Celebration of faith and unity across Norfolk 

The Christian community across Norwich and Norfolk showed that it is alive, active and in very good health at the flagship Celebrate Norwich & Norfolk festival taking place at the Forum and on Millennium Plain in Norwich city centre from June 13 to 15.

Celebrate14ClosingLiddy450MOBO award-winning Christian rap artist GuvnaB, the Norwich Youth for Christ gospel choir and the Dance Off group led a full programme of entertainment on Millennium Plain on Saturday, watched by hundreds of people.

The outside programme also included cage football from the Norfolk Christian Football League, a churches video show reel on the World Cup giant screen and a display from the Norwich branch of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.

A two-day Christian social action exhibition inside the Forum saw thousands of passers-by engage with displays from the Diocese of Norwich, Norwich Foodbank, Time Norfolk, The Norfolk Quakers, St John’s Cathedral and Community Action Norwich amongst 30 exhibitors.

Opening Celebrate, Rev Janet Wyer, priest-in-charge of St Peter Mancroft on Millennium Plain, said:  “Celebrate Norfolk is God’s love made manifest, it is here and it is real, here for all to see in the exhibitions and stands, in the events, in the displays and activities and in the simple human interactions that will happen over the weekend.”

Celebrate acting director, Danny Doran Smith, said: “Celebrate has gone amazingly well this year and we have had an incredible response from people. The Forum and Millennium Plain have been completely full of people engaging in all the different stands and watching the acts outside. It has been a real joy and pleasure to see the church unite and be as one in the city centre as part of Celebrate.”

DanceOff450On Sunday afternoon, a closing service inside the Forum Atrium saw over 100 people hear singer Libby Redman perform. Celebrate project director John Betts, back after a recent multiple heart bypass operation, told the audience: “When the people of God are all together in one place and on one accord, then the Lord just loves to be there with them. I was called to serve God over 50 years ago and I am still excited about it. If you are searching for a passion, something to live for, then Jesus can fill that need.”

The service also heard from Ed Walker, chief executive of Christian homelessness charity Hope Into Action, which has recently opened four homes in Norwich in association with local churches.

This is the sixth year of the event which aims to showcase many of the hundreds of diverse activities and services provided by the Christian community across Norfolk.

Reaction from Celebrate exhibitors

Celebrate14Exhibition450Wayne Doman, from Christian disability charity Prospects: “Celebrate has been really good. Over the past two days we have been invited to speak to eight different churches, helping to encourage and equip churches on disability issues. This has been as good as at least six months of sending out emails to people and chasing responses, so it has been a very productive time.”
Gordon Darley, Diocese of Norwich: “Celebrate is a great opportunity to showcase what the church has to offer and to network. We have had some fantastic conversations with people, showing them resources that are on offer from the Diocese and to help them to find their nearest church and school.”
Marguerite Phillips, Mothers Union: “This is the fourth time that we have been to Celebrate and it is a really excellent opportunity to talk about our organisation to families as they come past and also to network with other Christian organisations. We were also very please to have the opportunity to make a video through the Celebrate video project. It has been very positive and we have made some good connections with people who may well benefit from some of our fundraising activities and people who have offered to fundraise for us.
Michele Curtis, Divorce Recovery Workshops Norwich: “Lots of chats, and made some interesting contacts about our Divorce Recovery Workshops and also been able to offer help to people on the spot.”

Leslie Moore from Good News: “It has been the best year since we have been here with lots of literature taken from the stand and we have given away 300 copies of the Good News newspaper which gives us a tremendous opportunity to speak to people and debate with a few. We have had a tremendously good time.”

Pictured from the top, Libby Redman, Dance Off and the Celebrate exhibition.

See how the EDP reported the event