Iva’s Union Church makes history with baptism

Union Baptist Church of Iva is a rural church in Anderson County. Like most churches, it was following guidelines during the pandemic and not gathering together in its buildings. When the church met for its first regular worship service since the COVID-19 crisis, a history-making baptism highlighted the worship service.

Jamilius Freeman, discharged from the Army about a year ago, was baptized and joined the church. He became the first African-American adult to be baptized in Union’s 200-year history.

“Jamilius had been visiting our church for a few months,” pastor Kyle Caudell stated. “One Sunday morning following the service, he left the building but came back to speak with me privately in my study. We talked about baptism and how the Lord was convicting him about it. He said he really needed to get this done.”

The coronavirus shutdown delayed his baptism until the church began to regather on June 7. The service that Sunday morning began with Caudell standing in the baptistry. After an opening greeting and prayer, the focus moved immediately to baptism. Caudell offered a brief explanation of the importance and meaning of baptism.

As Freeman entered the baptistry, Caudell said, “Right now during the national upheaval and unrest we are seeing in our country, how awesome is it to see a black brother and a white brother in the baptismal pool together?” The congregation erupted in applause.

Freeman, whose father is retired from the Air Force, stated that being baptized was a “wonderful experience.” He said, “I definitely felt that God was calling me to have it done. When I told my girlfriend that I felt the need to be baptized, she told me she had been praying for over a year for me to want to be baptized. I felt that getting baptized was the next step and would help my relationship with our Heavenly Father.” He began daily Bible reading in January and said, “I really want to know God and His voice when He speaks to me.”

Caudell said the church did not target any particular group in its outreach efforts but focused on reaching the entire community with the gospel. “It is all about the gospel,” he said. “Thanks to the power of the gospel, Jamilius is the 24th person to be baptized since I became pastor in September 2019.”