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Norfolk church celebrates after arson rebirth

Three years after an arson attack severely damaged a South Norfolk church, the congregation are about to mark its recommissioning and a remarkable turnaround in its life and mission. Pastor Mark Taylor tells the story.

CRCafeOutside420In June 2009, Carleton Rode Baptist Church faced the prospect of rebuilding following an arson attack. The fire caused extensive damage to a Stable and Schoolroom wing of the Church, and the main Chapel was smoke damaged.
Since then the Church have gone through a period of redeveloping the buildings, and re-evaluating our Mission purpose.
In May last year, during our 200th Anniversary year, we completed the main part of the work. Our Chapel has been modernised by removing the pews and replacing them with movable seating to enable a much more flexible and “fellowship friendly” use; along with the redecoration and carpeting the Chapel we now have a worship area with a warm inviting atmosphere.
Once a month we set the Chapel up as a restaurant and host a meal aimed at bringing the community together. We cater for 50 people and have found these meals to be so popular that there is a waiting list to attend.
Our Stable Block is now converted into a community Coffee Shop, which is open 3 times a week. This has become a focus for the community and we are a little overwhelmed by the numbers of people coming along on a regular basis, but also so encouraged by its popularity.
We are finding this ministry to be a most exciting way of meeting and befriending the people of this community, we have a regular group of mum’s and babies who come after dropping their older children off at school, many older people come for a chat and a laugh over a cup of tea and a bacon roll or bowl of soup. Just last Thursday I went for a cup of tea and found over 40 people in the Coffee Shop, it was buzzing with life.
Our schoolroom has also been revamped and after Easter we are looking to re-start The Loft Youth club which had to close due to loss of equipment and venue. We are at the place of resurrecting this ministry which used to draw 70 children from the surrounding villages.
CRCafe450bIt may sound as if life at Carleton Rode Baptist Church is all about socialising, so let me share our vision.
We are convinced that Jesus has called us as Salt to this community. As salt enhances the flavour of food, so we feel called to reach out to enhance the flavour of community living, by serving the people of this community in the love of God.
We are also convinced that Jesus calls us to be shining Lights for the Kingdom of God, and so we hope that through meeting people and befriending them, we might have the opportunities of directing them to the Light and Life of God through Jesus Christ. Perhaps that will manifest as we earn peoples trust and gain the privilege of sharing in the joys and triumphs of their lives.
On Sunday March 24, at 10.30am, we will be joined by Rev Jonathan Edwards  - General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Richard Bacon – MP for South Norfolk, Cllr Beverley Spratt, and other local Officials, along with people from the community and those who helped in getting us to where we are; for a service of thanks and re-commissioning. There is also a service at 6.30pm with Jonathan Edwards.
We would welcome any who have followed, prayed for, or been a part of our story.
We would also like to thank Rosedale Funeral Directors of Attleborough for the generous offer to print our commemorative orders of service as a gift to the Chapel.

Coffee Shop open times   Tuesday                       12 – 3pm
                                                Thursday                       9am – noon
                                                Saturday                       1pm – 3 30pm.
Sunday service times         10 30am            service with Sunday school, Youth group, and crèche
                                                6 30pm             evening service
On the third Sunday of every month we have Café Church in either Bunwell or Carleton Rode Village Hall
Contact Pastor Mark Taylor 01953 788598
Read our previous story on this church

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