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Baptized by fire hose and salt water, a resurgence in America's South

Baptized by fire? More like baptized by fire hose.

Photojournalist Jim Lo Scalzo published an intriguing set of images today, exploring the renewed interest in outdoor Baptisms. Churches are moving away from the sterile sanctuaries and heading for the great outdoors, according to his report for the European Pressphoto Agency.

Lo Scalzo says: 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 convenience and safety 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, Ga. “It's a way to embrace tradition while renewing our spirit.”

 

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Members of the United House of Prayer For All People are baptized by fire hose, a church tradition since 1926, at the end of the church's annual convocation in Baltimore, Md., on Aug. 22, 2010.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Christian youths attending an annual beach gathering called “A Closer Walk,” are baptized in the Atlantic Ocean in Wildwood, N.J. on July 22, 2011.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Members of True Life Ministries, a Baptist church near Atlanta, are baptized in the Atlantic Ocean during an event they called 'Baptism 2011: The Year of Rededication' at St. Simon's Island, Ga., on June 18, 2011.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

A teenage visitor to The Ramp, a non-denominational ministry popular with Christian youths, goes into a trance-like state, weeping and speaking in tongues after being baptized in a pond during one of The Ramp's bi-monthly summer gatherings in Hamilton, Ala., on July 30, 2011.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

The First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, holds its '2nd Annual River Baptism' in the James River in Henrico, Va., on Aug. 9, 2010.

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Two teenage visitors to The Ramp, a non-denominational ministry popular with Christian youths, weep and speak in tongues after being baptized in a pond during one of The Ramp's bi-monthly summer 'gatherings' in Hamilton, Ala., on July 30, 2011. (Editor's note: Light entering the camera lens is creating the round flare of light around the two figures)