Pentecost in the Park

Pentecost Sunday saw our church having a celebration in Queen Elizabeth Gardens and baptising people in the river!

The idea for this came form our rector, apparently, some time ago.  He managed to rope in the suffragan Bishop of Ramsbury; so they did baptisms, renewal of baptismal vows, confirmations and combinations of these.  They chose Pentecost Sunday as that is apparently a traditional time.

Programme for the afternoon.
Programme for the afternoon.

It apparently started at about 12.30, but I arrived at about 1.00.  Everyone was having their picnic and chatting and having a good time, as it was dry and mostly sunny.  There was an awning and stage for the music group, 3 tents for the people involved in baptisms to change in (male, female and Bishop!), shelters for SP2 (drinks and cakes) and for the barbecue and a bouncy castle for the children.   People sat on the benches, chairs they had brought, blankets….. I had my lunch and then wandered around talking to people I knew.

The actual programme started at 2.30.

Programme for the afternoon
Programme for the afternoon

It started with a traditional opening and then there were worship songs that could apparently be heard more clearly in Harnham than in the park (wind direction).  This was followed by testimonies from 2 or 3 of the people involved – the others were in the programme.  Unfortunately, it was not easy to hear what was being said – people who are not used to it speak too quietly and too fast, however good the microphones.

There were then readings and they were followed by a sermon from the bishop.  He pitched it about right in terms of both length and content.  This was followed by the traditional questions and answers and the signing of each person with the sign of the cross.

While a song was sung, everyone went towards the river, and the bishop (in shorts), the rector and the youth leader waded in.  The bishop prayed over the water (the River Nadder) and the candidates went in one at a time and were baptised by full immersion.  Only one person exclaimed at how cold it was going in, but most did on the way out!  What a pity that I forgot my camera.

More songs were sung as the candidates and clergy changed and then the bishop lined up those who were being confirmed and laid hands on each one in turn.  There was then a final song and a blessing and the service was over.

So was it a good idea?  Well, it was a good service and it was great to see so many people out and enjoying themselves, which was helped by the sunny weather.  Lovely to see 16 people wanting to come forward and be baptised/confirmed very publicly and to see a bishop in purple bishops’ shirt and shorts in the river!


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