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The sofa-surfing church which could finally have found a permanent home

PUBLISHED: 16:31 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:31 19 May 2020

Members of the Hellesdon Christian Disciples celebrating Christmas. Picture: Stuart Collier

Members of the Hellesdon Christian Disciples celebrating Christmas. Picture: Stuart Collier

Stuart Collier

In a city that is said to have once had a church for every Sunday of the year, a church community without a permanent home might sound far fetched.

Hellesdon Christian Disciples elder John Hughes leading a service. Picture: Stuart CollierHellesdon Christian Disciples elder John Hughes leading a service. Picture: Stuart Collier

However, for the Hellesdon Christian Disciples, this has been the case ever since it formed in 1997, after breaking away from the Meadow Way Chapel.

The small Christian congregation, of around 40 people, has spent the past 23 years sofa surfing, holding its services in either the homes of its members or through hiring space in the chapel.

However, this soon could be about to change, with its lengthy hunt for a permanent hope possibly coming to an end, in the form of a social club on the very edge of the suburb.

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The group has applied to Norwich City Council for permission to take on The Moles Rest, a private members’ club on Fifers Lane, which is currently closed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

John Hughes, the church’s elder, said: “We formed the church 23 years ago having previously attended Meadow Way. It was not a slight on the church there at all, but my sister and I just wanted to offer a less formal church setting - where you could say ‘who cares’ if a baby started crying or somebody shouted out.

“However, over the years it has become more and more difficult to have church in our homes.”

The church’s hunt for a new home saw it purchase a warehouse a few years ago, but it was unable to secure planning permission for a change of use. However, in The Moles Rest, Mr Hughes feels it has the ideal opportunity.

He added: “We would love to do our services from there, but the important thing is being able to create an environment where people can come in, have a coffee and a chat, and turn to when they feel they have nowhere else to go. If we can do that it would be tremendous.”

Cheryl Cook, joint-owner of the Moles Rest, said: “As a club we had been struggling so when we had an offer of it becoming a Christian youth club and meeting hall we thought it sounded good for the people of the community.”


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