WACO, Texas (ABP) — Kyle Lake, 33-year-old pastor of the innovative University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, was electrocuted and died Oct. 30 after he grabbed a microphone while in a baptistry full of water.
According to eyewitness reports, Lake grabbed the microphone to adjust it while standing in the baptismal waters. He was shocked and collapsed.
More than 800 people witnessed the event, which happened on the same weekend as Baylor University's homecoming. Doctors in the congregation tried for 40 minutes to revive Lake. He was sent to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:30 a.m. The woman Lake was to baptize survived the incident.
A technical crew and local authorities are trying to pinpoint the exact cause of Lake's death. Meanwhile, leaders and journalists in Baptist life said they were unaware of any other deaths apparently due to baptistry electrocutions.
Lake and his wife, Jen, have a daughter and twin sons.
In a blog Oct. 31, one Baylor student mourned the loss of “a dear friend and spiritual guide to so many people in the community who have struggled with faith.”
“Besides the loss itself, many in the church are traumatized because everyone there actually saw him get electrocuted,” the student wrote on www.theooze.com. “Please do pray for everyone involved. The community is really struggling.”
The church's web site — typically full of color — provided a simple statement Oct. 31 expressing grief over the loss of a pastor and friend. It also affirmed his faith. “We are confident that Kyle is in heaven today because of his trust in Jesus Christ as his savior,” the site reads.
The David Crowder Band, the congregation's worship band, also left a simple expression of its feelings. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our great friend and pastor, Kyle Lake. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lake family, as well as our entire church community at UBC.”
The church held a service of prayer and reflection Oct. 30 to remember its pastor.
University Baptist was founded in 1995 by David Crowder and Chris Seay, who is now pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston. Lake led University Baptist, a congregation largely of college students, for seven years.
A graduate of Baylor University and its seminary, Lake was one of the up-and-coming voices of the “emerging church” movement, which seeks to reconnect younger generations to the gospel.
Seay said Lake was “remarkably endearing” and cared deeply for his congregation. “He loved students so much,” Seay said. “He'd sit down and laugh and joke and also be able to speak truth into their lives.”
Milfred Minatrea, missional-church consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, called Lake a “bridge person” because he cared deeply for traditional churches but was passionate about sharing the gospel with younger generations. “Kyle's contemplative in many senses,” Minatrea said. “He meditated on the Scriptures and tried to tell the message in fresh ways.”
Lake was the author of two books, Understanding God's Will and [Re]Understanding Prayer.
News of Lake's death spread across the country within hours of his passing through phone calls, e-mails and Internet blogs. His death affects a large portion of younger believers, according to a blog run by Emergent, a network of young church leaders.
— Greg Warner contributed to this article.