Outdoor Baptisms

Home > Photo Essays > Photo Essays 2011 > The Resurgence of Outdoor Baptisms in the US

Take Me to the River:
The Resurgence of Outdoor Baptisms in the US

Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo


One of the American South's most symbolic religious traditions is making a comeback. Outdoor baptisms, popularized in the 18th century by African slaves, had all but disappeared by the 1950s with the rise of indoor baptismal pools. Yet an increasing number of Baptist churches are forsaking the safety and convenience of these pools for nearby rivers, lakes, oceans, and even fire hoses. 'It's a re-discovery,' says Gregory Hughes, Pastor of True Life Ministries, which holds an annual ocean baptism in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. 'It's a way to embrace tradition while renewing our spirit.'