Family make history with full immersion baptism in Semerwater

Out of the deep - mum greets the baptism party by the lakeside

By Betsy Everett

It was a baptism like no other when Andrew Cumpstone and his daughters Chloe, 13, and Ruby, 11, took the plunge in Semerwater, near Bainbridge, for the first full immersion ceremony at the lake in living memory.

Surrounded by bathers, sailors, paddle-boarders, bikers and picnickers enjoying the bank holiday sunshine, and accompanied by Hawes Silver Band at full throttle, it was a long way from the traditional baptism services normally held in St Oswald’s Church in Askrigg, which the family attends from their home in Bainbridge.

But, said the vicar, the Rev Dave Clark of the upper Wensleydale benefice, that was how the girls and their dad had wanted it, and in his testimony to the congregation gathered on the tiny, crowded shingle beach, Andrew explained why.

The total immersion was, he said, “massively symbolic of the old life going down into the water and then being born back into this new life as you come out. It is a beautiful world we live in and it was an amazing god that created that world. . . Baptism is an outward sign for me to say I absolutely believe that Jesus came to earth and died so that we could meet with god through him.”

Chloe said she had been a Christian since she was “six or seven” and had always wanted to be baptised. Now she was older she had a fuller understanding of what that meant. Ruby, too, said had not fully understood Christianity when she was “quite little”, but now she wanted to show that she “truly believed” in God and Jesus.

Mum, Heather, their three-year-old brother, and relatives from all over the country joined the outdoor congregation for the service of baptism and thanksgiving.

Left to right, Chloe, Ruby and Andrew Cumpstone after their baptism.
Hawes Silver Band provided rousing music for the service, one of many events they supported over the bank holiday weekend.
Dave and Sarah Clark lead the singing.