Graeme Duncan recently visited a relatively new Church in Ipswich, and reports on the warm welcome received.
At quite a few Suffolk churches that I have visited recently I have been very fortunate to receive a ‘hello’ on entering, let alone a more embracing welcome to the church. When pointing this out to such churches after the service, I’ve mostly been informed that they ‘pride themselves in welcoming people’ into their church, and that they can’t understand what went wrong in my case !
A few weekends ago though I visited a church which bucked that trend – ‘Proclaimers’ Church in Ipswich. Immediately upon entering I was greeted and welcomed at the entrance, and then introduced to the pastor, Dave Marcus, who offered a further welcome and friendly chat, making me feel ‘at home’ straight away. That was followed by others
spotting a new visitor and coming up to have a chat.
Neither was I confronted with having to sit in a cold, dark and dingy building on uncomfortable seats, because Ipswich Proclaimers meet in the luxury of the Novotel hotel in the centre of town. They are an exciting church geared to the 21st century and are a part of the ‘Hillsong’ family of churches. Proclaimers Ipswich began around six years ago with a couple of friends meeting together in a bar along the Ipswich waterfront. From that humble beginning they have maintained a steady growth which necessitated them finding suitable premises to hold their Sunday service and other activities in.
In 2014, ‘Proclaimers’ were invited by Pastor Brian Houston, the founding pastor of ‘Hillsong’ church, to become a part of the ‘Hillsong’ family, and although Proclaimers remain an autonomous church, they are in an accountable relationship with ‘Hillsong’. The ‘Hillsong’ style of lively worship and praise was echoed in the Proclaimers service I attended, and the talk was streamed live from their planting Proclaimers church in Norwich.
Proclaimers Ipswich are building a church community where people feel they can belong, and feel ‘at home’. Whatever age, background, or circumstance, they offer an outrageous welcome and acceptance to make you feel a part of their family. Those attending were mostly on the younger side of 50, once again bucking the trend seen in many other churches nowadays. Children were well catered for too with their own activities in a nearby room. They also offer a variety of ground breaking meetings and activities to engage people with the Church. Their overall aim is to make a difference in people’s lives, and the town of Ipswich, as they present the message of Jesus in a way that is relevant to a 21st century world.
Thank you Proclaimers church for your great welcome and for me being able to share in worship with you all. We need more Churches like yours!
The thoughts expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of ‘Network Suffolk’.