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Man in hospice care granted final wish of being baptized before he dies

Hospice patient gets dying wish of baptism
Hospice patient's dying wish of being baptized granted by hospital 00:47

A video of an elderly man being baptized in hospice care has gone viral. When Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System found out that Jenis James Grindstaff had a dying wish, they were happy to help that dream become a reality.

The hospital system, in South Carolina, arranged for Chaplain Terrell Jones to baptize Grindstaff in a medical bath tub. The chaplain read a prayer over Grindstaff as his nurses stood by. 

"My beloved son, Jenis James Grindstaff, I now at this time baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Ghost, and in Jesus' name," Jones said. Grindstaff, dressed in all white, moved slowly into the tub as water was poured over his head.

Video of the ceremony was posted on Spartanburg Regional's Facebook page earlier this month and it has gone viral. In a press release, the hospital system said several employees worked together to make it all possible. 

The baptism of Jenis James Grindstaff

Teamwork helps grant Jenis Grindstaff’s wish – to be baptized before he dies.

Posted by Spartanburg Regional on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

There are several types of baptism, Spartanburg Regional explained in the press release. Grindstaff chose immersion. "He wanted full immersion," Chaplain Jones said. "He said, 'I don't want sprinkles.'"

Because of the elderly man's medical issues, he couldn't do the baptism in a home tub or baptism pool. So, Spartanburg Regional provided the 60-gallon medical tub. Another issue was transporting Grindstaff safely from home care to the hospital.

The transportation workers assigned to pick up Grindstaff at home noticed something interesting in the instructions. "When we read 'baptism,' we said, 'Whoa!' We rarely see that," Emergency medical technician Nicholas Hagood said.

"One of the best things about transport is that you see everybody," Hagood said. "Over time, you get to see their progress and hear their stories." 

Money from Spartanburg Regional Foundation's Hospice Special Needs fund was used to pay for the transportation, according the press release. With all the moving parts coming together, all that was left was for Grindstaff's family to get to Spartanburg for the ceremony. 

Family from Ohio flew in for the occasion, and Grindstaff was surrounded by his sons. As the baptism came to a close, Jones said, "Amen. Come on and let's celebrate, family. Hallelujah."

"That felt good," Grindstaff said. 

The nurses then drained the tub, dressed Grindstaff and transferred him onto a stretcher so he could be transported back home. He lives with his son and daughter-in-law, who praised the hospital for coordinating the baptism. 

"The hospice team is wonderful," his daughter-in-law, Pam, said. "They're very kind in the way they talk to him. They make him laugh."

Other family members said they were at first surprised by Grindstaff's request to be baptized. "He's always read the Bible, but he had never been baptized," Grindstaff's son Jim said. "He wanted to show he believed more than anything else."

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