Lowestoft church celebrates �100,000 project

IT took months of planning, involved hours of hard work and cost about �100,000.

But dreams have become reality at the easternmost parish in the Church of England.

The new year has heralded a fresh chapter in the life and ministry of Christ Church in Lowestoft, with the completion of a major refurbishment project which has seen its facilities transformed and updated.

At an official opening and dedication ceremony on Friday, the new church centre and office was unveiled under the gaze of staff and parishioners by the Archdeacon of Norfolk, the Ven David Hayden.

The event marked the end of a project that began in 2010 with the award of planning permission and funding and involved nearly a year of construction and renovation work. It has seen new life breathed into upstairs rooms at the church hall, on Herring Fishery Score, and the new centre and office created.

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Christ Church's vicar, the Rev Matthew Payne, said he was 'so encouraged' by the teamwork that saw church members old and new all doing their bit to help out. He said the church was particularly grateful to architect John Quinlan, and the main contractors Kennedy Carpentry and Fred Bryant Builders.

'The upstairs rooms have been insulated and entirely re-plastered, before installing central heating and an upstairs kitchen, together with conference room facilities and a disability access platform lift,' Mr Payne said.

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'To make way for the refurbishment, the former church office was relocated from the hall into the church itself, with the added bonus that the church building can now be open five days a week and much more accessible to the local community, via a new entry-phone system at the main doors.'

He said the church was 'particularly grateful' for a grant from the Norwich Diocese mission fund, and this was matched by 'generous' support from church members, and grants from the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, National Churches Trust, Church and Community Fund, All-Churches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, and Birds Eye (Lowestoft) as well as grants from Waveney district and Suffolk county councils to provide disability access.

The Archdeacon, whose family hail from Oulton, opened the new facility on Friday evening.

Addressing church members and community leaders, he read out a letter from The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, who said: 'It is very appropriate that the Archdeacon of Norfolk comes at the beginning of this new year to celebrate the refurbishment of the church centre and the opening of your new church office.

'This celebration of the work done at Christ Church on your buildings gives an opportunity for the re-dedication of the whole church to share the good news of Jesus Christ with all those you are called to serve... These plans have taken time to come to fruition. They are the result of the steady determination and vision of your vicar, Matthew Payne, and the church leadership. They deserve our warmest gratitude.

'Both the Archdeacon and I gladly express our continuing support for them as they lead Christ Church forwards in mission and ministry. Our hope and desire is to see Christ Church grow in discipleship, in service and in numbers.'

On Sunday, February 5, at 3pm, Christ Church will be holding the annual Beach Village reunion service remembering the fishing community at the heart of Lowestoft. After the service, refreshments will be served and there will be an opportunity for people to view the new church centre and office.

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