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Notice of Meeting for Election of Churchwardens

Notice of Meeting for Election of Churchwardens

St Peter and St Paul grace refurbished entrance to town church with Bishop's blessing

The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford will preside at a service at St Paul's during which he will bless and re-dedicate the refurbished North Porch entrance to the church and where the medieval statues of St Peter (identified by a key) and St Paul (identified by a sword) have been erected.

The rare pre-Reformation medieval figures once stood in 'niches' outside the south porch - and at the time main entrance to St Paul's - but were moved in the mid 1970s when their condition was deteriorating, owing to pollution and age. They have since been beautifully conserved by Simon Swann Associates Ltd, Beccles.

The North Porch has been cleaned and renovated, and the visitors' experience has been improved by the installation of new stone steps and wrought iron handrail leading down to new, glass doors. The statues of Peter and Paul have been mounted on elevated plinths and are lit by a partly glassed over roof and new lighting, to stunning effect.

The Revd Canon Kevin Goss, vicar of St Paul's said:

"The newly positioned statues of SS Peter and Paul now fulfil once more their important liturgical function of welcoming pilgrims and the faithful to the church. We are delighted that visitors can now enjoy this light enhancing entrance to our beautiful building and the quality of the stonemason's craftsmanship."

The refurbishment and conservation work have been funded by the Dorothy Hilda Porter Trust for the long term repair and maintenance of St Paul's fabric.

All are welcome to attend the service at St Paul's, Thursday 27 June, 7.30 pm, followed by refreshments. Please email the church office at or telephone 01234 340163

Quality Craft Fair here this Saturday

St Paul's is hosting the second of the Craft & Flea markets this Saturday, March 16th. The organisers invite customers to 'shop small, shop local' in an authentic twist on the traditional craft market, with a huge selection of products from illustrations to vintage bric-a-brac, jewellery, sustainable products to food, ceramics to candles and much more.

The Craft & Flea markets are not the typical craft fair. Stalls are specially chosen for their high quality, on trend merchandise.

Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite in advance using this link: www.eventbrite.co.uk or can be purchased on the door at £2.50. Doors are open between 11.00am and 5.00pm.

For more information please visit the Craft & Flea Facebook page at facebook.com/craftandflea or visit their website at www.thecraftandflea.com .

Warm Spaces

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35)

During December, January and February, eighteen volunteers, from St Paul's as well as St Andrew's, Bedford, helped to welcome visitors to a Warm Room Cafe at St Paul's, in a joint venture between the two churches.

Inspired by Jesus' words above from the parable of the sheep and the goats, and spurred on by the continuing cost of living and energy crisis, we started to make plans in the autumn for some sort of regular provision at St Paul's for vulnerable people during the winter months. As we planned, we were concerned that people might struggle to heat their homes this winter and also that some of those using the winter night shelter at The Kings Arms Project might have nowhere to go during the daytime in cold weather. Building on the experiences of successful warm rooms last winter at both St Paul's and St Andrew's, the 2023-24 St Paul's Warm Room cafe began to take shape.

As it was, this winter has been relatively mild and most of the visitors to the warm room were not street sleeping homeless, and yet the project has fulfilled a vital need in the town centre and has been hugely valued by the many vulnerable guests we were able to welcome. During the course of the cafe it was not unusual to see 8 to 10 guests at any one time, probably upwards of 15 - 20 over the course of a week, many of whom became regulars. Visitors are greeted not just with a warm space but with a warm welcome, hot drinks, hot soup, ever popular pot noodles as well as an endless supply of biscuits - all for free thanks to generous donations.

As the weeks have progressed, we got to know most of the regulars quite well, not just their names, but something of their life stories, many of them vulnerable through poverty, precarious housing and often poor mental and physical health, many suffering from loneliness and isolation. The volunteers listened, laughed, or sat in companionable silence, sharing company, sharing conversation and sharing friendship. The warmth of welcome, human kindness, and care being just as important as physical warmth in our warm space.

Unfortunately it is not possible for the church to provide a dedicated warm space all year round, but we hope to be able to do something similar next winter. Do watch this space if you would like to volunteer.
Pearly King & Queen celebrate the success of Festival 2023
A packed Festival enjoying trees and performers
Woburn Piano Trio at the Festival

Biggest and Best

Kings & Queens of all sorts brought in the crowds that helped raise £23,500 for St Paul's church and the Bedford Hospital Charity & Friends at December's annual Christmas Tree Festival - beating last year's grand total by over £3,000!

The funds will be divided equally between the two charities. Funds for the church are put towards its work of keeping the church open for worship and welcome and for its support of the vulnerable in Bedford. This year the Hospital's efforts are directed to upgrading a new CT scanner with very fast action to take dynamic X-Ray pictures of the heart's blood vessels, and thus save more lives.

Margaret Oakley, Chair of the Festival commented: "This is the biggest and best ever! Putting together the Festival was only possible thanks to everyone who visited, performed, decorated trees, volunteered, donated raffle prizes and sponsored the Festival. The church building provided the magnificent historic setting. The atmosphere was truly wonderful."

The Festival Committee has already announced that 'The Magic of Christmas' is to be the theme for this year's event which will run from 4 - 8th December 2024. New volunteers are being invited to join the 200 or so required to arrange the festival and to manage the footfall of nearly 8000 people.

Kings & Queens take over Bedford's annual Christmas Tree Festival

Find Kings & Queens of every kind amongst the 65 trees at Bedford's Christmas Tree Festival in St Paul's town centre church. The trees are decorated by local community groups, schools and firms.

Margaret Oakley, Festival Chairman said:

"The 23rd annual event will be bigger than ever with 43 performers across the five days, from schools, community groups and dancers making up some 1200 individuals. Here is the full programme. The performers will entertain visitors as they wander around this magnificent church. Children will enjoy spotting royal characters in the trees to win book tokens (1) while everyone has a chance to vote for their favourite tree (2)."

There are still tickets for the annual Festival Concert on Friday 8 December at 7.30pm with a return of the 'Woburn Piano Trio' (3) playing pieces by Haydn and Brahms in addition to Christmas favourites such as 'Walking in the Air'. It is a truly memorable evening for concert goers to enjoy the beautiful trees at night in the majestic setting of St Paul's. Tickets £20.00 include a glass of wine and mince pie from www.peoplesfundraising.com/concert-tickets or phone 01234 783181.

The Bedford Pipe Band will lead visitors to the opening of the Festival by the High Sheriff, Russell Beard. The Mayor, Speaker of the Council and the Bishop of Bedford will also be in attendance when the first of the many local choirs will sing.

Help us to raise even more than the £20,000 raised last year. The Festival requires immense dedication from some 330 volunteers and office staff to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The Committee is grateful to the Festival's main sponsor, Jayne Beard Associates (4), and to many other sponsors, businesses and individuals for helping to raise the much needed funds which together with income from the Festival will go equally towards St Paul's work of worship, welcome and the support of the vulnerable as well as to Bedford Hospital Charity & Friends. This year their efforts are directed to upgrading a new CT scanner with very fast action to take dynamic X-Ray pictures of the heart's blood vessels.

Open 6th - 10th December at St Paul's church, St Paul's Sq, Bedford MK40 1SQ
Wednesday - Saturday, open from 10am - 5pm.
Sunday, open from 12pm - 4pm.
Entry £3.00. Under 16 FREE.

Tree Festival Concert - Friday 8th December at 7.30 pm.
Tickets £20.00 include a glass of wine and mince pie.
Margaret Oakley, the Festival Chair is available for interview.
Telephone: 07909 521997 or email

Further details available by calling 01234 340163
or visiting www.facebook.com/bedfordchristmastreefestival 

St Paul's joins Real Living Wage Foundation

St Paul's has signed up to the Real Living Wage Foundation and is therefore now a Living Wage employer. In doing so, the church is voluntarily taking steps to ensure salaries for lower paid members of staff are kept in line with the Living Wage Foundation recommendations.

The Real Living Wage Foundation was set up to encourage employers to go above and beyond the statutory obligation of the minimum wage, and agree to rates of pay for staff which are sufficient to ensure they have enough to meet current cost of living expenses, depending on their location. The hourly rates are reviewed each Autumn and employers then have six months to implement the increases with their own staff.'

Paying the real living wage has been shown to not only improve the welfare and motivation of current staff, but also helpful in attracting new staff to the organisation.