‘Dream come true’ for new American priest at church

Rev Paul Rider with the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Norwich at his licensing service. Picture: Heather

Rev Paul Rider with the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of Norwich at his licensing service. Picture: Heather Woodcock - Credit: Archant

The new priest at a church in Old Lakenham says his appointment represents a 'dream come true'.

Rev Paul Rider with the Bishop of Norwich. Picture: Heather Woodcock

Rev Paul Rider with the Bishop of Norwich. Picture: Heather Woodcock - Credit: Archant

Rev Paul Rider, 60, was born in New York and has served churches in the United States for 28 years.

But the priest at St John's Church in Old Lakenham, who was licensed on February 13, is by no means new to the area.

He said: 'I first came here in 2012 on sabbatical to explore more about Lady Julian, who lived here back in the 14th century. I then discovered the cathedral and Carrow Road and I've been coming back every summer since on holiday.

'I kept telling my friends in the States that I was going to Norwich on pilgrimage, because these are the three pilgrim sites that I go to.


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'In the States on my last job, where I had been serving the same parish in Minnesota for 15 years, I just decided I needed a change and thought that I would try Britain.

'I quit my job in June and decided to look full time for something here and luckily there were opportunities in Norwich, because I just love it here. I love the diocese, I love the people, I love Norfolk. So it's a dream come true for me.'

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After years of watching Norwich City on his laptop in the early hours of the morning, Mr Rider has wasted no time in making the most of his newfound proximity to Carrow Road.

He said: 'I have season tickets for next year. As soon as I found out I would be moving here I got on the waiting list. I went to pick up my tickets a few weeks ago and I believe they said I was the first person on the waiting list to come and pick up my tickets.

'I've watched four matches this season and we haven't lost any of them, so I think I'm a lucky charm.'

As for his new role, Mr Rider said the Church of England differed from the Episcopal Church in many ways, but he expected certain aspects of his role to remain the same.

He said: 'First of all I just need to gauge what the community is like, what are their needs and how can the church best serve their needs while acting as a reflection of the love of God.

'People want to know that God truly loves them and, wherever you go, the church is a place where they can express that and a place from which they can do the work they have been called to do. My job as a priest is not to do it for them, but to walk with them.'

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