King's Lynn & Great Yarmouth to have Minster churches
The Bishop said, "Minster Churches usually possess both great historical and architectural significance as well as a contemporary mission and ministry stretching beyond immediate parish boundaries. This is true both for St Margaret's, King's Lynn and St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth. Both churches were originally founded by the first Bishop of Norwich and a link remains with Norwich Cathedral since the Dean and Chapter are Patrons in both cases. The scale of both churches match some cathedrals elsewhere. They are cherished in each town and many civic and community occasions take place within them. They are significant gathering points for a much wider area than their geographical parishes. Both have a growing and developing ministry and much appeal to tourists and pilgrims. Several similar churches elsewhere in the country have been given Minster status for these same reasons. I believe it will be good for the life of both towns and the ministries of both churches for this to happen here."
Commenting on the announcement, the Revd Canon Christopher Ivory, Vicar of St Margaret's said, "St Margaret's has served the town of King's Lynn and the wider area for over nine centuries and we still seek to be a spiritual home for all the community of west Norfolk where we can gather to celebrate the joys and mark the sorrows of the town and the borough. As well as the regular congregation, a large number of people visit the building. Sometimes they come for services; often they come to admire the architecture, or the beautiful and historic furnishings, or the long history that it represents. But what they find is a place of peace, somewhere to stop and think awhile, to be close to God maybe sitting in a seat in which people have sat for the same reason for 650 years. St Margaret's isn't any more important than other church buildings, but we are both humbled and honoured that the Bishop of Norwich has decided to give us a new title that reflects our commitment to serve the community beyond the immediate parish boundaries and invites the wider community to see us a place for them. We hope also that having a Minster will be another signal to people well beyond our area that King's Lynn is a beautiful historic town that is well worth visiting."
The Mayor of the Borough of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Cllr Colin Sampson said, "I was absolutely delighted when I was told that the Bishop of Norwich had plans to re-designate St Margaret's Church as a Minster. The position that the building holds within the spiritual and civic life of not just the town but also the Borough indicates that the building is of great significance. As has been said elsewhere, the splendour of St Margaret's surpasses that of some cathedrals and after all, we do have our own Suffragan bishop! I am looking forward with excitement and pride to the great day in December when the building gets the title that it deserves. May the good work done there now continue with renewed vigour!"
The Revd Chris Terry, Team Rector of Great Yarmouth said, "St Nicholas Church has stood at the end of the Market Place in Great Yarmouth for over 900 years and is arguably the oldest building in the town. Its restoration following bomb damage in the Second World by the town and church community was a sign of its ongoing importance to the town. Today people come to the church to celebrate their love at their weddings, to give thanks to God for the gift of their children as they bring them to baptism and more sadly as they come to express their loss of family and friends as they come to their funerals. It is the place where the town gathers for the special civic services that affirm the place of faith in our communal life and also for social events as such the Christmas Fair, College Graduation ceremony and concerts. Still other people come to the church to marvel look at the architecture and the beautiful clear light that is an important part of the buildings visual impact. As a church community we are exploring new ways in which St Nicholas can be used as a centre for Christian mission to the town and the wider community around Great Yarmouth. First and foremost it is a sacred space where people can meet with God in these special events as well as in the regular pattern of daily and Sunday worship. We are therefore delighted that the Bishop of Norwich has decided to give the church Minister status which we see as recognition of the role we seek to meet within the life of the town and its surrounding area. We also hope that the new role might encourage people to visit the town and share in the heritage of the town of which St Nicholas is a part."
The Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Cllr Barry Coleman said, "I am delighted with the news. St Nicholas is the largest parish church in the country and one of the oldest and most prominent buildings in Great Yarmouth, but more importantly it is a building at the heart of the community used by residents and visitors alike. It's a place to celebrate good times as well as a place to gather and commiserate during times of sadness. It fills me with immense pride for this historic occasion to take place during my year in civic office."
The Bishop of Norwich added, "I hope that in both King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth this development will inaugurate a new and exciting stage in the mission and ministry of both churches and be welcomed in the towns these churches serve."
In both King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth the Borough Council will be participating in the services to mark each church as a Minster. These will take place at St Nicholas, Great Yarmouth on Friday December 9th at 7.00pm and at St Margaret's, King's Lynn on Sunday December 18th at 6.30pm.