Members of Dixfield church make 2,600-mile, 48-hour trek to pick up baptismal

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DIXFIELD — The pastor of a local church and two members recently drove more than 2,600 miles in three days to pick up a portable baptismal tank paid for with donations from the church.

The Rev. Phillip Tarr of the First Light United Pentecostal Church said when he first announced to church members that he was hoping to get a baptismal tank, donations immediately began to pour in. Members and residents donated the $2,500 needed to pay for it, he said.

“I checked with FedEx and UPS to see how much it would cost to ship something that big from Alabama to Maine,” Tarr said. “They gave me $2,600 as an estimate. The baptismal didn’t even cost that much money. I checked with some other trucking companies, and even they told me it would cost around $1,200 to ship. We’re a small church, and that’s a lot of money for just shipping.

“At some point, I realized I could probably just go pick up the thing in my pickup truck without paying a huge fee,” he said. “It moved pretty fast from there.”

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The baptismal is on wheels and has a small oak staircase leading up to the tank. It also has a heater inside it.

“Most tanks take anywhere between 24 and 30 hours to heat up, but the one we bought only takes five or six hours,” Tarr said. “It’s important to have a heated tank,” he said with a laugh.

Tarr said he used to perform baptisms at the Mollyockett Motel in Woodstock.

“They always allowed us to do baptisms in their pool free of charge, so we’re grateful to them for all they’ve done for us,” he said. But the motel was quite a drive for something like that, he added.

“It’s going to be really nice to have a baptismal here, at our church in Dixfield,” he said.

It was a whirlwind trip to get the tank to the church.

Tarr said he left the church early Monday morning, Feb. 17, with members Nelson Coolidge and Mike Howe and drove for 24 hours straight to Fiberglass Unlimited in Roanoke, Ala., where the 400-pound tank was manufactured.

“It was a real quick drive,” Tarr said. “We left on Monday, drove straight down to Alabama, loaded the baptismal into the bed of my pickup, and got back on Wednesday.”

“It was a fun trip, with lots of laughs and good fellowship,” he said. “We would take turns sleeping in the back seat. We were able to make it back in 48 hours. Once we got back, we had several individuals from our church and other churches to help us unload it.”

He said that they were “blessed” to be able to avoid the snowstorms in the South.

“We ended up skirting the whole thing,” Tarr said. “I think we caught the edge of the storm in Virginia, but otherwise, we were able to make it straight through without any problems.”

Tarr said the church will hold a dedication ceremony for the baptismal.

“We’re going to dedicate the baptismal to Beverly Coolidge’s mother, who passed away a short time ago. We’re going to get a plaque and put it on the side. It’s the least we can do.”

Beverly Coolidge said she and her husband have been attending First Light United Pentecostal Church for five years, and she “deeply cares for the church.”

She also praised the pastor for his role in providing her family guidance when her mother was ill.

“He made it much easier for us to prepare for my mother passing,” Coolidge said. “I can’t thank him enough for what he did.”

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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