December 10 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Youthful enthusiasm has been helping to ensure a medieval Norwich church is back at the heart of the city centre community this summer.
The Chapelfield Youth project has been using St Stephens Church, in Rampant Horse Street, for a youth café on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons throughout the summer.
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James visited the youth outreach project yesterday to give the burgeoning scheme his blessing.
The café is the first major project of Chapelfield Youth, which is headed by Adam Jackson as part of his role as youth and young adults worker at St Stephens Church.
Mr Jackson said: “Our different experiments include a pedal-powered smoothie maker, which is quite good in these eco times, we’ve got the cheapest cheese toasties in the city, we’ve got a Nintendo Wii, a cupcake making competition, homemade cheese scones, I could go on.
“I’m interested in engaging the community in the centre of the city and, as a Christian, my interest isn’t so much into ramming religion down people’s throats, it’s really about being Jesus in the community and showing hospitality to people.”
The Chapelfield Youth team is supported by Norwich Youth For Christ and has around 15 people from seven different organisations and churches involved, aged from 17 to 55.
Bishop Graham yesterday had a go at producing a pedal-powered smoothie and also tasted some of the cupcakes and scones cooked in the church kitchen.
St Stephens Church closed in October 2009, a few months after a water leak in Malthouse Lane led to a shift in its foundations. It ended up being closed for more than two years after huge cracks appeared in its walls.
Following the repairs the church was also refurbished with a glass-walled kitchen, floor lighting and cafe facilities.
The work opened the church up to the public, providing a pathway from Gentlemans Walk through to Chapelfield Plain and the restaurants and shops of Chapelifeld Shopping Centre.
An estimated 40,000 people now pass the doors of the church every week, with Bishop Graham saying: “One of the wonderful things is to see the church, which I dedicated in its new guise with all the changes and patterns and furnishings and so on, being used for all sorts of purposes during the week for people dropping in, meeting each other, sharing sometimes their faith together but actually enjoying their friendships with one another.
“St Stephens has been here for hundreds of years but in the past few years of course it’s rediscovered its vocation.
“Thousands of people are coming past it each day and it has become a very integral part of life in the city. So opening the doors of St Stephens, making use of this wonderful place and making it something that’s good for contemporary young people, as well as the older generation, is great to see.”
Mr Jackson now hopes to continue expanding the work of Chapelfield Youth during the autumn and winter months, having had around 200 people register for email updates on the group’s activities.
He added: “Hopefully at some point here over the autumn we will have a big event with a band and speakers that people can invite their friends to.
“We want to have social activities like paintballing or film nights here or at a place I used to work we used to have these LAN (local area network) parties where kids would bring all their computers and we would link them altogether and play games together.”
For more information about Chapelfield Youth, go to www.facebook.com/ChapelfieldYouth