The annual Bible salvation verse reading and giving out of gospel tracts to 40,000 people lining the route of the Gloucester carnival procession took place on Saturday 22 July, at 3.30pm. This Christian outreach has been done every year for 34 years.
Following a strongly worded letter from a leading law firm in London, Gloucester city councillors finally, after three years, dropped its demand that words on all tracts had to be vetted by Marketing Gloucester officials before being handed out. This demand had caused distress to the 30 Christians who had not given out any offensive tracts at all, but who had been falsely accused of doing so, three years ago.
In response to this legal action, the chief executive of Marketing Gloucester, speaking on behalf of Gloucester city councillors, approached the Christians as they were about to walk in the carnival procession, and said, ‘We have no problem with you handing out leaflets’.
The number of Christians taking part in this event fell from 45 last year to 20 this year. However, the 20 volunteers rose to the challenge. They worked hard to put on a similar sized Christian presentation.
Huge Bible displays on three vehicles declared to the watching crowds packing the pavements of the city streets, the following biblical teaching: Jesus is Lord; together in Jesus Christ; Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6); ‘I am the bread of live; he that cometh to me shall never hunger’; and ‘The myth: I am not a sinner. Truth: All have sinned’.
The theme this year was ‘Carnival of the animals’, so we did a notice on both sides of three vehicles that said, ‘All creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all’, as well as depicting the Bible, with the Ten Commandments shown alongside, and a picture of a dinosaur with the text, ‘Behold now behemoth, which I made with you (Job 40:15)’.
There were also two 8ft x 4ft banners, and ten other big Bible text notices. Every Christian wore large Bible texts on a white garment on the front and back of them. In the procession, for an hour, John Banda and Roland Parsons read out verses of salvation from the Bible, with each phrase of the verse being repeated, with emphasis on key words. A 21-inch bell amplifier meant we were heard clearly.
The procession regularly stopped so the public heard a good number of the verses, which explain salvation by faith in Jesus. Rev. John Shearer said the big crowds were well natured towards us and he saw many smiles.
Volunteers gave out roughly 3,000 tracts, as fast as they could, to the watching crowds. It was not possible to give one to everyone who wanted one. When they arrived at Gloucester Park, Roland Parsons gave a prayer of thanks to our Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name.
We had a fish and chip supper, as we sat around the Robert Raikes memorial, and enjoyed a time of fellowship and joy at what had been achieved, despite the opposition we have experienced. One Bible was given to a serious enquirer.
Roland R. Parsons