Farewell to the Vicar of St Matthew's

St Matthew's Church (1907)

[Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: July 29th, 1919]

No finer testimony of the love and respect which the town has for Canon H. Coate, of St Matthew's Church, could have been forthcoming than the crowded and representative farewell service at the Parish Hall last night.

Not only were touching speeches made from the church workers themselves, but a large number of Nonconformists attended and paid eloquent and sincere tributes to the work Canon Coate had done during his 25 years stay in Luton. Mrs Coate was also complimented for her excellent work in Bible Class and Sunday school matters.

Mr A. W. Algar, the Vicar's Warden, presided, and he was supported by the Rev W. E. Lewis and Messrs E. Bennett, H. Cain, H. Barton and others.

The Chairman said he was grateful to see the Parish Hall in such a crowded condition. It was very sad to think they were losing one of their best friends in Canon Coate – an old and trusted friend of 25 years standing and one whose work had been appreciated and felt, not only in their particular parish, but throughout the whole town. He had always taken a deep and sincere interest in the people, and they were always pleased and proud when his work had been recognised and he was appointed a Canon.

The Rev W. E. Lewis said that he heartily endorsed all that the Chairman had said, and, although he himself had only been a curate of St Matthew's Church since 1917, he had received an immediate welcome from Canon Coate, and had been treated not as a curate but as a colleague.

The town was losing one of its oldest friends, and a man who had been respected for his firmness of principle and loved for his kind-heartedness. He was losing a personal friend, and he was very sorry that Canon Coate had decided to accept the living of Sharnbrook. However, there were many circumstances which had made this necessary, and they would all unite with him in wishing the Vicar every blessing in his new sphere of work.

Mr E. Bennett, the People's Warden, said he thought they ought to congratulate the Vicar on his appointment at Sharnbrook, where the work would be considerably lighter. They all knew how strenuously he had worked for St Matthew's, how he had mustered every ounce of his energy in doing the good he had for the parish, and although the parting after 25 years of close association would naturally be a sad one, yet it was only just that their Canon should have a respite after years of heavy toil.

Other tributes included those by the Rev T. Bulman, of St Paul's Church, and Mr F. C. Lines, of High Town Primitive Methodists.

Mr Algar said that in recognition of the Vicar's 25 years of faithful service, he hoped Canon Coate would accept a cheque for £112 2s 6d. It was a token of love and appreciation or church members.

Rev Coate said that his ministry at St Matthew's had been indeed a happy one. Everybody had assisted and helped himself and his family as much as possible, and it was very hard to sever themselves from what they regarded as home. He thanked all the officials of the church for their great help, and he wished to express his sincere thanks for the substantial present they had provided for him.

Mrs Coate also spoke and offered a hearty invitation to any parishioners to visit Sharnbrook when they found time and opportunity.