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Community Gospel Choir performs final concert 

As Megan Rawling prepares to take on a new challenge in Darlington, the Community Gospel Choir gave a vibrant farewell concert at St Stephen’s Norwich.

Five years ago, in 2018, some friends of Megan encouraged her to believe that she could launch a community Gospel choir in Norwich. She gave up her job and ventured out with the vision.


“The Gospel choir is like an ice cream van,” she said at the start of the farewell concert, which took place at St Stephen’s Norwich on Saturday April 1. “It goes around the city making music. But it is not selling music.”


This farewell concert, she said, was “an offering to God for everything He has done for us in the last five years”. It was, in the tradition of the choir, an occasion of unfettered and contagious joy, though this time punctuated with tears which expressed all that Megan has meant over the years. There were many solos in which members could display their individual talents and some audience singing in four parts.


Megan’s vision had been for an unauditioned choir where everyone would be welcome, and it began meeting at St Alban’s in Grove Walk, Norwich (now The Sanctuary). “We pray before every rehearsal,” said Megan, “that those coming will find a sanctuary, a place of rest, something to fill them up. We pray that God will find a way to communicate with people who haven’t been able to connect with Him before.”


The choir went on to perform a range of indoor and outdoor performances around Norwich. A highlight for many was a retreat in March 2020 where they prepared the Negro spiritual ‘Down in the river to pray’. The pandemic was about to hit, and in fact the choir performed the song for first time on Saturday.


Among the many other high points of the choir have been the ‘After the Storm’ concert to celebrate the lifting of lockdown, and the ‘Darkness to Light’ concert in Stephen’s, powerfully evocative in the gleam of a multitude of candles.


This farewell concert included a series of video testimonies from members of what the choir had meant for them. “I joined when I was going through a difficult time,” said one, “waking up at night feeling anxious…but somehow it just made me feel happier.”


The choir, said Megan, expressed “something about community, that we are there for each other, and it just seems to naturally happen”. It was, she said, “a sign that our worth is based on the immeasurable love God has for us”.


Norwich’s loss will be Darlington’s gain: Megan is heading off to launch a community choir in the northern city. The choir she is leaving gave her an emotional farewell, and a powerful expression of gratitude for all she has done for them.


Pictured above are members of the Norwich Community Gospel Choir at the farewell concert and, below, Megan Rawling.






Eldred Willey, 04/04/2023

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