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Fire damaged church set to rise from ashes

PUBLISHED: 11:28 26 July 2010 | UPDATED: 20:24 01 August 2010

The congregation at an historic south Norfolk church is hoping that plans to rejuvenate its fire damaged building will soon gain approval.

Flames ripped through the school room and storage area at Carleton Rode Baptist Church, in June last year displacing worshippers and a youth club.

The congregation at an historic south Norfolk church is hoping that plans to rejuvenate its fire damaged building will soon gain approval.

Flames ripped through the school room and storage area at Carleton Rode Baptist Church, in June last year displacing worshippers and a youth club.

Now plans have been drawn-up to resurrect the school room with an improved access, alongside a new kitchen, toilets and modern meeting area where people could have coffees or attend luncheon clubs.

The proposals are in the hands of the church's denominational headquarters and it is hoped a decision on whether they can go ahead will be made in September.

The project is expected to cost about £150,000, of which about £90,000 should be covered by insurance and £30,000 has been donated by the congregation.

Rev Mark Taylor, the church pastor, said if permission was granted it is hoped all the work would be complete by the time the listed building celebrates its 200th birthday in 2012.

“I've been her nearly two years. The congregation on a Sunday morning was 45 to 50 people and the fire really raised our profile and on a Sunday morning we have up to 70 as a common number,” he said.

“There's been that sense of growth and people itching to get back to chapel.”

For six months after the fire, worshippers had to meet in village halls and parish churches in Carleton Rode and Bunwell. Evening services resumed in December, although morning congregations are still having to meet elsewhere due to the restricted space.

The Loft youth club, which attracts about 70 members, was also welcomed back to the church after Easter. Although their former room is still damaged, space has been made for the youngsters thanks to the manoeuvring of a few pews.


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