Special service marks Preston Guild 2012

Two thousand people have attended the first major event of the 2012 Preston Guild year.

The Christian Unity service was held for the first time at the Guild Hall.

It marked the start of Preston Guild, a celebration which has been held every 20 years since 1179.

One of the organisers, Steve Garsed, said he was "absolutely thrilled" almost 80 churches united for the service.

He said: "This Christian Unity service is a commitment to start working together through Guild year and beyond and serve our city."

The event marked a more prominent role for faith in this year's Guild. Previously, the church's involvement was in the Guild procession.

Highlights include a religious drama filmed in the city called Preston Passion, to be broadcast on BBC One on Good Friday, and the Methodist Collection of Modern Art.

Mr Garsed said: "The Methodist art exhibition is the second most prestigious exhibition of religious art after the Vatican collection so it is well worth seeing."

The Preston Guild has been held every 20 years since King Henry II granted the town the right to have a Guild Merchant and gave the town its first royal charter.

It is the only Guild celebration still held in the UK.

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