Anyone for baptism?
Robert Wordsworth explains how Park Road Baptist Church in Peterborough found a solution to its leaking baptistery
Thirty years ago Park Road Baptist Church, Peterborough embarked upon a major project to install a second floor in the building and move the sanctuary to the new level. A purpose-built glass-fibre reinforced pool, supported by heavy timber beams, was installed in front of the organ.
In the spring of 2015 the pool was filled in preparation for a baptismal service the following day. The next morning, though, church leaders arrived to find that much of the water had leaked away! Despite previous repairs to local areas of the pool floor, it was now no longer usable.
The conundrum facing the church was; how to replace or repair it? Weighing over 2.5 tonnes when full, the pool was located in the only part of the floor with sufficient support to bear it. Its large dimensions prevented removal or replacement, and integral steps at each end also precluded the fitting of a smaller unit inside. In view of these difficulties, for subsequent baptisms, the church hired a portable baptistery in the downstairs hall. This raised new issues including the time for construction and dismantling together with the need for long flexible pipes to fill and drain the pool. Then, ironically, on the most recent occasion the unit was found to be leaking!
In the spring of 2018 following a request for baptism by one of the young people, the issue of what to do with the old baptistery was raised again. A variety of potential repair options were sought and eventually contact was made with Covac, a company in Lutterworth specialising in the repair of water storage tanks for hospitals, schools and industry. The method they used involved coating the inside of tanks with a flexible, drinking water compatible, urethane resin. A key attraction of this approach was that it could be used on tanks of any shape or size and required only minimal access to the exterior.
A proposal to repair the baptistery in the method described was presented to a church meeting with the suggestion that the project should not be seen as maintenance but a commitment to future Baptist witness in Peterborough. The proposal was approved and the work carried out in the autumn of 2018.
Following completion, it was suggested that the church hold a service to re-dedicate the baptistery and provide an opportunity for members to renew their baptismal vows. This took place on 20 January this year and, by this time, the majority of the £5K cost of the work had been donated. It is the church’s prayer that many more followers of Christ in Peterborough will use it.
Robert Wordsworth is Property Coordinator at Park Road Baptist Church