I was fortunate to enjoy recently a few days retreat for the sake of
spiritual refreshment and during this time away from the parish I began to
reflect on what it is to be a part of a community, for it is in the very
nature of a retreat that we leave behind the communities of which we are a
part in order to be alone with God and to hear more clearly what he has to
say to us, to leave our minds free to explore both where we have been and
where we are going, apart from the distractions of everyday life.
Specifically, I thought about three communities to which I belong,
namely, my family, the parish of Prestbury, and the Church, and I wondered
what are the responsibilities that I have towards these groups which allow
me to share in the benefits of being a member.
To my family, whose membership and company I enjoy, I owe it to be
present not just when it suits me, but also when I am needed, to play with
my children not only when I have the time, but also when they need me, to
be at home in the evenings whenever possible, whether or not it fits in
with my plans.
To the parish and the village of Prestbury, where I live and work, I owe
it to spend time in the place and enjoy what it has to offer before I look
elsewhere - shops, pubs, library, 'buses, bank, post office, and other
local businesses - to be a real part of the parish.
To the Church, however, from whom I am never really apart wherever I am
in the world, I have a duty to be as much a part of the Christian story as
I can be, since the Church, like all families, like all communities, is not
just about what I can derive from it in terms of my own spiritual
satisfaction and development, but also what I can contribute to its life.
Most importantly, as when Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake with
him on the eve of his arrest, we are called to follow the story of his
arrival in Jerusalem, his arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and
resurrection, and it is our duty as far as is possible to be present
throughout the services of Holy Week, despite our other worldly
commitments, not to pick and choose which ones we shall 'enjoy' the most or
fit into busy schedules, but to offer our whole selves as a contribution to
the community where we belong, so that we can share together, live
together, join together as a family to celebrate the great festival of
Easter and the opportunity for new life in Christ.
Even though it often feels as though I have only been in Prestbury for
five minutes, it has come as a shock to discover that in June I shall have
been here for three years, and that it will soon be time for me to leave
the parish for pastures new. Those pastures are to be in Kent, in the
village of Sutton Valence, where I am to be chaplain to the school of the
same name and to its junior school, Underhill.
But don't think you've got rid of me just yet - I don't start until
September, and we shall not be leaving until August. Our last official
Sunday in Prestbury will be July 29th, and I hope to see as many of you as
possible before then, both formally and informally.
Twenty one months ago at the request of the Bishop, I became
priest-in-charge of the parish of All Saints. The plan was that I should
appoint and then 'supervise' a 'house-for-duty' priest to look after All
Saints. It probably would have been a retired priest on a half-time basis
on a five-year contract. The PCCs of both parishes agreed to this. It soon
became obvious to me that All Saints needed full time pastoral ministry,
with strategic planning for the future. All Saints PCC agreed, and we put
this view forward. The Diocese replied that within current clergy numbers
this was not possible, and put forward alternative suggestions.
The basic suggestion is to merge the two parishes, with the clergy of
Prestbury looking after All Saints on a full time basis and the addition of
a 'house-for-duty' priest. It would be possible to create one of the
- a United Parish, with an Incumbent, Senior Curate, a house-for-duty
priest, one PCC and one Annual Church Meeting; or
- a United Benefice, having the same staffing but each parish retaining
its own PCC and possibly more of its own identity; or
- a Team Ministry: one parish with one PCC, with District Councils for
the former parishes, the incumbent becomes Team Rector and the assistant
priest becomes Team Vicar.
Fr Paul will be leaving us in the summer, and there will be time for
proper thanks and farewells. Already we are being asked if he will be
replaced. We hope so, but today training posts do not automatically go with
a parish. Our pattern of three is not sacrosanct. And ordinands seeking
first curacies are not easy to find.
Finding priests for second curacies is even more difficult. We have been
so very blessed in Fr Michael agreeing to stay to help develop our 'GP
pattern' of ministry (he has written about this elsewhere in this
magazine). Many are ordained later in life, serve 4-year first curacies and
are then offered incumbent status posts. In future it might be easier to
find a Team Vicar than someone seeking a second curacy.
Prestbury has a Ministry Leadership Team in training. In future these
teams will play an essential part in ministry in most parishes. Including
our Reader, Linda, Prestbury Team has 8 lay members, with one member, Peter
Brown, studying towards ordination in 2003 for non-stipendiary ministry in
this parish. All Saints also has a Reader, and a Ministry Leadership Team
is already mooted.
We are currently asking God to guide us in our response to the Bishop.
Draw close to Jesus by accompanying him through the events of Holy Week
to their joyful climax at Easter! As has been said before, the Liturgy of
Holy Week is a four act drama which, although we may feel we know the
story, needs to be experienced in its entirety if it is to have its full
Take part in the procession of witness through the Parish from St
Nicolas' to St Mary's, as we remember Our Lord's triumphant entry into
Jesus' command 'love one another' is powerfully symbolised
in the washing of feet. The simple Eucharistic celebration draws us to the
Upper Room where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples. As
the church is stripped bare, the vigil of prayer begins in both churches as
we respond to Jesus' words: 'Could you not watch with me one hour?'. This
year members of Synergy will be keeping an all-night vigil in St Nicolas'.
In great solemnity we celebrate Christ's victory over death. Again we
hear the account of the Passion, we revere the cross as the throne of
victory and we share simply in Christ's gift of his body.
The ceremonies of the new fire and Easter candle
unite us with the earliest Christians, waiting for Christ to break forth
from the tomb. We hear the history of our salvation from the Old Testament,
renew our own baptismal commitment and share in the new life of Easter by
receiving the sacrament of Our Lord's risen body and blood.
Holy Week is the most important week of the Christian year -
do try to attend these four services. Please ask a member of the clergy or
one of the Ministry Leadership Team if you will need a lift!
The news of Fr Paul's imminent departure has come at the same time as
the PCC has to consider proposals for the future of our parish and the
parish of All Saints - both of these are mentioned elsewhere in this
edition of the Magazine. Quite naturally people are asking what the effects
will be for Fr Stephen and myself when we are again the only stipendiary
clergy working in two parishes. The most obvious things are that we will
have to share baptisms, weddings and funerals between two of us instead of
three. We will also, of course, have to share the taking of weekday and
Sunday services, and we'll definitely miss Fr Paul's contribution to the
Fr Stephen and I will continue to have our own areas of responsibility
across the Parish. He is responsible for Finance, Fabric and
Administration. I am responsible for the areas of Pastoral Care &
Common-life and Education & Nurture. We both share responsibility for
Worship. That leaves Mission & Outreach, which has been Fr Paul's area - we
still have to decide who will take that on! Of course, much of the work in
these areas is done by members of the various committees which serve them,
but we have endeavoured to be as involved as possible.
We are both greatly encouraged by the opportunity to share in ministry
with others, and have very much valued the growing sense of teamwork within
the Ministry Leadership Team. We have enjoyed participating in the Team's
training, which is ongoing, and we look forward to the members of the Team
taking a more active role in ministry to our Parish.
We both feel that an important aspect of our Christian ministry is our
involvement in the community. Fr Stephen continues in his role as Chair of
the Governing Body of St Mary's Junior School and I continue to be Chair of
the Governing Body of the Infant School as well as serving on the Governing
Body of Pittville School. Again, we are delighted to share this area of
ministry with other members of our congregations.
As you may know, clergy are also invited to take on things within the
Diocese and so, in addition to his role as Rural Dean, Fr Stephen serves as
Vice Chairman of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). I have recently
been elected to serve on the Diocesan Synod, although so far have avoided
being dragged onto any of its committees!
As you realise, Fr Stephen does all of the above in addition to being
Priest-in-Charge of All Saints, with all the responsibilities which that
brings. Until the future relationship between All Saints and Prestbury has
been decided, I will continue to do whatever I can to deputise for Fr
Stephen in Prestbury, so that he can fulfil his role at All Saints. You can
appreciate that the days when the Vicar does everything and is involved in
everything have now passed - that is no longer humanly possible - and we
are very grateful that you have come to understand this. I personally am
very grateful that you accept my visits and my ministry (and those of Fr
Paul), without then wondering 'when will the Vicar call?'! This is a very
significant development in understanding how we exercise pastoral care in
You may have heard Fr Stephen refer to the 'GP model', where he is the
senior partner. This reflects our pattern of ministry across the parish.
Just as you will tend to see the same GP for a course of treatment, so we
try to ensure that you see the same priest. If, for example, you let us
know that you are going into hospital for an operation, one of us will try
to visit you beforehand, perhaps to pray with you, maybe to give you
communion and to anoint you. Where possible, the same priest (along with
other members of the congregation, of course) will try to visit you in
hospital and also 'follow you up' when you come home. During our staff
meetings, we let one another know whom we are visiting and give an up-date
on their progress, whilst maintaining any priestly confidentialities.
It is said that the demands and expectations of ministry in today's
Church are very different from those of 20 or 30 years ago. Certainly, the
ordained clergy have to be able to adapt to the changing situations in
which they find themselves. We are both particularly aware of what all this
means for our families and are very grateful for their understanding and
support, as well as for the support and encouragement which we receive from
you. We will continue to serve you faithfully and to the best of our
There's no getting away from it - invite most people to attend a
Bible Study and you've uttered two negatives in as many words. The
Bible seems like hard work, and Study conjures
up thoughts of the mind-numbing slog needed to pass exams.
So when I discovered that Sue Read was inviting folk to come to her
house for an evening tackling St Paul's weighty Letter to the Romans - the
great theological text that had taxed the brains of Martin Luther and many
other great thinkers - I was a little apprehensive. But I trusted Sue. I
knew her to be a sincere seeker after the Lord. And there was the added
reassurance of the timetable. Start at 8 o'clock, finish at 9.30 - that's a
promise. So I thought, 'why not give it a go?'
The promise was kept. We began at 8 and finished at 9.30. In between a
chapter from Romans came under the spotlight. We read it, and talked it
through. Anyone can chip in and say whatever they like, pose a question, or
say what the passage suggests to them. Sue had done some background
reading, so she was the person who could interject or move things along if
it proved necessary. Most of the time it wasn't. There were four of us, not
exactly a full house. At the end we prayed for about seven or eight
minutes. All the time the coloured lights on Sue's Christmas tree flashed,
blinked and twirled backwards and forwards, like demented majorettes.
That was January. Since then we've met in Prestbury village and on
Wyman's Brook. Each time we took a further chapter of Romans, until it was
all done. Usually there are six or so people in the room - not the same
ones every time. Some rotation is inevitable because anyone can be unwell
or have another commitment, but with six each time the group is certainly
viable. But a 'group' is not what it is meant to be. There's no firm
commitment. It's open house. You come, you sample, if you like it you come
So what do we get out of it? Why go to 'Bible study' at all? The answer,
for me at least, is that it is an ongoing opportunity for believers to get
together informally. It's a chance to share with one another what little
knowledge and faith we have. I guess we each consider that worth doing. The
Lord did not give me faith so that I could lock it up and keep it hidden
from view. On the contrary He means us to support one another. If we share
our faith it grows. And ongoing fellowship is there for mutual support. In
the process we each get stronger.
Evenings are getting lighter now, so there's really nothing to prevent
anyone going if they want to. During April, May and June the programme
includes a chunk from the Acts of the Apostles. The venue rotates, and the
evening can be either a Wednesday or a Thursday - the details should appear
on the weekly notice sheet given to you on a Sunday morning. But in case
you want to make a note in your diary now here is the list:
Thursday 26 April
Wednesday 9 May
Wednesday 23 May
Thursday 7 June
Thursday 21 June
During the sermon at St Mary's and at St Nicolas' Fr Peter Walters
brought us up to date on his work with street children in Medellín in
Colombia. His words shocked, the more so for being delivered in a
matter-of-fact, 'this is normal' voice devoid of any emotive overtones. The
most common cause of death over there among men aged 15 to 55 is not heart
attack or cancer but murder. The parish priest can expect to bury a murder
victim every other day.
The good news is that in the midst of this the charity "Let the Children
Live!" now owns a large house instead of renting a small one and
consequently is able to help three times as many children as previously.
To hear more we went along that evening to the United Ecumenical
Service, hosted by our Roman Catholic friends in the Holy Name Hall, where
Fr Peter gave another talk, this time enhanced by slides.
If you are interested in finding out more about Fr Peter's work pick up
a newsletter in church or visit the website at
I was recently asked how our MLT training was going and was able to say
that the Team had recently attended a Study Day at St Peter's Grange at
Prinknash on Pastoral Care. 'But isn't there already a Committee dealing
with Pastoral Care?' and 'Was it useful?' was the not entirely unexpected
response. To the former I gave the rather lame reply that we hoped to gain
more expertise and to tap into other people's experience in this vital
field. But the actual value of the Day! Was it really worth our spending a
It was then four weeks since the event and its contents were already
proving difficult to recall. There were some obvious benefits for the Team.
We really appreciated having the opportunity to meet members of the other
Teams there (from Fairford, Severnside and Tidenham) and were heartened to
learn that their parishes had problems very much like ours and as Teams
they too were wrestling with doubts about their parish identity and role.
The peace and quiet of the venue, too, provided a welcome opportunity to
spend some time just being ourselves with ourselves and with God (and it
wasn't as cold in the rooms as we had been led to expect!).
But what about the seminars, the discussions, the main purpose of our
being there? A quick glance at my notes reassured me that the Day had
provided much that was potentially useful. Using the shape of the Liturgy
as a model for Pastoral Care was an illuminating and exciting prospect and
could become a valid tool (as long as it does not remain an interesting
intellectual exercise but is used to enhance the way we support those in
our community who need our care). Of course in a day like this much depends
on the individual receptiveness to what is on offer, the group to which one
is allocated and the leader selected to lead a particular discussion. For
me, for example, starting with an Individual Reflection Session instead of
Group Work failed to make the proper impact. Again, in the afternoon time
was spent seeing how the Psalms could be used as aids to Pastoral Care. For
the group I was in this proved to be an exciting new concept; others failed
to derive much benefit from the exercise.
So, yes, my response to the enquirer would be that, for me, the Day had
some real value but then perhaps my personal reaction is not as important
as how far are we as a Team profiting from what now still seems a long
training period, from our Monday evenings, our Weekend and Days away, how
far are we being enabled to grow in our Christian journey and what use we
can be to our Church and our community.
"It’s the little
things that build friendships: giving something new a go, making the effort
to talk to someone different or just carrying on your chat from last week."
Exploring Faith and Life
Sunday evenings 7.00-9.00pm
St Nicolas' Room & Hall
(No sessions on 1st, 8th or 15th, social to be arranged)
Restart after Easter on Sun 22nd April
Highlight: Maundy Thursday Vigil (Thursday 12th April)
Youth Club for Y7+
Thursday evenings 7.30-9.00pm
St Nicolas' Room & Hall
Sessions on 5th and 26th April
(No sessions 12th or 19th)
Youth Club for Y9+
Friday evenings 8.00-10.00pm
St Nicolas' Room & Hall
(No sessions on 13th or 20th April)
Restart after Easter on Friday 27th April
Highlight: Ice Skating Trip (Friday 6th April)
24-27 AUGUST, CHELTENHAM RACECOURSE
A fantastic mix of Christian music and arts, with a heart for social
If you are interested in camping for the weekend or want more info,
contact Andy. Prices low until the end of April!
ST STEPHEN'S HOUSE, OXFORD
A weekend for 15+: meet other Christians from around the country,
discover Celtic worship, explore Oxford, disco and BBQ to your heart's
content. Forms from Andy.
For more info on any of the youth activities please contact Andy
PLEASE DO PRAY ... WE ALL
(With apologies to A A Milne)
They were changing guard at Buckingham Palace
As we passed by to St James's terrace.
The United Nations had chosen this year
'2001 for the Volunteer'
But where would you guess volunteers could abound?
In Abbeyfield fifteen thousand are found
And as Abbeyfield has the Prince as its Patron
It is they who were guests at a Royal Reception
Six hundred societies selected their choices
And a lottery drew out just three hundred voices
Who were bidden for fifteen minutes past twelve
On February the sixth to the galleried hall
of St James's.
We took off our coats and straightened our dresses,
Collected our name tags and volunteer badges,
Were greeted by Michael, ascended the stairs
Moving slowly and gently, completely aware
Great circles of pistols and old armoury,
The State Rooms as grand as State Rooms should be,
Gilded and crystalled and plush in rich red
With mirrors and portraits of statesmen long dead -
We feasted on pheasant and sausage and mash
From smiling young waiters and waitresses smart
And meanwhile the Prince quietly mingled around
Meeting many old faces and new from the crowd
till we parted.
He presented awards and spoke well of the Movement,
Of Abbeyfield helpers and all that is well meant.,
The care and the skills freely given by all
In supporting our houses and residents, who
Now our thanks go to you, Sir, our Patron and Prince,
For the joys of that day, Sir, we'll remember well, since
Like you, Sir, we're pleased to hold Abbeyfield high
And commend it to others to give of their time
For those who don't know, Abbeyfield was conceived
For some post war old people alone and in need,
It was Richard Carr-Gomm found a caring housekeeper
And a Bermondsey house where they moved altogether
They each had a room in his house which they knew.
They were still near old neighbours and things they could do.
But the housekeeper took over shopping and stress
Of running their own homes, the heating and mess.
For forty-five years now the concept has flourished
So that here there are now more than nine hundred houses
And the idea has spread overseas far and wide
With more volunteers becoming inspired.
Just look in the telephone book under 'A'
And you will find one near you. You might help there or stay.
Ring them up, pop around. I'm sure you will find
A welcome that's warm and friendly and kind.
Just try it,
You'll love it!
Prestbury's Abbeyfield House is on Prestbury Road. If you are interested
to know more about it, please contact Sue Adlard, Chairman of the Home
Committee. You may visit www.abbeyfield.com/ and read of the Royal visit.
Have you ever wondered what Spring Harvest is and whether you would like
it? Well basically, Spring Harvest is the largest Christian conference in
Europe. For three weeks each year at two different sites (Butlins in
Minehead and Skegness) thousands of Christians engage in worship, bible
study, seminars, music and fun. Day tickets are also available. We have
often attended and would be quite happy to tell you what goes on, so if you
are interested in finding out more please ask one of us, or visit the
Andy and Kathy Beacham
We meet in St Nicolas' Hall, usually twice every month, on the second
Tuesday afternoon and the third Wednesday morning. Meetings are social
events, with tea and biscuits available for 50p. We frequently have a
speaker and there is always a small bring and buy stall to raise money for
our occasional outings.
Do come along and meet us. If you would like to become a member the
subscription is £2 per person per year. For further information please
contact Betty or Charles Smith.
Due to lack of support the regular members of the prayer group have
agreed to discontinue the monthly meeting. We would commend the prayer
diary initiative to the whole church.
Jesus - Today, Tomorrow, Forever?
Following last year's very successful staging of the Passion Play
through the streets of Cheltenham on Good Friday a video is being prepared
by the Producer of Songs of Praise (you may have seen excerpts on the
The video, presented by Pam Rhodes and using footage of the Passion
Play, interviews with cast and audience, plus re-recording of part of the
play not previously filmed will be in three parts: 45 minutes aimed at
adult groups; 30 minutes aimed at Year 7/8 school children; 15 minutes as 5
prayer meditations based on the five acts of the play.
The recording is now finished and the final product is being previewed
at St Matthew's on Wednesday 11th April at 7:30pm. You can collect your
copy at St Matthew's or have it posted, the cost is £10 (+£1 per video for
postage and packing if desired) with proceeds going to local projects
supported by Churches Together in Cheltenham.
Details and application forms are available in both of our churches.
In addition the URC in Cheltenham are producing a special edition set of
Easter greeting cards for Churches Together in Cheltenham, featuring six
photographs from Passion Play 2000, each card will cost 50p, details from
This month’s sport player is Phil.
My sport is ju-jitsu. It is a form of martial arts. It is a
mixture of karate, which is just punching and kicking, and judo, which is
just throwing. I do it at the Recreation centre.
I have been doing ju-jitsu for six years and I reached junior black on
the 9th December 2000. This is the highest belt I can get for my age
at the moment. While I have been doing ju-jitsu I have had to compete
in competitions and seminars. I have been to five competitions and
got Gold in one, and I have been to 7 seminars. Three of these
seminars have been with the Grand Master, Soke F Tanaka. He comes
over from Japan every couple of years to do a seminar.
I have done ju-jitsu for so long because it is fun and keeps you fit.
You also meet new friends.
By Phil Mann, aged 14