New era for Dereham Baptist Church after �500,000 refurbishment

A bilingual service will mark the opening of Dereham Baptist Church, which has undergone a �500,000 transformation.

The Grade II* listed building, which is off the High Street, temporarily closed in the new year for the work to be completed.

Minister the Rev Chris Densham said: 'The whole place was very dark and tired. It is a huge transformation. The work enables us to use the church for a variety of things.'

A service will be led in English and Portuguese by Mr Densham and the Rev Jorges Damasceno on Saturday at 6pm.

During the worship there will be the usual lively music and singing from the church band.

Mr Damasceno will also be stepping down from his position that night to be replaced by Pastor Marcos Hernandes.

The refurbishment included replacing the wooden floors with carpet, putting in new underfloor heating, a new PA system and levelling off the ground floor.

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All the pews from the ground floor were removed and have been replaced with upholstered chairs, which can be moved.

Mr Densham said: 'It is not just church activities that can be held here, all kinds of activities can take place.

'We are right in the heart of the town and we want to be right in the heart of the community.

'I'm really pleased with the way it has come together. I'm pleased with the possibilities that it opens up for us as a church in the community.

'Generally people have come in and said, 'wow!''

During the work, services were held in the town's Northgate High School.

Mr Densham added: 'The church as a whole has been brilliant in embracing the changes – people have been very enthusiastic. It is a thriving congregation.'

During one month, when the high school was unavailable, an informal family church event at Toftwood Village Hall and a caf�-style church at Swanton Morley Village Hall were held.

Good deeds were also completed by members of the congregation in Dereham town centre in the Churches on the Streets event.

The family church at Toftwood, called Little Fishes Sunday School, and Churches on the Streets will continue.

'A number of good things have come about with the Baptist Church not being available,' Mr Densham.

As well as the 6pm service on Saturday, a shorter service will be taking place this Sunday from 10.30am.

Visit www.derehambaptist.org or ring 01362 695221 for information.

sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

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