Crowds gather for outdoor baptisms in York

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HUNDREDS of people gathered outside York Minster to watch the Archbishop of York carry out outdoor baptisms.

Now an Easter tradition, Christians from churches across the city were baptised by Dr John Sentamu and church leaders in a large tank next to the steps of the cathedral.

While the sun broke through the clouds on several occasions, 16 people braved decidedly chilly conditions to be baptised as a public declaration of their Christian faith.

The Archbishop, in a floor-length white robe, stood knee-deep in water and fully immersed each of the candidates. Cheers rippled through the crowd as each emerged from the tank.

Hannah Jefferson, 26, from Acomb and her daughter, seven-year-old Ellie Hebditch-Jefferson, 7, a pupil at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Primary School, were among those to be baptised.

Speaking afterwards, Hannah said: “It was amazing. I feel refreshed and born again. It is freezing but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

University of York student Victor Ekpo, 27, said after his baptism: “It was a glorious event. It was as beautiful as I expected. I was pleased to do this in front of so many people and in front of this beautiful cathedral. I’m delighted beyond words.”

The baptisms are organised by One Voice York – an inter-denominational network of Christian churches in the city.

Archbishop Sentamu said, “This is the eighth year of our outdoor baptisms, when people come to make a public commitment to following Jesus Christ. I encountered Jesus Christ when I was ten-years-old, and I knew I had to follow him whatever the challenges. Faith in the God revealed in Jesus Christ is always a risk, you never quite know how things will work out, but they always do.”

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