A Baptism Marriage Proposal

Posted on May 5, 2010

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By David Ettinger

For Becky Henry, it was a total surprise. For Todd Render, it was a moment he will never forget.

Caption: Todd Render comes up out of the water after being baptized.

The two First Orlando members became engaged on Sunday, July 28, during the 10:45 a.m. “Not Ashamed” baptism celebration. “I knew I wanted to ask Becky to marry me, so I thought to myself, What better time to do it,” Todd explained. “So I contacted the church and asked if I could propose to Becky during the service.”

And the answer he got was “yes,” but with a slight hitch. “Pastor [David] Uth called and told me that he thought it was a great idea,” said Todd, a teacher at Three Points Elementary and also a lifeguard at the YMCA. “The only thing is, he didn’t want to take away from the baptism [ceremony].”

Originally, Todd’s plan was to propose to Becky right there on stage. He was baptized first, then stood by as Becky was baptized. He wanted to pop the question the moment she got out of the water. “Pastor Uth asked me to do the proposal off to the side of the stage, which I understood completely,” Todd, 36, said. “The rest of the people were having their moment, and I didn’t want to take away from that.”

For Becky, 31 and a teacher at The First Academy, the proposal during the baptism came as a complete surprise, though she was expecting a proposal. “We knew each other for eleven months and had already discussed marriage,” she said. “But I had no idea he was going to ask me on that day.”

So, why exactly did Todd pick that particular day to ask Becky to marry him? “I knew I wanted to do something big, but I didn’t know what,” he explained. “I thought I would ask her through skywriting, but I changed my mind.”

In the meantime, the two had already been discussing getting baptized together. “I saw the baptisms we held at the beach and really liked what I saw,” Todd said. “Even though I was baptized when I was in fourth grade, I thought about getting baptized at the beach.”

Caption: Becky Henry removes her robe in preparation to be baptized.

But then Pastor Uth began his “Not Ashamed” series and Todd was sold. “I told Becky that we needed to get baptized together right here [at First Orlando], and she agreed.”

At that moment, getting baptized was all Todd had in mind, but it did not take long for him to start thinking creatively. “I thought to myself, Since God is a huge part of our lives, why not propose to her immediately after we get baptized,” he said. “For me, there was no better time to do it.”

In preparation, Todd, who is from Kentucky, told Becky’s family — Upstate New York natives who transferred to Central Florida — what his plans were. “First, I wanted to ask Becky’s father for her hand in marriage,” Todd said. “I needed his permission.”

With that secured, Todd sprang into action, making sure Becky’s family would be at church that day. He also called Becky’s friends to make sure they would attend. So, everyone of importance was in on it — everyone, that is, except Becky. “I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen,” she said. “I was nervous enough about the baptism.”

Todd was doubly nervous. In fact, he had tied the engagement ring to the string of his shorts and spent most of the morning worrying if it was staying in place. “I kept checking my shorts the entire time,” he said. “I was afraid I was going to lose it. I didn’t, but it was a little awkward after I got out of the water. I had to loosen my shorts and take out the ring.”

Fortunately, the ring was exactly where Todd had left it, so that was one concern settled. Next, he had to get Becky offstage following her baptism, but that proved somewhat of a challenge. “After we were baptized, [the pastors] wanted everyone to go backstage,” Todd said. “They wanted us to go one way, but I was pulling her the other.”

It was an uncomfortable situation for Becky. “I’m a follower, so I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I just wanted to do what they asked us to do.”

But despite her ambivalence, Becky went along with Todd. They walked over to the far right end of the stage (from the congregation’s point of view) and went to the bottom of the steps. “I actually put my knee down on the bottom step to propose,” Todd said. “But Becky said to me, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I said, ‘No, I’m absolutely serious. Will you marry me?’ ”

By this time, Becky was in tears. “The whole thing was kind of a blur to me,” she said. “I was already crying from being baptized because that was a big moment. To go from that moment to someone proposing to me in front of the whole church was unbelievable. It didn’t feel real. He definitely caught me off guard.”

Fortunately, Becky had enough presence of mind to say “yes.”

Following a hug and kiss, Todd and Becky went backstage. “We were greeted by all kinds of people who saw what happened and they gave us congratulations,” Todd said. “They were mostly people we didn’t know.”

It was a euphoric moment for both of them. “It was so amazing,” Becky said. “It was just unbelievable.”

Todd agreed. “I can’t think of a better way to start our lives together.”

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