Every Pastor and congregational member has the desire to discover a way to make the sacrament of baptism more meaningful to the family of the child brought to God’s font for baptism. In 2008 the Director of Christian Education at St. John, Hamburg attended an event and learned about a tradition called the Baptismal Chest.
The Baptismal Chest is a wooden chest measuring 18X9x10 presented to all children on the day of their baptism. It is a symbol of the presence of God in the church and in the family home, much like the Ark of the Covenant was to the children of Israel. The baptismal chest travels through life with the child as he/she grows into faith.
The chest contains important faith formation articles from the sacrament of baptism such as the baptismal candle, Chrisom, a certificate, pictures, and the baptismal napkin. As the faith journey continues, other items may be saved as well: study Bibles, devotionals, journals, confirmation information, church camp memorabilia, youth gathering tee shirts, a cross, and marriage remembrances.
St. John’s is fortunate to have Harold Miller, affectionately called Freck, a master craftsman who formerly worked as a pattern maker for Emhardt Foundry in Hamburg and Behler Patterns, Inc. in Deer Lake. Since his retirement Freck works in his wood shop located in the basement of his home making dollhouses, center pieces for congregational dinners, and bean bag games for the church picnic.
Freck is currently assisted by Ken and Elaine Arndt, also members of St. John’s, who work with him to create the baptismal chests. It takes about a week to complete one chest. Together this team presents the newly baptized child of God with a gift that reminds them of God’s grace and the faith community that surrounds them for the rest of their lives.