A wonderful belonging
She had no church experience while growing up. Kathy McManigal’s family celebrated Easter and Christmas with gifts and family gatherings, but being a part of a church community was not part of her childhood.
As she grew into a young adult, she would wake up and tune into to some of the Sunday morning church shows on television. At about the same time, life found Kathy regularly driving by St. Paul. She couldn’t quite place why, but she found herself drawn to the building.
And then one day, she was exploring the radio on a Sunday morning. She found St. Paul’s half-hour show on 1420 WOC.
“That became my Sunday morning. I enjoyed listening to the sermons,” she said. “Did I pick up a Bible or anything? No. I just didn’t have the background for it.”
A few years later, Kathy experienced a life-changing event. She needed someone to talk with. She picked up the phone and called St. Paul. A kind voice on the other end of the line invited her to come in. The first time Kathy walked into St. Paul was to talk with a staff member. The conversation ended with an invitation to come to worship.
“I came back for worship – all by myself,” Kathy said. She always sat in the back. The year was 1992. “After a few visits, I decided I wanted to be baptized.”
On May 31, 1992, Kathy and her friend Deb came to church. Deb was Kathy’s baptismal sponsor. She and one other adult were baptized that day. “It’s a moment I can still remember. You don’t have to be a baby or a child to be baptized into the church. There is no age limit.”
Kathy joined the choir and met some really wonderful people. Later, she became an usher, too.
“It’s a way for me to be a servant and to be there to welcome people into the church. I like people. In particular, I reach out when I see single people walk in. I know what that can be like, having lived that.”
With a splash of water, the faith community celebrates God’s gift of baptism. Baptism at St. Paul is for the smallest of babies, for children and teenagers, and for adults who have yet to be baptized.
St. Paul understands baptism not as an individual “guarantee” of salvation (though it is connected with eternally tying us to God). Instead, it’s viewed as a sign of grace and faith within a worshiping community – where one belongs and regularly participates. For this reason, St. Paul reserves the baptismal act in worship for men, women, and children who are an active part of the congregation’s membership.
Baptisms are celebrated on different Sundays throughout the year at any of the morning services. Baptisms can also occur on a number of 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening services.
Being a part of St. Paul is “a wonderful belonging,” Kathy said. “It’s togetherness, friendship, camaraderie. I feel like I belong here.”
About the baptismal font
The design of the St. Paul baptismal font fittingly resembles the prow of a ship – for a congregation near the banks of the Mississippi. Historically, much of church architecture reflects this shape. Based on the Medieval Latin word navis or “ship,” a sanctuary is sometimes referred to as a “nave.”
The naval image is a good one. It’s for people who splash daily in the baptismal promises of God. In the Bible, water figures in the new life of creation and in the roaring flood of Noah’s ark. God led people through the seas, from slavery into freedom.