El Paso, Tex. --- It all started three months ago when Pastor Dave Bernsten was baptizing Bobby Franklin at Verdugo Grove Adventist Church. Bernsten lowered Franklin into the water perfectly but then struggled to raise the 300-pound man.
"He managed to raise him high enough for a gulp of air but then Bobby went down again," said Brenda Hersel, a deaconess who was particularly shaken by the ordeal, "For a second there I wondered if that baptismal pool would turn into a literal watery grave..."
Hersel explained that after two more attempts to raise Franklin merely resulted in two more gulps of air, Pastor Bersten had to call for two nearby elders to help hoist him out of the water.
"Nobody has dared to talk to Pastor Bernsten about the whole thing since," said Hersel. "It's obvious he was really embarrassed."
The week after the incident, members noticed that a mountain bike had replaced Bernsten's Camry in the church parking lot. Soon after that, his Facebook friends were treated to nightly status updates from the gym. Recently, Bersten went out of his way to notify his social networks that he is benching 100 lbs.
Several young couples that have come to Bernsten for premarital counseling have complained that the quality of the sessions has plummeted. They have reported finding Bersten's new habits of munching protein bars and doing dumbbell curls during the sessions to be distracting.
Bersten has also taken to wearing short-sleeved shirts every Sabbath. "It's getting a little awkward," said Hersel. "He raises his hands more than a Pentecostal preacher during praise time and he actually flexes his biceps when he preaches."
In an effort to bolster Bernsten's ego, members have taken to complimenting him on his sermon AND his strong handshake each Sabbath at the end of the service.
Even Franklin has decided to be a good sport about his bungled baptism. The new member has displayed exemplary Christian behavior since the event. He has resolved to stay on the straight and narrow as he never wants to go through the ordeal again.
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