In the old days, before I took God's shilling, I used to be a long distance
lorry driver, an occupation which consists in many journeys and much thinking.
It is a life which has many drawbacks, but amongst its privileges is the regular
opportunity for contemplation, both of oneself and of the world. This is one of
the things that I miss most, now that I have traded my eighteen wheels for two,
for few are able to enjoy such a life of reflection.
Instead, we make pilgrimages. Last month saw two pilgrimages to the shrine at
Walsingham, a quiet parish pilgrimage, and a packed national adventure. Some
will be making the pilgrimage to Glastonbury in July, others yet to the Holy
Land, or to Oberammergau next year. Santiago, Medugorje, Canterbury, the choice
of destinations for the potential pilgrim is great, but though many choose to
make their goal a recognised and established 'holy place' we must not lose sight
of the essence of pilgrimage, in that it is a journey, often hard and costly,
away from the familiar, into the unknown. Only by such an exercise can we open
ourselves to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by letting go of what we think
we know and allowing ourselves to become informed.
Pilgrimage is therefore a metaphor for our journey through life, and like
life, it is often enlightening but testing, with not a little frustration and
hard work along the way. Jesus' disciples continued their lives as apostles when
they were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, right at the moment when they
were least certain of what the future held for them. They were 'inspired'. To be
true pilgrims, we must let go and leave behind the conventional, and make our
whole lives into a journey of discovery, a journey of faith. (Romans 12:2)
I enjoyed my recent break, especially the trip to visit my in-laws. It was
good to be on the road again ...
Over the past six months, discussions have been taking place between the
Archdeacon of Cheltenham on behalf of the Diocese and with parish
representatives delegated by the Parochial Church Councils of the parishes of
All Saints, Cheltenham and of Prestbury.
After a great deal of discussion and much prayer, and with the agreement and
necessary support of both the PCCs, I have agreed to the Bishop’s suggestion
that I should become the Priest-in-Charge of All Saints’ Church, Cheltenham in
addition to my duties as Vicar of the parish of Prestbury.
The intention is for us straightaway to seek a priest who is looking for a
limited ministry, and who would come as a curate in charge of All Saints, with
the parsonage house in exchange for duty. This would suit an active priest in
early retirement or, possibly, a priest who might want to pursue a job or role
outside the parish for some of the week, but who would live in the All Saints’
Vicarage free of charge in return for ministry on Sundays and part of the week.
My role, ultimately, will be to have oversight of this situation.
My Institution as Vicar of All Saints will take place on Thursday June
24th at 7.30 pm. I do hope that many from Prestbury will be free to
come, and I would ask your support - both on the day and in your prayers.
We are indebted to all who have taken part in these delicate negotiations.
The situation will be reviewed annually, and members will have their opportunity
to comment prior to the review.
All Saints is at a cross-roads. They are very well served and supported by
the retired clergy within the locality, but certainly they need the care of a
full-time pastor in the near future.
Our aim at Rockers is to introduce young children to the atmosphere of
the Church and to provide a happy environment in which they can make new
friends, sing, play and hear Bible stories.
Anyone with responsibility for a young child aged from birth to
school-age, be they the child’s parent, grandparent, other relation, friend or
child-minder, is welcome to come to Rockers.
Toys are available for the babies and toddlers during the break.
Rockers in Winter
Sharing Reg’s Biscuits During the Break.
Rockers’ Half - Hour started in June 1975 with a small group of
mothers and young children around the piano in St. Mary’s church.
with their under-5s
Action Songs Bible Stories
Tea and Toys
On Thursday afternoons during term-time
2.00 - 2.45 pm in St. Mary’s Church
For further information
Our weekly meeting takes the form of an informal service, with the
children taking part if they wish. There is a short break part way through for
the older children (aged 3 & 4 years) to listen to a Bible story and do some
relevant creative work.
There is a cup of tea for the adults during the break, and an
opportunity to chat with one another.
There is usually a member of the clergy present at Rockers, should you
have any queries.
Rockers in Summer
A Sunny Garden Party at the Vicarage.
Photographs by Rose Davison.
This month Rockers celebrates its 24th birthday. If any former Rockers
(parents, ‘children’, helpers etc.) would be interested in a Silver Jubilee
Reunion in June or July 2000, please contact me as soon as possible, and
preferably by the end of August, so that I can start organising it. I
suggest a social gathering of some sort, with food, and a short service in St.
Mary’s church. I should also like to start compiling a ‘Where are they
One of the great delights and surprises at ordination is the tremendous
number of letters and cards that arrive, most promising the sender’s prayers and
many offering a few words of encouragement, hope and advice.
I have treasured the letter from my first training Vicar. His advice was,
‘never handle holy things lightly’. He explained that he meant not only the Word
of God and the life and Sacraments of the Church, but also all people – holy by
their very creation.
I don’t think that I could better this advice as Fr. Paul comes to the moment
of his being made a priest. The Church, the Body of Christ, like any living
organism, continues to change and reform, as it always has done, but the
essential requirement of the priest is unchanging: to be a faithful and loving
On Saturday July 3rd at 6.30 pm Bishop David of Gloucester will come
to St. Mary’s to ordain Fr. Paul priest.
We shall welcome Fr. Richard Hoyal as preacher. This is doubly appropriate as
Fr. Richard is vicar of St. Margaret’s, Ilkley, Fr. Paul’s home parish. Fr.
Richard is also Diocesan Director of Ordinands in Bradford Diocese, and
therefore has played a large part in Fr. Paul’s selection and approval for
training as an ordinand.
To the best of our knowledge, this will be only the third time since the
Reformation that there has been an ordination in St. Mary’s.
Fr. Paul’s First Eucharist
In order to celebrate the occasion when Fr. Paul will preside
at the Eucharist for the first time, our arrangements for Sunday July 4th
will be slightly different.
We shall have one joint service, uniting the parish, at
St. Mary’s at 10.30 am, followed by a special celebration lunch at St.
Nicolas’, using hall, church room and church.
Tickets will be required – not to restrict numbers but to
ensure adequate catering.
We do hope that you will come to support Fr. Paul with your
presence and prayers.
Ordination of Paul Kish, Saturday 3rd July 1999
As is the custom of the Parish a presentation from the congregation for Fr.
Paul’s future ministry will be made. Anybody wishing to make a contribution
should contact a Churchwarden or Warden, by 20th June at the latest.
During the course of last year, St. Nicolas’ vestry has been completely
refitted. This has involved new fitted cupboards, sink unit, bookshelves and
wardrobes. A new carpet has been laid, and members have kindly helped
redecorate, fix coat hooks, etc. All this was made possible by a gift in memory
of Diana Pratt, a loved member of our parish, who sang in St. Nicolas’ choir.
In addition, a splendid oak vestment chest has been given in memory of Fred
East, a wise member and Reader at St. Nicolas’.
On Sunday 6th June during the 9.30 am Family Eucharist the Ven.
Hedley Ringrose, Archdeacon of Cheltenham, will preach and dedicate these
memorial gifts. Archdeacon Hedley will also preach at St. Mary’s at 11.00 am.
Fr. Neil Heavisides,
Residentiary Canon and Precentor of Gloucester Cathedral, will be our
preacher on Sunday June 20th at 9.30 am at St. Nicolas’ and 11.00 am at St.
Coffee at St. Mary’s
By the time you read this, coffee will again be being served after the 11.00
am Eucharist at St. Mary’s. We have decided that this should happen on a weekly
basis and hope that many of you will be able to stay, if only briefly, to
continue the fellowship that has been enjoyed during the Eucharist. Lots of you
stay and chat outside the Church, so why not do so over a cup of coffee? We also
feel that we should take the opportunity to invite visitors and newcomers to
stay for coffee. This will give them a chance to meet other members of the
congregation, rather than just snatching a very hasty conversation with the
clergy in the ‘handshaking line’!
Please support this, so that it can become part of our normal Sunday pattern.
A rota of volunteers has been prepared, but there is still the opportunity for
you sign up - the more there are, the better. Please speak to Margaret Holman,
who is co-ordinating the rota.
Care for one another
Three Sunday congregations, (8.00 am, 9.30 am and 11.00 am) and also those
who attend on Sunday evening and during the week, all add up to a large number
of people to care for within our church family. The Pastoral Care & Common-Life
sub-committee, and also the clergy, have recently been discussing how best we
can be aware of all our members, and how we can effectively extend pastoral care
to any of them, as and when they need it. This is a delicate task which needs to
be handled sensitively, but is very important if no-one is to feel they are
un-noticed or un-cared for.
One of the things we are considering is setting up a series of ‘link people’
in each congregation. They will in turn be linked to a small group made up of
individuals, couples and families. This linking would be very informal. The
whole group would not need to meet at all, although it would be wonderful if
they wanted to. The advantage would be in having the link person as a kind of
channel, particularly between the group and the clergy, and vice versa.
This is very much in the early stages of consideration and would probably be
introduced for an experimental period of perhaps a year. Of course, you will all
be kept informed and will be consulted before anything is begun. Please think
and pray about this and do pass any thoughts to a member of the committee or to
It is with sadness that we note the death of Mr. Bryan Ashmore on 1st May.
Bryan joined the Congregational (now United Reformed) Church in Deep Street when
he moved to Prestbury in 1966, and has been a loyal member ever since. He became
an elder and was also church secretary for many years.
Many of us at St. Mary’s and St. Nicolas’ met Bryan through the various
ecumenical services, both in church and at the war memorial, and Lent study
groups, some of which he hosted at his home.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bryan’s family and many friends in the
As part of our work, members of the Outreach & Mission Group
are looking at how we in the Parish communicate with one another. We agreed to
look at the Parish Magazine and to find out what the readers really want. We are
working with Frances Murton, our editor, who has already worked hard on the
content and presentation. It may be that readers are quite happy with the status
quo, but we need to look towards attracting a wider readership. Will you help us
in our examination of the content and format of the magazine by filling in the
There are (and have been for a couple of weeks now) some
copies of alternative magazines in the two churches for your perusal. They may
help you in filling in the questionnaire.
You will not be approached by a cold call or junk mail as a
result of helping us! Thank you for your help.
[Editor’s note: as an experiment, Brian Wood has put some
parts of the May magazine on to a website, and hopes to do the same with
the June magazine. Please let me know what you think about this.]
My first experience of a pilgrimage weekend at Walsingham was one of peace
and serenity despite the fact we were accompanied by 120 children taking part in
their own lively and interesting Stepping Stones programme. It was lovely to
join with them for a service on the Saturday evening when they displayed the
work they had done during their afternoon activities, before the torchlight
procession around the beautiful grounds and Benediction. After all they are the
Church of the future.
Leisure time on the Saturday afternoon found us taking a long stroll through
the woods followed by an invigorating walk along the beach at
Sunday leisure time involved a pleasant drive through the Norfolk countryside
to visits friends of Fr. Stephen and Vicky and for a lovely afternoon tea.
All weekend there was a feeling of friendship and belonging - in the village
and at the beautiful parish church on Sunday. Even standing in the long queue
for our meals brought its rewards as it gave us the opportunity to meet and chat
to people from many different places and walks of life.
Barney and I look forward to our next visit.
It was into the unknown for me, for a first-timer Walsingham bound, with
Gill, David and Jean. We arrived late and were guided to our "cells", very
comfortable basic rooms with all requirements near at hand. Sortied to "The
Bull" for a drink, then Good Night!
relaxing atmosphere of the gardens and buildings were quickly felt and the
following breakfast (and all subsequent meals) was very adequate and sustaining.
Our own little Communion service in the little Holy House within the Shrine
Church wrapped all of us into a cocoon of mutual togetherness.
The five mile trek at Wells-next-the-Sea led by Father Stephen through fine
woods and on the sands gave us the physical effort to balance the spiritual
uplift we were getting at Walsingham.
The candle procession after the Saturday evening service was particularly
memorable and the joyful voices of the seventeen pilgrims from Prestbury could
be heard loud and clear.
Strange, how each pilgrimage to Walsingham is a unique experience (admittedly
we have only been three times). They are all, of course, based on the Shrine and
its constant, re-assuring round of worship, Mass, prayers, sprinkling,
Benediction, Exposition, Stations of the Cross. When you talk to fellow pilgrims
you realise that the effect is always the same enfolding sense of well-being.
Free time? As much or as little as you need, to think or read, to sit or
wander, to be alone or enjoy company. (We enjoyed the Oxford Stores!) The choice
is yours! With Fr. Stephen as guide you can see many of Norfolk’s churches and
beaches in a couple of afternoons.
Slight misgivings over Stepping Stones (130 children on their own pilgrimage
which coincided with ours) were soon dispelled and it turned out to be a bonus,
adding another dimension to our long weekend.
Raymund & Margaret Waker.
O Happy Band of Pilgrims!
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is known as ‘England’s Nazareth.’ It all
started in the 11th century when Lady Richeldis saw a vision of Mary, Jesus and
their Holy House. She built a replica of the Holy House at Walsingham but it was
destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It has now been rebuilt and
has become a place of pilgrimage. Some pilgrims came from Prestbury for the
As well as lots of services and visits to the Shrine, we also had some free
time. Picture this: a sandy beach in East Anglia. A group of people with a small
black dog. Another group of people coming in the opposite direction. A small
girl running from the second group waving madly. Yes, these were the Prestbury
Pilgrims (some in wellies, some bare-foot)! The Porters hadn’t set off at the
same time as the rest so they all met up on the beach. And everyone was glad to
see everyone else. At the end of the walk, ice cream was consumed by most
two-legged members of the party!
One of the services at the Shrine we went to was the Sprinkling from the Holy
Well. This consisted of some prayers, a short sermon and then some Holy Water to
drink, on your hands and on your forehead (in the sign of a cross). The Last
Visit to the Holy House was on Monday morning. We went into the Shrine and said
some prayers. Then everyone said good-bye and left to come home to Prestbury. I
thought it was very enjoyable to be with everyone else, and I would like to go
Kathryn Porter, age 10.
Photographs by Margaret Holman.
This month’s pet belongs to Mark.
My hamster is called Beatrice. (Beety!) She’s a she! I think she’s one and a
bit years old. She’s a golden type of breed because her fur is gold.
I have to clean her out every week just in case she does anything messy! In
her cage there is her potty, her house, her wheel, her water bottle, her food
bowl and her salt wheel to give her more energy.
A while ago I had to give Beatrice to Kathryn because I had gone to France.
She enjoyed her stay with Kathryn!
When I take her out of her cage I let her roll in her ball, walk on the floor
or climb down my back.
Our cat is not too keen on the hamster. She spends a lot of her time
By Mark F, aged 10.
Two groups are now either underway or about to start. A small group for young
people is meeting on Wednesdays, 5.00 - 6.00pm in the Church Room at St.
Nicolas’. A small group of adults will begin meeting this month, initially on
Thursday evenings, although the evening and venue might vary. It is still
possible to join either of these groups; please speak to Fr. Michael.
The candidates will be asked to find themselves a Sponsor. Sponsors should be
members of the congregation; someone who will support the candidates during
their preparation with prayer and also perhaps by joining some of the
preparation sessions. The Sponsor might also be someone the candidate can speak
to about their faith; someone who can give important support both during the
time of preparation and after confirmation, as their Christian life continues to
develop. Please respond positively if you are asked!
Two groups have now started; a Wednesday morning group led by Sue Read and a
Thursday evening group led by Peter Brown. They are both using material on the
theme of ‘The Fruits of the Spirit’ (very appropriate at this Pentecost
season!). The sessions include some input from the leaders, some Bible Study,
lots of discussion and also some prayer time. (Tea and coffee are also
included!) It is not too late to join in - each week’s material will work in
isolation. Once you come along, hopefully you’ll be hooked and then the groups
will be able to continue with other subjects. If you have any suggestions about
topics or material, or would like to take part, speak to one of the leaders or
to Fr. Michael.
Another term of Parish Youthwork is now well under way as the Twilight Zone
continues to thrive by the grace of God alone, without a youth worker or
sufficient volunteers to be certain to keep it running every week. (Offers of
help ring Fr. Paul.)
The New Year began with the rediscovery of the facilities locked away in the
cupboards and buried beneath piles of junk as we sought to amuse ourselves on
those long cold Winter evenings. There’s nothing like being stuck indoors to
rekindle the delights of board games and running around in the hall chasing an
egg shaped football or playing basketball with a flat ball that doesn’t bounce
and no hoop to aim for anyway. Snooker can be quite difficult with no chalk or
tips on the cues, and table tennis similarly difficult if all the balls are
dented and the bats stripped to bare wood.
Clearly it was time to do some shopping for bits and pieces, and the arrival
of multicoloured ping-pong equipment and snooker chalk, as well as some new
balls and a valve to inflate them, made a significant difference to our club
nights in the hall. The restoration of the basketball hoop was high on the
agenda and this was achieved with the promise to use sponge balls for football
so as not to damage the lights or break the ceiling tiles. It would seem that
there is only one man in Gloucestershire who knows how high such a hoop should
be from the ground, and it took several ’phone calls to sports shops and
gymnasia to find him!
Our prowess at sports and games ever developing, it was time to stretch our
minds a little with a quiz, before stretching our pockets and our patience with
a trip to Swindon to go ice-skating. Having made a brief tour of Swindon’s
industrial estates by moonlight in a double-decker ’bus, we were really in the
mood to get our skates on and play the game of "see who can make Fr. Paul fall
over on the ice", but despite the relative simplicity of the task, success was
A party complete with cake and children’s games was the highlight of the new
half term, something that was always likely once one of our members had ‘let
slip’ that his birthday fell on a Friday in 1999. Musical chairs is an
interesting game to play with teenagers once they have remembered the rules
(rules?!). Such furious activity could only lead to more of the same, and we
played our part in Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day by holding a sponsored row on a
machine in the hall. Nearly everyone chanced their arms (and their backs and
legs) and we managed to raise about seventy pounds. Thanks to all who involved
themselves in this venture.
Physical activity now seemed to be the order of the day, so we went to the
artificial ski slope in Gloucester to learn a new skill and try out this
exhilarating sport just a few miles from home. Nearly forty people came along
and though most were beginners under the careful and experienced instruction of
the staff there, others were able to demonstrate what a few weeks in the Alps
have done for their downhill coordination.
We finished last term with a Karaoke and disco night at the church hall.
Unfortunately, some people thought it might be good fun to volunteer certain of
the leaders to sing to them the favourites of yesteryear while they looked on.
Apparently, if you’re over twenty-one, it must mean that you are completely
familiar with the music of the fifties and sixties. ‘Day jobs’ are unlikely to
be given up.
Now we have begun our Summer term in earnest, and look forward to all the
wide game opportunities that long Summer evenings will bring. In the meantime,
we have held a snooker tournament to coincide with the other one at the Crucible
Theatre, and experienced the thrills of pyrography, burning designs on to pieces
of wood with special ‘hot-tipped’ pens. We continue to run ourselves ragged on
Friday nights at St. Nicolas’ and consume vast quantities of tuck, and look
forward to playing rounders in the park if the weather is good and bowling again
at the Cotswold Bowl. Rumour has it that the new half term will involve some
‘keep fit’ activities, a wide game on Nottingham Hill, a barbecue, and another
Karaoke/Disco to wind up the year, as well as all the usual bat, ball, and
basket fun on offer, but these may well depend on whether anyone reading this
would like to volunteer to come and help supervise now and again before
they feel a certain curate’s hand on their shoulder ...
Twilight Zone is for 11-15 year olds and usually takes place at St. Nicolas’
Church Hall on Fridays in term-time from 7.45 pm ’til 9.15 pm.
Enquiries, ideas and suggestions ever appreciated. See you in ... the
The Apocrypha or
The word 'apocrypha' comes from the Greek apokryptein meaning 'to hide
away'. Apocrypha are outside the accepted canon of scripture, not
considered divinely inspired but regarded as worthy of study by the faithful.
Deuterocanonical works are those that are accepted in one canon but not in
all. (Deuterocanonical can also mean 'added later'; some of the books in the New
Testament come in this category.)
At the time when Greek was the common spoken language in the Mediterranean
region, the Old Testament - the Hebrew Bible - was incomprehensible to most of
the population. For this reason, Jewish scholars produced the Septuagint,
a translation of the Old Testament books from various Hebrew texts, along with
fragments in Aramaic, into Greek. That version incorporated a number of works
that were later identified as being outside the authentic Hebrew canon.
The Christian Church received its Bible from Greek-speaking Jews and found
the majority of its early converts in the Hellenistic world. The Greek Bible of
Alexandria thus became the official Bible of the Christian community, and the
overwhelming number of quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures in the New
Testament are derived from it.
From that day to this, Christians do not agree about the exact canonical
status of certain parts, known as the Apocryphal books. Throughout the Middle
Ages, these books were generally regarded as Holy Scripture in the Roman
and Greek churches, whereas Protestants denied canonical status to
all books not in the Hebrew Bible.
The history of the Old Testament canon in the English Church has generally
reflected a more restrictive viewpoint. Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles
of religion of the Church of England (1562) explicitly denied the value of the
Apocrypha for the establishment of doctrine, although it admitted that they
should be read for their didactic worth. The first Bible in English to exclude
the Apocrypha was the Geneva Bible of 1599. The King James Version of 1611
placed them between the Old and New Testaments. In 1615 Bibles without the
Apocrypha were not allowed to be issued; but in 1644 the public reading of these
books was forbidden. And so it goes on. © 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica
Anyway, here they are in case you are interested:
No, you don't have to learn them!
to all who collected for
£3710.10 to date.
Paddy Spurgeon & Gill Ashman.
Many thanks to all who joined our teams at both ends of the
parish to collect from house to house during Christian Aid week. The parish
grand total (so far) amounts to £3710.10, raised as follows:-
|May Day Walk (combined total)
Thank you for all donations received, and to all who helped
count the total money.
Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon.
On Bank Holiday Monday (3rd May) mummy and I did the Christian Aid Sponsored
Walk. This was the third one I had done. Just before we left my friend Natasha
called to see if I could play. I told her what I was doing and she decided to
We met the others at Highbury Church, then drove to Sandy Lane, which was the
start. We set off at 11 o’clock. The weather was lovely - nice and warm but not
too hot. There were a lot of us walking, from lots of different Churches in
The first bit was really hard, up a steep hill. Mummy had to stop three times
to get her breath back! Once we got to the top it quite flat. We saw lots of
butterflies, flowers and sheep. We even saw a dead adder!
When we got to some ruins we sat down and had something to eat. There were
lots of lambs in the field next to us. We caught the others up at the Devil’s
Chimney, this is a big pile of rocks on the top of each other sticking out of
the hill. We sat down and looked at the view. We could see nearly all of
Cheltenham - even G.C.H.Q.!
The last bit was quite frightening as it was very steep going down and there
were lots of loose stones. Natasha fell over but she was all right. At last we
got to the bottom of the hill and once we crossed a field of buttercups we were
back at the start again. The whole walk had taken over 3 hours.
Now, mummy and I have to collect all our sponsor money. We will have £60
between us, thanks to lots of people from St. Nicolas’ who sponsored us both.
Hannah Smith, age 7.
We arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun after an exhilarating 13 hour flight
and witnessing both a spectacular sunset and sunrise to meet our beautiful
12-week-old granddaughter Édèle for the first time.
We were in Tokyo
during the cherry blossom season which is regarded by the Japanese as probably
the most celebrated moment of the year. Hanami (cherry
blossom viewing) parties are the order of the day and it was amazing to see
thousands of city dwellers revelling in the parks on blue plastic sheets (with
their shoes neatly arranged on the grass) - eating, drinking, singing and
dancing. It was quite cold, particularly in the evenings, but this did not
appear to deter the party-goers, and it was a rare chance to see the Japanese at
their most uninhibited.
On Easter Day it took us almost 2 hours to reach St Albans Church,
which has the only English-speaking congregation among the 33 churches and 9
chapels in the Diocese of Tokyo of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Holy
Catholic Church of Japan, i.e. the Anglican Church in Japan). The church itself
- all wooden with a brick trim and designed by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright -
had the feel of the countryside rather than the central Tokyo location on which
it stood. Even the service books were covered with colourful traditional
washi paper. The Holy Eucharist at 10 o’clock was not too dissimilar from
the service at Prestbury - with servers and incense. On Low Sunday the Primate
and Bishop of Tokyo (who was normally at the Cathedral of St Andrew next door)
was at St Albans for Confirmation. On both Sundays we were made most welcome and
invited for coffee and cake both before and after the service!
Christianity is very much a minority religion in Japan - the indigenous
religion being Shinto which all Japanese people belong to by default.
However, Shinto tolerates its worshippers following other religions. It is said
that Shinto functions less as a religion and more as a custom with visits to a
shrine used to mark important days in the Japanese calendar, such as at New
On the afternoon of Easter Day we had our first experience of Shintoism when
we visited the Meiji shrine, the largest in Tokyo. Whilst there, we came
across two wedding parties in procession and also a mother visiting to mark the
birth of a baby. These rites of passage, just as here in England, had their own
traditional pomp with participants in traditional dress.
shrines and temples Kyoto is the place to visit - it has more than 1600
Buddhist temples and hundreds of Shinto shrines. We travelled to Kyoto on the
shinkansen (bullet train) at high speed for 3 hours. The journey was very
smooth and comfortable and Édèle took it all in her stride - she is undoubtedly
the most travelled baby in Japan if only because Japanese babies are not usually
taken out until they are 6 months old. We only had time to see a handful of the
more important temples including the beautiful Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji
and the superb Zen gardens of Ryoanji. In the early evening we
visited the Gion area of the city which was perhaps the most famous of
its vibrant pleasure quarters and where even today lovely wooden buildings with
lanterns glowing outside function as exclusive tea houses. We managed to catch
glimpses of geisha and trainee maiko san on their way to
Another highlight of our time in Kyoto was staying at a ryokan,
a traditional inn. On arrival we left our shoes at the entrance steps and
donned a pair of slippers which we removed before entering our tatami-floored
room. We had traditional green tea sitting on cushions around a low table
before the futons were rolled out for us to sleep on. We had our dinner
in a separate dining room - miso soup, hors d’oeuvres, grilled fish, raw
fish, and bowls of rice, dips and sauces. In general we enjoyed the Japanese
food - and the different cooking styles - but (having been warned by Catherine)
we didn’t opt for a traditional breakfast at the ryokan: we felt
that we could not stomach the dried seaweed and raw egg! Taking a bath in a
ryokan (or family home) is also an experince - for everyone uses the same
water and the bath tub is only for soaking. It is therefore essential to wash,
then rinse the soap off thoroughly - showers and bowls are provided for this -
before stepping into the bath. In a ryokan (and even in Cathy and John’s
flat) the bath is filled just once each evening.
An hour from Kyoto by local train is Nara, the second of Japan’s great
cultural centres. Again, we only had time (and energy) to view a few of Nara’s
delights - in particular Todai-ji, the great temple which houses Japan’s
largest bronze statue of the Buddha. The temple took more than 15 years to
complete and is the world’s largest wooden building.
Although we spent most of our time in Tokyo we did have another excursion to
the country, to the lakeland and mountain area of Hakone. There we stayed
in the oldest western-style hotel in Japan (established 1878) but which has lots
of Japanese touches like the traditional gardens and hot springs. We took
various forms of public transport to traverse the area - switch-back railway,
funicular railway, cable car and bus. We should also have gone on a boat
and seen Mt Fuji but the weather didn’t cooperate for us to do this. We did,
however, go to the constantly bubbling and steaming valley of Owakudani
formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago and where eggs are boiled in the
bubbling sulphurous pools until they are black. We saw several Japanese tourists
eating these eggs, but we weren’t tempted.
And so back to Tokyo where life was as frenetic as ever. Trains going
in every direction, every few minutes, both on the underground and overground
networks, stopping trains, express trains and limited-express trains; people
(the majority in smart suits) travelling in their thousands to/from work between
6am and 10pm with of course the greatest concentration during the rush hours.
But despite all this frenzied activity there was a certain order and discipline.
For example, people queued in ranks for the trains at designated points along
the platform - the points where the train doors were expected to, and did, open.
The trains were scrupulously punctual and all the officials had smart uniforms
with hats and white gloves. Everywhere was very clean and we saw hardly any
graffiti - in one suburb we saw a shopkeeper scraping up some chewing gum from
the middle of the street outside her shop.
from Catherine, we were not able to communicate readily with the Japanese, we
found them to be very courteous and friendly. Of course everybody loves to see a
baby and for the vast majority of the people we encountered it was their first
opportunity to see a western baby. One lady got off a train to return a bootie
which Édèle had dropped - and had to wait for another train to resume her
We returned to England after our scintillating two weeks whistle stop tour of
Tokyo and its environs to rely on telephone calls, photographs and the odd
videotape to keep up to date with Édèle’s progress until our next meeting.
Colin & Margaret Holman.
Alleluia 99 was held at St. Stephen’s House in Oxford. It was run by Stuart
Lee and Andy Perry.
On the Friday night we all got to know the others who were attending the
weekend, Pizza and a Quiz.
On Saturday we got into groups which we already picked before arriving. We
could choose Drama, Art, Choir or Music. In the Drama group we did three
separate tableaux on different issues: Homelessness, Aids and Pressure. We
worked on them on the Saturday morning and on Sunday before the Eucharist and we
showed it to everyone during the service.
On Saturday afternoon we had a tour on an open top bus of Oxford and then we
had a tour of Christ Church college.
In the evening we had a service of Reflection, which involved sitting on the
floor for about half an hour thinking of your successes and failures, your hopes
and fears and to reflect on those aspects of your life which you wish to offer
On the Sunday we had the Eucharist and at 2.00 Sunday afternoon we had a
Video Viewing of everything that had happened over the weekend. Then at 3.30 we
said goodbye to everyone and went home.
It was a very enjoyable weekend and I would love to go on it again.
On Friday the 23rd of April five of us from St. Mary’s and St. Nicolas’
went for a weekend in Oxford entitled ‘Alleluia 99 Faith for the Future!’
The weekend took place at St. Stephen’s house (where Fr. Paul did his
training!). We all arrived (after getting lost around Oxford) at 7:30 Friday
evening just in time for coffee and a chat with the training Priests there. When
everyone had arrived we had some opening Prayers and the reading of the rules.
The people leading the course were called Andy and Stuart and there were many
other priests helping out. There were about 40 young people who attended ranging
from 14 to 18 and they were from all over the country including Wales, Up
Holland, and Wimbledon. The evening continued with pizza and team games which
included wandering about making animal noises and doing a jigsaw puzzle
blindfolded!!! Shortly after this was bed time!!
Breakfast was at 8:30 but the Prestbury gang all managed to get up at 7:30 to
get in the (very few) showers before everyone else was even awake!!!!!
At 9:15 we started the workshops we had chosen - music, drama, or art. Jenny
and I did music, Hannah, Anna, and Christine did drama. The workshops were in
preparation for the Sunday Eucharist. Susie was leading our music workshop. She
played bass guitar along with her son who played drums and several other
musicians from the house. We played a range of music including Boyzone’s recent
hit single ‘No matter what’!!!!!!!
At 12:00 we had a short Eucharist then lunch. After lunch Andy and Stuart had
planned a trip into Oxford for us and it turned out to be an open top bus
When we got back to St. Stephen’s house we returned to our group leaders (one
of which was William Hazelwood) and did group work. This was very good fun
because it gave you the chance to meet other people and hear their views on
things. We talked about things, such as, how we thought the Church we attended
could be made better (of course I didn’t have a bad word to say about St.
After this was probably the part that we all agree was the best part of the
weekend. It was a service of reflection. It was different from the other
services we had attended, it was very quiet and simple but very moving. All it
involved was the Priest saying some prayers then a cross was set on the floor by
the altar and if you felt you wanted to you could write your thoughts or
anything you wanted to say to God on a piece of paper and nail it on the cross.
There was incense burning - it was very poignant. After the service the cross
was burnt. We all came out crying!!!!!
After this there was a disco and BBQ. It was nice in contrast to the Service
as the disco had loud music and lots of chatting and laughing. We all went to
bed tired and happy at about 1:00 in the morning.
Again us Prestbury lot got up at 7:30 to run to the showers even after being
so tired the night before!!!!!!! At 9:15 we had a short rehearsal in our
workshop groups before the Sunday Eucharist. At 10:30 we all assembled in our
groups down at the church for the start of the service. This was a very fun
service and included some great songs and hymns!!! The drama group performed
their play, the art group had their pictures all around the Church and the music
group performed, everyone enjoyed it!! We all came out of the service very happy
only to find it was time to pack up!!!
After this it was lunch - then the thing I’d been dreading most since I
stepped into St. Stephen’s house - video viewing!!!! They had been videoing all
of us for the whole time we had been at the house and now we had to sit there
and watch it!! It included some very funny shots of Anna and Jenny who decided
to smear their mouths with ice-cream (they didn’t find it so funny when we told
them they had been videoed)!! The weekend came to an end with feedback and
We all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, we made new friends, learnt a lot more
about God and felt our faith was revitalised!! We will definitely be going back
All five of us would like to say thank you to Fr. Paul for suggesting the
weekend to us and everyone at St. Stephen’s house especially Andy Perry and
Stuart Lee for organising it so well.
Are we just intrusions
In time and space?
A mass of illusions,
A one-off special
Something God invented
To pass the time away?
Our lives are
A reflection of God’s
Joyfully He created
Knowing that in the
fullness of time
We should return,
Bernard J Boston
Prestbury Writers’ Workshop
THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS by John Bunyan.
(Penguin Books £2.50)
Most of us have heard of Vanity Fair, the Slough of Despond, the Valley of
the Shadow of Death, Doubting Castle, Giant Despair. And yet the book from which
they come (written in prison in 1678 by the son of a tinker imprisoned for his
beliefs) is now largely unread although at one time it rivalled the Bible in
popularity. It is still worth reading. It presents in vigorous language the
story of man’s search for salvation in the guise of a tinker wandering through a
recognisable English countryside not with an anvil on his back but for this
traveller, Christian, the burden of sin. The temptations he faces, the trials he
endures, the depressions and the joys are as relevant to us today and as
recognisable are the characters he meets on the way. Who has not known the
self-assured confidence of Mr. Worldly Wiseman or the glib hypocrisy of Mr.
Talkative or the loyal support of Mr. Faithful? There are more. They are worth
finding for yourself.