ALMOST 1,000 people attended a mass baptism on stage at Portsmouth’s Guildhall.
The atmosphere at the service by the Family Church was electric as 68 members of the church chose to make a public declaration of their faith in a specially-constructed pool.
Andy Elmes, the senior pastor of the Family Church, said: ‘It was great to see so many people make the decision to get baptised.
‘We believe it is yet another indication that, despite what statistics may try to tell you, the church in this nation is not in decline.
‘We are seeing new visitors come to all of our congregations on a weekly basis.
‘People today are spiritually hungry and they are finding answers to their questions at our services.
‘I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers who were setting up the Guildhall from very early in the morning to make the day happen – it was a great day of celebration.’
Family Church is a non-denominational church which began with just 12 people in 1997 and has now grown to a weekly attendance of around 1,500 through its meetings in 11 different locations. There are nine congregations with three in Portsmouth – including a student group – one in Havant and two in Gosport.
Sunday’s baptism was a coming together of all the UK congregations.
As part of the service 68 people of all ages got baptised in a large swimming pool as a public declaration of their faith. While the baptisms took place several people shared their personal stories of how life has changed for them since joining to Family Church and finding faith.
Many wore The IAmRedemption T-shirts. It is a movement started by Andy who has written a book on how the church has changed people’s lives for the better.
The profits fund humanitarian projects all over the world and recently Family Church, through the IAmRedemption project, was able to rebuild homes in the Philippines following the recent typhoons.
Family Church recently purchased buildings in Portsmouth and Havant that are being used as community hubs.
There will be free family fun days in Gosport and Havant this summer.