Golden dome tops Stalham’s new Orthodox church
The conversion of Stalham’s old police station into a new Orthodox church is nearing completion, and an iconic golden dome has recently been added to the roofline. Tony Rothe reports.
St Fursey's Church is an Orthodox Christian community, based in Stalham and serving the Norfolk Broads area. The parish's patron saint, St Fursey, lived only 20 miles from the town and established his monastery in the nearby ruins of a Roman fortress, Burgh Castle, in the 600’s. He endeavoured to bring Christianity to the pagan Anglo-Saxon people in this part of England, and his profound Christ-like life and example earned him a place in the Venerable Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History'.
The church is led by Father Stephen Weston, who was an Anglican priest for 20 years but who left in 1998 and set up his own parish, St Fursey's, based on Orthodox Christian teachings. As the congregation grew from three people to just under 30 members, he built a tiny chapel in his back garden in 2012, then hailed as the smallest church building in the UK.
As our parish has grown, the need for new, purpose-built premises to accommodate the community became pressing. In 2017, they purchased an old police station on Yarmouth Road in Stalham and began converting it for Orthodox worship. The completed premises will consist of two meeting rooms, a kitchen, toilets and baby changing.
The design of the chapel is based on the layout of the earliest known house church discovered in Britain, completed in Byzantine-style. Fulfilling his childhood dream, Fr Weston designed the new church with its golden dome, blue roof and white walls, basing the blueprint on a fourth century church excavated in Filchester.
Reader William Harrison explains, “It is our mission to expand the knowledge and practice of the Orthodox Christian faith in England, and to reconnect Britain with its ancient Christian heritage. To that end, we are in the process of building (and have almost finished it, expecting to be able to worship fully there by Christmas!) the brand-new Church which will be a beacon for the Ancient Faith in these lands.
“Father Stephen's local missionary work includes an Orthodox stall at local markets, regular inquirer's evenings, quiet days & retreats, and weekly Bible studies. All of this hard work has borne a great deal of fruit with a parish composed of new converts to the ancient Christian faith.”
Although the new church building is not quite finished, the church is currently holding Orthodox services in a large room in what was the police station itself. Service times are: 5pm Vespers on Saturdays and 9:30am Divine Liturgy on Sundays. All details of services and contact details can be found on St Fursey’s website.
The top picture shows builder Tony Day from Caister working on the dome.
The lower picture shows Fr Steven Weston outside St Fursey's new church building in Stalham.
Both photos are courtesy of William Harrison.
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