At Orthodox Church in Gaza, fear looms over joy of baptizing nine babies

Posted Oct 31, 2023

[World Council of Churches] On Oct. 28 , faithful parents gathered at St. Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza to baptize their babies. The traditionally joyful baptisms were undergirded by fear: parents were having their young ones baptized so that if the babies perish in the war, they will die as Christians.

During a bombardment on Oct. 19 , a hall affiliated with the church, one the oldest churches in Gaza, collapsed, and 19 Christians who were taking refuge there were killed, including three babies who died unbaptized. In the wake of this tragedy, the St. Porphyrios congregation felt an urgency to baptize all the remaining babies, so that if they die in the bombardment they will die as Christians.

Nine children were baptized in the hastily-arranged ceremony.  The parents and congregation were already gathered in the church, as they have been taking refuge since the war began on Oct. 7. 

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