Norwich church finishes home transformation
A large Norwich church has just reached an important milestone in the transformation of its 'new home' on an industrial estate, just off the Ring Road at Mile Cross Lane. Mike Wiltshire reports.
Just 15 months after moving into a spacious industrial complex on Pentecost Sunday in May 2010, Norwich Family Life Church has totally refurbished the building located on Mason Road, next to the Hughes Electrical Store, opposite Comet.
"It's a big step for us. This place was just an empty shell when we moved in," says senior pastor Trevor Pimlott. The move to Mason Road also marked the 45th anniversary of the church (formerly known as Mount Zion Family Life Centre) which had been located at a six-acre site at Heartsease - until a devastating fire destroyed the premises in February 2006.
Since then, Mark Nolan, a director of the Norwich architectural firm of Chaplin Farrant, has been "a great inspiration" in the transformation of the industrial unit at Mason Road, says Pastor Trevor.
NFLC's comfortable new venue has two conferences halls, plus a large carpeted sanctuary, equipped with multimedia systems. The complex includes a visitors' welcome lounge, large cafeteria, children's areas, a youth hall and a substantial admin area.
Already, outside business and educations organisations and Christian ministries are showing interest in hiring the facilities for one-off events.
The move to Mason Road is a vital step towards NFLC's vision to build a 45,000 sq ft church and community complex at its Heartsease home site where the church still maintains close links with the community through its pre-school and other community activities.
NFLC's first year at Mason Road has seen a series of special events ranging from a Bible reading marathon in March to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, a major missions conference and a 'summer camp re-union' which drew people from all over the world who had been involved in these events on the Norfolk coast between 1970 and 2001.
This year has also seen a number of international speakers visit.
Trevor says the new facilities enhance the church's emphasis on providing "a loving welcome for everyone, a place where people find a spiritual home and receive balanced preaching and Bible teaching."
While maintaining strong links with other churches and the wider community, NFLC also runs 'life groups' for pastoral care and shared interests, usually meeting in local homes. "As the church gets bigger, we must get smaller," explains Trevor.
Among a dozen ministry areas at NFLC are children's and youth groups, plus 'discovery' groups for new visitors, marriage-related courses, leadership training, women's events, plus projects to give practical help in the community, and a keen interest in overseas work in the Philippines, India, Ghana and Israel.
Pastor Trevor, who is chairman of 'Unite' - a prayer initiative among Norwich ministers - says he is also encouraged by the number of spontaneous inter-church 'prayer groups for revival' that have sprung up across Norfolk in the past year.
Pictured top is the NFLC Sunday congregation and, above, the new foyer inside Mason Road looking towards the large cafeteria.