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Prayer births new expression of Norfolk church 

The faithful prayers of two women helped birth a fresh expression of church in Mulbarton over three years ago. Jill Wright and Mary Ratcliff prayed for another church at the opposite end of the village to the parish church and it began four years after Mary's death. Sandie Shirley reports.

The monthly Sunday services at the pensioners' complex at Hanover Gardens are attracting an eager congregation who are reconnecting with their faith. 'Church at Hanover' - an offshoot of Mulbarton Church - is like family for some older people who find love, friendship and hospitality as they hear and respond to the gospel.
Informal mid-week monthly services at Hanover Gardens, on Birchfield Lane, began many years ago but the dwindling numbers would see a divine turnaround. The breakthrough began after a midweek meeting with a handful of attendees.
Nina Davey from the church explains: "Immediately after a couple of ladies had finished praying for new people to join the group a lady came saying she would love to attend however she was not used to going to church and was anxious. She came to the next service, then her husband came and then friends too."
As God moved, the sessions began to flourish. They would pave the way for a new church on the southern side of the village in line with Jill and Mary's prayers and the prayers of a few others who joined them.  Mary continued praying until she lost her fight with cancer in 2008.
Permission was sought from the PCC for a Sunday service and, following their consent, eight church members prayed through the planning and preparation, seeking God's purposes.
The traditional services at Church at Hanover started in January 2012 in the complex lounge and appeal to older people.  The church began as it meant to continue with traditional hymns, prayers read by congregation members and the Gospel message given by clergy and lay readers. 
The church has been forged with loving actions, prayer and God's provision. "Because everyone who lives on the complex is invited as well as others who live near, there is no charge to hire the room. Everyone gives generously so the main church is helped financially as well as some charities, including Norwich Foodbank. We were able to buy 50 copies of large print hymn books which the congregation paid for too. Everyone gets a warm welcome, nice refreshments and a good goodbye," says Nina.
She adds: "God started this church and, by the prayers of many people, it will be a blessing to all whom he brings, for as long as he wants it to carry on."
Church at Hanover is held on the fourth Sunday of each month at 10.30am. Contact the church office at the Rectory - 01508 571167.
Pictured above is a church service at Hanover Gardens.

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