Pastor Electrocuted While Performing Baptism

10-31-05 - A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning after grabbing a microphone while partially submerged, a worker at the church said.

University Baptist Church Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was standing in water in the baptistry when he was electrocuted, said Jamie Dudley, wife of UBC community pastor Ben Dudley and a business administrator at the church. Water in a baptistery usually reaches above the waist, said Byron Weathersbee, interim university chaplain at Baylor University.

Ben Dudley said Lake was stepping into the baptistery as he reached out to adjust a nearby microphone, which produced an electric shock.

Doctors attending the service rushed to help Lake, who collapsed, Dudley said. An ambulance was dispatched to the hospital around 11 a.m., and Lake and the woman who was being baptized were taken to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center. Nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said Lake was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Dudley said medical personnel tried for about 45 minutes to re-establish a regular heartbeat for Lake.

Dudley said the woman, whose name wasn't released, apparently had not stepped into the water. She was taken to the hospital as a precaution and was not seriously injured, he said.

Jamie Dudley said it's common for the pastor to use the microphone during baptisms.

"He was grabbing the microphone so everyone could hear," Dudley said. "It's the only way you can be loud enough."

She said about 800 people were attending the morning service. She said the service was larger than normal because it was homecoming weekend at Baylor University, located near the church.

"At first, there was definitely confusion just because everyone was trying to figure out what was going on," Ben Dudley said in a story in Monday's Waco Tribune-Herald. "Everyone just immediately started praying."

At a remembrance attended by about 1,000 people Sunday night at First Baptist Church, Dudley told the UBC congregation that they would move forward as a church.

"I don't know how, when, why, where or what's going to happen, but we will continue as a church in the community because that is what Kyle would have wanted," he said.

Interim Baylor President Bill Underwood, and Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver, interim vice president for student life, attended the service.

"Kyle and the other staff have been very gifted in reaching students and making the Gospel come alive for students," Oliver said. "It is a huge loss for the university community."

Weathersbee said he had known Lake since he was in college.

"He has been a very, very close personal friend for years," he said.

Lake had been at the church for nine years, the last seven as pastor. He had a wife, Jennifer, a 5-year-old daughter and two 3-year-old sons.