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Praise be for St Luke's first 50 years

PUBLISHED: 10:53 26 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:52 06 July 2010

A painting of St Luke's by David Barnes

A painting of St Luke's by David Barnes

JUST under 59 years ago a reverend gentleman had a vision of building a church for the then new Whitton housing estate.

Eight years later, a foundation stone was laid, and now the congregation of St Luke's Church is marking the first 50 years of its place of worship.

JUST under 59 years ago a reverend gentleman had a vision of building a church for the then new Whitton housing estate.

Eight years later, a foundation stone was laid, and now the congregation of St Luke's Church is marking the first 50 years of its place of worship.

It was in October 1951 that the Rev Grant Maclaren had his vision of creating a new church for a group of people who were meeting in a small hall in Whitton to worship together. After much work, a piece of land on the edge of the estate was offered by Mr Winter, of Whitton Farm. A foundation stone was laid by Mr Winter on October 17, 1959, and on May 22, 1960, Whitton (St Mark's) Church Hall was opened.

The church was launched with close links to St Mark's Church, Oulton Broad, and today the two congregations still share a clergyman and enjoy many activities together.

In 1964, classrooms were added to the building, and the official opening and naming of St Luke's was conducted by the Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev Eric Cordingly, on May 23, 1965.

More recently the church has been renovated to bring the building up to date with current disability legislation.

It has welcomed many people through its doors over its half-century, becoming home to community groups, including uniformed organisations, women's groups and playgroups. “Today it is still our vision at St Luke's to reach out to the community in the surrounding area and be a beacon to all who live there,” said Canon Ian Bentley. “It is not just a church but a community centre, with multi-purpose use of the hall across the week.” He has been at the churches for four years, having been preceded at both St Mark's and St Luke's by Barry Roche, William Stewart, Raymond Hill and the Rev Munt.

This year's anniversary continues a busy period for the two congregations, since last year St Mark's enjoyed its 125th anniversary. A series of events for St Luke's runs through the year, the highlights including an anniversary exhibition on Saturday, April 3, a special Easter Sunday service, and a joint service on Sunday, October 1, to be attended by the present Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev Alan Winton.

The exhibition, from 11.30am-4pm, will include photos rolling back the years at St Luke's, lunch, flower displays, a treasure trail and displays by groups that use the hall.

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