Forgiveness and repentance confirmed behind bars.

Published: 16th September 2013

Despite risks of drowning, and prison walls, "God breaks through the most secure of defences, liberating hearts and minds, and turning lives around. says Bishop Clive. About a hundred people crowded into the chapel at Swinfen Hall Prison near Lichfield on Sunday morning for a very special service.Alongside the regular congregation of prisoners, prison staff and chaplaincy volunteers, special guests included family members, the Chair of the Birmingham District of the Methodist Church, Bill Anderson, and the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory.They were there to confirm ten prisoners, all aged between 18 and 24, in a service where six were also baptised by full immersion. This was the third time that full immersion baptisms have taken place at Swinfen. The first one, three years ago, caused something of a stir and some confusion and concern for the prison's Health and Safety department, who were worried about the risk of drowning! But now it has become part of what the prison offers, with other departments rallying round to help fill the pool and make sure that there are enough towels and spare clothes. The Revd Sam Leach, vicar of St Alban's Church, Wednesfield kindly lends the baptistry from his church.Total immersion baptism is a wonderful symbol of leaving the old life behind and starting afresh in Christ" said the Rev'd Jane Newsome, managing chaplain at Swinfen Hall. Being totally immersed in cold water (and it was very cold this year!!) makes a very clear statement that that becoming a Christian and taking the decision to change your life is a brave step"Bob Payne (who was awarded an MBE in January for his services to prison chaplaincy) a chaplains at the prison, has been preparing the candidates for baptism and confirmation over the past few months.Listening to their stories, and the very complicated and sometimes tragic backgrounds they have come from, and teaching them about the forgiveness and power of Christ, has been a great privilege for me. It is also very, very special to see the faces of the familes who come and witness this about-turn in their sons and brothersA number of visiting clergy helped prepare the group for baptism and confirmation, including Canon Anthony Moore from Lichfield Cathedral and the Diocesan Director of Ordinands (trainee priests), Revd David Newsome.It was, as always at Swinfen, a great privilege to be part of such a moving and memorable service. The stories behind the young lads commitment to Christ are a powerful testimony to how God breaks through the most secure of defences, liberating hearts and minds, and turning lives around. said Bishop Clive.

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