Review by Keith Morris
2009: A history of Nonconformist churches in Norwich
has just been published with the proceeds of sales going towards the building fund at Witard Road Baptist Church
Who Do You Think You Are?
, is written by Norwich-based former Baptist minister, professional musician and prison chaplain Ted Doe
Written from a Baptist perspective, the book covers some general Baptist church history including the Anabaptists, the general Baptists and the particular Baptists. New Testament references, the Reformation and the rediscovery of the News Testament church in the 16th
Century are also looked at.
The first appearance of Baptists in Norwich itself was in 1669 when the Bishop of Norwich
reported an “illegal” group of about 30 Anabaptists,
rumoured to be meeting somewhere in the city. In 1686, Thomas Grantham
from Lincolnshire planted the first recognized Baptist church, St James’
at White Friars
Ted continues the history of Nonconformists in Norwich throughout the 17th
centuries including Presbyterian, Independent, Quakers
and latterly Methodist
congregations alongside various types of Baptists.
Once legally recognized, Nonconformists started taking a leading role in political and social issues of the day, including the provision of education firstly through Sunday School, and were behind the launch of a local weekly paper, which in 1870 became the Eastern Daily Press.
In the 1851 Census of Religion, greater Norwich counted 41 Anglican
churches and 36 others within its boundaries.
In 1882, General William Booth
visited Norwich and a Citadel soon opened. The arrival of Pentecostal
churches during the last century is also covered and there are entries on Congregationalists
and Roman Catholics
. The history includes references right up to 2008.
Author Ted Doe became a Christian following a relay of Billy Graham’s
Harringay Crusade in 1954. He spent 20 years as a professional cellist, first with the Welsh Guards, then with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and later as a freelance player in London. He then abandoned his musical career to spend nine years as a psychiatric nurse.
In the mid-1980s, after attending a theological seminary, he came to Norfolk as Pastor of Neatishead Baptist Church
. From 1992 to 2003 he was employed as a cello teacher in local schools. During this time he was also a voluntary worker with the Prison Christian Fellowship
, and since 2003 he has been an Assistant Chaplain in Norwich Prison
Over the years Ted has been involved in the life of various Nonconformist and Anglican churches. For the past nine years he has been a member of Witard Road Baptist Church and is a local historian.
Although written from a Baptist viewpoint, this book should also be of interest to others outside that particular churchmanship.
Who Do You Think You Are, costs £5, and is available from various local churches as well as the Norwich Christian Resource Centre and online through the NCRC shop, click here to view.