Service marks NSP return to Norwich streets
A new beginning in the special ministry of Norwich Street Partnership was marked with a service of re-dedication by the Bishop of Norwich at St Stephens Church in the city last night (February 19) after an absence of more than one year. Keith Morris reports
Dedicating around 20 volunteer street partners and prayer partners, the Rt Rev Graham James said: “Never underestimate the power of kindness. God’s kindness should lead us to repentance, kindness can transform and, I believe, can convert. We are more likely to be brought to faith in Christ by kindness that by arguments, no matter how theologically correct. I wonder how many of us have been shaped in our faith by kindness more than we have by sermons. NSP is in the business of kindness.
“I am very glad that you are back on the streets of Norwich, being kind and caring for those who are disoriented, desperate or disorderly is hugely challenging. How can we, who were bought by grace, refuse to reach out to those who are in need? What you are doing is not simply social work it is true Gospel work and a symbol of the unconditional friendship of God.”
Chair of Trustees, Rev Deb Cousins, said: Although our teams returned to the streets of Norwich just before Christmas, we wanted to ask God to seal all that he has done in the past, and to bless our future ministry alongside other agencies in the night-time economy.
“This service is the culmination of over a year of heart search, prayer, hard work and commitment from everyone involved in NSP to get to this point in our journey when we can resume our active ministry as churches together on the streets of our county. It marks a new chapter, a new beginning, for NSP as an ecumenical Christian organisation, as well as being hopeful and encouraging sign to the wider church, that, energised by power the Holy Spirit, the Christ light is taken out to the streets again brings.”
During the service three long-standing team members gave their own personal experiences of being out on the streets or as part of the prayer team.
Peter Gosling said: “We often feel the presence of God in our interactions on the streets. For me it has helped me to look at the city in a different way and there is a lot of warmth and respect on the streets for the street partners.”
Andy Driver said: “We have lots of people from different denominations working together and it is a privilege sitting there and praying with them.”
John Pinnington said: “Jesus asks us to be with the marginalized in our society. Life on the streets is both very superficial and also one of the loneliest places there is.”
The teams are back on the streets once every two weeks at present but are planning to increase the frequency.
If you would like further information about Norfolk Street Partnership, or would like someone to give a talk about its work to your group, please contact: Rev Deb Cousins at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01603 738329.
Pictured, top, the Bishop of Norwich rededicates NSP volunteers and, above, chair Rev Deb Cousins.