Christian Celebrate event impacts Norfolk

2011: Thousands of people witnessed the sights and sounds of Christians celebrating the many different local expressions of church life last weekend (June 10, 11 and 12) centred on the Forum and Millennium Plain in Norwich.

Celebrate John BettsThis is the third year Celebrate has been held and it showcased the vast array of Christian groups, activities and services offered across Norfolk.

Celebrate project director John Betts [pictured right] said, “I think we have a great deal to celebrate and that that is why we were doing it, saying to everyone - this is what God is doing in and through his people."

The Archdeacon of Norwich, Ven Jan McFarlane, who spoke at the opening service said, “The work that these Christian organisations and churches do, in building a better community for everyone, proves that the new atheists, Dawkins and the like, are quite simply wrong.”

The Forum atrium and Millennium Plain were filled with around 40 different local Christian organisations and projects all day on Friday and Saturday. Included was YMCA Norfolk, Belsey Bridge Conference Centre, Norfolk Street Pastors, Norwich Foodbank and scores of others who spoke to people about their work, gave out information and encouraged people to get involved.

Alan Gidney on the Gideons stand said: “It’s amazing how many people tell us about how God has worked in their lives after receiving a Gideon Bible. We have spoken to many people this weekend and have had the opportunity to place a Bible in their hands.”

Shoppers stopped in their tracks as the choirs, bands, musicians, street entertainers and artists performed and groups of people gathered on the steps to enjoy the colour and creativity of the event.

Passers-by were encouraged to join in with games, street art on a giant canvas and there was even the opportunity to whizz up a banana smoothie on a pedal-powered bike!

Celebrate Chris dramaChris Duffett [pictured right], an evangelist with the Light Project who took part in Celebrate, said: “I have had lots of positive conversations and encounters. One guy said to me ‘it is great to see the church out for the day’. That’s a bit depressing in one way that he has not seen the church out of the building before, but my goodness, what an impact this is having on many, many people.”

Norfolk Healing Rooms once again had a caravan outside the Forum open to anyone who wanted prayer or to talk to someone, often for emotional or physical problems.

The outdoor programme featured, amongst others, local singer Daniel Harrison, Christian rock band Brokenfor, the newly formed Sheringham Gospel Voices and local Swahili choir Rivers of Life. Hauunting melodies were performed by Lyra, a vocal ensemble from Russia who sang beautiful Christian songs as well as some cultural folk pieces.

Jill Gower from Call to Prayer said, “We have had a fantastic day at the Forum - there has been a real buzz there. Three people that I have heard of have given their lives to Jesus, and possibly more! We have had a great time praying in St. Peter Mancroft with people, and we have been amazed how many have just wandered in through the doors and have responded to our offer of prayer.”

The Global Day of Prayer service was celebrated on Sunday afternoon when hundreds of people gathered on Millennium Plain to worship God. Full article and photos to follow later this week.