December 10 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A 200-strong party of worshippers made a special pilgrimage through Sheringham on Sunday when they walked from their old church to their new £1.6m state of the art home.
Members of Sheringham Baptist Church filled the pavements as they walked from their former base in Holway Road to the new Lighthouse building in Cromer Road.
The congregation stopped in the town centre to pray before marching symbolically across Cromer Road and into the striking building, where people were asked to add their thumbprints and signatures to a picture which will go on display in the new church.
Pastor the Rev Bryan Pickard said being in the new building was a “dream come true” for churchgoers who have donated “phenomenally” towards the project, raising an additional £45,000 on Sunday morning.
“We have got no real wealthy people but everybody’s doing their bit,” he added. “It’s nice to be in here, everybody’s worked so hard to get it all together and the builders have gone the extra mile.”
Mr Pickard said they had changed the name of the church - from Sheringham Baptist to Lighthouse - to make it more “accessible” in the 21st century. And he stressed the building was open to the whole community.
He said: “We believe the name is more inviting and appealing really. Our aim is to make it accessible, we built it deliberately for community use as well.”
Church member Ian Mutton, managing director of SMG Architects that designed the building, added: “We want people to feel they can come in here.
“We wanted to have a building that was open and vibrant and not intimidating like a lot of churches are.”
The building, which hosted its first birthday party on Sunday afternoon, has been designed to be multi-fuctional and will feature folding doors that can screen off the main room so it can be used for separate activities.
The ground floor is also home to a soft play area for children and a cafe, while the upstairs atrium - reached by climbing the spiral staircase in the glass ‘lighthouse’ column - has been dedicated to youth activities, with pool tables, table tennis tables and a comfy seating area.
Mr Pickard added: “We’re a seaside town but there isn’t a lighthouse in Sheringham. There’s lights in the glass tower so it will light up at night - it’s going to be quite a feature.”
And the new building proved to be a hit with the congregation who sang out happily during their first Lighthouse service.
Gill Wilson, 89, who has been a church member for more than 50 years, said: “I think the new building is lovely, it is very exciting and promising and it is just full of possibilities.”
There is still minor work to be done to complete the church, which will be officially opened on September 21.