In the holiday hub of north Norfolk, a church teetering on the edge of closure now stands as a beacon of hope for the gospel in this tourist hotspot. This is the inspiring story of Grace Church North Norfolk.

The journey from Cromer

Historically worshipping as Cromer Baptist Church, nestled in the town famous for its crab, the congregation faced a pivotal moment. Building issues and rising costs forced the church to look elsewhere for its place of worship, and an empty Methodist church in the nearby seaside village of East Runton proved the answer.

The move marked a new chapter in the church’s story, and in 2021 the members agreed to a change of name and charitable status. The church would be known as ‘Grace Church North Norfolk’, reflecting the reach the church wanted to have into the local area, and the overflowing kindness of the God they served. A change of structure to a ‘charitable incorporated organisation’ (CIO) would bring protection, clarity and future-proofing to the governance of church life.

The end of the road?

Yet this new chapter almost became their last. Grace Church was facing a crisis – membership was dwindling, energy was waning, and their pastor had stood down. The church’s work with Edward Connor Solicitors (ECS) had halted. The future looked bleak, and closure seemed like a real possibility.

Overwhelmed and uncertain of the way forward, the remaining 5 members of the church resolved to pray. Then as 2023 dawned, a renewed sense of calling emerged. Their pastor agreed to resume his role, two new families joined, and there was a collective resolve to go forwards with God’s help.

“The Lord added a couple of families to us, other visitors arrived, and all of a sudden from feeling that we weren’t going anywhere, it began to feel that the Lord was taking us forward on a pathway, and the ECS involvement was a key part of that.”

Jon Davies, Pastor

Finding the way again

At this point Grace Church resumed the work with ECS towards becoming a CIO. Lynda Wilson, an Associate Solicitor in ECS’ Charities Team, helped them navigate the complex process of setting up a legal structure that would provide a solid foundation for their future.

Pastor Jon Davies saw Lynda’s guidance as instrumental in helping him understand his dual role in the church:

“I saw my responsibility twofold. I saw it as spiritual and administrative, but I found it hard to combine those things … Lynda helped to join up my thinking [and] renewed this sense of both aspects of my own role in the Church’s life being important in tandem … the fact of who we were as a church as well as the ongoing spiritual life of the Lord’s people … together which constituted the practise of the church week by week.”

The existence of Grace Church North Norfolk as a formal entity underscored for Jon this new sense of alignment between the spiritual and administrative aspects of the church:

“I quickly began to see that they were holding together in a way that actually was inextricable, and the very fact that we are now Grace Church North Norfolk is a central aspect of both the things I’m saying – it’s our new legal foundation, but it’s also the fact that we’ve got a new church life as well.”

A clearer path forwards

A prayerful dependence on God and the right support have set Grace Church on a clearer path into the future.

And on a personal level for Jon, working with Christian lawyers was a blessing:

“It has been foundational to my sense of personal assurance that I could say things at a level that were understood. And the fact that I’ve had emails and conversations where Lynda said, ‘We can pray about this for you’, you know, that’s been a real solid basis … ECS had a great concern for the gospel as well as for the legal work.”

The challenges haven’t all gone, but today Grace Church North Norfolk looks forward to strengthening its core with likeminded gospel-workers, and finding better ways for loving its local community.

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