THE Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, baptised more than 20 believers in a full-immersion ceremony in the centre of the city.

The event held yesterday, Easter Sunday, saw 21 people from different denominations baptised.

Hundreds of people crowded around the water tank in St Sampson's Square to hear a Christian rock band and watch the baptisms.

Dr Sentamu spoke about Easter and the message it has for people today.

He added: "This is about people saying Christ is risen. We may have a lot of broken hearts and difficulties but he can mend our broken lives."

The Archbishop also appealed for the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza City about three weeks ago.

He then asked if anyone had been moved by his words and also wanted to be baptised.

A Jewish woman in the front row said she did and the Archbishop dripped water from the pool on her head, saying: "You are not stopping being Jewish. God still loves you."

He then immersed one-by-one in the pool all 21 believers, including people from the Anglican, Elim and Free Churches.

Godfrey Thorn, 57, of The Ark Church, in Foxwood, embraced the Archbishop as he entered the baptism pool.

He said: "I was hugging the Archbishop to say I am a Christian with you, just that friendship. It was unbelievable.

"It was a great honour, especially as the Archbishop was there, but it could have been my pastor or anyone."

Steven Ragg, 34, from Clifton Parish Church, said: "I have been going to church for quite a while and it seemed like a natural thing to do.

"It was a privilege and a real honour. It doesn't matter who you are baptised by, it would still have been an amazing experience."

Speaking after the event, Archbishop Sentamu said: "I think it was fantastic. It is a first because there were so many denominations involved in it.

"Really whatever the boundaries have been, to me we have created a much bigger tent which we can all inhabit, which I think is wonderful."

The event was organised by One Voice York, an inter-denominational network of Christian churches working together across the city.

Graham Hutchinson, co-chairman of the group and pastor of Elim Pentecostal Church, said: "Never before in this country has there been an ecumenical baptism involving so many different denominations."