Published on network norwich, by Keith Morris, 27 June 2007.
Hundreds of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants are swelling church congregations across Norwich and Norfolk (England).
African and Chinese congregations exist in Norwich churches and hundreds of people from the Philippines, India and Africa have boosted the congregation at Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral from a weekend average of around 800 up to 1200.
Transforming Norwich, which represents Churches Together in Greater Norwich, has sent a survey to church leaders to try to collect more information on the subject.
John Dubbey, who has sent out the survey, said: “As most of the countries from which the visitors came to England are Catholic we would expect the major recipients would be the Catholic churches”, …
Norwich Vineyard has recently seen new visitors from Nigeria and the Congo:
“There are no statistics yet available concerning Africans and West Indians coming into Norwich, but clearly there is a considerable increase,” said John Dubbey. “From the experience of churches who have welcomed Africans into their congregations, and my own experiences in Southern Africa, there is much more inclination among Africans than among the British to take matters of faith seriously and attend church regularly.
“Because of this importance attached to church, any such newcomers will expect to be warmly received, especially by the leader, visited in their homes, given information about the life of the church and facilities available in the country and, where necessary, to be given help with transport,”
But he said: “It needs to be recognized that many of these people have come to this country understandably to earn money and that the temptation of double overtime on Sundays can be stronger than that of attending church.”
He concludes: “At present, it would seem that any church which actively campaigns to attract this more open and needy new population will be warmly welcomed.”
Different churches have also reported regular commitment from students at UEA and these provide a great opportunity for mission work both now and on return to their homes.
To help provide a warm welcome to Norwich for visitors from other countries John Dubbey from Transforming Norwich is looking to compile a list of local Christians who can speak foreign languages and who are prepared to be of assistance if necessary.