Meeting as a church at St Augustine's
(St Augustine's Hall, set up for a course)
St Augustine’s meets as a church every Sunday at 11am in St Augustine’s Hall – see maps at bottom for location. The easiest pedestrian access to it is through the churchyard (the hall is easily visible from the church entrance), but it can also be accessed through The Lathes from Sussex Street, where there is a limited amount of on-street parking. There are many car parks in the immediate area, the closest being accessed via Botolph Street (NR3 1DU - turn left immediately after the roundabout when heading towards the flyover). There is also one at the end of Chatham Street, off Sussex Street (NR3 3AW). There is no parking immediately adjacent to the church hall.
We are a small community church. On any given Sunday there could be between 12-25 of us meeting for a worship service with a bias toward contemplation. This involves a small amount of chanting, silence and readings. We have a 'community time' for news and an update from the members of the church, and there is a sermon, with a small music group leading us in a few songs.
Holy Communion is celebrated by the vicar on the fourth Sunday of the month as far as possible, and occasionally at other times. On other Sundays the service is led by members of the congregation.
The church itself dates from 1163. It was re-dedicated on 30 April 1429 following extensive rebuilding and re-roofing, possibly necessitated by damage to its fabric during the Peasants’ Revolt 40 years earlier.
In 1993 the congregation, numbering 40-50, moved out of the church because the roof was dangerous. About £80,000 was raised to renovate the church hall for worship. In 1999, during a long period without a vicar, the old church was declared redundant. By then our numbers had dropped to about 25.
We wanted to grow from there and identified quite a strong ‘alternative’ community living in our area, and made a decision to be less ‘churchy’.
First we erected a new, more friendly, sign encouraging people to ‘come and develop your spiritual life’. Then, after surveying newer members to find out what attracted them to St Augustine’s, we created the Developing Consciousness course.
We re-ordered the building to make it more attractive, and rebranded ourselves as the Norwich Christian Meditation Centre, using modern marketing and advertising techniques to publicise our events. We encouraged the development of a Community Group to include those on the local estate, and organised a regular garden party for all local residents to create a village feel, although we are near a city centre.
We still use the old church for special events, such as the Midnight Communion on Christmas Eve.
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