By AT News Team, June 4, 2015: Local news media in San Antonio, Texas, where the Adventist denomination will hold a massive meeting in four weeks, have questioned the use of a city fire engine at an Adventist church last Sabbath (May 30). More than 100 people were baptized at the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church, marking the conclusion of an evangelism campaign by the Breath of Life television ministry. A temporary, above-ground pool was used for the baptisms and it was filled with water by a San Antonio Fire Department unit.
KENS television Channel 5 reported Monday that the fire truck came out and filled the pool at the request of Rebeca Baquero, special projects manager in the office of the mayor, who is an Adventist church member. A spokesman for Mayor Ivy Taylor said it did not happen at the mayor’s request nor was the mayor present at the event.
The mayor “is catching heat” because of the event, stated the Express News, placing the reaction in the context of “a tense runoff election” between Taylor and opponent Leticia Van de Putte. It did not report where the idea came from that initiated news coverage.
When Channel 5 news talked to Fire Chief Charles Hood, he stated that he was aware of the request and “said the department has fulfilled similar requests in the past.” Deputy Chief Carl Wedige told the television station that “it took about $5 worth of water to fill the 5,000-gallon pool.” In response to questions by Channel 5 news personnel about the use of on-duty fire personnel for an event that did not belong to the municipal government, Wedige explained that a certain amount of time is planned for public relations and, along with training activities, these events provide opportunities for firefighters to get practice with their equipment.
Ephesus Church has 304 members and is an historically African American congregation which is part of the denomination’s Southwest Region Conference. There are 21 Adventist congregations in San Antonio with a total membership of more than 3,500 prior to the current evangelism projects underway in the city around the time of the General Conference Session.