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Norwich city medieval church celebrates modernisation

On Sunday evening the community of St Stephen’s Church, in Norwich city centre, held a Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the completion of refurbishment work to create a more inviting and useable building fit to serve the needs of the 21st century. Biddy Collyer reports.

On Pentecost evening (Sunday, May 20) the community of St Stephen’s Church on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich celebrated the completion of the ‘Open Doors Project’ with a Service of Thanksgiving. 
Over 80 members of the community, funders and guests came together in prayer and praise to thank God that the building work has resulted in the church being made fit for purpose to serve the needs of the 21st century. The improvements include a new kitchen, inner glass north and south doors and the glazing in of the side chapel.
As Rev Canon Madeline Light wrote at the end of her thank you to the many people who had worked so hard to make this possible: “St Stephen’s is still a medieval building made to medieval standards.  However we are witnesses to the Lord giving it a new heart.”
StStephensCafe640Since the work began last autumn the café within St Stephen’s has operated out of the meeting room. Beckie, the café manager, and the rest of the staff and amazing volunteers have continued to provide nutritious meals and drinks six days a week.   Despite the dust and inconvenience, many customers have braved these and still found refuge and sustenance.
The Thanksgiving Service was conducted by Rev Canon Madeline Light, assisted by Rev Matthew Hutton with the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges giving the address.  She spoke of how, with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples were transformed. Our own transformation, likewise, comes after periods of pain and struggle which was Jesus’ own model of ministry.  
This gift of the Holy Spirit is manifested to the world through the Body of the Church.  A body is warm, feels, moves and breathes and a church will show the same characteristics through compassion to the vulnerable, sensitivity to the feelings of others and through listening to different perspectives. It will be willing to move, be open to change and adaptation. Only through the inbreathing of the Spirit will we find true freedom, hope and the confidence to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Following the sermon, prayers were offered up for the city and the church by various members of the community. After the final hymn, “Amazing Grace”, everybody enjoyed a reception of wine, juices and nibbles.
Photos courtesy of Adam Jackson

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