'Friends and Neighbors': Full immersion

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By David Pierini

Staff Photographer

One person suffered the loss of his wife and son. Another survived addiction and bad relationships. Some said they lost their way during their college years.

But their individual paths led to the same water, which filled a rented portable baptistry sitting in the middle of Austin Gardens in Oak Park Sunday morning.

Village Church of Oak Park baptized 12 people in the outdoor service. Approximately 170 people, some carrying picnic blankets and lawn chairs, attended. This was a departure from their usual Sunday service, held across the street at the 19th Century Charitable Association.

Each baptizee shared a testimonial before taking the plunge. While eight were scheduled, four others were moved to join them, compelled by the deep, buttery vocal tones of their pastor, Cisco Cotto.

Cotto described his own journey, which led to this day, his church's first baptismal ceremony. Less than two years ago, Village Church started in his living room with 18 members. Today, more than 100 people attend Sunday service.

"This baptism service is definitely a milestone," Cotto said. "Right now, it's a way for us to give thanks to God for what He has done in such a short time. In the years ahead, we'll be able to look back on this as just the start of something wonderful."

Email: david@oakpark.com

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Posted: September 13th, 2013 2:32 PM

I wonder if Sanctuary Resident minds when the Festival Theatre has its productions in the park all summer long? Perhaps your real problem is this was a church.

Sanctuary Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2013 6:28 AM

As a condo resident facing Austin Gardens, it was very disturbing on a Sunday morning to have loud music and amplified preaching blasting into my apartment for hours. It was inappropriate use of the park and upsetting to several other residents of my building. In the future, the Park District should do more investigation before issuing permits.

Nancy from Dyer  

Posted: September 12th, 2013 9:53 PM

Cisco, we are so excited for the growth in just two short years. So thankful for the lives that have been changed!


Posted: September 12th, 2013 8:50 PM

How much money did they make on this gimmick? Because we all know that religion is all about money and how much they can fleece from their sheeple!


Posted: September 11th, 2013 7:45 PM

I am also curious. Why does that man have no eyebrows?

just curious  

Posted: September 11th, 2013 1:25 PM

Does that require a park permit?

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