At St Stephens Church Norwich
on Sunday March 3
a gathering of people from churches and Christian organisations across the city met to agree the future of Transforming Norwich
The Extraordinary General Meeting, which had been postponed due to snow from its original date in January, followed a 9-month organisational review. Rev Madeline Light
, the retiring chair, led the meeting beginning with a look back at the journey the organisation has travelled.
The vicar of St Stephens reminded the group that Transforming Norwich had been borne out of what was Churches Together in Greater Norwich
, expanding to include denominational churches, non-denominational churches and Christian organisations.
Madeline said: “It was a very active, vibrant group. Its vision was to promote unity through prayer and action. It did lots of things. It was a place of great initiation, initiating Network Norwich
, Street Pastors
to name but four; some tremendous things that we are still benefitting from now.”
Transforming Norwich came to a crisis point at its AGM held last June, as Rev Madeline Light and other members of the Executive stepped down, with no one willing to stand to take the organisation forward. A small group led by Madeline and including Rev Canon Richard Capper
, Pastor Trevor Pimlott
, Rev Mark Fairweather Tall
, Jill Gower
and Rev Canon Simon Stokes
were tasked with reviewing the future role and need for the organisation.
Madeline said: “We set aside time to review it and initially we thought ‘well, we could do without it’ but then we thought ‘we can’t, and even if it’s only the five people sitting in the room who are passionate about it, it is still worthwhile because it is doing something that no other organisation does in the city’.
“So having thought the unthinkable, we began to think what it was really good at doing now, even in its present form. We believe that one of its strengths is reaching out between the denominational churches and those that are not in denominations. It is a place where all meet together. By its very nature that is a quite a difficult thing to do and it must be a very worthwhile thing to do”.
Following unanimous agreement from the meeting the Executive of a maximum of 8 church representatives and 4 Christian organisations will now always include a representative of Norwich Central Churches Together
, Celebrate and Unite
. The vision has been extended to “promote unity through prayer, action and friendship”. This change reflects the new focus of providing a forum for church leaders and Christian leaders in the city to get to know each other better.
The new Electorate, which was unanimously elected, includes:
· Chair: Rev Mark Fairweather Tall of Norwich Central Baptist Church
· Vice Chair: Rev Canon Simon Stokes, Vicar of St Cuthbert's Church
· Phil Thorne, Senior Pastor of City Church
· Biddy Collyer of St Stephen’s Church
· Clare Elkins, Leader of New Hope Christian Centre
· Nick Blanch, Director of Norwich Youth for Christ
· Jill Gower, Director of Call to Prayer
· Trevor Pimlott, Senior Pastor of Norwich Family Life Church
· Keith Morris, Publisher of Network Norwich and Norfolk
· John Betts, Director of Celebrate
· Rev Janet Wyer, Associate Priest of the Church of St Peter Mancroft
Rev Mark Fairweather Tall concluded the meeting by paying tribute to Madeline for all that she had contributed, commending her “wisdom, patience and vision for how things could progress with Transforming Norwich”.
Mark went on to briefly outline his vision for the future of Transforming Norwich saying: “We hope we can bring people together. I believe it starts with the leaders of organisations and churches, so one of the things I’d like to encourage is church leaders and Christian leaders to get together.”
He highlighted a lunch that Transforming Norwich with guest speaker Jeff Lucas
has planned on Thursday May 16, 12.30pm
for church leaders and leaders of Christian organisations throughout the city.
He said: “Although we represent very different churches, one of the things that unites us as church leaders is we have been called by God to serve in faith. And actually meeting together we can encourage one another in that; we can journey with one another and support each other. So my hope is that this is just one of the things that we are doing which will encourage people to come together, to be together and then who knows where we go from there”.
If you are a church or Christian leader in Norwich and would like to book your place at the Jeff Lucas lunch on May 16, at Norwich Family Life Church, please contact 01603 760497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AGM for Transforming Norwich will take place on Friday June 7, 3pm at Celebrate with a talk from the Bishop of Norwich. Everyone is welcome.
Photo: Rev Madeline Light and Rev Mark Fairweather Tall