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Prestbury Parish Magazine

December 1999 / January 2000

In the beginning was the Word … and the Word was God … and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us …
John 1:1,14.



The Millennium is coming!

Planning for the Millennium

Living with Under-12s

Marriage Preparation Day

Food for Thought

Parish Pet Profile

Poetry Corner

The previous month’s question

The Fourth Picture

Last month’s questions



The Millennium is coming!

Whether we like it or not, the Millennium is coming - this, of course, is the Millennium edition of the Prestbury Parish Magazine! I feel I should say something about this momentous event, but I have to admit that (like many) I’m tired of it before we even get there! Can we not just let it happen and pretend it is like any other New Year?

I sense that it isn’t quite that easy this year. The ‘Millennium-hype’ has been enormous and although we might like to pretend it isn’t happening, I feel that we must claim it for Christ. To be quite definite that of course it is good to enjoy ourselves, to celebrate, to mark it in a special way that we will remember, but that primarily, as Christians, we do all these things because of the truth of the Incarnation. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The Millennium is a God-given opportunity for us publicly to celebrate the reality of His greatest gift to His people - His only Son. Some of us will do that in both our Churches on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Our church bells will join the bells of hundreds of churches across the country in ringing out the Good News. We will all still make our resolutions, but perhaps this year they will centre on our own relationship with God - one of the Millennium slogans of the Churches Together in England is ‘A new start with God’.

And also, do not forget that our celebrations do not finish at the New Year but carry on into the year 2000 as we join together at Cheltenham Town Hall on 20th January and at Cheltenham Racecourse on Saturday 10th June.

However you celebrate the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth this Christmas and New Year, may God be at the very heart of your celebrations and may He bless you and all those you love as you journey into the New Millennium.

Fr. Michael


Planning for the Millennium

The General Committee Meeting of Churches Together in Cheltenham, held on 1st November at Gas Green Baptist Church, was mainly concerned with plans for celebrating the Millennium.

We have the opportunity to make prayerful preparation during the Advent Meditations, at the Old Priory next to St Gregory’s church, on the four Fridays from 26th November to 16th December at midday. Light lunches will be available afterwards.

New Year’s Eve will be marked by an act of worship outside the Municipal Offices from 11.30pm to midnight. (The Inner Promenade is to be cordoned off to traffic that evening).

The Celebration for Christ in the Town Hall on January 20th from 7.30 till 9.00pm will be a festival of music, drama and dance, with a massed choir including members of our two choirs. Bishop David, the Bishop of Clifton, senior nonconformist ministers, the MP for Cheltenham and the Mayor of Cheltenham have all accepted invitations. The guest speaker will be Michael Taylor, formerly Director of Christian Aid.

There will be ecumenical study groups in Lent. Details later.

The Good Friday Passion Play will be staged in different locations in Cheltenham, starting in Sandford Park and moving through the town to Imperial Gardens. Members of several churches will be joined by some professional actors. Our Prestbury team, with their considerable experience, are giving practical help and advice.

Finally, on June 10th 2000, there will be a great party on Cheltenham Racecourse, in our parish, from 10am to 10pm, for people of all ages. There will be music, workshops, debates, buskers, seminars, quiet areas for meditation, acts of worship, massed choirs, jazz bands, bistros, bars and restaurants, exhibitions, street theatre, a praise tent, a youth rally and more besides. Do please join other Christians in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire to celebrate our Lord’s birthday in a joyful manner.

Paddy Spurgeon


Christ our Future

Millennium Prayer.

Father all-powerful, creator of all things, judge of the living and the dead, you have raised our Lord Jesus Christ from death to life, resplendent in glory as the King of all the ages. 
Open our hearts to Christ who is our Future; free the whole world to rejoice in his peace, to glory in his justice, and to be made new in the power of his love, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.



Living with Under-12s...

Do you have children at primary school? For something more long-lasting than most New Year resolutions, consider this course for parents of 5 to 12 year-olds. It will be led by ACCORD, an organisation sponsored by the Diocese of Gloucester, which runs courses and workshops.

Whom is it for?

  • The course is for all parents, whether they are single, in broken or mixed families or happily married. Your friends and neighbours will be welcome too.

What does it cover?

  • Why children are naughty and how we react
  • What children are really saying and how we listen
  • How we discipline - imposed or by agreement?
  • How talking helps living together

What will I get out of it?

  • The course provides a great opportunity for getting together with others, learning together, sharing experiences, supporting each other and generally increasing confidence in coping.

What does it involve?

  • Attending four 2-hour sessions and trying out new ideas.

What will it cost?

  • Most of the cost of the course is borne by the diocese (one of the things our Parish Quota pays for). The book for the course is free to borrow or is available, price £5, for anyone wishing to buy it.

Date and time?

  • Tuesday evenings, from 11th January to 1st February 2000.
  • St Nicolas’ Church Room, Swindon Lane (plenty of parking).
  • Come at 7.15 for coffee and a prompt start to the session at 7.30.

Don’t wait until after Christmas to decide. We need to be assured of a viable group if planning is to go ahead! If you want to know more, get in touch with Fr Michael or Beryl Elliott.

Marriage Preparation Day

On Saturday 22nd January 2000, many of the couples who will be married in our Parish during the coming year, will meet with the clergy for a preparation day.  As well as the practical arrangements for the day itself, we will also spend some time considering marriage - the promises the couples will make to one another and the implications of those promises.

If you are a married couple who feel you could share some of your thoughts and experiences about married life, (and could join us on the day), please speak to Fr. Michael.


Food for Thought

Sometimes when we are urged to look forward, as we are from so many fronts over this millennial period, it is perhaps also valuable to look back to our roots and foundations. As I write the confirmation has just taken place in Gloucester cathedral of ten of our church family. It was a lovely service and well supported by a good number of our members. During the service my thoughts wandered back to my own confirmation in Kent and to the preparation I myself had gone through. I have an idea that we were taught about the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion but I was blowed if I could remember any of them. And although I've been privileged to be involved in the preparation course for some of the newly confirmed (unless I missed that particular meeting) I don't think that the 39 articles, as such, remain high on the topics to be covered! I wondered if I am alone in my forgetfulness, or if it might be interesting for others who were brought up on the Book of Common Prayer to reconsider these over a period of time. And for the newly confirmed who may not have easy access to a BCP to be made aware of them. So dear Editor your intriguing November quiz question was a catalyst.

1. Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, the everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Sue Read


A Prayer for the Third Millennium

This prayer was written by Anna Crompton of Ipswich High School, Suffolk. It was one of dozens of entries submitted by secondary schools and colleges throughout the United Kingdom.

Dear Lord our heavenly Father,
At the dawn of a new millennium,
In a world of darkness give us your light,
In lands of war and prejudice grant us peace,
In a world of despair give us hope,
In a world of sadness and tears show us your joy,
In a world of hatred show us your love,
In a world of arrogance give us humility,
In a world of disbelief give us faith.
Give us courage to face the challenges of feeding the hungry,
clothing the naked, housing the homeless and healing the sick.
Give us the power to make a difference in your world, and to protect your creation.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.  




Come and join us for our Millennium Celebration for the Churches of Cheltenham on Thursday 20th January, 2000 AD from 7.30 p.m. to approx. 9 p.m.

A festival of music, drama and dance with opportunities to reflect of the People of God through the ages.

Guest speaker: Michael Taylor, formerly Director of Christian Aid, with the massed Millennium Choir and contributions from local Churches and Schools.

Tickets from the Town Hall (01242-227979) after mid November. Reserved seats, £5 each (10% discount for ten or more) Children and students £2. Full price tickets (no concessions) available from Wesley Owen Bookshop. Most of the proceeds will go as a special millennium gift to charities supported by Churches Together in Cheltenham.

Get your tickets soon! Make a group booking for your Church and share in this great Celebration!

Church Contact:- Paddy Spurgeon



Parish Pet Profile 

This month’s pet belongs to Amy.


Squeak is my pet guinea-pig, he is four years old and his colour is ginger. In the daytime he lives in his run on the grass and at night time sleeps in his hutch.

I think he really enjoys his food so much because he is the biggest guinea-pig that I have ever seen.

Guinea-pigs have to eat lots of vitamin C, so I give him fresh fruit and vegetables, and special guinea-pig food.

by Amy S (aged 9)


Poetry Corner

So much against Him

So much against Him from when He was born;
No cot by the fireside, comfy and warm.

So much against Him when fleeing the land;
Something a baby would not understand.

So much against Him, a carpenter’s son;
Knowing He was really God’s Holy One.

So much against Him, to manhood He grew;
Aware He’d leave all the family He knew.

So much against Him when He had left home;
Commissioned by God the country to roam.

So much against Him, no fixed abode;
Mocked by some people when God’s word He sowed.

So much against Him, so misunderstood;
Even though everyone saw Him do good.

So much against Him, yet God was right there;
As God is for us because He does care.

If there’s much against you, sit down and pray,
and draw near to Him on this Christmas Day.


© Eddy Berry 1995

Used with permission.


The previous month’s question:

What does the fourth picture represent?

Anthony Smith has sent me an interesting article on the fourth picture


The Fourth Picture

The font at St Mary'sAs I usually sit in the ringers’ pew behind the font I have often looked at this fourth panel on the font and for a long time I did not properly understand it.

As the use of the Latin words "fides", "spes" and "caritas" on the other panels illustrates, the designer expected his readers to have studied classical languages. Despite the use on the font of the English (or Latin) alphabet, "synagoga" and "ecclesia" are Greek words and not till I did the Open University course on ancient Greek a few years ago did I understand the intended meaning. In my opinion the panel is contrasting "before" and "after" Jesus’ teaching.

Both Greek words are already recorded in the works of classical authors long before the New Testament was being written and had at that time rather similar meanings of "gathering", "assembly" or "congregation". Both words have subsequently evolved into modern English words, but with meanings sufficiently altered as to be inaccurate as translations of either the classical or the new testament Greek.

synagoga and ecclesia (88 kb)

"Synagoga" (sunagwgh) is used in the gospels of the places of public worship used in Jesus’ own earthly lifetime and "ecclesia" (ekklhsia) in the epistles of the gatherings of those accepting Jesus as God’s son. This seems to be the contrast being made in the panel - on the right "before Jesus’ teachings were made" and on the left "after Jesus’ teachings are accepted".

Since the moon shines by reflected light, the moon in the panel is presumably intended either to remind us that the prophets told of God’s inspiration through their own humanly frail mouths, or else perhaps to remind us that Moses’ face was shining after he talked with God on Mt. Sinai. The sun, on the other hand, shines by its own light and is correspondingly intended either to remind us that the gospels record Jesus’ own words or else to remind us of the Transfiguration.

Finally the trees. At first I thought we had a contrast between timber - useful but dead - and a living tree. But on a recent trip to Oxford I was reminded as the bus went past the Inn for All Seasons of the previous design of their inn-sign and I now think we have on the font a tree in winter, the time of waiting, being contrasted with a tree in spring, the time of regeneration.

Anthony Smith


The other three represent Faith, Hope and Charity. Fides is facing south, Spes north, and Caritas east.


Photos by Brian Wood


Last month’s questions

Traditionally, how many buttons would there be on a clergyman’s cassock? Why that number?

Sue Read had the same idea that I did and reckons there are 39 buttons on a clergyman’s cassock, representing the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England. (Do our clergy recite the articles every time they do their cassocks up?) How many buttons are left undone? Fr Stephen says the bottom one; why? just in case there is one article you don’t quite agree with! Of course most modern cassocks have far fewer buttons; others do have 39, but with fewer buttonholes, most of the buttons being decoration (or for reciting the articles).

Then Fr Paul pointed out that some cassocks in other denominations also have 39 buttons, which surely have nothing to do with C of E articles of religion. He suggests they represent the lashes which Jesus received (John 19:1). It does not say how many lashes, but it is likely to be the standard punishment of ‘forty lashes minus one’ described by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:24.

So who gets the prize?



Pentecost 2000

This will be the biggest Millennium event to be held in Gloucestershire and is taking place on our own doorstep - Cheltenham Racecourse - on Saturday 10th June 2000. All the Churches of Gloucestershire are being encouraged to support what is being described as ‘a huge party to celebrate 2000 years of Christianity’. We are being promised something for everyone throughout the day and hope that as many of you as possible will book the date now!

Fr. Stephen and Fr. Michael have been involved in some of the organisation which has been going on for well over a year. Other help is required and we expect lots of requests from the organisers. Currently they are looking for stewards and hope that we can provide one (or more) group of six people with a leader.

If you would like to be a steward at Pentecost 2000 on Saturday June 10th, please speak to Fr. Michael.


Advance Notice - Children's Holiday Activity

We are hoping to stage a three-day holiday club for children of the Parish during the first week of the summer 2000 holiday. This is a mammoth event and requires much planning and many hands. If you are interested in lending a hand, or would like more information on the project, please contact me by the end of January.

Linda Biggs


Rockers’ Half-Hour - Silver Jubilee Reunion

We are considering a reunion next summer to celebrate 25 years of Rockers’ Half-Hour. Please mention this to any former Rockers you know, and ask them to contact me with their present address. Please also let me know any addresses of Rockers who have moved away from Prestbury, so that I can send details. I hope as many as possible will be able to come to the reunion. I also hope to compile a ‘Where are they now?’ list of all the children.

Frances Murton


Historic Churches Cycle Ride

The sponsor money for St. Mary’s has now been collected and amounts to £506.50. A further £161.50 was collected for St Nicolas'.  Half goes to the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust and half to our own Fabric Funds immediately.


Parish Quiet Day

Despite lots of publicity and Fr. Tim Raphael to lead it, the Quiet Day on 20th November was very poorly attended. The Education and Nurture sub-committee will be reflecting on the day and would welcome any feedback or comments. These can be given to either Fr. Michael or to Beryl Elliott.


Intercessions workshop

For all those who lead our intercessions and for any who would like to, but do not know what is involved:

Please join us for a morning workshop on
Saturday 29th January 2000
at  St. Nicolas’ Church

Further details to follow


Carol Singing for Christian Aid

When? Saturday 18th December 1999

Where? Sainsbury’s, Tewkesbury Road.

What time? 4.00pm - 5.00pm

We look forward to seeing you there!

Gill Ashman


Coffee morning

on Saturday 4th December at Fenwick Lodge Nursing Home, East Approach Drive, from 10.30 am to 12.00 noon. There will be refreshments, cake stall, bric-a-brac, tea and mince pies. All are welcome. The money raised will be for the patients’ amenity fund.

Janet Leeke



Prestbury Parish Magazine - December 1999 / January 2000

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