New Lighthouse church born in Sheringham
A new church came into being in Sheringham, as the Norfolk town’s Baptists moved into their brand new building, and became known as the Lighthouse Community Church to become more accessible to the community.
Last month (1 September), the congregation gathered at the old building for the final time to give thanks for all that had been achieved there as Sheringham Baptist Church, before walking down Holway Road to stop at the top of the town for prayers and songs. They then walked along Cromer Road and symbolically “crossed over” the main road into the new centre, known simply as “Lighthouse”, for a time of celebration, followed by coffee and doughnuts.
'We have waited at least 18 years for this day,' said Ivor Charsley, one of the church leaders, 'During that time we have coped with cramped and dated facilities. Now God has given us this fabulous new centre.'
The need for a new building became more acute a few years ago when it emerged that the Holway Road Baptist church building required significant structural work. A re-build on that site was considered, but when the old Abbeyfield care home became available in late 2009, it soon became clear that this was the site that God had chosen for the new church centre.
'Although it has been a long journey,' said Ivor, 'everything has fallen into place when it needed to, including the funding, which is a sure sign that God’s hand has been upon this project from the beginning.'
The project has cost £1.5m in total, which has been raised by selling existing property, grants, loans, fund-raising and the generosity of church members. 'We took up a special collection to help meet the remaining £25,000 needed to complete the fitting out of the building,' explained Finance Manager Chris Gould. 'That collection raised a stunning total of over £50,000, which means we will be able to purchase the rest of the equipment needed.'
The official opening of the new building took place on 21 September. Lighthouse stewards opened the doors early to admit the large queue that was forming outside. Free coffee and cakes were on offer, and cut price speciality coffees were available, as people took the opportunity to view the new facilities.
The crowds were enthralled by demonstrations from the morning’s special guest, Daniel Cutting. He is the world freestyle football champion, and holds five world records for such feats as football “keep-ups” and other football acrobatics. He is also a Christian, and explained the relevance of his faith.
Following a buffet lunch, the ribbon was cut by Heather Sheen, one of the older members of the fellowship, and Josiah Paine, one of the youngest. Those present then packed the auditorium for a special service of celebration, which included a drama from the Lighthouse Drama Group, and a song from the Sheringham Youth Choir. The Revd Richard Lewis, the Regional Minister, gave a talk, and greetings were brought from other Sheringham clergy, and also from the town’s mayor, Doug Smith. The day concluded with tea and more cake.
'The fact that we have been able to raise £1.5m to finance this wonderful facility is quite miraculous,' explained Pastor Bryan Pickard, 'But it shows that God’s hand has been in this all along - and we believe He will use us to do a great work in North Norfolk.
'This does feel like we’ve now arrived... But in actual fact this is really only the start of our journey. We want to share this wonderful new facility with our community in North Norfolk, and show them the joy we have in knowing God.'
For more information about Lighthouse Community church, visit www.lighthousesheringham.org