Nestled between the Sandringham Estate and the RSPB bird reserve at Snettisham is the Benefice of Dersingham, Anmer, Ingoldisthorpe and Shernborne.
In the winter thousands of pink footed geese set off daily over the villages looking for food, returning at dusk: a truly wonderful spectacle and a delight of the locals. All four of our parish churches are open daily (or access available).
Although it’s a beautiful area, there are challenges for many in the communities through which we serve; the Dersingham PCC are seeking to respond to some of these challenges as an expression of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Across the benefice there is a great breadth of worship styles. Anmer offers Prayer Book and, in summer months evensong – culminating with choral harvest evensong led by the Dersingham church adult choir.
Shernborne, a farming community, has a rich and long Christian heritage with a claim to fame as one of the original locations where the missionary, Saint Felix, shared the Gospel in 630AD.
Ingoldisthorpe has a beautiful church; the Church of England school next door has great pride in being associated with it, holding full church school services and being involved in the community.
Dersingham is blessed with many talented musicians and singers who offer their gifts in worship. The choir has been joined by other members of the community and congregation and sung at three “Big Sings”; at the one last Christmas they sang part of the Hallelujah Chorus.
We had two “new beginnings” last year, as both a junior choir and a youth worship band called Blaze were started. They both offer opportunities for the young people of the worshipping community to grow in leading worship, and we pray for an exciting future.
The desire to encourage growth through worship bore fruit in the introduction of the accessible contemporary worship, “The Gathering”, which offers another string to the bow of the worship styles available. Combined services during the year include Harvest, Mothering Sunday and special celebration occasions that blend organ, choral, contemporary and accessible worship.
The Gathering contemporary worship also offers children’s teaching in different groups. Full immersion baptism has now taken place for the first time in church following on from an Alpha course, with more to follow. It is a team effort in the benefice and so many people offer their gifts and skills in a huge variety of ways sustained by invaluable prayer support.
Children and young people
Little Nippers, a Baby and Toddler group was started three years ago, initially from an initiative called “Tea and Tissues”. Working with the schools, we invited parents who were dropping off their little ones to school for the first day an opportunity to come and talk to parents and grandparents who had been there before over a cup of tea and cake where tissues were in large supply!
This was the springboard for the group, which quickly reached capacity and continues to have a waiting list. The group meets in the warm St Nicholas Church, with action Bible stories and prayers. There are lots of toys to play with, and during the popular snack time all the children sit together at a long table to eat, the youngest in a row of high chairs.
Jesus’ instruction, “Let the children come to me”, has been a big encouragement.
In early teen years young people have many pressures to live through and identity issues to face in a challenging environment where to be Christian is not easy. A youth group was started as a response to the numbers of young people coming to church for worship. This youth group has the Bible at its centre, and also offers an opportunity to meet with others of their own age. The group enjoy visual Bible study, often using Christian bands and their music videos (‘Unspoken’ and ‘For King and Country’) which have become an integral part of the weekly times together. The group chose the name “Elevation” which works on many levels!
We will have our sixteenth Christmas Tree Festival this year from 6 to 8 December. The real trees are decorated by various groups and societies within the village. Another delight of the festival is the firm favourite; the annual concert by the Bilton Silver Band, a show band from Rugby. Flower Festivals happen each year in July: members of local flower groups join us to enable a wonderful display of flowers in our church concluded by a new favourite, a “Hymns and Pimms” service.
A local expression of a national Christian charity, Baby Basics West Norfolk, works out of the church in Dersingham. Volunteers help vulnerable mothers in poverty; those who may be homeless or in financial difficulties, even if only temporarily; asylum seekers; and those fleeing domestic violence and trafficking. Lovely Moses baskets, given to provide a safe bed to sleep in, are packed full of essentials such as nappies, wipes, maternity pads, as well as blankets, towels and baby clothes from newborn to three months. For some, these are the only items they may have for their baby. Baby Basics shows God’s love in action and all the baskets are prayed over. The team work with, and support, midwives, health visitors, social workers and family support workers.
We are seeking to respond actively to the increasing impact of dementia in our communities and are hoping to become a Dementia Friendly Church. Plans are also progressing well at improving the facilities for worship and welcome: accessibility and flexibility for people of differing ages, and facing physical or mental challenges.