Landmark reached at new £7m church as ground is broken
- Credit: Soul Church
Development of a new £7m city church has taken a major step forward with more than 1,000 people turning out to watch diggers break ground on the site.
Soul Church has been working towards building its new headquarters in Heartsease Lane for more than a decade.
The project has seen a lengthy planning process, including design work and a huge fundraising effort.
And on Sunday, around 1,000 members of the church community turned out for the project's groundbreaking ceremony, as work began on the new community hub.
Once complete, it will include a 1,200 seater auditorium, a nursery, a community café, counselling and therapy rooms and a range of other facilities.
Jon Norman, senior pastor of Soul Church, said: "We've been eagerly anticipating this moment for a long time and it marks history in the making as we build a new church and community centre on the site of the former Family Life Centre.
"We believe the church will be a place of hope and refuge for the city of Norwich."
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It comes some 15 years after the church previously standing on the site was reduced to rubble after being struck by lightning in 2006.
Known as the Mount Zion Family Life Church at the time, a lightning strike saw flames tear through the church, leaving it uninhabitable.
In 2013, permission was granted for a replacement with the community moving into a temporary home in Mason Road.
The following year, the community reformed under the Soul Church name and set about making the vision for a replacement home a reality.
However, it has proven a slow process with a number of factors causing delays to the project.
With ground now broken it is hoped the community hub and church will be open by Easter 2023.
As well as being the headquarters of the Soul Church community, it will also house the Soul Foundation, which since the start of the pandemic has provided some 2.8m meals to families around the city.
The groundbreaking ceremony saw around 1,000 people gather under the stars for prayer and a fireworks celebration.