Jordan River Baptisms

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Jordan River Baptism

A Jordan River Baptism experience is always at the top of the list when tourists talk about what meant the most to them on their trip after they arrive home from Israel. There are actually two places where pilgrims like us experience the Jordan River baptism or as Methodists say “remembrance of our baptism”. The traditional place is a Yardenit. This is very probably NOT the place where Jesus was baptized. We have to keep in mind two things: First, there is no where near as much water coming out of the Sea of Galilee as there was when Jesus lived so they have to provide a place where there is enough water, a place where they can keep it clean, and provide enough room. Just about everyone wants to experience this. Second, we want to make this a safe experience and convenient of course. Yardenit is located where the Jordan River flows from the sea of Galilee (Kinneret in Hebrew), as it heads South to the Dead Sea. The water is kept pristine for baptism and the quality of the water is of the same high standard as the Sea of Galilee. The water is constantly checked by the Ministry of Health and it is safe to immerse oneself at this location. The site offers 12 separate baptismal pools, enabling different groups to comfortably conduct private worship ceremonies. Baptisms are only allowed while wearing the special white robes, which can be rented or purchased on site. Swim suits must be worn under the robe.

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Entry to the site is free and there is no charge for conducting baptismal ceremonies. In order to sustain a respectable and spiritual atmosphere, they require all visitors to wear special white baptismal robes during their baptism. These can be rented or purchased on site. To cover operating costs, there is a nominal charge for the use of a few of Yardenit’s facilities.

I cannot over-emphasize for you to think hard on this. Once we leave there is no going back. On our last trip, the guide told us every time they go, someone is devastated that they did not do it. Of course, you do have to put on your bathing suit, but the gown properly covers you up, trust me. We will arrange this so that after this venture, we will head to the hotel. You will have to be willing to get your head wet. It just works like that 🙂 It is very meaningful and I would not have missed it for the world.

The costs and fees are:

• Baptismal kit – rental: $10
includes: a baptismal / re-dedication certificate, white baptismal robes (on loan), a towel (on loan), and entrance to the hot showers & change facility.
• Baptismal kit – purchase: $25
includes: a baptismal / re-dedication certificate, white baptismal robes, a towel (on loan), and entrance to the hot showers & change facility.
• Baptismal / re-dedication certificate only: $2
• Entrance to the hot showers & change facility only: $2

I will be there to take pictures of everyone.

 

As we get closer to the time, we will know if there will be an ordained minister going on this trip with us. If so, all ministers are open to performing the ceremony. If not, we can arrange ahead of time to have someone locally perform the ceremony. There is no fee, we will just give them a donation for their church.

The second location is Bethany beyond the Jordan. In the late 1990s, when mine clearing operations east of the Jordan enabled archaeological digs to unearth an ancient church marking baptism on a site where the Jordan River flowed in the first century, matched the place marked on the Madaba map. The local Arabic name of the site is Al-Maghtas, “the immersion/baptism”. This rapidly led to a growing consensus among archaeologists, scholars and church leaders that this site, just east of the Jordan River and slightly north of the place where it empties into the Dead Sea, is most likely to be the place where John the Baptist was baptizing.

Excavations at Bethany Beyond the Jordan began only in 1996. Before then the area had been on the front line of a minefield between Jordan and Israel, whose border is the Jordan River. The 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel prepared the way for archaeologists and church officials to ask Jordanian authorities to build a new road, a visitors’ center and walkways. Construction of several new churches has begun, the most prominent being the gold-domed Greek Orthodox Church of St John the Baptist.

The area adjacent to the baptismal site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (called Al-Maghtas in Arabic) has many other Biblical associations. Near here, it is believed, Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River to the Promised Land after the waters miraculously stopped flowing (Joshua 3:14-16). The profit Elijah also crossed the Jordan River on dry ground in this area, and was then taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:8-11). In the New Testament, Jesus withdrew to Bethany Beyond the Jordan after being threatened with stoning in Jerusalem (John 10:31-40).

Some pilgrims get baptized here, but it is not clean enough and is not recommended. I did insist that we come to this site though. We were not able to when I was here before. It only has recently (in the last five years) been accessible. It will be interesting to hear what Dr. Fleming has to say about this location.

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Last thing, do not confuse this “Bethany” with the Bethany near Jerusalem which was the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

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jordan river baptism

jordan river baptism