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4-30-12 A “Modern-day Pentecost” in Huntsville?
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God-directed Senior Pastor Dr. Carlton Byrd and team baptize 128 candidates in two Sabbath services at Oakwood University Church
Personal observations by Tim Allston, PR Director, Oakwood University
 
   
  Dr. Byrd congratulates one of the Spring Revival's 138 baptismal candidates. Photo by Tim Allston  
Just 366 days after a three-hour killer tornado, driving rain-storm and subsequent power outage immobilized Huntsville and north Alabama, a new 14-day storm – dubbed “Spring Revival 2012” at Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church – thunder-stormed greater Huntsville on Saturday-Sabbath, April 28, 2012.

It took two church services to baptize 128 candidates, led by Senior Pastor and “Breath of Life” TV Ministry Speaker-Director Dr. Carlton P. Byrd, http://www.oakwood.edu/news/news-archives/242-2011-news/1556-breath-of-life-and-new-minister-comes-to-oakwood-university-sda-church.

Armed with only his well-worn Holy Bible, Pastor “Buddy” Byrd, who turned 40 just three days before the April 14th kick-off, exhorted the four-times-a-week Revival audiences with his trademark mantra:
·         “Know what you believe”
·         “Know why you believe it,” and
·         “Know where you can find it.”
 
   
  Some of the 138 baptismal candidates  Photo by Tim Allston  
While the adult attendees (many of whom admitted it was their first-ever visit to the Oakwood University campus and church) poured over and jotted down Old and New Testament Bible verses nightly to substantiate Byrd’s teacher-preacher declarations (“Repetition deepens the impression,” he reminded the congregants unendingly), their young children were enrolled in a nightly Vacation Bible School program averaging 200 preteen attendees per Revival outing. They learned and performed at the Revival finale such contemporized ditties as, “Tweet this: My BFF is Jesus!”

What many Sabbath morning Divine Worship Service congregants remembered fondly in that standing-room-only church service was, upon Byrd’s cue, the sanctuary’s back double doors opened, ushering in the two-by-two, promenade of white-robed candidates into their once-roped off 12 reserved rows – egged on by a near-unanimous, five minute congregational standing ovations, cheers and tears.
 
Following his brief sermon, “Why I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian,” Byrd then instructed us well-wishers that seven candidates would be baptized simultaneously – “. . . because we’re Seventh-day Adventist, Amen?” – two in the permanent baptistry above the choir loft, while the remaining fivesome in the rented, 12-foot “backyard” pool.

During the morning/afternoon of 126 baptisms, one would notice baptisms of:
1.       Several entire-family and family-multiple-member units,
2.       Significant numbers of wheel-chaired and otherwise handicapped persons lowered into the “watery grave,” and
3.       An unusually large number of men and younger males joining the predominantly female church group.

After the Revival’s evening finale which featured:
·         The children’s Vacation Bible School program;
·         Byrd’s invitation to the Oakwood Adventist Academy Spring Festival and Open House the next day – “New members: you need to see where your children need to go to school, and to continue this Bible-based learning and instruction” – Sunday, April 29, 1-4 p.m., elementary school grounds; and
·         Six more baptisms.

Byrd prayed and dismissed the audience. But only for 30 seconds. And then, apologized.

“Saints, I’ve made a cardinal mistake,” he pined. “Forgive me. I ended this service, and failed to open the doors of the church with one last appeal for one to give their heart to Jesus, . . .”

Sure enough, two more stepped forward – a six-year-old lad named Jason, and an Orthodox Christian named Burukti Casa – and they were church-vote approved and then baptized.

Finally, an unnamed congregant urged, “Pastor, let’s do this again!”

Leaning heavily against the rented pool, the water-logged baptism-wearied evangelist perked up, “You don’t know me – yet! I typically do three revivals annually – spring, summer and late fall.”

And then turning to his phalanx of Bible workers, he offered, “I’ll see y’all . . . tomorrow!”

In his nearly 18 years of pastoral leadership in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia, Dr. Byrd has constructed and renovated churches, and baptized over 3,000 persons.

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Capturing, Capsulizing and Sharing the Oakwood Stories, I am 
Tim Allston, APR servant leader/Director, Public Relations
Oakwood University
7000 Adventist Blvd. NW
Huntsville, Alabama
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904-6600 USA
Telephone: 301-680-6400
Fax: 301-680-6464
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