Ex-newspaper man is new Norwich URC minister
A former press photographer has recently moved to Norwich to help lead the Norwich Area URC group of churches. Mike Wiltshire reports.
John Potter’s career as a press photographer and picture editor was inspired in his boyhood by a talented uncle, Vaughan, who had an antique glass-plate camera, used in the First World War.
His uncle was a skilled artist who also hand-tinted his historic black-and-white pictures.
After John left school, he also became a gifted photographer and, in his work for the regional and national press, took many pictures of pop culture as well the royal family.
Today, John, now 55, has a very different role from the hectic world of photo-journalism, and was inducted as a minister with the Norwich area United Reformed Church team at a service at a packed Ipswich Road URC on July 30.
As a press photographer in his late 20s, John sensed a very different calling on his life. He had grown up in a God-fearing family and, in younger years had made a firm Christian commitment. It had not been an easy path because John, in his early years, had many questions about the debate between science and the Biblical world view.
While working in the Midlands, John attended the well-known Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham where he met Pauline, an English teacher, who is now his wife. They were both involved in leading services and, after their marriage, Pauline went on to train for the ministry with the United Reformed Church (URC) which has around 1,400 congregations in the UK.
John says he had the privilege of sitting in on some of the lectures at Westminster College in Cambridge, where Pauline trained. In the year 2000, the family moved to Gloucester where Pauline was ordained.
By then John also recognised his own calling into full-time Christian ministry, so in 2002 he began a four-year course at Queen’s Theological College, Birmingham.
In 2007, John was called to an ecumenical team ministry in Thamesmead, in south-east London and then, in 2011, John and Pauline began a shared ministry with a group of churches in Leicester. Following the merger of congregations in 2015, John continued to serve that pastorate as sole minister.
In July, John was inducted as a minister within the Norwich Area URC team. He said: “I am very excited about being here. I am looking forward to supporting Ipswich Road URC's involvement in the community on Eaton Rise and Tuckswood. I’m also looking forward to helping the Princes Street URC congregation develop a vibrant ministry based in the redeveloped building in the city centre.”
John says his son, Daniel, now 18, is also “an extremely good photographer”– he is also a keen classicist with a love of Roman history and science-fiction.
John also retains a keen interest in photography and supplies pictures for the Bible Society’s devotional resources. John also enjoys cinema, music and playing the djembe, the West African hand-drum – he was once part of Rhythms of Worship, a Christian drumming group.
The Norwich Area URC churches also include Trinity and St Peter’s Jessopp Road (URC/Methodist), as well as Wymondham, Wroxham, Hoveton and Mattishall.
Pictured above is new Norwich area URC minister Rev John Potter at his induction service.