Mass baptism in Southern California described in ‘Biblical proportions’

Site of the mass baptism at Pirate's Cove in Newport Beach, Calif. (courtesy photo from John Fredricks)

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – At the same ocean cove that became a focal point for the Jesus Movement in the 1960s and 70s, and also used as a filming location for the Jesus Revolution movie, 4,500 people were baptized over the weekend. Evangelist Greg Laurie and others are describing the mass baptism held at Pirates Cove in Newport Beach, and hosted by Harvest Crusade and Churches, in biblical terms.

“On the day of Pentecost, after Peter preached, we read in the Bible that 3,000 people were baptized. At Pirates Cove, we are looking at a baptism of biblical proportions,” Laurie told the Washington Times at the event tagged as the “Jesus Revolution Baptism."

For me this is a place that’s filled with memories. This is where we also filmed the Jesus Revolution movie,” he said. “It’s funny because Pirates Cove has been here forever, now it’s taking on a whole new meaning for a lot of people. They not only want to be baptized, they want to be baptized here.”

For many people getting baptized, the movie’s baptism scene served as a catalyst for making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and publicly showing their commitment at the same location.

Christian Los, 17, who was baptized alongside his uncle, said it was watching the story of Laurie’s life portrayed in the movie that touched him.

“In the movie, I was able to see Greg Laurie’s transition of going from being a non-believer to a believer while he was meeting all these people, like Lonnie Freesbie,” Los said. “It reminded me of the people that I have met along the way.”

The Jesus Revolution movie demonstrated “the power of baptism and more significantly, what salvation looks like visually,” Laurie said. “By watching someone get baptized the way it was done in the film it really conveyed what conversion can look like. It really resonated with a lot of people.”

After coming out of the water from his baptism, Bill Ellison, 67, said he “always believed in God” but prior to this point in his life, was not ready to profess Jesus as his savior. He came closer to his decision by watching and listening to various Christian broadcasts, including from Laurie and Harvest.

“With all the bad things that are happening in the world you need to have the hope of salvation,” Ellison said. “We are all sinners, but we have the hope of Christ, who died on the cross for our sins.”

When asked why she decided to get baptized, Shawn Raybourn, 61, from Tustin, California, simply said, “To be born again. It’s hard to describe. I’ve been wanting this for a long time.”* Laurie said he believes the baptism at Pirates Cove on Saturday represents a unique moment in history.

“There were never crowds like this 50 years ago in the Jesus Movement,” he said. “This is new and fresh. What’s happening is clearly inspired by the Jesus People revival. People want to have their own revival today. This is revival-like. No question about it.”

Harvest pastor Richard Garcia, who was one of the many pastors on hand to help baptize the thousands of willing people, said that with each one of the baptisms he gets “very emotional.”

“There’s something about it when they come out of the water and have that weight lifted off them,” Garcia said. “They are dying to their old man and raising up anew. They just want to turn and hug me. Their first expression is one of love and joy and excitement.” 

In a social media post, Mr. Laurie said: “This may be the largest baptism in American history, maybe world history. God Knows, but it was AMAZING! We give Him all the Glory.

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