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The Parochial Church Council November meeting was unusual in that Richard, Bishop of Bedford was present. After introductions Lucy invited the Bishop to chair the first half of the evening. Bishop Richard explained that his visit was part of his plan to visit all the PCCs in Bedfordshire over two to three years. Ours was the twentieth such visit and there was no formal agenda.

He began by reading the St Matthew’s version of the parable of the feeding of the five thousand. We were asked to identify a word or phrase that stood out for us, any questions we would like to ask him and what were the signs of hope at St Andrew’s that he could take away with him.

Some of the comments that followed were that although Jesus was in need of time on his own he responded to the needs of the crowd, he showed compassion. Also Jesus worked with who and what were available. It was generally felt there was much for us all to learn from this parable as we work together to further God’s kingdom at St Andrew’s. It was also felt that despite the fact that most of the news portrayed in the media is of sad and difficult situations we should remain positive and remember of the many good happenings in the world, for eg the support given from throughout the world to the people of Ukraine. We have a God of abundance and we should remember to rejoice in what we have.

Bishop Richard was keen to hear about the happenings at St Andrew’s. Activities mentioned were the setting up of the warm room, the increase in the number of families attending services, and working more closely with the charities we support guided by the Mission and Outreach Committee. We continue to see how we can work together better.

We then moved onto the routine items on the agenda. It was good to hear that Sheila Bissell, our Safeguarding Officer, is now receiving much needed administrative help.

Financial matters were then presented by our Honorary Treasurer. The 2022 Budget is on course to provide a modest surplus at the end of the year. However, picture for 2023 is of great concern as the draft Budget as at present shows a probable deficit of £26,300. There is uncertainty of the cost of energy which Lionel has been trying to clarify. The proposed budget for 2023 was approved, with the proviso that staff salaries will be reviewed again in May. Lionel will provide an update on the 2023 Budget position to the PCC in February.

Members then received report from the Church Centre Management which covered a great many items, some of which have already gone ahead and others which will be undertaken over the coming months. We are very fortunate to have such an able and dedicated committee to keep our church and centre in such good order.

We were also updated on the work of the Mission and Outreach Team and it was good to hear that support is growing for the charities we are supporting.

Before the meeting closed with us sharing in Night Prayer we had reports on recent Diocesan and Deanery Synods which enable us to keep in touch with national and local matters affecting the wider church.

We were able to return home feeling that we had been to an interesting and well worth attending meeting.

Ann Mason

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