Repair shock turns to delight for city church
A huge roof repair bill for Silver Road Baptist Church in Norwich changed from despair to delight when a move to a smaller hall increased the size of the congregation, reports church secretary John Black.
The church faced costly repairs to the roof which were beyond the shrinking congregation's ability to pay, so we decided to retreat to the back premises. It was a move from a cold and big sanctuary to a much smaller back room.
But we determined that we would make the back room as pleasant and welcoming as we could. Our congregation of fewer than 20 people and very rarely with any children, made our retreat a bit sad but we had to admit the new room was warmer, cosier, with far less of the noticeable empty space and, most of all, we all seemed to become more cheerful.
To our astonishment, the congregations started growing to 30 and new faces started joining us. It may not sound many, but for us it was all very encouraging. Statistics show that 1000 Baptist churches in this country have memberships fewer than 40. That is half the number of Baptist churches that come under the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
People passing by can see through the windows the new home of the church, whereas only a few weeks before nobody could tell from the outside whether the church was in use.
The church has been on the corner of Silver Road and Mousehold Avenue since 1910. It has a mission statement that the "church is at the heart of the community where everyone matters and is welcome."
Services each Sunday morning at 11am incorporate a variety of hymns, worship songs and Bible teaching. The emphasis is on equipping Christians to live out their faith in the real world.
Wednesdays at 7.30pm alternate between a Basic Belief Course and House Groups.
Evergreen Luncheon Club is hosted on Tuesdays from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. This is an ecumenical partnership with nearby St Mary Magdalene (Anglican) Church. Evergreen contact is Michael Landsdell who can be contacted on Tel 07963320209.
Another ecumenical privilege is a Christian After-School Club at Mousehold First School. This is held on Tuesdays, 3.15pm-4.15.
A forthcoming event will be a Young at Heart Holiday Club for folk of all ages from July 24th-27th.
The church owes much to Dr Ernest Blyth and Mr Richard Jewson of 96 years ago. Nearly 700 children and young people attended what was known for 20 years as "Dr Blyth's Sunday School." A big back hall that accommodated children and teachers has since been pulled down. Both Dr Blyth and Mr Jewson became Lord Mayors of Norwich.
Dr Blyth, a solicitor and Doctor of Laws, had the distinction of being the last Mayor of Norwich and the first Lord Mayor all in the same year. It was the same year as the church was opened. He was an alderman of the City Council and chairman of the Education Committee. Mr Jewson was Lord Mayor in 1917-18. It was largely through the wisdom, faith and generosity of these two men that the church was formed and the buildings erected in 1910.
Our minister is the Rev Josephine Fowler who can be contacted on Tel 01502-572302. Church Secretary is myself, John C Black on Tel 01603-424410.
We are willing to hire out rooms for organisations and we have some rooms that have been hired out to the same people for years. Please ring the Secretary for information.