Celebrating faith in action acoss Norfolk

2012: Celebration of the Christian faith was the key theme of the fourth annual Celebrate Norwich and Norfolk festival from June 8-10 at the Forum in Norwich. Keith Morris reports.

Hundreds of Christians were singing, dancing, acting, praying and talking about their faith for three days across the Forum and Millennium Plain in Norwich city centre.
A Christian social action and services exhibition filled the Forum inside and out with over 30 exhibitors both local and national including YMCA Norfolk, Matthew Project, Magdelene Group, Christian Concern, OMF and Christians Against Poverty.
Opening the event, former YMCA Norfolk chief executive, John Drake said: “We are gathered here to celebrate what God inspired and empowered men and women have achieved in this very city and county, not in past generations but in our own generation.”
Outside, on Millennium Plain, despite some poor weather on the Friday, choirs, dance teams, theatre groups, bands and street artists entertained and engaged with hundreds of passers-by.
Celebrate project director, John Betts said: “The great thing about being in the Forum is being in the public arena and meeting people who we would not otherwise meet and interacting with people in a way which has brought us out of our church buildings.
“It is inspiring, it is invigorating and it is touching real need. It is the place to be and there is a great opportunity for all of the Christian projects and groups to promote what they do so well.”
President of the Baptist Union, Chris Duffett, who spent the weekend outside the Forum engaging with passers-by, said: “I have been meeting loads of different people and hearing about their hopes and aspirations for what they would like to achieve before they die. It has been quite humbling to just listen to hear people pour out their hearts.”
On Saturday morning, United Christian Broadcasters held a breakfast in the Curve Auditorium to tell around 50 people about their vision for engaging with local churches and Christians with their radio, TV, online and printed services such as The Word for Today and www.lookingforgod.com
On the Sunday morning, cafe church at the Forum cafe was well attended with John Drake talking about social action and the legacy of some well known local Christian pioneers including Elizabeth Fry. There were also informal discussions about social action which sparked both encouragement and debate about the role of the church and individuals.
On Saturday evening, up to 100 young people enjoyed the Celebrate Youth Event at NCBC when the Chip Kendall Band, Brokenfor, DJ Galactus Jack, ENYP Dance Off and Riding Lights Roughshod theatre company were on the bill.
On Sunday, around 150 people gathered for a Celebrate closing service at St Peter Mancroft. Rev Madeline Light, chair of Transforming Norwich, said: “We are one body of Christ with many different parts all working together. Celebrate has been a real opportunity to come out of our churches and engage with interesting questions put to us by passers-by.”
Rev Janet Wyer said: “The heart of the city has been warmed by God’s love this weekend. The city centre is a place where there is often darkness. It is a stormy place to be for many people and there are very few places that they can go to find unconditional love – and that is what they found here over this Celebrate weekend.”