"The mountains also shall bring peace, and the
little hills righteousness unto the people." (Ps. 72, v.3)
I never feel quite so inspired by the beauty of creation as when I stand
on a mountain top and survey a panorama of snow-covered peaks in glorious
sunshine, rocks and couloirs set in sharp contrast against the bright blue
heavens. Such was my daily experience on our recent break in the French
Alps, trying to remember how to ski, and trying to forget the dubious
delights of wet and windy Britain.
As I read this verse from the Psalms as part of my morning prayers on the
14th, I reflected upon how important to me have been various mountains and
little hills, from the Wildspitze and the Schatzberg to Ilkley Moor and
Cleeve Hill, each in their own way bringing peace, and perhaps,
righteousness. It's not so much that I feel closer to God because I am
further from sea-level, in a Tower of Babel sort of way (the morning reading
from a few days beforehand), but that I feel further away from the devices
and desires of my own heart, the worries and cares of an inward-looking
world, above which I need to rise and to lift my heart up unto the Lord.
But mountains are not just about peace, for there is also fear and danger
to be associated with their unforgiving magnificence - extremes of weather
and temperature, steep descents and icy paths. Part of the thrill that comes
from skiing is the ability to cope with difficult terrain and frightening
situations, sometimes at great speed, pushing yourself to the edge and
From the peak of Vizelle, high above Courchevel, my teacher and guide
brought me that day to the brink of a tricky little run off the shoulder of
the mountain. I craned my neck to look over the edge and keep my balance,
didn't want to do it, didn't think I could cope. I was afraid. But, having
showed me the difficult path, he led the way and asked me to follow, and his
confidence in me gave me the courage to proceed. Well, he was right, and
that's why I am writing about holiday `slides' rather than holiday `snaps'.
I thought about something else I had read that morning, something that
hadn't really made much impression on me at the time, but in the light of my
new `metaphorical skiing' skills had become much clearer:
"In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let me
never be put to confusion, but rid me and deliver me in thy righteousness,
incline thine ear unto me, and save me." (Ps. 71, v.1)
At the start of the new year the new Parish Website was launched on the
world wide web. No longer does it piggy-back on my website but has its own
domain name and internet service provider. The content is growing. Recent
additions include scenes from the Parish Crib Service and photographs of the
Ministry Leadership Team. There are pictures too of Fr Stewart Kasembe on
the back of Fr Paul’s motorcycle as well as in more reverent poses. Each
month, a few days after publication, most of the content of this magazine
are posted. A big advantage of the website is the use of colour, which is
especially valuable in the photographs. Occasionally I might slip in some
extra pictures, such as those of the font in St Mary’s which has been the
subject of the Editor’s recent questions.
Our website is not just aimed at the congregations of Prestbury. Its real
value is for readers outside our parish life, and not just those who have
moved away and wish to keep in touch. It is another window for people to
find out about us and, I hope, make contact. If any of you can provide
useful content for the website, I shall be very pleased to hear from you.
Meanwhile tell your friends our web address.
After the publication of pictures of the Ordination, Fr Paul has become
somewhat of a public celebrity, being instantly recognised in church circles
wherever he goes. He tells me they love the Fr Paul Dressing-up Kit!
Easter is late this year, and Lent doesn’t begin until
March. So we’ve more leisure than usual to think about how to observe the
season. What do you usually give up for Lent? You might consider giving up a
bit of time to read one of the excellent Christian books that are published
each year - it could have a more lasting effect than giving up chocolate. On
the three Sundays before Lent there will again be bookstalls in our churches
with a selection of books to buy, or you could choose something to borrow
from the Church libraries (in the Upper Room at St Mary’s and in the
entrance at St Nicolas’). At the time of writing we haven’t quite finalised
the selection for the bookstall, but here is a preview of the likely
Last year, many people chose a book designed with a short section for
each day of Lent, so we shall have a choice of those:
- Ashes to Glory, by Martin Dudley; meditations using the liturgy
and Bible passages for Lent, and drawing on the author’s experience in a
varied career as soldier, hospital porter, and parish priest. Covers
Easter as well as Lent. £6.99
- The God Of Freedom, compiled for CAFOD (the Roman Catholic
organisation with similar aims to Christian Aid). Reading, reflection,
prayer, thought for each day; small and not time-consuming. £4.95
- When they Crucified my Lord, by Brother Ramon; issued by the
Bible Reading Fellowship. Again, a Bible reading, notes and a prayer for
each day. The author is an Anglican Franciscan friar, living as a hermit
in the grounds of his monastery in Worcestershire; he is one of today’s
most popular writers on everyday spirituality. £6.99
If you don’t necessarily want a day-by-day format, you might consider:
- Pray, Love, Remember, by Michael Mayne, formerly Dean of
Westminster Abbey. Based on the collects for Lent, ranges over his
experiences at the Abbey, and in his own life. Forward by Alan Bennett.
- The Three Faces of Christ, by Trevor Dennis. Imaginative and
sometimes startling, each of the stories explores an aspect of Christ,
from his coming as a small baby, to the time after the resurrection when
we are led to discover the joy of his triumph over our limitations. £3.99
And something for teenagers - final choice not yet made, but could well
- The Expanded Chocolate Teapot, by David Lawrence; a practical
and cheerful guide on how to survive at school. £3.50
As always, let us know (Peter Brown, Sue Read or me) if there is any
particular book, or any kind of book, you would like included. Last year
there were few takers for small books of prayers, or for books about the
Bible in general, but they can easily be provided if they are wanted.
Lent begins this year on 8th March, but it
is never too early to begin preparing for it! Elsewhere in this magazine you
will find details of the Lent Bookstalls. Here
are the proposals of the Education & Nurture Committee for other Lenten
Sunday mornings in Lent: we hope to have some of our neighbouring
clergy as guest preachers.
Sunday evenings in Lent: a series of teaching followed by
discussion. One possibility is to use Gerard Hughes’ ‘God of Surprises’,
which is now available as a cassette with study booklets.
Weekdays in Lent: participation in the Ecumenical Lent Course,
‘All Together Now’, which explores the journey of faith in words and music.
More details at the Open Meeting of Churches Together in Cheltenham on 9th
February at 7.30pm in St. Nicolas’ Church.
If there is sufficient interest, we will also run one or more weekday
study groups in the Parish. The focus will be the Sunday readings during
Lent, also using material from Christian Aid.
Clearly there will be lots going on. Please
make a serious effort to ‘take something on’ this Lent. Look out for
Passion Play - Good Friday 2000
Our parish has undertaken to provide the crowd for
the crucifixion scene of the Churches Together in Cheltenham Passion Play.
This will take place on Good Friday afternoon in Imperial Gardens. If you
are able to take part in this tremendous act of witness in the town centre,
please give your name to David Price.
The new term started quietly - we hoped that more of our young people
would join us, especially those who have been confirmed recently. Synergy is
a strategic part of our Parish Education & Nurture programme. It is seen as
the ‘next step’ after Confirmation; a way of helping our young people to
continue to explore what it means to be a Christian and to grow in their
faith. Please encourage any you know to come along to the next meeting. The
Was all the ‘hype’ worth it?
What should we really feel about the ‘M-word’?
What about the future?
Millennium Madness #1
The story so far; Learning from the past;
The Y1K problem
Millennium Madness #2
The DIY world’s end prophecy kit
Millennium Madness #3
Backs to the future; promises, promises;
facing the future; when it all goes pear-shaped
Millennium Madness #4
Sorry, wrong party; reason for the season;
review the celebrations
Millennium Madness #5
It’ll only take a minute; my, is that the time?
Jesus’ time sheet; time of my life
The Feast of the Annunciation
Good News for Mary - Good News for us?
Mary’s part in it all
End of term ‘bash’
Our pre-Easter celebrations
All Meetings are on Saturdays at The Barn. They
begin at 7.30pm and end at 9.00pm. Cans of soft drinks, crisps & other
goodies are always on sale!
For more information contact:-
Fr. Michael, Fr. Paul, Liz Bennett
Let there be:
respect for the earth;
peace for its people;
love in our lives;
delight in the good;
forgiveness for past wrongs;
and from now on a new start.
Mothers’ Union - Australia
As former link member of the Prestbury branch of the MU, which has now
lapsed, I have received a Christmas card from our link branch in Australia.
The card says ‘To Our Dear Sisters, May the blessings of this wonderful
season be shared with all the members of your branch. Fond love in His
precious name across the world from all of us’ and is signed by 27 members
of the branch at St Matthew’s, Albury, NSW. Enclosed in the card are an
article and photograph of Albury’s new rector, Canon Keith Brice, and his
family; also some poems, one of which is printed here.
It’s rather wonderful I think
When friends are made by pen and ink
A piece of paper blue or white
To someone you have never seen
Who lives where you have never been
A pen becomes a magic wand
Two strangers start to correspond
Not strangers long, but soon good friends
Just note how their letter ends
How pleasant their exchange of views
Two friends who live so far apart
Can gladden each other’s heart
Can nourish too each other’s mind
With goodly thoughts in letter kind
It’s really beautiful I think
The friendship sprung from pen and ink.
If any former member of the MU in Prestbury would like to see the card
and enclosures please ask me.
Mothers’ Union - Gloucester Diocese
To celebrate the Millennium there will be a Diocesan Eucharist in
Gloucester Cathedral at 11am on Lady Day, March 25th 2000. Our celebrant
will be Canon Neil Heavisides and the address will be given by Mrs Pat
Harris. We hope to process all our banners including those from lapsed
branches if we can.
SPECS, SPECS, SPECS
Have you any used pairs of spectacles lurking in drawers or cupboards?
Any style, any age, with or without cases. Please have a look and bring them
to church during February. There will be collecting boxes in both churches.
The Mothers’ Union are planning to send another shipment to the Third World
this year (over 700 pairs went to Rwanda last December). Should you have so
many that you can’t fit them into the church box, do give me a call and I
will collect them. Many thanks.
I have back numbers of magazines from the Church Missionary Society and
the Leprosy Mission. They will be available on the table by the door at St.
Mary’s for you to read if you are interested.
Bake Stall at St. Mary’s
Many thanks to all who contributed by baking and/or
buying! We were able to send £100 to the NSPCC (national). We hope to do
equally well during the next three months when the money will go to
Ethiopiaid. The dates are:-
March 19th, and
Linda and Margaret
This month’s musician is Kathryn.
I play a recorder. I have been playing it for 4 months. Miss Hawkins
teaches me at school in a club. I can play 3 notes at the moment. Soon I
might play in front of the school. I like playing my recorder.
by Kathryn Thomas, age 6
One of the things I like is helping with lunchtime recorder classes at
St. Mary’s Junior School.
In December I accompanied Mr. Vaus to Cleeve Hill Nursing Home with a
group of 9- and 10-year-old recorder players. The fourteen young musicians
gave a short recital of Christmas carols, some in unison, some in two-part
harmony and some with percussion accompaniment. Several of the residents
joined in singing the words, and it was obvious that both children and
residents enjoyed the occasion.
I had not heard this particular group of players since last summer, and I
was most encouraged by their continuing enthusiasm for, and progress in,
Many thanks to everyone who gave hospitality to Fr. Stewart over the
Christmas and New Year period. We have received the following e-mail:
Dear friends, I hope this finds you well. I’m
fine and safely arrived in B’ham yesterday at about 12.15pm. I thank God
for bringing me safely to B’ham. I would like to thank you all for your
unforgettable hospitality you offered to me during my stay in Prestbury
Parish. I really enjoyed. I wish all the best for a New Millennium and a
new start in serving God. May the blessings of God Almighty come with
|Everybody seems to have enjoyed Fr Stewart’s visit to the Parish and
many will have been shown his photographs of family and home in
Tanzania. He would be very thrilled to take back with him photographs of
his time here to show his congregation. Perhaps you took photographs
while he was visiting or you may have a nice one of the village or
church which you could spare for him? If so, would you be kind enough to
drop them in on the Parish Administrator at the Vicarage, please?
Quotes from a conversation with Fr Stewart
After watching the millennium fireworks outside the church at midnight:-
“I was in my room in Birmingham on November
5th and when the bangs started I thought it was the police shooting so I
closed my window and the curtains. The next morning I opened my curtains
and looked out but the police were not there.”
and while discussing foxes in the garden:-
“In my country when it is dark if you see a
pair of eyes of a certain colour and if they blink, then it is probably a
lion and it is best to go another way.”
||Fr Stephen Gregory
||Fr Michael Cozens
||Fr Paul Kish
Photographs by David Jones
What is the Local Ministry Team supposed to do?
People have been asking the question 'What is the Local Ministry Team
supposed to do?' and have found the members of the team searching for
an answer. Well we are beginning to find out.
I don't know where the idea of Local Ministry Teams came from, but
our early forages into the purpose of the team has given us some idea.
If I were asked to produce a Mission Statement as is the vogue these days it
would be something like:-
"Guided by the Holy Spirit, to seek the will of
God for the whole of the Parish of Prestbury. This entails:-
identifying its spiritual needs,
identifying its corporate gifts,
enabling those gifts to be used to fulfil the needs."
At the turn of the 20th century many more people went to church than do
so today and there were more clergy. This made it possible for the
vicar to tend the whole of his flock. These days we have an electoral
roll in the hundreds in a Parish of eleven thousand people. So the
problem is clear. There is no way that the vicar can even know what
his flock needs let alone be able to do anything about it. Hence the
'Local Ministry Team' idea.
Members of the team are not surrogate clergy, but with the clergy part of
the team, they are much more 'at the hub of things' and can therefore be the
eyes and ears of the Parish.
How does this differ from the existing PCC and specialist committee
structure? I believe the answer is 'fundamentally'. The
relationship between the Local Ministry Team and this structure will become
clearer over the next few months. One thing is certain - the PCC has
the ultimate power of sanction. Watch this space.
John: The web site is excellent. Do you plan to publish any pages
relating to the history of the church, and/or Monumental Inscriptions or any
other data which may be of interest to family historians like myself? My
mother’s family came from Prestbury, and the surrounding area. My
grandmother, and my great-grandparents are buried in the churchyard there.
My grandfather was a staunch member of the choir for many years (I am told
he had a rich baritone voice!). My mother met my father just after WW2 in
Newquay, and were married in the church on 21st Dec 1946. They then moved to
Nottingham (my father’s home town), and have lived here ever since. I was
born and raised in Nottingham, but have many happy memories of holidays
spent at Prestbury. (My grandparents lived at 327 Prestbury Road, on the
corner of Glebe Road.) I could go on and on about my childhood days in
Prestbury and Cheltenham <sigh>
Brian: I was quite touched by the content of your message. I
would like to have it published in our church magazine. You never know there
may be some who remember your family. The website is still new and I would
like to show our congregation how effective it is. Would you mind?
John: No, I wouldn’t mind at all. For your information, my
grandparents’ names were Frank and Florence PARKER. My grandfather was for
many years until his retirement the head groundsman at Cheltenham College -
we often used to go and see Gloucestershire play cricket on the ‘square’
that he had prepared. As I said before, he was a member of the church choir,
and he slaked his thirst many times at The Beehive pub!! My mother’s maiden
name was Mary Elizabeth PARKER and as a girl she attended the school in
Bouncers Lane. She has two brothers, both are still living, Cyril - who
lives now in Bristol, and Fred - who still lives in Shurdington.
Brian: How did you find the site? I only submitted details to
search engines last night!
John: I learned the web site URL from my mother and father, who
happened to be at the football match in Cheltenham on Saturday (Mansfield
Town v. Cheltenham). (They are both nearly 80 by the way and still going to
football matches!!!) On their way home, they stopped in Prestbury for a
nostalgia ‘fix’, and saw the web details advertised on the notice board in
the church porch. Incredible, eh!! A question for you - do you know of any
PARKER, FEBERY, ALLEN or WHITTLE living today in the Prestbury area? If so,
I may be related to them.
John.Henson@virgin.net brian@ old address
From Canon and Mrs D C Stewart-Smith
We should like to thank and congratulate you on the Form and Content of
the Parish Magazine 1999. It is really interesting and it tells us
clearly all that is going on and makes us feel part of the Services and
Activities. We live at Capel Court and cannot now get to Church. Fathers
Stephen, Michael and Paul come and serve us lovingly.
We enclose the magazine subscription. Would it be possible for
someone to deliver or post it when it is published? It is rather 'hit
and miss' when we see it in the library here.
Best wishes for 2000,
David and Kathleen Stewart-Smith.
Parish Web Site
From Mr Chris Read
We recently had the pleasure of Fr Stewart staying with us for a few
days. Whilst he was collecting his email I thought it a good idea to
show him the parish web site. He was very impressed with this, and all
of the information on it, including the photographs of the people he had
met. We then thought it would be a good idea to look at some other religious
web sites to see how they compared. The first one we looked at was the
official C of E site
www.cofe.anglican.org. This looked a bit boring, though it does seem to
have changed since our visit at Christmas - for the better, though not all
of the areas seem up to date still. It seems quite difficult to
find where to ask any questions, or go for more information, especially
compared with the other sites we looked at. At this point it seemed a good
idea to look at the competition. We started with
had many different areas, a means to ask questions and find out more
information, it certainly looked much better for those with no religious
experience. Also in a similar vein were
all of these looked very interesting and claimed to have been updated
recently. The C of E site does enable you to find your local Parish
Church (and the Vicar's email address) - you just need to know the name of
the town you are looking for. Whilst the C of E site is not too bad, many
of the others look more attractive. Perhaps if any readers (or web surfers)
know of any more interesting sites they could ask Brian Wood at
to include these as links on the Parish web site. Does anyone else have any
views on web sites they have visited? Take care when typing in the
addresses or you will get the American versions - you have been warned!
The Editor reserves the right to select and edit
the letters for publication.