Calvary Chapel Chino Hills—1,200 Baptized

Calvary Chapel Chino Hills—1,200 Baptized
Calvary Chapel Chino Hills—1,200 Baptized

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Over 1,200 Baptized in Southern California

Story by Trinity Grau
Photos by Tom Price and Josh Larson

Hundreds of attendees from Calvary Chapel Chino Hills arrived early at the beach at Corona Del Mar on Saturday, June 26, for what would soon become one of the largest evangelical baptisms in the U.S. in recent memory, according to church leaders. Known locally as Pirate’s Cove from the early days of baptisms with Pastor Chuck Smith, long lines of churchgoers were gathered around the speakers on the beach. Some had flown to California from as far as Utah, Georgia, and Ohio, simply to be baptized. Pastor Jack Hibbs started off the morning by sharing the Gospel with those attending the event, including the onlookers who were watching from the cliffs above. He used the metaphor of someone being given the keys to a great house, only to not believe the gift they were given. “When you go into the water today, you are publicly declaring your belief in that gift. This water is a grave. In the day of doubt and fear and intimidation by the enemy, remember this day.”

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People on beach

Believers arrived in three different shifts throughout the day in order to accommodate over 1,200 people, along with their families, for the momentous occasion. Many of the people had attended other churches or came to Christ as a consequence of the pandemic crisis. Since CC Chino Hills was one of several churches that reopened, thousands accepted Jesus’ command to be baptized in the Name of the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

The first wave of baptisms began at 9 a.m. One of the first groups into the water was the Argetsinger family from Marysville, OH. Isabelle, the mother of the group, had been looking for a church that dug deep into the Word. She has been watching Pastor Jack’s teachings online for years and was able to travel with the church to Israel in 2019. While she was baptized in the Jordan River, the Lord put the desire on her and her husband Greg’s hearts to be baptized as a family. They brought their son and daughter out to the event in Southern California, all attired in family shirts acknowledging their home state of Ohio. Son Nathan saw the baptism as a chance to renew his covenant with God. Daughter Hannah shared, “I went from having a plan to having absolutely nothing. It was like, ‘OK, what do You want?’ … Seeing what it’s done for my family, seeing all of us grow, it was important for me to come with them.”

People in water

The Argetsinger family learned of the baptism and traveled from Ohio in order to be there to be baptized.

The Argetsinger family was not the only large group to be baptized. In contrast to previous baptisms, the number of families being baptized almost equaled singular individuals. One brother and sister duo walked out together to be baptized by Matt Haynam. Though they’d grown up in the church, this was their first opportunity to be baptized as believers after a long period of straying. Having worked in the Hollywood film industry, coming back to the Lord was freeing, they said. Many others shared similar stories.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27

Newly baptized woman

Alycia reacts with joy as she came out of the water. A short time before, she had been on her way to get an abortion when she was invited to view her baby with a free ultrasound from a mobile van. After seeing her daughter on the screen, Alycia changed her mind, was told the Good News of the Gospel, and accepted Christ as her Savior. Later she was invited to the baptism and gladly dedicated herself and her baby in her womb to the Lord.

For one older couple, the baptism gave them the opportunity to fully make a statement of faith as adults. He was baptized as a baby and his wife had been baptized when she was in grade school. This was an opportunity to take a leap of faith together. Two young couples were able to take the opportunity together. One had experienced a long period of darkness after his older sister died in high school. “I had a lot of people pouring into me at the right time and thankfully we found this church (CCCH), so my wife and I had the ability to come out and get baptized together.” His brother-in-law’s fiancé, Morgan, saw the baptism as a way to fully solidify their first walks as a couple in the Lord by building a great foundation. Her fiancé, Branden, added, “We agreed we were done living for ourselves, done giving in to fleshly desires; we wanted to just start living for God. Both Branden and Morgan were excited to make a public declaration of their surrender to Jesus Christ.

Newly baptized woman

Calvary Chapel Chino Hills Assistant Pastor Jeff Kerns gets a hug from Jill after she and her husband Joe were baptized.

As the 10 a.m. wave of baptisms drew near, Pastor Steve Hurlbert, one of the many pastoral staff members in the water that day to baptize, expressed joy in seeing how many had come down: “I’m just blown away. The Lord is good!”

People walking in water

Smiles adorned the faces of a couple as they walk hand in hand after obeying their Savior’s command to be baptized.

The second wave of those desiring to be baptized began to arrive, packing the already full beach area. Jack shared the Gospel, this time with many more spectators who had come to the beach that day for leisure or who watched from atop the cliffs. Many who joined the crowd during the second wave were not regular churchgoers.

Hugging

Brock Eissman gets smiles and a kiss from family members.

The Zapata family had the opportunity to fully consecrate their lives to God. After a year of struggle during the pandemic, Epi heard that Calvary Chapel Chino Hills was open. She and her husband Dennis owned their own business, though it was shut down during the pandemic. “I got saved this past November, and my husband followed. It’s really changed our family.” Daughter Stellar was baptized along with her mom and dad.

Man raising arms

Branden Randall rejoices after being baptized by Assistant Pastor Ron Rose.

Laura came from CC East Anaheim, CA. As a child she had been raised and baptized in a cult. For Brandy Merkel, the baptism gave her the opportunity to come to a church after almost 50 years of walking apart from her family, who followed the Lord. Brandy has found the fellowship with the women of her church to be freeing, whom she said welcomed her with open arms.

After the last group was finished by midday, over 1,200 people had been baptized, publicly making a confession of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19

Man cheering in water

A husband and wife react with joy after coming up out of the water.

 

Hugging

Hugs were plentiful after each person was baptized.

 

Man holding daughter

A father was overjoyed that his daughter decided to be baptized with him.

 

Hugging

Loved ones captured the joyous moments with their smart phones.

 

Man carrying woman

Branden Randall celebrates his fiancé’s baptism by carrying Morgan Tapia to shore.

 

People in water

Pastors enjoyed the privilege of baptizing so many folks who were dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ in the ceremony of baptism. Pastor Steve Hurlbert (right) joyously pumps his fist.

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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