Image: Archbishop John Sentamu
John Giles  /  AP
Britain's Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, front, takes part in a sponsored parachute jump, with a member of the Red Devils parachute display team over Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire, England, on Friday.
updated 6/6/2008 8:27:31 AM ET 2008-06-06T12:27:31

The archbishop of York made a parachute jump for charity on Friday, returning to earth exhilarated by the experience.

Archbishop John Sentamu, 58, made his jump Friday from 12,500 feet in tandem with a veteran of the Red Devils parachute team. The team were in free fall until opening the parachute at 5,000 feet.

"I was praying like anybody's business up there. It was an amazing, amazing experience," Sentamu said after returning to earth at Langar air base near Nottingham.

"I thought to myself, why have I taken so long to do this?" he added.

A Yorkshire businessman, Guy Brudenell, 38, had proposed the jump after meeting Sentamu at a charity dinner, and was surprised when the archbishop quickly agreed.

They hope to raise $100,000 in sponsorship for the Afghanistan Trust, which supports the families of paratroopers from 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, who have been wounded or killed in Afghanistan.

"It's important for citizens of this country to value those who risk their lives for the sake of this country so I'm doing my part," Sentamu said.

The archbishop has a flair for the dramatic gesture. He has held full-immersion baptisms outdoors, and he cut up his clerical "dog collar" on television and vowed not to wear another one until Robert Mugabe is out of power in Zimbabwe.

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