Easter Sunday 2007 was an historic day in the centre of York.
The churches of York had completed 40 days of prayer and many came together for a celebration in the city centre. At the same time the ‘red carpet treatment’ was given to the general public. We invited people to walk on strips of red carpet and gave them a card explaining the simple truth of the gospel that God thought they were so special that Jesus made a way for them to walk to Him through His blood.
From 12.30pm there was music and singing in St Sampson’s Square with the band from York City Church. There was face painting going on and an information desk. The stage had a huge banner behind it carrying the One Voice logo and web address. The PA was particularly good and everyone in the area could hear what was going on.
Word had got around that Baptisms were going to be conducted, as people had travelled from towns all over Yorkshire, even from surrounding counties and at least one family came up for the day from London!
Archbishop John Sentamu agreed to baptise candidates from all the churches along with their own leader. This was to be the first time in known history that the primate of England was to conduct baptisms with leaders of other churches.
After an introduction and explanation from David Casswell, Joint Chair of One Voice, we all shouted together “He is Risen”. Graham Hutchinson, Joint Chair of One Voice, briefly interviewed all 20 candidates and they made a public confession of their faith.
Archbishop Sentamu preached about what Easter really means. He made people laugh and he made people think. He then encouraged all the crowd to join in a declaration of turning to Christ.
Stephen Redman then prayed over the water and led a confession of faith from the candidates.
The baptisms then took place with a leader of each church baptising with the Archbishop, and each candidate being immersed 3 times, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. James Bailey from York City Church, John Wilson from Gateway, David Casswell from Clifton Parish, Graham Hutchinson from Elim and Stephen Redman from the Ark all took their turn in the water with Dr Sentamu.
One candidate took the photographers eye by hugging the Archbishop before and after his baptism.
Throughout the proceedings the crowd remained very large, the atmosphere was electric and the media were active. Most importantly God was with us. We believe that the statement of unity that has gone out from this event will make positive ripples in our city for a long time, but the impact this has had in the spiritual realm may be even greater.
On the 9th April the event was reported in the York Press, it made the front page of the Yorkshire Post and an excellent feature in the Northern Echo. It was also reported on TV by the BBC showing video of the occasion.
Read a report at AOL
Read a report at Metro.co.uk
Read a report at Tiscali News with a very unusal photograph
Read a report from The Guardian
Read a report from The Lancashire Evening Post with Photo Gallery