High hopes for £7m city church to open next year

How the new Soul Church base will look in Heartsease Lane, Norwich, when complete

How the new Soul Church base will look in Heartsease Lane, Norwich, when complete - Credit: Soul Church

A church which was burnt down 17 years ago could be reopened next year after a strong start to a major building project on its former home.

The Norwich Family Life Church which was based in the Mount Zion Family Life Centre, in Heartsease Lane was destroyed after it was struck by lightning in February 2006.

Now known as Soul Church, the congregation has been based in an industrial unit in Mason Road, but members have always wanted to return to its former home.

Builders at work on the new Soul Church in Heartsease Lane, Norwich, in March 2022

Builders at work on the new Soul Church in Heartsease Lane, Norwich, in March 2022 - Credit: Soul Church

After ground was broken on the large plot in October, construction has started on the new church and Heartsease community asset.

Soul Church pastor Jon Norman and his wife Chantel, who lead the Soul Church on Mason Road, Norwich.

Soul Church pastor Jon Norman and his wife Chantel, who lead the Soul Church on Mason Road, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Simon Finlay

Senior pastor Jon Norman said he hoped it could open within the next 12--18 months, adding: "This marks the start of an exciting journey. It’s been a long time in the planning and it’s
amazing to think we’ll be able to see it taking shape over the coming months. We have so
many community projects in the pipeline, for kids, seniors, young people, parents, job
seekers and more.

"We’ve outgrown our current premises, but this building will enable us to
offer practical help, support and more to people across the area.”

The new 58,000sqm project will include a 1,200-seat auditorium, nursery, community shop, café and sensory room.

There will also be car parking, with 242 spaces, including 13 spaces for the disabled and 32 cycle parking spaces.

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Before plans were approved by Norwich City Council, Mr Norman said the church would cost around £7m to complete to be paid for through fundraising efforts.

Church leaders promises the new venue will be a "landmark building and a significant community
asset for the people of Norwich".

During the Covid lockdown in 2020, Soul Foundation, part of Soul Church, sent out a weekly average of 45,000 meals to 5,000 vulnerable families.

The not-for-profit organisation would typically deliver 1,000 meals a week before the pandemic.

Soul Church's free production, The Wonder, was back bigger and better than ever

Performers from a previous production of The Wonder at Soul Church in Norwich - Credit: Soul Church

Soul Church also attracts crowds each Christmas for its free festive show, The Wonder, which celebrated its fifth year in 2019 and drew in crowds of 10,000 across 14 separate performances that year.