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Norwich vicar warns church may face extinction

ChristChurch400A Norwich vicar has issued a wake-up call to the Church of England at its General Synod about its possible virtual extinction in 20 years time due to aging congregations. Keith Morris reports.
The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond (pictured below), from the Eaton Parish in Norwich, told the national assembly earlier this week (July 11) that according to some projections the Church would no longer be “functionally extant” in 20 years’ time.
 
“The perfect storm we can see arriving fast on the horizon is the ageing congregations,” he said. “The average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that. These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy … 2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage, that is people dying.
 
“Another 10 years on, some extrapolations put the Church of England as no longer functionally extant at all.”
 
PatrickRichmondRev Richmond’s warning has been widely reported across the national media, and speaking to Network Norfolk, he stood by his comments.
 
“I do not want to see us sleep walk into the failure of the church. We need to prepare strategies to deal with this,” he said. “I want to encourage everyone to wake up and start planning now.
 
“We do have many large and thriving churches but they could be dragged down by the burden of supporting our 12,000 historic church buildings and many of their small and aging congregations.”
 
“We need to give thought to work with older people as well as youth and to make our buildings more useable for community work as well as church activities,” he said.
 
Rev Richmond’s own church, Christ Church in Eaton, is addressing both issues by running a number of groups and services for both young and older people as well as trying to make its buildings more suitable and available for wider community use.
 
It runs a range of both traditional and newer format services, teatime groups for young children and families and lots of assemblies in the seven schools in the parish. It also runs several thriving youth football teams in the Norfolk Christian Football League.
 
Sister church St Andrews runs an Old Eatonians group, under the leadership of retired minister Sheila Nunney, which puts on various activities for older people like talks, walks and social gatherings.
 
Work is also going on to try to adapt the church buildings for wider community use including new toilet and kitchen facilities and a new children’s area. A number of local schools and community groups already use the building, including the Colman Road hall for services and activities.
 

Bishop ordains 15 new priests and deacons

 
Helping to prove that there is still life in the church, the Bishop of Norwich has just ordained no fewer than 15 priests and deacons in the diocese. They include a former solicitor, a teacher, a youth worker, a Canaries fan and an avid reader of crime novels.
 
The new deacons are, pictured above from left to right: James Stewart (Great Yarmouth Team Ministry), Tom Lilley (Attleborough & Besthorpe), Karen Rayner (Flegg Group Ministry), Wendy Evans (Oulton Broad, St Mark), Heather Cracknell (Cringleford & Colney), Lynn Chapman (Sheringham, St Peter) and Richard Burbidge (Christ Church, Lowestoft).
Cafechurch invite at Norwich Costa Coffee
Another chance to find out that the church is not dying is at a Norwich Cafechurch, which offers an open invite to join them for an open mike event at the London Street Costa Coffee Shop, Norwich from 4pm on Sunday July 17. Local musicians will provide the evening's entertainment. All are welcome and you can get more details from lesley.henery@ntlworld.com

 


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