We have been described as a Chapel in the 'middle of nowhere'!! And this picture would tend to show why we're described in such a way, we are in rural Norfolk after all!
But the Chapel is in fact positioned between the two villages of Bunwell and Carleton Rode, neither of which is more than a few hundred yards away. We see ourselves as very much a part of the community as shown by, for example, our very popular Coffee shop/restaurant, which is open three times a week; a monthly community meal, which regularly attracts up to 60 diners; and a twice-monthly youth club (7 to 12 year olds).
Our congregation is drawn from surrounding villages and those further afield such as, Long Stratton, Mulbarton, Shropham, Great Moulton, Winfarthing and Wymondham. Despite being without a Pastor, at present, we have a very vibrant church life, with lots going on, including two services on Sundays, prayer meetings and house groups etc.
Carleton Rode Baptist Church is situated in rural South Norfolk, standing between the villages of Carleton Rode and Bunwell, which have a total combined population of approximately 1500. The nearest small town is Attleborough, which is five miles away, whilst Norwich is 17 miles away.
Our previous minister described us as ‘the Church in the heart of the countryside, with the country community at heart!’. An apt description for our mission here. Our church building is very important to us, representing as it does over 200 years of local worship and witness in this rural community. It is a recognised, familiar and well-loved landmark built between two villages and serving both. Many local families have relatives buried in the graveyard. However, even more important is the space our building provides for local people to come and meet together. Sharing their experiences, hopes and fears, and finding encouragement for their everyday lives.
We have a membership of 42 with a regular Sunday morning congregation of around 50. A smaller group meet for evening worship. We run a full programme of activities including regular Bible studies, and a youth club, The Loft, primarily for children aged 7 – 12 years.
In addition to our regular services and activities, we run a Coffee Shop three times a week and hold a Community Meal in the main church each month. These are attended by between 60 to 100 local residents and provide a regular meeting place in an area of rural deprivation. Many visitors comment on the warmth of the welcome they receive and often refer to the church as being ‘a very special place; peaceful and welcoming.’
Finally, Carleton Rode Baptist Church is part of the Eastern Baptist Association which is a family of Baptist Churches situated throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge. The regional association has a team of regional ministers and administration staff that support the local church pastorally, advise on mission and practical matters and organise beneficial training events. Every church in the association contributes in their own unique way by taking part in enriching relationships, developing ministry and enabling fruitful mission in its own area.