At the close of the annual camp meetings, a water baptismal service is held. In the early days, these services were held outdoors, with the candidates being baptized in the river. Always a sacred scene, a baptismal service was especially impressive when scores of candidates followed the officiating ministers into the river’s waters. Members of the congregation stood on the bank and sang familiar Gospel hymns, including the old favorite, “Shall We Gather at the River?” Frequently, a group of musicians would accompany the singing on their instruments.
While most of the baptismal services over the years were held during summer months, one of those not-to-be-forgotten events was held on New Year’s Day of 1918. Fifty-seven converts joyously went into the river’s cold waters to observe this ordinance, signifying through water baptism their spiritual burial and resurrection with Christ.
As time passed it became more difficult to find proper locations along the river in the Portland area for the baptismal services. In 1929, a large baptistery was installed in the present Duke Street tabernacle and scores of converts were baptized there annually. When the church was built across from the campground, a beautiful baptistery was installed there. Since that time, baptismal services have been held in the church during camp meetings and at various other times during the year.