Little-known church in middle of Norwich clubland
A little-known Christian church active in the middle of Norwich's clubland for the last 100 years is inviting people to join its new Christianity Explored course. Matthew Pickhaver from Norwich Evangelical Free Church (Railway Mission) reports.
Even people who regularly walk up and down the Prince of Wales Road are sometimes surprised to learn that there is an active church in the middle of Norwich clubland.
In fact a congregation has met continuously for worship at number 79 since 1903, when the Railway Mission chapel there first opened (although their meetings actually began in 1895). The mission's aim was primarily to reach nearby railway workers with the good news of Jesus Christ and to this day that same life-changing message is shared with all who come in.
However, in 1995 the existing congregation was constituted as Norwich Evangelical Free Church, making it a completely independent gathering seeking simply to worship God in the New Testament way. This change took place under the guidance of Howard Spencer who was then pastor of Cromer Baptist Church and who continued in both roles until Bob Gilbert became NEFC elder in 1997.
In more recent years two other, younger elders have been appointed alongside Bob and the church has seen slow but steady growth in spite of its location in a largely non-residential area.
At present an average of 30-35 people attend the Sunday morning service at 10.30 am which includes hymns, prayer and systematic preaching through books of the Bible. Afterwards tea and coffee, then a buffet lunch, are served every week, for which any visitors are freely invited to stay, with a second similar service taking place at 3pm. On Wednesday evenings a prayer meeting and Bible study begins at 7pm, providing opportunity for more informal discussion, as well as reports on the work of various missions both home and abroad.
NEFC also hosts the monthly East Anglian Bible Rally to which guest speakers are invited and which is attended by people from many other local churches, sometimes filling the modernized interior to capacity. In addition, a regular outreach takes place in the city-centre under the auspices of Open Air Mission.
Though smaller than some churches in Norwich, the congregation is made up of people of different ages, ethnicity and walks of life; and a friendly welcome awaits any who would like to come along and see for themselves.
A good opportunity to do so would be signing up for a Christianity Explored course beginning on Sunday June 4 at 5pm. This is an informal look at Mark's Gospel over refreshments. Call Matthew Pickhaver on 07910 383682 if you, or someone you know, is interested.
For more information about all the activities of NEFC at the Railway Mission, see their website or Facebook page or call Luther Chaplin on 01603 439288.