Dereham Town Pastors initiative launched
Over 40 representatives of town and district councils, local churches and youth organisations from across Mid Norfolk attended the official launch and signing ceremony for the Dereham Town Pastors initiative on March 4.
The culmination of many hours of work and prayer were rewarded at Dereham Baptist Church in a simple yet inspiring, and exciting ceremony.
‘Exciting’ this word was repeated often by those invited to speak at the launch as Dereham became the first Norfolk Town to be affiliated with the Suffolk umbrella organisation of seven towns.
Tim Birt the Mayor of Dereham welcomed the formation of the Dereham Town Pastors.
The local Police Community Support Officer, speaking on behalf of his senior officers, echoed the Mayor's comments and welcomed the help and cooperation given to the police by the Town Pastors, and being available to young people in their own environment enabled them to seek help and guidance outside of official channels.
The initiative started last summer when a group of people from churches in the town met and formed a committee with the aim of bringing Town Pastors to the streets of Dereham and the surrounding villages.
Dereham Town Pastors adheres to the core values and code of practice of the Suffolk Town Pastor organisation, but is an entirely separate and independent charitable body.
Recruiting for street patrols and prayer teams will commence during March. Patrols act as a positive presence on the streets, to dissuade anti-social behaviour and provide a calming influence in tense and volatile situations and providing safety and reassurance to school students and local residents.
The police have advised that the most beneficial times for patrols to go out would be between 4pm and 6pm and 8pm and 10pm on Fridays initially. Patrols would include a variety of locations around the town, wherever the young people congregate including the town centre, various car parks and the Recreation ground.
Town Pastors are interdenominational volunteers who receive training to go out onto the streets in teams to listen to people’s needs, cares and concerns and respond accordingly as the opportunity arises. Town Pastors out on patrol are always supported by the prayer team. They keep in touch via mobile phone or walkie-talkies, plus there are other volunteers who pray at home for one hour slots. "
Town Pastors acknowledge that God loves everybody and that regardless of how God’s image within a person is distorted through the effects of sin, every life is considered special and precious. Taking the example of Jesus, Town Pastors strive to care for the people they meet in a non-judgemental way, treating them with respect and dignity.
For more information visit Dereham Town Pastors website at: derehamtownpastors.org.uk
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Tim Birt, Mayor of Dereham, is pictured at the signing ceremony for Dereham Town Pastors with Major Barry Wilson, representing the parent Town Pastors charity.