Growing closer together in Norwich East Deanery
23 January 2020
Norwich East deanery are focused on supporting their community and strengthening the ties they already have - something they showed Bishop Graham on his recent visit to the deanery.
The chapter clergy met with Bishop Graham over lunch at the Oaklands Hotel, followed by a short session of prayer for the deanery and the visit.
Bishop Graham arrived at Norwich School and spoke first with the Headmaster, Steffan Griffiths, and the Chaplain, the Revd Corin Childs. The discussion ranged from hopes for the students to the specialist support systems already in place, as well as the strong link between the school and the Cathedral through institutions such as the school choir.
Having heard about the school, Bishop Graham then sat in on one of the classes for Religious Study with members of the Sixth Form. The students were revising the topics they had been covering – spanning from the nature of The Trinity to discussing how the teachings of the Bible apply to modern society. The students were not shy to involve Bishop Graham in their discussion and to pose him challenging questions like; what’s the best explanation for pain and suffering? Does a belief in God and an afterlife make pain and suffering worth it? Do we truly have free will if God already knows what’s going to happen in our lives? The object of the class not being to find the answer to these questions, but to consider them from all angles.
The visit then continued to HMP Norwich where Bishop Graham met with the Chaplaincy team and the Prison Governor on a tour of the rehabilitative work undertaken at the prison.
There are a number of services at the prison designed to help inmates move forward in their lives – whether that is leaving behind substance abuse or reconnecting with distanced family members. The Governor at HMP Norwich, Declan Moore, firmly believes that prisons can be a constructive vessel for change in these peoples’ lives. One of the ways in which staff at the prison are trying to make this a reality is through Spurgeon’s Family Services, who offer inmates the facilities to record themselves reading a book to their child(ren). The recording, and a copy of the book, is then sent to the inmate’s child(ren) so that they can feel connected as a family during one of the most disconnecting experiences of a person’s life.
The evening of Bishop Graham’s visit began with a show from the young people who use the facilities at OPEN on Bank Plain. Young poets and short-story writers read out their works; highlighting their experiences and emotions about the world through a range of exciting literary techniques they had developed in a writing club. Following them was a dancing troupe full of passion and energy.
Bishop Graham then took the stage and, after applauding the young artists, began a session of questions sent in by parishioners within the deanery.
The visit concluded with a Eucharist service in the beautiful St George Tombland, just opposite the Cathedral.