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Ascension Day celebrations

This week we celebrate Ascension Day (also known as Ascension Thursday or Holy Thursday) to commemorate the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is one of the ecumenical - or universally celebrated - feasts of the Christian church, ranking with the feasts of Passion, Easter and Pentecost. It is traditionally celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, although some Christian denominations have moved the observance to the following Sunday.

At St Paul's we will be holding two Eucharist services this Thursday to mark the day, one at 7.30am (to be held in the Trinity Chapel) and the main service at 8.00pm in the main church.

The observance of Ascension Day goes all the way back to the 4th and 5th centuries and the earliest theologians and Fathers of the church, including St Augustine who speaks of it in a way that shows it was the universal observance of the church long before his own time. Ascension is sometimes considered a rather shadowy feast day, when Jesus has been taken to live in a distant realm of which we have no direct experience. But it encourages Christians to thoughtful praise, where glory is finally fulfilled.

St Paul's May Market heralds the start of Spring

With the trees now coming into full bloom, it must be Spring which means it's nearly the time for St Paul's annual May Market. Traditionally held on the third Saturday of May, so this year the market is being held on Saturday May 20.

The usual range of attractions will be there including book stalls, bric-a-brac, cakes and preserves, raffle and nearly new (clothes).

Doors open at 10.00am and it will run until 4.00pm. Tea and coffee is available throughout the day and light lunches of soup and sandwiches are also served from noon. The May Market is an important fund-raiser for the church, which costs nearly £400 a day just to keep open every day to serve the Bedford community. St Paul's also hosts a market in September and a Christmas fair at the end of November.

Entry on the door is just £1 while for the under 16's it's free.

Going to church is a stroll

The Environment Officer from the St Albans is urging people who live in the Diocese to leave the car at home this Sunday, which has been designated Walk to Church Sunday.

If you live within walking distance of the church and feel able - and energetic enough - to walk to church this week, then please do so, and don't forget to take a few snaps along the way and send them into us so we can post them on the website.

Many people will still need to drive of course due the distance from home or due to their mobility but in the interests of being green, how about swinging a leg over a bike and cycling in, if the church is too far to walk? Maybe the Diocese should consider broadening its appeal and a change of name for next year from Walk to Church Sunday to Leave the Car At Home Sunday? Just a thought.
  Walk to Church Sunday Poster (PDF)

St Paul's gears up for a busy Holy Week

Staff and clergy at St Paul's are gearing up for one of the busiest weeks of the year and the most significant in the Church's calendar. To mark the Easter season, St Paul's will hold a number of key services from this Thursday, (known as Maundy Thursday) April 13, Good Friday (April 14),Holy Saturday (April 15) and on Easter Day. The Bishop of Bedford, the Right Rev'd Richard Atkinson will be presiding at two of the services, including the Good Friday Liturgy at 2.00pm and the First Eucharist of Easter on Saturday evening at 8.00pm.

The Anglican Town Centre churches cluster, which consists of St Paul's, St Andrew's on the Kimbolton Road, St Martins on Clapham Road and St Peter de Merton on De Pary's Avenue, have also joined together to hand out palms in the town centre on Wednesday. A member of the clergy and a member of each of the churches will be stationed in Harpur Square near the offices of Sharman Law from 09.30am.

In keeping with its tradition, St Paul's will celebrate the Easter services with fine attention to detail. The Eucharist on Maundy Thursday evening will be followed by a silent Vigil until midnight in the Trinity Chapel, where people will be invited to stay after the service for as short or as long as they wish. On Saturday evening at 8.00pm, we will celebrate the First Eucharist of Easter, marked by the lighting of the Paschal fire at the church entrance before processing in to the church.

Our Easter Day Festival Eucharist will start at 10.15 as usual and will be accompanied by a full choir. Teas and coffees will be served straight after the service.

For full details of service times, please go the home page and click on the link for Easter and Holy Week at St Paul's. You can also find all our services listed at  www.achurchnearyou.com/bedford-st-paul

Live the Challenge This Lent

We may be a week into the Lent season this year, but it's never too late to start following a Lent Course.
The St Albans Diocese Lent Course this year is called Living the Challenge - Knowing Christ and Making Him Known and each week has an accompanying set of notes to guide you through the Lent journey. The first of these can be downloaded below.

We will be updating these every week through Lent so make sure you check back into our news and events section regularly to download the latest set of notes.
  Lent Challenge 2017 - Week 2 (PDF)

Bishop of Bedford to lead Lent Course at St Paul's

This year's Lent Course will be led the Rt Rev Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford and will have a specific focus on the Diocesan Living God's Love prayer.

The course has been written by the Diocesan bishops and Dean of St Albans and will run for the five weeks of Lent, starting this Thursday March 9. Each of the sessions will take one of the qualities mentioned in the Living God's Love prayer: generosity, joy, imagination, and courage with the final week looking at the context of how these qualities can be lived out.

The sessions begin at 7.30pm with tea and coffee served from 7.00pm. Entry is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

The full list of dates are: March 9, 16, 23, 30 and April 6.
  Lent Course 2017 (PDF)

St Paul's marks Ash Wednesday in Bedford town centre

Wednesday March 1 marks the start of Lent in 2017, and like last year St Paul's church and other churches from Bedford will be in Harpur Square to offer 'Ashing'.

The ministry of Ashing, the marking on the forehead with ash, will take place between 09.30am and 3.30pm and will be offered by various ministers from town centre churches over the course of the day. The Right Revered Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford will also be anointing at a point in the day.

People in the town centre who would like to receive the ministry of ashing will be asked to step to one side when the words will be said: "remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return", and then marked on the forehead with ash.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the 40 days of Lent for Western Christian churches, a day of penitence before the Lent fast. The cross of ash is symbolic on a number of levels, acting as a reminder that death comes to all and that without God we are but dust and ashes. The cross is a reminder of the cross made at our baptism and of the atonement for our sins made by Christ on the cross.

Bishop Richard will also be presiding at the 12.00 Noon Eucharist on Ash Wednesday, normally held in the Trinity Chapel of St Paul's church.


Wellbeing for Later Life

Are you 55 years and over and struggling with isolation, loneliness or anxiety? St Paul's church has teamed up with local mental health and wellbeing charity Mind BLMK to organise a number of informal drop-in sessions which take place at the church on a number of Monday mornings over the coming months.

The Mind Wellbeing for Later Life co-ordinator and St Paul's pastoral assistant will be available for informal conversations about any concerns about wellbeing and to discuss what support is available in the Bedford borough. The meetings will take place in The Anderson Room at St Paul's church which offers a comfortable, private space for one to one meetings, ensuring that all discussions will be confidential.

The drop in sessions will be available between 11.00am and 1.00pm on the following dates: Monday Jan 30, Monday February 27, Monday 27 March and Monday 24 April.

For more information please also go the Mind BLMK Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/mindblmk
  Wellbeing for Later Life (PDF)

Candlemas Carol Service by candlelight

Sunday 29 January at 5.30 pm St Paul’s Church, Bedford welcomes everyone to a special Candlemas Carol Service by candlelight. The service will trace the story of the Wise Men through to the Presentation of Jesus to Simeon at the Temple with readings and well known carols and hymns for choir and congregation. During the service gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are offered at the crib and there is a candlelit procession (hence the name Candlemas) for everyone to enjoy.

This as a joint celebration of the Anglican churches in the town centre cluster. Whilst many people will be familiar with Advent and Christmas carol services, St Paul’s is also offering something additional to enjoy and to finish the Christmas and Epiphany season. Why not come along? Bring a friend, neighbour or family member.

The Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas, on 2nd February, occurs forty days after the birth of Christ . It serves as a special hinge: we take a final glance at the events commemorated at Christmas and Epiphany, before turning towards the events of Holy Week and Easter. After this service the crib figures will finally be taken down until next Christmas.

Lunchtime concert series resumes

St Paul's renowned series of Tuesday lunchtime concerts begins again next week (Tuesday January 17) when we welcome back tenor Horishima Amako from the Royal Academy of Music in London. He will be accompanied by Yuko Sano on the piano, also from the Royal Academy and who has also played at St Paul's before.

The Spring series will then run every Tuesday lunch-time until March 28th and will include concerts on piano, violin, vocal and an organ recital. The concerts start at 1.10pm and last around 45 minutes. A soup lunch available at the church from 12.00 noon. The concerts are free to enter although a donation of £3.50 is greatly appreciated to help the work of St Paul's and local charities.

St Paul's has a commitment to promoting new talent and has been running the concerts for a number of years and this series will again include a wide variety of talent to an appreciative audience.

Further details will be updated weekly on this page or on our page at. If you need further information or are a musician interested in performing, please contact concert director Heather Turnham at heather.turnham@yahoo.co.uk.
  Tuesday Lunchtime Concerts - Spring 2017 (PDF)

Parking for services this Christmas

Please note that parking will not be permitted on the road around St Paul's Square over the Christmas weekend, as the usual restrictions will be in force. Please use the car park at River Street or on-road parking along the Embankment or Newnham Road instead.

St Paul's prepares for annual Nine Lessons and Carols

St Paul's is getting ready for one of the most popular dates in its calender this week when it hosts the traditional Nine Lessons and Carols on Saturday, December 17.

The service, which starts at 4.00pm will feature the full choir and many of the Christmas favourites including O Little Town of Bethlehem, While Sheperds Watched and the Coventry Carol, all by candleight. With a starting time of 4.00pm, it's a great way for shoppers or visitors to the town to combine one of the finest carol services in the area with their visit.

The service has been popular in recent years, so if you are planning on coming, please arrive in good time..



Christmas Tree Festival

St Paul's popular and spectacular Christmas Tree Festival opens this week, and set-up is well underway. It opens to the public this Wednesday November 30 thru to Sunday December 4, from 10.00am to 5.00pm. Refreshments will be available and entry is just £2.50 for adults while for children under 16 it's free entry. St Paul's invites you to get your Christmas underway by popping in this week and enjoying the sight of over 60 trees decorated by local schools, businesses and charities.


St Paul’s is inviting children to Find the Sheep this Christmas

With the Advent season due to begin this weekend, St Paul’s is inviting local children to Hunt the sheep, a fun competition asking children to spot the woolly sheep hiding in the windows of independent shops around Bedford town centre.

The competition is for under 11s and will run from Saturday 26th November until Tuesday 20th December. Completed forms returned in good time will be included in a prize draw from which the winners will be announced at the Crib Service, on Christmas Eve, 24th December, 4.00 pm. Forms are available for downloading below or from any of the competing shops and the St Paul's church office.

These lovely sheep have been individually knitted by members of St Paul's church Mothers' Union who have also given the prizes. For further details please call Margaret Blake 0770 845 1282.
  Find The Sheep - Entry Form (PDF)
The Spire
Priced at £1.00, our monthly magazine includes interesting articles, words from the Vicar, the diary for the month to come and a whole lot more!

Our magazine is made available to download online one month after publication.
  The Spire - Apr 2017 (PDF)
  The Spire - Mar 2017 (PDF)
  The Spire - Oct 2016 (PDF)
  The Spire - Sep 2016 (PDF)
  The Spire - Jul/Aug 2016 (PDF)
  The Spire - June 2016 (PDF)