Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Norwich Family Life Church

There seems to have been a pretty spectacular fall out between Proclaimers International and millionaire used-car dealer Graham Dacre. In December 2004 they were forced to leave their 500-seater church in Drayton Hall (owned by Graham Dacre) and relocated, with their tambourines, to the Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Norwich.

In February 2006 one of the largest independent churches in Norwich the Mount Zion Family Life Centre on Heartsease Lane was destroyed in a blaze. They were allowed a temporary home in Drayton Hall. Subsequently, in March 2007, Mount Zion Family Life Centre and Dacre’s own Drayton Hall Church merged to form the Norwich Family Life Church, they also announced plans to takeover the former David Rice Hospital site, on the outskirts of Norwich, and build a 2,500 capacity church costing £5 million.

Proclaimers International, Mount Zion Family Life Centre, Drayton Hall Church, Norwich Family Life Church… if you thought left wing politics was dominated by factions, schisms and splits then you don’t know the Pentecostalists. In America, Australia and Brazil there are different Pentecostalist churches ferociously competing for converts. What do they share in common?

· Forget liberation theology or social justice, in the Pentecostalist eyes being rich is not a sin, far from it, they will train you to become wealthy
· They are heavily involved in right wing politics from the Family First Party in Australia to the tele-evangelists like Pat Robertson in America
· They aggressively evangelise and win new converts, if the established churches are the shop keepers they are the foot in the door salesmen
· Members are expected to pay high tithes – often 10% of income
· Charismatic preachers dominate their churches, when they die there is often an unseemly tussle for power among the acolytes
· Dissent is not tolerated, apostates are expelled
· Despite claiming to be ‘the fastest growing churches’ there is a very high turnover rate of members

Graham Dacre made his money from the Lind Automotive Group and established the Lind Trust to fund youth work and his own religious activities. In March 2006 he put in a joint bid with the Church of England to convert Heartsease High School in Norwich into a 1,400-pupil academy. The £20 million plan would represent a significant investment in an area noted for social deprivation. However, there is considerable local opposition, the school governors voted 13-3 in March 2006 for a year long feasibility study. The local MP Ian Gibson said,

“There seems to be a whole gang of evangelical Christians in Norwich, among them Graham Dacre and the Bishop of Norwich, not motivated by education but by indoctrination.”

The spin from the Government is that academies are replacing ‘failing’ inner-city schools – THIS IS A LIE. None of the academies were in special measures, some had been described by Ofsted (not that they are infallible) as ‘outstanding’, Heartsease High School in its inspection in February 2007 was described as ‘improving’.

Why is the government willing to hand state schools over to any old second hand car dealer linked to fringe religious groups? Mr Dacre – what are your views on creationism, homosexuality and abortion? If I was a parent at Heartsease High School I would certainly like to know.

Proclaimers International, Norwich Family Life Church, wacky creationists trying to takeover schools, churches burning down, the plot thickens. Definitely a case for Inspector Read.


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