Norfolk

Norwich Cathedral: Bishop delivers sermon from helter-skelter

The Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick Image copyright Bill Smith/Norwich Cathedral
Image caption The Bishop of Lynn described delivering the sermon from halfway up a helter-skelter as "the most extraordinary experience of my life"

God would be "revelling" in the joy a "glorious" helter-skelter has brought to Norwich Cathedral, its bishop has told his congregation from its slide.

The fairground ride had been in the nave of the cathedral for 11 days.

It was intended to give people a different view of the building, although some accused the cathedral of "making a mistake".

The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, delivered his sermon from halfway up the ride.

"God is a tourist attraction," he told his congregation during the cathedral's final service with the helter-skelter as a backdrop

Image caption The Bishop treated the congregation to a rendition of the Bee Gees' song Words as he reflected on the importance of smiles

"God wants to be attractive to us... for us to enjoy ourselves, each other and the world around us and this glorious helter-skelter is about just that."

The bishop had climbed to the top of the helter-skelter before edging halfway down the slide, where he stopped to deliver his sermon.

He then received a loud cheer as he whooshed to the bottom.

"Enjoying ourselves is a good thing to do and God will be revelling in it with us and all those people who have found fun and joy and laughter here," he said.

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Media captionA full-size helter-skelter has been constructed inside Norwich Cathedral

An estimated 20,000 people have visited the cathedral between 7 and 18 August, with about 10,000 riding the helter-skelter, the cathedral said.

The Rev Canon Andy Bryant told the service a woman with cancer who visited the cathedral for quiet reflection found the helter-skelter "gave her a much needed distraction at a dark time of her life".

Image caption Two-thousand lights decorating the helter-skelter were switched off for the final time after the sermon
Image caption The Bishop got a loud cheer as he rode the rest of the helter-skelter
Image copyright Paul Hurst
Image caption The slide enabled people to see the roof, which cannot be seen in detail from the floor of the nave

Last week, the Rt Revd Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen, said the cathedral had been unprofessional and was "poisoning the medicine" a church offered.

The cathedral said the helter-skelter allowed people to stand close to its medieval roof bosses, thought to be one of the largest displays of its kind in the world.

Image caption It took two days to install the ride in the cathedral below the giant west window

Norwich Cathedral is not the only place of worship to use unconventional methods to attract members of the public.

The central aisle of Rochester Cathedral has also been converted into a crazy golf course.

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