Chaplain Ministers to Ship’s Company and Family: Baby Dedication and Baptism – Navy-Style

By Chaplain Jonathan Stephens, USN to Andy Meverden


Here are the pictures from the Baby dedication that I performed for the youngest son of the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Navy Destroyer John S. McCain (DDG 56).

As I previously shared over the phone, there is a Navy tradition that any Sailor who has a child while they are stationed on the ship can have the christening or baptism on the ship using the ship’s bell. Afterwards the child’s name and the date are etched onto the inside of the bell.

The CO, a brother in Christ who is not from a faith tradition that does infant baptism, wanted to dedicate his youngest child to the Lord and still wanted it to be etched into the legacy of his ship. I explained that choosing to dedicate your child to the Lord and committing to raise him in the body of Christ is the substance of what is happening and that the ceremony to do that could take many forms.

So, on the day of the ceremony I explained to those in attendance that this was not a normal practice for me as a Baptist minister but that we wanted to use this tradition already in place to invite the ship family to witness the substance of this step of faith and public commitment being taken by the CO and his family. 

The event took place on the forward deck under the main gun.  The CO invited interested ship’s company and members of the base Protestant chapel community to witness and participate.  Among other things, it was an opportunity to celebrate a moment in the ship’s life following the tragic collision that claimed the lives of ten Sailors on 21 August 2017 off the coast of Singapore and Malaysia, east of the Strait of Malacca.

Andy Meverden adds: On that fateful day, Chaplain Stephens flew to this damaged vessel in Singapore to minister to the crew.  Following the tragedy, he worked long hours counseling and consoling Sailors and Family members of the USS McCain.  The joint efforts of Jonathan and his wife Melissa touched the lives of many.  The group photo of the women standing with the CO’s wife and baby are a testament to the strength and value of Navy chapel community overseas. Melissa is standing tall on the far left.

P.S. Sir, You are always asking for pictures…sorry that I am giving them to you all at once 😊.  Today I was able to baptize one of the Sailors that I led to the Lord on deployment.


Jonathan Stephens


Staff Chaplain COMDESRON 15

Join me in thanking God for His sustaining grace in Chaplain Jonathan and Melissia Stephens’ lives.  While still in temporary lodging, the USS Fitzgerald collision occurred on 17 June 2017, with a loss of seven crewmembers.  After seven weeks of intense and exhausting ministry to that crew and their families, another ship in Jonathan’s squadron, the USS McCain collided on 21 August 2017 with a commercial vessel, resulting in ten more crew deaths.  Only by God’s Grace were they able to work through these two tragedies.  Pray for Jonathan, Melissa and their two young daughters as they serve the Sailors and Families of their squadron.

For more stories of and by CBAmerica chaplains, go to  To discuss chaplain endorsement, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at