New church opens doors on Norwich estate
Almost 18 months after South Park Church closed, The Open Door Christian Fellowship is preparing to move into the empty building and will launch with a Grand Open Day on Saturday July 15.
by Helen Baldry
When South Park Church closed, some of the members joined Pastor Stuart Bailey to form a new fellowship, meeting as a home church on the estate in south west Norwich. For the last 18 months they have been learning again what it means to be a church and how to reach out to the people who live nearby. The church has now outgrown Stuart's living room, so, with the help of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (former Trustees of South Park Church), the new church has secured ownership of the building in Ramsey Close and are ready to start work.
Stuart said, "We really want to make an impact on the estate. We're a small local church and want to share the love and grace of God within this estate."
Several of the church rooms have been decorated and refurbished to give it a warm and welcoming feel. Teams from The Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company undertook the work over a period of a few weeks. The scheme allows offenders to make amends in their local communities by carrying out unpaid work on local projects. Stuart said, "They've done a brilliant job."
The church will celebrate its opening with a Grand Open Day on July 15 from 12 - 4pm and will be a great day out for everyone. It will include: Free barbecue and refreshments, puppet show, bouncy castle, display of motorbikes from the Christian Motorcycle Association, emergency response vehicles as well as a display of Freestyle BMXing from the young people who use Eaton Skate Park.
Stuart said, "We are particularly pleased to have the BMX riders involved, as a team from the Fellowship have been taking hot chocolate to the skate-Park on Thursday evenings, getting to know the young people who meet there."
There is a mix of residents on the estate - from young families, to an increasing number of students, as well as older people, many of whom have lived on the estate since it was built in the 1950s.
The first service will take place on Sunday July 16 at 11am. It will be a friendly, open service accessible to all in the newly revamped and decorated building.
Click here to view Open Door Christian Fellowship's website
Pictured above: Pastor Stuart Bailey outside the church