We entered to tea, coffee and biscuits – courtesy of Joseph and Roseanne, who took pity on us given a particularly long agenda. Lucy introduced the Owl – a new piece of kit that provided a panoramic view of the attendees and a separate close-up of whoever was speaking. I wondered why it is called an “Owl” until I realized that it looks like this:
Carol opened the meeting with prayer.
Lucy welcomed Elisabeth – our Children and Families’ Minister and keynote speaker – who led us in a reflection of our said ministry, describing our approach in terms of the feeding of the 5000 (as per John 6:1-15), where a child provides the basket of food that fed everyone.
Elisabeth drew out the following themes: that children can see where God is working in the world – and have faith in it; children contribute to the church community and themselves recognize that they do; children want to be known, individually and by name. Consequently, our approach to children and family ministry is supportive of their own relationship with God. We are not here simply to teach them.
We reflected on what we do already to that end: we keep children’s work as a focus (e.g. it’s on Mission Action Plan (MAP)); we encourage children to act as servers during worship and sing in the choir; we have a children’s worker post; we sought children’s views in creating the MAP. We also reflected on what more we can do: how well do we know our children and families? How can we help our children contribute their gifts to our church? How can we enable them to reach out to the wider community (e.g. Toastie Club litter pick)? Do we consider children’s perspectives in all areas of our work and enable them to influence the outcome, rather than us setting the agenda first?
Next steps. Under the ‘discipleship’ strand of MAP: to find ways of meeting the needs of children younger than Toastie Club age; to establish regular forms of worship for ‘extended’ families to help them grow in faith; to find ways to help children grow as leaders. Under the ‘kinship’ strand: to restart activity mornings (where families can come during school holidays for affordable activities); to listen hard to the needs of families in our midst (e.g. via Noah’s Ark).
Budget monitoring. We noted that, if energy costs reduce as predicted, we should move from deficit to surplus on our overall budget in the next few years. We voted to: request Hall Trust funding for the improvements to the porch path (£3004.60); increase rates for hire of our premises; increase rates of staff pay; accept the 2024 draft budget; and to remove the policy clause preventing us from spending the capital from the Kathleen Plumbe trust. We also noted that we are a certified real living wage employer.
- We changed the way we request grants from the Hall Trust, to ensure sufficient income from the Trust to cover its full remit;
- We formally minuted our decision to donate £25,000 to the Bedford Winter Night Shelter (run by the King’s Arms Project) – who commented that it was “nothing less than miraculous” that the money had been gifted;
- We reviewed the Safeguarding Action Plan and ensured it covered all activities primarily directed at children or vulnerable adults;
- We voted to apply for an Archdeacon’s Letter of Authority to lower the ceiling in the Holt Room to improve the acoustics and also to install energy efficient light fittings;
- We agreed our Christmas charities: the Bedford Winter Night Shelter and World Vision’s Middle East Crisis Response;
- We noted the first iteration of the Risk Register (our turnover is high enough for it to be recommended that we have one);
- We welcomed Sue Ambrose and Roseanne Kinvig-Love as Eucharistic Ministers.