Friday, February 6, 2009
Zoar Chapel, Norwich
Zoar Chapel, St. Mary's Plain, Norwich, is an historic Strict Baptist Church. Its site, practically next-door to Norwich Central Baptist Church (formerly St. Mary's Baptist Church) is entirely an accident of where a suitable site happened to be in the 1880s, when the present chapel was built.
The church meeting at Zoar has a long and complicated history. It originated in a secession from St. Mary's over the question of closed communion, and suspicions that the St. Mary's pastor was inclining in an Arminian direction. After long wanderings, and a brief union with another church, the church meeting at Zoar was formed. Alfred Dye, a rather eccentric Norwich minister, ministered to the church in the Tabernacle, a building constructed during the Great Awakening of the 18th century, but finally they were able to build a chapel.
The church today is small, but the minister, Pastor P.B. Pont, maintains a faithful pulpit ministry in a city where many churches are either liberal or seeker-sensitive. The high pulpit inside is symbolic of the place of the Word of God in the services. Lord's Day services are at 10.45 and 6.30.