Reflections on the Malmesbury baptisms

First published 10th October 2014

I was proud to proclaim "This is my faith" in front of my wife, my friends from the Abbey, our baptismal group and ministers, the Archbishop and God! The cool water swept over me, renewing my faith and commitment to following Jesus.

On Saturday 13 September an excited crowd of about 750 people gathered in glorious sunshine outside Malmesbury Abbey as the Archbishop of Canterbury baptised and confirmed 19 men, women and children.

"What struck me and many others was his humanity," recalls Rev Neill Archer, Vicar of Malmesbury Abbey. "This wasn't a hyper religious occasion. The Archbishop was real with us, encouraged us to be a church that had fewermeetings and more parties, but also pointed to God. We pretty much drenched and froze him in the baptismal pool but he was still full of joy. As he left he stopped to be given a bottle of Welby's Wallop, a beer bottled especially for his visit, but he also stopped to pray with for sick child.

"We met a holy man; a man available to God and a man available to others. And to know he is leading the Anglican Communion will be a lasting encouragement to the local church here in North Wiltshire and the rest of our diocese."

malmesbury baptisms

Here are a few reflections on the day from some of those baptised by Archbishop Justin.

Charlotte Coombes

"As someone who has always had faith and been a church goer, I may have been an unlikely candidate, but for me it was a reaffirmation of my ever growing faith. I was christened when I was a young child and confirmed at age 12 but this year I hit 40 and felt the opportunity to very publicly renew my baptism was right for me. I have had periods in my life where I haven't gone to Church but for the last fouryears have regularly attended and now help set up for communion as well as sing in the choir.

"Meeting the Archbishop was wonderful - he was very good at calming any nerves amongst us. After the experience I felt so uplifted and joyous - the smile on my face was there for days! I feel I've reconnected with my faith now and I'm far more relaxed about talking about it. I have made new friends through this experience and I also got to share it with my sister Amanda who also renewed her baptism."

John Browning-Gower

"It was one of the best days of my life, second only to coming to live with my foster family. I felt lighter as I came out of the water, and with a new sense of beginning and strength. I will never forget it as long as I live."

Margaret Evans

"I reaffirmed a childhood baptism because I felt the time was right to confirm my re-awakened faith, which had been in 'hibernation'. Coming to services at Malmesbury Abbey, the Alpha Course and being baptised by Archbishop Justin have rooted me firmly with the Lord and I am joyful and at peace in giving my life to Him."

David Chadwick

"When Neill Archer first mentioned that the Archbishop would be visiting the Abbey and baptising people, I was really excited. I had been baptised as an infant but had really come to faith in the last twoyears through the wonderful ministry and Christian fellowship of Malmesbury Abbey; this would be a wonderful opportunity to publicly confess my faith and move forward on my Christian journey.

"The Archbishop was so warm and friendly when he stepped out of his car; he told us that baptising was one of the most fulfilling sacraments that he got to perform, and that we should all relax and enjoy the occasion. The sun was just breaking through the clouds to warm the baptismal pool and the atmosphere in the Abbey grounds was welcoming and joyous. I was proud to proclaim "This is my faith" in front of my wife, my friends from the Abbey, our baptismal group and ministers, the Archbishop and God! The cool water swept over me, renewing my faith and commitment to following Jesus."

Ian Dony

"I came to this after years of pushing back against organised religion. I was supported in taking the Pilgrim course and as a consequence decided the time was right for me to declare my faith by reaffirmation and confirmation. I was amazed at the support and warmth that came from this.

"It is only after the event that every day a little bubble appears inmy head that yes, I was reaffirmed and confirmed by the Archbishop however that is followed by a bigger bubble that I have declared my faith which has changed my outlook and has also brought joy not just to me but also to my close friends who share faith."

Read further reflections from Ian Dony here.

And here is a poem written by Andrew Carnegie , who had an earlier baptism reaffirmed.

Reaffirming Malmesbury

Medieval glorious architecture,

Commoners penitent sight,

Saint Aldhelms delight,

Backdropped stone splendour,

Waiting expectant time,

Choral worship fine,

White dressed investiture.

Expectant crowds peer,

Struggling to see,

Nineteen white purity,

+Justin Cantuar cheer,

Smiling reassurance calms,

Steady lacks alarm,

His enjoyment clear.

English shepherd courageous,

Treading ancient pathway,

Entrance opening day,

Bright smiles contagious,

Archbishop incandescently beams,

Celebration everywhere seems,

Oratio erit demonstratus.

Leadership favours bold,

Party not meeting,

New Christian greeting,

Audience is told,

Eyes humorously rest,

Future immersive test,

Water very cold.

Nerve wracked feeling,

Waiting to affirm,

Stomach shivers churn,

So many seeing,

Then words lurch,

Faithful my church,

Spirit enters being.

Butterfly links sky,

Spirit flows freely,

God loves dearly,

Emotions now lie,

Sheer loving joy,

Regression to boy,

Struggle not cry.

Stood before community

Under God's sight,

Released human plight,

Feels such enormity,

All share clarity,

With total certainty,

Reaffirmed Christian unity.

Powered by Church Edit