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25 June 2010

Celebration of faith takes over Norwich city centre

Celebration of faith takes over Norwich city centre

By Mike Wiltshire

Thousands of people experienced a lively festival of faith and church life in action in Norwich city centre on June 11 to 13.

More than 40 different Christian organisations took part in the Celebrate Norwich & Norfolk weekend which completely took over the Forum and Millennium Plain area of Norwich.

Many stories have emerged of the impact of the event in individual lives - people who were passing by, unaware that they were about to have a spiritual encounter.

The two-day exhibition within the Forum - twice the size of last year's Christian Community Action Fair  - attracted a wide range of exhibitors and  visitors, while crowds of people outside enjoyed the multicultural music, singing, dancing and drama groups on the Millennium Plain.

"There's a real atmosphere of celebration here - the aura of this area has completely changed," said one delighted visitor.  There were also life-changing experiences for both Christian and not-yet-Christians who came to the event as many received encouraging advice, fellowship and prayer. 

Among them was a 25-year-old woman who sat in the sunshine on the steps of the Millennium Plain, watching five drama sketches by the Riding Lights Theatre Company.  For months she had been wondering if God had a place in her life - and as the presentation finished, she plucked up courage to speak to one of the group. He, in turn, explained the simple steps of faith in Christ and, after prayer, agreed to stay in touch via email.

Within the Forum, the wide range of exhibiting groups found the event to be a great networking opportunity as they answered questions, made new friends and answered questions about their various ministries.  Members of the public, as well as Christians, received encouragement and prayer as they spoke of needs in their lives. 

More than 70 Bibles were given away by the team from Christian Motorcylists' Association, and hundreds of other people received various types of Christian literature, including a dedicated issue of the Good News for Norwich & Norfolk tabloid newspaper.

"I'm speechless about what God has done," said one of the prayer team with the Norfolk Healing Rooms, who set up a prayer caravan on the Millennium Plain. Passers by, aged from 19 to their late 60s, shared their problems and were prayed for.  One tearful woman of 25 who admitted to being on drugs since the age of 10 said she experienced the peace and presence of God for the first time.

Despite rain on the Sunday afternoon, a crowd of over 300 attended an open-air thanksgiving service including drama and an African choir, which concluded with colourful balloons being released over the city - each balloon carrying a Bible promise or a prayer for the community.

You can see a video and more pictures from the event at the Network Norwich website.