Vicar wants to reach out to her new community

From staying in a village in Zimbabwe to helping the privileged in New York, Earlham's new vicar hopes to use her experience to make the church as welcoming as possible.

The Rev Clare Dowding, 38, has stepped in to become vicar for the parish which covers four centres of Anglican worship and has not had anyone in place for a year.

Brought up in Norwich, Mrs Dowding attended Hellesdon High School and first went to a Methodist church as a youngster in her home village of Horsford.

She said: 'They offered a warm welcome so that's been a model for me ever since of what a church can be. It's about an open-door approach.' At the age of 20 she went to Zimbabwe with the Anglican Church and helped run literary programmes and met 'wonderful people'. It was after time back in London as a community worker she realised she wanted to pursue her faith, going on to study theology in Cambridge.

Ordained as a deacon in Manchester, she was then asked to go to New York to work with youngsters, and after a year-and-a-half she returned to Manchester to work on housing estates and alongside young people.

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It was a combination she said made Earlham a hugely appealing place to work because of the way it combined both worlds.

'It's one of the areas that's calling out for the church to connect with people,' she said.

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'I love ministry and being with people in a way that can help them, and seeing how God is connected to their everyday lives and not separate to it. In the midst of people's difficulty the church can be there.

'I want to reach out to the community in fresh ways, anything that sparks people's imagination.'

Have you got a story from the Earlham area to share with readers? Contact Evening News reporter John Owens on 01603 772439 or email

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