Page last updated at 20:10 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 21:10 UK

River baptisms watched by crowd

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter
It is the first time the bishop has baptised anyone in a river

Two rare river baptisms have been performed by the Bishop of Exeter in Devon.

A crowd, estimated at more than 500, gathered at the River Tavy in Tavistock to watch the ceremony on Sunday.

The Right Revered Michael Langrish said performing the ceremony had been a "moving and dramatic experience".

"I have baptised people in swimming pools, in a lake and in the sea, but it is the first time I have baptised in a fast-flowing river," he said.

Fishermen's waders

"Standing in the river, seeing all those people gathered around, and then having the baptisms, was a very moving occasion.

"It was a celebration of what we have been about these past few days - the church at the heart of the community, there for the community."

The baptisms followed a large outdoor service held by the bishop at the town's St Eustachius Church.

The priest-in-charge of St Eustachius, the Rev Michael Brierley, said he and the bishop had worn fishermen's waders underneath their robes.

The Bishop of Exeter and Guy Sheppard with two pints of Devon Heaven
A local beer, Devon Heaven, has been produced for the anniversary

The bishop's visit to Tavistock was part of celebrations to mark the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Exeter.

Thousands of people are expected in Exeter next weekend as celebrations reach a climax.

There will be a night of events for young people on Cathedral Green on Friday with live bands, DJs, a skate park, food and a prayer interactive zone.

On Saturday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will take part in the Eucharist service at Exeter Cathedral.

An anniversary brew, named Devon Heaven, has also been made by the local Exe Valley brewer Guy Sheppard to mark the anniversary.



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