Baptist Festival 344 – Norwich

Why Festival 344?

Answering God’s call…

When I first moved to East Anglia in 1999, it was my great pleasure to meet and befriend David Adams.  Soon afterwards, David told me of his firm belief that God had given him a vision.  It was a vision of greater Baptist unity in the City of Norwich: all four Baptist congregations sharing times of worship, outreach, fellowship and nurture.

Stronger together…

The Bible tells us clearly that it’s wise to work together for God’s Kingdom purposes: ‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’  (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The joy of fellowship…

Times of unity gladden the hearts of God’s people.  Who could forget or ignore the beautiful image that King David described at the start of the 133rd Psalm?  ‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!’

Learning from the past…

The first Norwich Baptists started life as a disparate group of believers, until God drew them together, 344 years ago.  The State and religious authorities had rejected evangelical Christian belief, but God used the ensuing persecutions to unify and inspire His people to proclaim the Good News.

Looking to the future…

Today, Norwich is famous for having the country’s highest proportion of people professing ‘no religious belief’ – a massive 42.5% compared with a figure of 25.1% for England and Wales as a whole (2011 Census).  Perhaps the Lord will choose these times to unify and inspire us once again?  Perhaps Festival 344 is the start of something wonderful?

Rev James East Mth – Norwich Central Baptist Church

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