1961 – Odd Fellows Hall
In September 1961 a small group of believers, led by Elder Allan Tomlinson, started a ministry in a small rented room, in the Odd Fellows Hall, 100 Midland Road, Bedford. The small group of 6 members were able to organise themselves into a functioning church and in October, later that year, they formally became members and an official branch of the Church of God in Christ International. By the time the young Evangelist Francis Vaughan joined the Bedford fellowship in 1962, to assist Elder Tomlinson with the Bedford ministry there was only 1 adult and four children remaining. In 1965 Elder Tomlinson left the Bedford fellowship and the leadership was passed to Evangelist Francis Vaughan who took over as pastor of the Church of God in Christ, Bedford.
1966 – ‘The Hut’
The congregation was growing but the church had no settled place that they could call ‘home’. Between 1962 – 1965 the members were unable to obtain a place, for any length of time, for their worship. They regularly moved to new locations as they were faced with multiple evictions and refusal of tenancy. They needed a place for worship, a place to call their own. With the help of the council, they were offered a burnt out, derelict, 18 x 30 feet shack, overran by bushes, on Alexandra road. This was on a weekly tenancy notice of one shilling per week (equivalent to approximately £10.07 in today’s money). Knowing the work that was needed, the strict conditions imposed on them by the council and the knowledge that at any time they can be asked to move, the brethren took up the offer as a challenge. The members all got together and refurbish the neglected building into a place fit for worship; a place where they can freely worship at their chosen time and a place that can hold their growing congregation. In 1966 the Bedford branch of the Church of God in Christ International was registered as Miracle Church of God in Christ. Later that same year, in December 1966, after the refurbishment was completed, a service was held to officially open the building. The little derelict shack was fondly known as ‘The Hut’, hosting many faith filling, revival, worship services with people coming from all over the country.
The congregation continued to grow with increasing activities in the small hut. The Hut was becoming too small to accommodate the members, visitors and children. In 1969 the church got permission to install a prefabricated structure, sticking to the council’s strict regulations, it must be able to be removed at any time. So the move was made from ‘The Hut’ into the bigger and more secured prefabricated building (the Pre-fab) on the same spot. The tenancy had since increased from 1 week to a month then to six months. When the Pre-fab was erected and they all felt settled at home the council gave the notice to leave the site.
Miracle Church of God
In 1976 the members were given the notice to leave the site they occupied for the last 10 years. The congregation was growing, the activities were increasing and they were becoming well known, not only to the Evangelical churches but also among the mainstream religious bodies and community. It was time to look to the future. With the eviction looming; congregation, activities and community presence growing; and unable to find an appropriate build for the church, we were in a desperate situation. Our backs were against the wall with nowhere to turn but God stepped in and He opened the doors for better and greater things. We got the help from the community leaders, from the church leaders who formed themselves into a committee devoted to our cause, even from the same council and many other to retain the site. Even the services from the solicitors were free of charge. Now isn’t God great? The blessings even went further, the lease that started weekly and slowly extended to 6 monthly was extended to 46 years, then to a 99 years lease at £181 per year. With this extension, we were able to construct a purpose-built building on the same site, a permanent fixture, a place we can truly call our own. To our great surprise, as soon as the building was finished, the council increased the lease to £12,000 per year, as the value of the land had now increased and they told us by the following year it can be doubled that price. A fast was immediately called. The council was asked to sell the land to the church but refused, stating that the land cannot be sold only leased out. But we have and trust in a miracle working God. The same God that opened doors for us from Midland was the same working for us at this time. The land that was never to be sold, was sold to us, now we not only have a purpose-built building but also we owned the land that it sits on.
Miracle Church of God – Original purpose-built structure
Miracle Church of God – Today