Celebrate is vibrant Norfolk Christian showcase
2015: Celebrate Norwich & Norfolk’s seventh annual weekend at the Forum in Norwich vibrantly showcased and demonstrated the strength of the Christian community and its activities across the county last weekend (June 12-14). Keith Morris reports.
Addressing an opening ceremony on the Friday morning, attended by the Lord Mayor of Norwich Cllr Brenda Arthur and deputy town crier Bob Lloyd, Rev Julian Pursehouse, Chair of East Anglia Methodist District, said: “I think Celebrate is an opportunity to demonstrate the relevance and importance of the Christian faith and for us all to be reminded that faith is a public matter.
“We need to remember that an important part of our vibrant city of Norwich is the presence and the work and service of the Christian community and other faith communities that contribute towards the social capital of this city and this county. Over the next couple of days people will have an opportunity to see the wide variety of Christian service that is being expressed and are making a significant difference to people’s lives.”
Julian quoted German theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer, who said: ‘The church is only the church when it exists for others. Not dominating but helping and serving.’
“It seems to me,” said Julian, “that this is the authentic church of Jesus Christ and the face of the church that people will see as they engage with the projects, the exhibitions, the events and activities of the next couple of days.”
Taking over the Forum and Millennium Plain for two days, the event centered around a major exhibition of Christian activity, social action and resources from across Norfolk and wider afield.
Exhibitors included YMCA Norfolk, the Diocese of Norwich, St John’s Cathedral, Mothers Union, Community Action Norwich, the Matthew Project, Christian Aid, Christian Police Association, All Hallows Convent, Norfolk Healing Rooms, OMF, Christian Conference Trust, European Christian Mission, Norfolk Street Partnership, Heartbeat Ministries, Norwich Youth For Christ, Norwich Foodbank, Norfolk Postal Bible School, Good News, Divorce Recovery Workshops, Paraclete Education, Noble Jewellery Designs, TLC, Spin Crazy, Butterfly Ministries and Good Books For Asia.
Exhibitors spoke of their experiences at a closing service at St Stephen’s church on Sunday afternoon.
Tracey Goff from Spin Crazy said: “The Saturday was awesome as we helped people reconnect with the spontaneity and wonderment of God’s creation. Our Christianity needs to be about letting God’s spirit connect with people.”
Rev Ray Scorey, from Norfolk Healing Rooms, said: “We had two really full days and had a fabulous time and saw all sorts of folk. Some were brought closer to the Lord and we had some very intimate discussions with folks and God healed in all sorts of ways. We felt some profound changes were made in people’s lives.”
Alan Russell from the Christian Police Association, said: “It was our first year and it was great - the unity, all operating under the one banner, multi-denominational. We met some fantastic people and built lots of bridges.”
Celebrate project director, and driving force, John Betts, told the closing service: “There are three essentials for God moving in power. They are the timetable of God, the unity of the church and the prayers of the saints.
“Celebrate Norfolk is, in a modest way, beginning to seek to bring together under one roof, in one place, in the public arena, the richly diverse works of God. This generation needs to hear the Word of God in a relevant way, presented by a united praying people.”
Hear Celebrate's John Betts talk to Matthew Gudgin on Radio Norfolk live from Celebrate 2015. Start at 1hr 36 mins
Hear Philip Bamber, national director of Good Books For Asia, on Radio Norfolk. Start at 47mins 40secs