Faith Out In The Open
Rain or shine: Whatever the weather three people from very different backgrounds were determined to be baptised in the open air as a public witness of their faith
‘We thought it wouldn’t matter if it was raining as everyone would get wet!’ says David Mann, minister at Royal Docks Community Church in East London. ‘In the end the weather was glorious’.
80 friends and family gathered for the church’s first baptisms in the Royal Victoria Dock close to their Britannia Village home and metres away from Olympic Games venue, the ExCel Centre, on 22 July.
With tourists at the dockside and watching above in the cable cars that now travel across the docks, around 200 people witnessed the baptisms of Louise Dennis, Becca May and Jay Diaz.
To help passersby understand what was happening, leaflets explaining the meaning of baptism were handed out.
Speaking at her baptism, local mum Louise Dennis explained she had been resistant to her son’s request to take her to the Royal Dock’s church.
‘I used every excuse to try not to go. I was petrified when I finally walked in but when I left the first time I couldn't wait to go back and told everyone how great it was.
'I wanted to get baptised in the dock so as many of my family, friends and neighbours as possible could see it. I used to have terrible problems with anger and a spiteful tongue but now I feel like a different person and I want others to see how God is changing my life and can change their lives too.’
Becca May was brought up in a Christian family and asked to be baptised following a gap year placement as a youth worker at Royal Docks.
Jay Diaz, a businessman who grew up in the Hindu religion, found love and acceptance at the Royal Docks church that he had never experienced before and couldn’t wait to be baptised.
‘I've been waiting for my wife Didi to reach the stage she would be ready, so we could be baptised together. But once this baptism was planned I felt I had to make this commitment for myself and hope that it encourages Didi to make her own decision in her time rather than just pleasing me.'
Royal Docks Community Church was initially headed up by Penny Marsh supported by a Home Mission Grant.
David Mann has been minister since 2008 as well as being manager of the Britannia Village Hall, his post funded by local charity West Silvertown Foundation.
The hall provides a GP surgery, youth project and day care centre in an area that has seen huge regeneration with thousands of new homes but not many services to support them.
Being the hall manager and minister of the church has allowed David to build strong links with the community on the estate.
‘Living and working together with people has led to many coming to faith. We are reaping the harvest from what Penny Marsh started sowing more than 10 years ago.
'As a church we are trying to be salt and light, and to help people articulate the needs in Britannia Village and to apply the good news of the kingdom to the difficult situations many find themselves in here.’