Broward News

Baptism by Wire: West Broward Church Makes Christians Online

If you're headed to Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City, you can leave your Sunday best in the closet. Services are streamed online. For communion-by-computer, you can bless your own bread and wine. And if you're a newcomer, fill the bathtub, because Flamingo Road also does virtual baptisms. See above.

In February 2008, the church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, performed what it billed as the world's first internet baptism. How can that sacrament pass through a high speed connection? Well, I set out to find out.

According to Heather Palacios, director of media opportunities at Flamingo Road, scripture calls for one believer to baptize another. She says the church's online christenings no different.

Lead pastor, Troy Gramling, says that after he gets in contact with the baptizee, he makes sure he or she has a Christian friend or family member to conduct the baptism.

"I call the family via speakerphone while they are at a pool or tub and connect," Gramling told me in an email message. "I then stream out our end of the baptism over the Internet Campus, and lead the baptism over the phone while the relative lowers the baptizee into the water and back up, concluding with a prayer."

And there you have it folks. Baptisms over broadband.

Christian purists were skeptical about the technology being used for a sacrament a few millennia old. But since Flamingo Road made the leap, other churches have followed.

"Jesus has called us to carry out the Great Commission," Gramling says. "He said that we are to go into all the world; and while we don't completely understand where the 'online' world is headed, we do know there are millions of people who do life there."

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Nicole Rodriguez