Norwich saints march into new church hall
A New Orleans
jazz band led a procession through Catton Grove
to mark the dedication of the new community arts and sports hall, which Oak Grove Chapel
are partners in. John Breeze reports
Led by the New Orleans Mardy Jazz Band the triumphal procession raised eyebrows and enormous local interest as part of the Celebration and Dedication Day activities to mark the opening of the new hall in the Catton Grove area of Norwich. The hall will be used by Oak Grove Chapel for its growing Sunday Morning Congregation and at other times by Catton Grove School and community groups.
After a stop at Oak Grove Chapel to give thanks for the work there since 1935, the procession moved on, including guest of honour, Miss Vera Askham, Oak Grove’s oldest-longest serving member who would open the new building, the Communion Table and Communion Set – symbolising the importance, the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus to the church’s life and message. Many friends from far and near who had been part of the history of Oak Grove from earlier days were also there.
When the Saints go Marching In was played as the procession arrived at the new hall, with the Lord Mayor, Cllr Ray Blowers, Mrs Blowers
and North Norwich MP Dr Ian Gibson
Ian Savory, Oak Grove’s Senior Leader, welcomed all present and and after worship led by the Oak Grove Band, Ian invited Vera to cut the ribbon and declare the facility truly open.
Guest speaker, Rev Steve Chalke of the Oasis Trust, said he was moved by the initiative of having a church hall linked with a school: “This is incarnation of the Christian message,” he said, “and something which gives us great encouragement.”
The work of the church is to incarnate the message of Jesus and that means getting down to where people are hurting, said Steve. To offer them the party of their life - a party Jesus called ‘abundant life’. After a party of Oak Grove type tea and cakes the delegates adjourned for a break before the evening session.
In the evening, church leaders from around the county joining for the Faithworks’ Seminar, when Steve was interviewed about his journey through the story of the Oasis movement and Faithworks project.
He explained how the Church had been involved with community, social, caring and educational projects through the ages but had abdicated that responsibility to government. He spoke of his involvement with Government in looking at ways in which church could re-engage with such issues as health and education. He spoke of the work the Oasis Trust is doing in building educational and health facilities. He challenged: “It’s time to re-engage! It’s time to get out and get involved – church was never meant to be just sitting listening to sermons – it is not even about getting to heaven - it is about bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.”
Using the incident of Jesus ‘cleansing the temple’ in Matthew 21, Steve went on to explain the principle of Intelligent Church - what we know of Jesus will tell us what we are here for and what church should be like. It is time to demolish those attitudes and structures that keep the church away from getting involved with those who need help, said Steve.
Pictured above are the jazz band marching the congregation to their new hall and guest speaker Steve Chalke at the evening elebration.