Community cafe opens in arson-hit church
2012: A brand-new community café has just opened its doors in an historic 200-year-old church in South Norfolk following a devastating fire almost three years ago. Keith Morris reports.
Carleton Rode Baptist Church suffered an arson attack which damaged both the church and a stable block next to it. This block has now been transformed into a community café and
an upstairs hall used for a Sunday School, youth club and other community activities.
The café first opened its doors on May 5 and now opens three times a week and so far has welcomed around 50-60 visitors every time, according to church pastor, Rev Mark Taylor.
“The fire was a devastating blow,” said Mark. “But it forced the church to be much more outward-looking and community-minded. It has changed the whole mindset of the church. Each time we have opened the café we have welcomed lots of people inside who are not members of the church.”
It is run by a team of volunteers, coordinated by café manager Maureen Moore and offers drinks, home-made cakes and milkshakes every Monday and Thursday morning and Saturday afternoon.
“Since the fire we have also held a café church meeting one Sunday morning each month in either Carleton Rode or Bunwell village hall, which has also attracted many new people,” said Mark.
The church is in the middle of its 200th anniversary celebrations and in mid June they welcome Roy Searle, leader of the Northumbria Community. Roy will speak at a Celebration at Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett on Saturday June 16 and two services at the Chapel on Sunday June 17.
There is also a father’s day event at Bunwell village hall.
The following Sunday, June 24, the church is throwing a huge birthday part for the whole community with special guest Chris Duffett, president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
Starting at 11am the church will offer activities inside and outside including a huge birthday cake, fun and games from Chris, who is a street artist and escapologist, a free picnic lunch, bouncy castle, sideshows, a prayer tent, parachute games, football and the Diss Salvation Army band.
Pictured above is the new community cafe and The Loft community room at Carleton Rode Baptist Church.