Baptism connects. Believers of different denominations and cultures worldwide become one in Jesus Christ. Baptism overcomes boundaries – an experience shared as well by the confirmands of the Kirchspiel Dobien last Saturday. The evangelist Jackline Keneth Mwasekela from Tanzania was guest at their digital meeting and told them about baptism in her church. Never before, it has been so easy to start conversations about God and the world across continents. In this blog post I report on the meeting and how global encounters in confirmation classes might look like. This PDF summarizes the digital module.
Confirmation class on baptism
The confirmation class on baptism had been planned a long time ago, not least because some confirmands of the group wanted to get baptized soon. Unfortunately, Corona put a spoke in the wheel. Under these circumstances, analogous meetings are no longer possible in the church for the time being. Therefore, the confirmands of the parish moved into digital space and started to meet in a video conference via zoom. When it came to the subject of baptism, this turned out to be a great enrichment. Digitalization enabled the group to welcome visitors from all over the world.
Introduction to the topic
The virtual meeting began with an already established welcoming ritual: a word cloud with the tool mentimeter on the question “How are you today?”. The group started a little tired, but also curious and excited. As an introduction to the topic, a short film about baptism was shown. Afterwards the confirmands had the chance to collect their associations and ideas about baptism on a white board. We used zoom, but a white board from Cryptpad would be a free alternative. The confirmands painted and wrote their ideas in the field such as the Holy Spirit, the baptism candle, the godparents, and many others. But is baptism the same all over the world? In a next step, the confirmands had the chance to prepare questions about baptism in Tanzania. For this purpose, the group was divided into break-out rooms of 3-4 confirmands each. Some of them formulated the questions already in English, although a translator was also available to help them.
Visitor from Tanzania
The translator was Anna-Luise. She was as well confirmed in this parish and today she is occasionally supporting the confirmation classes. After finishing school, Anna Luise left to spend one year abroad as a volunteer in Tanzania. She got to know the local community and many nice people she is still in touch with. Last Saturday, she invited the evangelist Jackline to the digital confirmation class.
After 45 minutes, Jackline Keneth Mwasekela joined to the meeting live from Tanzania. In her congregation, she is also leading the confirmation classes. With ease she told the confirmands in simple English sentences about baptism and the background of faith and invited them into a conversation. They learned that in Tanzania, baptism is a great celebration to which relatives travel from far away. Both, small children and adults are baptized. Nevertheless, in Tanzania live diverse denominations with different traditions. The baptism in the Lutheran congregation of Jackline still seemed similar to the practices in the Kirchspiel Dobien.
Finally, the confirmands asked Jackline their questions. They wanted to know what life was like in Tanzania and how it is affected by the Corona crisis. Jackline also asked if they could go back to school already, how often they meet for confirmation classes and who is involved in it. After a warm conversation the group and the speaker thanked and said goodbye.
Reflection and conclusion
After the visit, the confirmands reflected on what they had experienced in an article for the parish newspaper. Once again, the group was divided in two break-out rooms. One group formulated a short text in a whiteboard. The other group thought about a suitable picture. A screenshot was taken and with a common prayer the meeting came to an end. However, the very next day some of the group met again - this time in real. In an open air service at the Elbe river, a confirmand of the group got baptized.
More information about the project "Confirmands and the One World".