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Special anniversary celebration at St Faith’s

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The congregation of a West Norfolk church has celebrated the anniversary of a sharing arrangement which has seen Anglicans and Methodists worship in the same building for 50 years.In 1974 St Faith’s Church at Gaywood began to be used in this way after entering a sharing agreement between the Anglicans and Methodists. The then rector, the Rev Gerald Phizackerley, had invited the Methodists of Gaywood Methodist Church to consider meeting for worship in the parish church rather than build a new church in Gaywood.Masterminded by Rev Wilfred White, Methodist Superintendent Minister of the King’s Lynn Circuit, and with the help of local leading Methodists Leonard Barrett and Vernon Price Jones, the plan went ahead culminating in the opening of the first phase of the Gaywood Church Rooms and the beginning of the sharing of St Faith’s Church by both congregations.

St Faith’s 50th celebration.

Saturday February 23, 1974 saw the Methodist Minister, the Rev Tony Windsor, lock the door of the old chapel and along with the then chair of the East Anglia Methodist District, the Rev Geoffrey Thackray Eddy, they led the Methodist congregation across the road to the opening ceremony of the new Gaywood Church Rooms where with Rt Rev Maurice Wood, then Bishop of Norwich, there was a service in St Faith’s Church.The following day at 11am the first Methodist service in St Faith’s Church was held.These were the beginnings of what is now a very active Anglican/Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnership, which was formed in 1995. Last Sunday, a special 50th Anniversary Service was held when the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham Usher and the chair of the East Anglia Methodist District, Rev Julian Pursehouse, addressed a full church which included Borough Mayor and Mayoress, Paul and Marion Bland, local councillors and 13 former members of the Anglican clergy and Methodist ministers and their partners who had served at St Faith’s since 1974.The service was followed by a communal lunch in Gaywood Church Rooms where an anniversary cake was cut by Elaine Price Jones, the widow of Vernon Price Jones and now the most senior member and Mark Lee, the most recent member of St Faith’s Church.

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