Thursday, September 22, 2011

Church at the Ballpark

This past Sunday our church met at the Durham Bulls Ballpark. Our church typically meets Saturday nights or Sunday mornings at 5 different physical locations (but with Saturday services being a different crowd and also our Summit En Espanol campuses, we have more "campuses"). We have not all met together as one congregation in a few years so this was a very exciting day. Over 7,000 people came to worship in the heart of our city. Over 300 people were baptized with them lasting until after the service was over and people had even started to leave because it was after 1:00 by that time.

I really haven't been able to process my feelings, so I will try to work them out here in a concise form. A little background for those that don't know, Spence and I have been at Summit for almost 10 years. We have watched it go from a handful of college students and about a 300 person congregation in a traditional building to the crowd we worshipped with this past week. To say I was overwhlemed by Sunday is a HUGE understatement.

Here are my thoughts and then a bunch of pics stolen off people tweets and facebook posts:

  • The excitement outside before we even got into the stadium was contagious

  • The weather couldn't have been better

  • We LOUDLY proclaimed the gospel in the center of our city

  • I worshipped while holding Benjamin in my arms and holding Ezekiel's hand. I tear up now thinking of how my prayer is that one day our boys and our growing baby will be in heaven with Rae worshipping Jesus.

  • We were led in worship by all our worship leaders and it was beautiful.

  • I had no one sitting around me that I typically go to church with, Summit En Espanol and Cary campuses around me.

  • I heard praises being sung to our Savior in Spanish behind and beside me while Raudel the Spanish campus pastor led worship

  • We saw parents, children, husbands, wives, long time church attenders, college students, former Hindus and Muslims baptized (one of which came that morning as a Muslim in full garb and heard and accepted God's grace)

  • We sat and ate hotdogs and fries while watching the last few people getting baptized (not typical I know, but two kids and pregnant girl were DYING for food)

  • Over 1000 people helped to set up and tear down in order for us to have church in a ball park- this was one of the most amazing things for me, just knowing the sacrifices that people made for the sake of others getting to hear the gospel

OK, onto the pictures:

We could hear the music bing played from the parking deck. The crowd counted down for the gates to be open and then people flooded into the stadium

As people fond their seats, our campus pastors did a little sumo wrestling. Danny almost died
Two of the pastors showing their mad sumo skills

These are most of our worship leaders from all our different campuses

Our Summit En Espanol campus was definitely present

(I love listening to worship in different languages by the way)

This picture was taken from the outfield area, I love the beautiful sky

My hubby had to hang out in the Coors Light party deck preparing for baptism counseling (yes we did counseling in the party decks, pretty awesome huh?), this was his view for the morning

I love the picture of our stage set up and the bull and downtown sky line

The boys and I sat just behind the dugout along first base. We were close enough to see everything going on, and the boys had some fun running on the dugout during baptisms

Super cool pic from homeplate

Pastor J.D. bringing it

This is a panoramic from the scoreboard, insane!

Before these next few pictures, I gotta talk about baptisms for a second. J.D. gave the people an invitation to not only choose to have Christ be the Lord of their life, but also to take the first step of obedience with baptism. He also said that he knew there were people who had given their lives to Christ a long time ago but had never been baptized and invited them as well. The church provided towels, clothes for baptisms, and anything else people possibly could have needed. I have never seen anything like it, people streamed over to the counseling centers. (everyone talks through their decision before being baptized to be sure they understand and aren't just getting swept up into emotions). There were huge lines at both decks and people were baptized for over an hour. It was so awesome to see God recieving the glory and watch our church welcome so many into our family. We were able to see close friends (two from our small group, one of which we have known since college). The pictures below are some of our sweet friends children who were baptized.

This is Cher and her son Jackson. We met the Lair family way back in 2004 and have watched their family grow from Jackson to now having 5 boys!

Jackson submitted his life to Christ during a Matt Papa cd release party the Summit had. I got to see him the next morning and he was so excited to tell me and I had to do everything I could to not cry all over the 9 year old who used to crawl into my lap and let me read to him.

This is Ava. Her dad used to be on staff with our band (the guy on the left). I got to talk to Ava the afternoon following her First Step class (all children are walked through their decision with a class that our children's ministry offers). Ava is a bit afraid of Spence and our friend Jason Gaston because they scared her a bit at VBS one year. She actually told her mom after baptisms "Mom, that was a close one, I almost got baptized by Jungle Jason!"

This is J.D.'s second daughter, Allie. I love watching dad's take such a part in their children's walk. I can not wait for the day when our kids commit their lives to Christ.

This is Veronica, Allie's mom/J.D.'s wife, and Cher cheering with all they've got.

I think my favorite part of baptisms at the Summit is how we rejoice with the person. We have been to church's before where everyone sits quietly. I just can't imagine doing that anymore. Do they not know what has just happened in that person's life? How can you not cheer and celebrate that someone will not be spending eternity in hell, but with our Savior? If you don't have any idea what I am talking about, Spence or I would love to talk to you more. Please ask us any questions.


Tara said...

I'm so glad that you typed all this out! Jamie and I are friends with many people at the Summit and we just think this was the coolest idea! So glad that God gave you awesome weather, and it was such a time of rejuvenation and rededication for all! And the baptisms look like they were just icing on the cake! Are ya'll going to do this again?!? I think Church at the Ballpark is a great idea and maybe will become a yearly tradition?!?

Kara O said...

Awesome!!!!!! Loved this post!

Lauren Turner said...

I love how you captured the day. What a day it was!