History of South Lowestoft Methodist Church
South Lowestoft Methodist Church replaced the old Lorne Park Road church which had been built in 1904 and which, owing to limited space and being in a state of disrepair, was no longer suitable for worship. With the help of generous grants and a great deal of generosity from members and friends, plus fundraising, the project was completed.
When attempting to write a history of any church it is difficult to know what to include and what to omit. There have obviously been many changes during the past fifty years. When we opened we had a number of members from the previous church but we soon welcomed new ones to worship with us and more children joined our Sunday School, or Junior Church as it was better known. Over the years we have celebrated infant baptisms, weddings and held funeral services. Looking at our Book of Remembrance we can see the names of many men and women who have served this church faithfully and well.
We have welcomed and said farewell to several ministers and these have all brought to us their varying gifts.
Reverend E. Ronald Kemp was our minister when the church was built and he was followed by: David Caink, Leslie Richards, David Pittock, Brian Cooke, John Fenner, Eric Potts, Patricia Olivent–Hayes, Robert Soanes and Jane Craske with Peter Rayson being the current minister.
So what are some of the highlights of the past fifty years?
Music has always played an important part in our Church. We have had a church choir who used to sing regularly in worship and many will remember the Easter oratorios of Stainer’s ‘Crucifixion’ and Maunder’s ‘Olivet to Calvary’. A successful Men’s Choir led worship from time to time and a Junior Choir took part in Sunday worship and introduced us to the musical ‘Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat’. Perhaps one of the most memorable occasions was when both adult and junior choirs combined to give a staged production of the musical ‘Oliver’
(entitled ‘A Twist of Oliver’ for copyright purposes). This raised a considerable sum toward the purchase of a new organ. Over the years we have invited choirs and musicians to perform at South Lowestoft. Particularly memorable was a concert given by choral scholars from Kings College, Cambridge.
Worship has also been enriched in recent years by the use of projection facilities and the renewal of our amplification system.
Food and hospitality have always played an important part in the life of our church with anniversary lunches, harvest suppers and, in more recent years, a Luncheon Club which serves meals once a fortnight to older people.
During the past fifty years, many children and young people have been associated with us through Junior Church, Youth Clubs, Girl Guides and Boys’ Brigade. Most of them are now not so young and, having moved away for university and work, are now parents and even grandparents. Some, however, remain in the town and it is good to meet them occasionally and catch up with their news. We are very pleased that both Rainbows and Brownies are still part of our church family and share in our worship on special occasions.
Traditional events such as our annual Autumn Market continue. Each year we are pleased to welcome many from the community to come and buy and help support our church’s work. We have also from time to time arranged Flower Festivals on themes such as Harvest, the Journey of Life and Music.
When considering the history of this church, it is the members and friends who have been part of the church fellowship for fifty years who can look back the farthest but we rejoice that we have many members who have joined us over the years. Some have come from the neighbourhood and some from other areas of Great Britain. In joining us they have made a huge contribution to the life of this church.
We have brought you up to date with some of the history of the church but that’s not the end of the story. In the booklet for the Opening Service of Dedication for our church Rev. Ronald Kemp wrote:
“We do not propose to live on past tradition alone because human life is constantly the creation of the new.
Life is renewal. Our need, therefore, is for a living tradition in which life is renewed daily.”
We are pleased to report that in addition to weekly worship our current church programme includes: Rainbows, Brownies, Ladies Group, Indoor Bowls, Luncheon Club and Coffee Morning. All of these activities are open to everyone to attend.
Looking beyond our own church, some of our members have regular contact with Red Oak School where they share in assemblies. Our members also lead monthly worship in Windsor House and Stradbroke Court care homes. Ecumenically our church is a member of Churches Together in Lowestoft.
As we look to the future may we continually renew our commitment to God in the worship and service we offer to him.
To mark the 50th anniversary of our church, we created a small four-page leaflet about our history which you can download here.