Celebration of work of City Pastors in Norwich
A celebration of the work of Norfolk Street Partnership (NSP) and its City Pastors on the late-night streets of Norwich was held at Gage Road Chapel in Norwich on Sunday November 18.
The street and prayer team are in action bringing a calming presence, a helping hand and prayer to late-night Norwich city centre, on two Saturday nights every month.
The team from NSP led the service at Gage Road describing their work and why they do it.
City Pastor, Stephen French, said: “My inspiration is Jesus’ command to ‘love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves, with all our heart, soul and mind’. Our neighbour is not just the nice family who live down the road or the people in my church but it is the ‘whosoever’. It includes those I don’t agree with, those I think are making mistakes in their lives and includes those who are on what we call the periphery of society.
“My conscience was pricked not just to be comfortable in my faith but to step out of my comfort zone no matter how unworthy and unqualified I feel. If I can do something to make a positive impact on another person’s life by showing love and compassion to my neighbour then I should do it.”
Chairman of trustees, John Pinnington, said: “The strongest message Jesus gave was to look for the marginalized, the poor, the mentally ill, the sick, those who are afflicted in any way. In one sense we are all at some times in our life marginalized and vulnerable.
“There is a tension in me between selfishness and giving. I try to build a few things in my life when I am not just thinking about myself. Commitment to a cause such as this just lifts me.”
The team talked about how they bring a positive influence onto the streets armed with bottles of water, sweets, flip flops and a kind word.
“It can be a bit like a battlezone at two or three in the morning,” said John.
Prayer pastor Mike Carey talked about the team giving support back at the Chantry Hall base: “Our ministry wouldn’t work if it was just the team on the streets, it needs people behind the scenes praying.
“I wouldn’t still be doing it after ten years if I did not believe that prayer works and is effective. Sometimes we see our prayers answered in front of us other times we just do not know.
“It is more peaceful on the late-night streets than it was when I started a decade ago and I believe that one of the reasons is the presence of City Pastors and the team praying every Saturday night.”
City Pastor Rev Deb Cousins said: “We are all getting older but the heart is still beating and we feel called to continue to walk the streets between the hours of ten and four and consider it such a privilege because it could be our children, or grandchildren out there. The passion goes on and we are all in it together.”
NSP needs more city and prayer pastor volunteers. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact John Pinnington at firstname.lastname@example.org or Penny Jones at email@example.com.
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: Irene at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured top is the team from NSP at Gage Road Chapel and, above, part of the celebration service.