Celebrate Norfolk broadens Christian horizons
2016: Celebrate Norfolk’s flagship event in Norwich on June 11 and 12 has been broadening its horizons while Celebrate has also spread its wings to King’s Lynn and the Royal Norfolk Show. Keith Morris reports.
Two dozen Christian organisations demonstrated and celebrated the Christian community in action in a major exhibition inside and outside the Forum in Norwich city centre on Saturday June 11.
Outside on Millennium Plain, there was drama from Saltmine Theatre Company and music from a combined 40-strong Norwich churches choir and the Norwich YFC Tracks performance zone.
Opening the all-day event, Celebrate project director John Betts said: “This is a breakthrough year in the work of the Kingdom of God as demonstrated by our exhibitors and the vital work they do to serve the community in so many ways.”
Rev Madeline Light told the opening ceremony: “Celebrate is a great opportunity to see the work of the Kingdom on earth in many different forms. So have a great time and enjoy looking at the exhibition, hearing the drama and listening to the choir.”
Deputy town crier Bob Lloyd, in recognition of the Queen’s birthday on the same day, proclaimed: “We rejoice with all loyal subjects throughout our nation and Commonwealth, in wishing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, joyful and happy celebrations of her 90th birthday. We recognise Her Majesty’s influence and impact on all our lives and thank God for her years of faithful and humble service to her loyal subjects. Let us all join together in proclaiming ‘God save the Queen’.
Lord Mayor of Norwich, Cllr Marion Maxwell, visited the exhibition, and said: “I am really pleased that I was asked me to come along to Celebrate as it has broadened my horizons. I had no idea of the sort of things I have seen here today was going on through the Christian community and it was absolutely fabulous. I have really been educated. I did not realise the depth of how some of the exhibitors here are reaching out to people and I have learnt an awful lot today.”
Marie Reavey, branch leader for the Norfolk Christian Police Association, said working in partnership with churches brought huge benefit to her job.
“We have got street pastors and town pastors who do an amazing job, and that is a classic example of the church and the police working well together,” she said. “We have Christians going out on the streets caring for vulnerable people who may not be the responsibility of the police, and we go along to their meetings and spend some time giving them advice and help with their training. ?“The church as a third sector are doing a significant amount of good, and as Christians in the police we have a better understanding of what the church can offer.”
Rebekah Manfield is a church and tenant empowerment worker for Hope into Action, which provides accommodation for homeless people, with five houses in Norwich and two more on the way.
“We realise that actually to help a homeless person we have to go deeper and we wanted to make sure churches are doing their bit to help the homeless,” she said. “We are faith-based but not faith-biased. We know we have to help people in need holistically and that is what we try to do. Once they feel loved, everything else falls into place. It is enabling and empowering them to be independent.”
On Sunday June 12, a free picnic for volunteers of Christian projects across Norfolk was held at the Narthex at St John the Baptist Catholic Cathedral in Norwich, followed by the Celebrate closing service in the Cathedral itself with testimonies from exhibitors.
Speaker Julian Bryant from Christian Aid, said: “Many of you underestimate the impact your work has on the least in our society. Many of the people that you help are not able to say thank you, so on their behalf I want to say thank you for the difference that you make and to celebrate that. Because you are the light in the darkness for people who may be in despair.”
Read a story about Celebrate King's Lynn.