Having the baptism on Holy Saturday set the tone for Easter.”

The pastor, his wife Katie, and three sons, Timothy, John David and Stuart, moved to Jacksonville from Buford, South Carolina, where Rusch served as assistant at St. Helena’s Anglican Church.

The pastoral search committee had struggled to find the right match after Rector Dave Austell retired, “but we knew to be patient and wait for God’s answer. Father Matt’s first service was on January 7 and we knew right away that he was the man called for our church. He is so passionate and thoughtful about his beliefs,” said Hutson.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church was formed in 2009 by 16 founders and met on Thursday evenings at Ortega Presbyterian Church until 2011 when they purchased the former Trinity Methodist Church on Eloise Street in Avondale and moved in in 2012.

By Peggy Harrell Jennings
Resident Community News

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)