Day I Baptized One per Cent of Panetnirtung's Population

Article excerpt

FOR TWO MONTHS there had been no baptism service at St. Luke's in Pangnirtung. Parents began to phone me, or ask me when they saw me on the street, or at the store. One person went on the local radio station. The question was always same: "When are you going to have a baptism?"

The former incumbent minister had recently moved to Pond Inlet, a northeast community on the shores of Baffin Bay, and I had been invited to become priest-incharge. Perhaps I should mention that I have been in Pangnirtung for six years, and so I am not unknown to the local people of the hamlet. Having responsibility for the administration of the sacraments at St. Luke's, however, is a new distinction for me in the Arctic.

In preparation for the service I made a radio call. I requested the presence of parents and godparents at a meeting where we would share teachings about the meaning and significance of baptism. We were going to meet at the Arthur Turner Training School. So, in anticipation of numbers, I set up about 12 chairs around the large wooden table in the classroom.

At the appointed time, when all the chairs were filled, I decided to begin my introduction. We were two minutes into the teaching when it became obvious that more chairs would be needed, as more parents with infants in their amoutiks edged into the room. Five minutes later, we welcomed another family to the group. My introduction continued.

I was now at the point of commenting on the Israelites' exodus from Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea, when, within a short while I was aware of communication between people inside the room and someone in the hall. …