Chinese Church - Bowthorpe Road, Norwich

New building for Norfolk’s only Chinese Church

The Norwich Chinese Methodist Church – the only Chinese church in Norfolk – started off with seven worshippers in 1998.

It now has a thriving worship community of almost 200 people, including 40 university students and more than 50 children – and the numbers keep on growing.

“Our church members are from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, so we are a very diverse community,” says Pastor Edmond Tsui, “the age range varies from two months up to 75 years of age, and we have many young families that worship with us.”

Ten different languages

Attending a service at the Norwich Chinese Methodist Church is an unforgettable experience, with Sunday services held in Cantonese and Mandarin, and everyone joining in to sing the same hymn in different languages. 

“We also have British worshippers who attend our services and we used to arrange for an interpreter for them,” explains Edmond. “From January 2019, we started holding English-speaking services on a weekly basis for our British as well as our British-born Chinese members, who are more fluent in English than Chinese.”

A space for the community

The Chinese Church moved to its current location in Bowthorpe Road in 2015. They soon discovered that the roof was leaking and that the hall, kitchen and toilets were not up to scratch.  The main worship area, which only catered for 140 people, was also too small to house its thriving community.   

Mission in Britain funding for £125,000, and the support of the Circuit and congregation, meant that they were able to demolish the old building and erect a modern, multi-purpose building in 2018, with a worship area that now seats 250 people. The new space includes a crèche, disabled toilets and plenty of space to host their Sunday school, youth groups, training sessions and get-togethers.

“Our dream is to be a real blessing to the community in an area where there is a lack of community spaces,” says Superintendent Minister, Rev Catherine Hutton. “Our doors are wide open for community members to come in to take a look around, have a coffee and chat and enjoy the hospitality that is such a vital part of the Methodist ethos.”

Looking towards the future

There’s a huge potential for mission in the area, with new residential housing, shops, a care home and hospital nearby. The University of East Anglia less than a mile away and there are many students living in the area. Edmond is also the Pastor to the Chinese Christian Fellowship at the University, which will allow more outreach on campus.

“It’s a young church and there’s a lot of vibrancy that comes with that,” says Catherine. “What makes this church special is its joyfulness and a strong sense of belonging. We are excited to see what God has in store for us, and we’re open to change.”

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