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Upper Room Fellowship SDA Company

Upper Fellowship SDA Company
Location: 5319 Halifax Road
Temple City, CA 91780
Contact: Pastor Kevin Camato
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

It was supposed to rain that day. For several weeks leading up to December 6, 2014, the forecast predicted rain for that Sabbath. For Pastor Kevin Camato, the new pastor at Upper Room Fellowship Church in Temple City, rain would be a problem—he had scheduled an outdoors baptism to be held on the lawn of the church for that day.

Pastor Camato had stepped into the role of head pastor at Upper Room Fellowship Church less than six months before, in June 2014. He and his wife, Gerlynne, accepted God’s calling to lead this small, mostly Korean-American congregation in Southern California. Pastor Camato finished his seminary training at Andrews University, and then they packed up their belongings and moved to California. They hit the ground running. Within the first few months, the couple planned a host of outreach opportunities, including monthly visitations to a convalescent home, birthday parties for at-risk youth at a local girls’ facility, and a fundraising event to help orphanages around the world. They also strongly felt that their church members’ faith and leadership skills could be strengthened by an intensive 6-week small group program, which combined leadership training, discipleship, and outreach all in one.

After just about a month into the job, Pastor Camato set a date five months into the future for what was to be called “Faith Date.” He had gotten the suggestion from the pastor who had developed the small group program, Pastor Mitch Williams. Faith Date was set aside as a day for those people who wanted to give their lives to Jesus Christ through baptism or a profession of faith. It would also end up being a fitting culmination of the spiritual groundwork laid throughout the year.

At the time Faith Date was set, there were no baptismal candidates. The church didn’t even have a baptismal pool. Slowly, as the months passed by, the Holy Spirit impressed upon the hearts of one, then two, then three to make the decision to get baptized.

For Jonathan Y., the decision to get baptized was somewhat a natural one. He had always grown up in an Adventist environment, surrounded by supportive parents and grandparents. But he felt his “faith was solely a product of [his] environment.” Then his interest and understanding of the Bible was sparked by one of the members of the church who was teaching his Sabbath School class. When Jonathan turned 18 years old and began to prepare for a life on his own, he found that God was calling him to have a personal relationship with Him. God was asking him to trust in Him for whatever he might need. Since he was starting his “legal” adult life as an 18 year old, he thought, “It would be very symbolic and important to start a new spiritual life as well.”

Patty L. had already been baptized at another church, into another denomination, when she was a single woman. But after she got married and had a child, she felt so many things had changed between her life then and her life now. She wanted to get baptized again to indicate her desire to recommit her life to God and dedicate herself “in service to God.” She felt that she was “ready to experience God” and know Him more. She also wanted to get baptized under total water submersion, as that was how Jesus was baptized.

Jane C. introduced her husband Clayton to Adventism, when they started dating. Although he attended an Adventist church for the next 13 years with her, he never made the final step to commit himself completely to God. He had always believed in Christ, but he felt that he had not always lived his life in a Christian way. He also thought that he did not know enough about Christianity, Adventism, and the Bible to consider himself “worthy” of baptism. As he states, “I didn’t want to do it unless I knew I could succeed in living a pure life.”

Fast forward to December 2014. Clayton had been attending Pastor Camato’s baptism classes that were held on Sabbath mornings prior to the Divine Service; but he had not yet made the decision to get baptized. The evening before the Faith Date, he called Pastor Camato and told him that he wanted to get baptized the next day. What ultimately helped him to overcome the barrier was the realization that everyone was flawed and that “baptism [was] the beginning and not the end” of his spiritual journey. Pastor Camato was calm and restrained during the phone call, but inside, his heart was doing somersaults. He was excited to have one more soul accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord.

The next day dawned bright and sunny. There would be no rain.

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