I have lost count of the number of times that either I have said, or
someone has said to me, 'Easter is very early this year'! I realise the
truth of that as I consider what to write for this month's magazine and
find that it is all about Lent.
On the first Sunday of February we will keep the Feast of the
Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or Candlemas. As we remember how the
infant Jesus was taken, according to custom, to the Temple to be
'presented' to God, we take one final look back towards Christmas and then
turn our attention towards Lent and, ultimately, to the events of Holy Week
and our celebration of Our Lord's death and resurrection. At the
Presentation, the elderly Simeon recognised Jesus as the one who was the
fulfilment of all the prophecies; the one who would be a light to the
Gentiles; the one who was destined to be put to death but then to rise
again. The world's Saviour.
And so we look towards our annual preparation for the celebration of
Holy Week and Easter. What are you going to do for Lent? I hope you will be
able to attend one of the Eucharists which will take place in the Parish on
Ash Wednesday. I also hope that you are seriously considering taking part
in Springboard for Faith.
Springboard for Faith is Prestbury's response to the Diocese's
Springboard Initiative which is all about outreach into the community. Our
response is in three 'phases'. Firstly, we prepare ourselves during Lent
using material based on the Cheltenham Passion Play 2000 video. Secondly we
witness to the community in two outdoor 'events' on Palm Sunday and Good
Friday. Thirdly, we invite people who are not necessarily members of our
congregations to join us to watch the video and explore some of the issues
which it raises.
A great deal of time and effort has already been given to planning for
Springboard for Faith. If it is to have any success it now depends
on YOU. I therefore urge you to sign up (even if you do not feel able to
commit yourself to all the sessions). Encourage others to take part as
well, so that together we can be prepared for phases 2 and 3. Springboard
for Faith is, I believe, about drawing people to God. Drawing closer to Him
ourselves and reaching out to draw to Him those who still do not fully know
all that He has done for them.
Commit yourself to God this Lent.
Springboard for Faith takes off on Tuesday, February 12th - and
if you haven't yet done so, there's still time to return your sign-up form
and make sure you're part of this exciting initiative in Prestbury!
By now you will have hopefully seen the posters or leaflets inviting you
to join the six-week Springboard for Faith programme. If you haven't
received or picked up a bright yellow form, please see the Springboard
co-ordinator in your church (details below).
Just as a reminder, the programme is Prestbury's response to the
Springboard initiative, which aims to strengthen Christians for mission.
Springboard for Faith is designed to help us talk about our faith -
and, in turn, find ways to talk to others about what it means to have God
in our lives.
The programme is based on Jesus, Today,
Tomorrow, Forever?, the video of the Cheltenham Passion Play
held in 2000, and encourages us to explore our beliefs in the light of
these challenging everyday issues:
||Tuesday, February 12
||Tuesday, February 19
||Tuesday, February 26
||Tuesday, March 5
||Tuesday, March 12
Each evening will be made up of a video clip, group discussion, coffee
and fellowship at St Mary's Infant School, Bouncer's Lane, 7.30pm - 8.45pm
A Fellowship & Review evening will then be held at St Nicolas' Hall on
Tuesday, March 19th, starting at 7.30pm
TRANSPORT IS AVAILABLE! Just tick the box on your sign-up form if you
would like a lift to the Infant School, or to St Nicolas' Hall, and we will
arrange transport for you.
Your Springboard for Faith contacts are:
Jerry Porter, Beryl Elliott, and Daphne Philpot.
will be open again in both churches after the eucharist on the two
Sundays before Lent, starting on 3rd February.
Perhaps a Lent Book is an established part of your Christian year, or
perhaps the whole idea seems a bit rarified to you; either way, have a look
at what is available, you could be pleasantly surprised. At the time of
writing, our provisional book list goes like this.
As always, there will be a choice of day-by-day readings and
- With Jesus in the Upper Room, by David Winter; based on
Chapters 13-17 of St John's Gospel.
- Fruits of the Earth; from Cafod/DLT; reflections on the
readings for Lent 2002 which help focus us on the path towards God's
kingdom of beauty and love, truth and justice.
- The Unlocking, by Adrian Plass; recommended by two different
people at St Mary's (hope it's still in print).
- Ashes to Glory, by Martin Dudley; we chose this excellent book
for last year's bookstall, but it was delivered late and few people saw
- Or how about Breakfast with God? This also has day-by-day
material, though not dated, so you could use it any time. Depending on
how rushed you are, you can have 'continental' or 'full English'. Even if
it has to be 'just coffee' you'll have a worthwhile start to the day.
Finally, a few books to settle down with at any time, including:
- Learning to Dance, by Michael Mayne; personal and spiritual
reflections on the arts, the sciences and the cycle of a year in
retirement from the Dean Emeritus of Westminster.
- Messy Spirituality, by Mike Yaconelli; sub-titled
'Christianity for the rest of us'.
In addition there could be some last-minute finds, and we may need to
put in a substitute if any of our choices is unavailable. Take this
opportunity to look at a few of the many Christian books being published
now, without making a trip to Cheltenham or Gloucester.
At Gloucester Cathedral, the theme for Lent 2002 is Listening,
a theme explored in many different ways.
Archbishop Rowan Williams leads a Quiet Day in Gloucester Cathedral on
Saturday 16th March, entitled The Spirit in the Desert -
Listening again to the Desert Fathers. Tickets cost £5 from Revd J
Barbour, Chipping Campden
Listening to the Word of God is the theme of a series of Talks
for Lent, on Thursday evenings at 7.30 in the Chapter House. The first talk
Listening to the Word of God through St John's Gospel by the Very
Revd Stephen Smalley, is on February 14th. In subsequent weeks the
focus will fall on Listening through story, through painting, poetry, music
and prayer, with a wide range of speakers. Fuller details on the poster in
Listen - to the St John Passion, in a performance by Gloucester
Choral Society on Saturday March 9th at 7.30 pm.
Listen with your eyes - to Iain McKillop's series of paintings
Meditations on the Passion, on exhibition in the Cathedral from
February 15th to March 30th.
Gloucester Cathedral is ours, and all these activities are for our use.
It is helpful to all of us from time to time to join with a different
group, and refresh our awareness of the wider Christian family we all
Education & Nurture Sub-committee
The committee met at the beginning of January. Andy Macauly attended the
meeting and reported on the current position with the Youth Work. His
report was very encouraging. Synergy might need to form a separate group to
cater for the needs of potential younger members. Future plans for the
group include a residential weekend and participation in 24/7 Prayer (24
hours of prayer, for 7 whole days) during Holy Week. Andy's work at
Pittville School continues to be very well received.
The committee also reviewed the Advent Bible Studies, which were
particularly well supported during the day time. They also looked forward
to the Lent programme of 'Springboard for Faith', discussed the
themes of the Sunday sermons during Lent and also the Lent bookstall.
We require some more members to participate in this committee! Please be
reassured that being a committee member does not mean doing all the work!
We need people to be part of the 'think-tank', which reviews and plans the
programme of Education and Nurture in the Parish. If you would like to have
'a voice' and have a contribution to make, please speak to Beryl Elliott or
Parish Events Committee
The last time this committee met, it reviewed the considerable number of
'social' events which had taken place during 2001. It also discussed the
arrangements for the social side of the 'Springboard for Faith'
evenings during Lent and then went on to begin to plan a calendar of events
for 2002. The first of these will be a Candlemas Quiz Night on Saturday 2nd
If anyone would be interested in joining this group, we are always ready
to welcome new members with fresh ideas! Please speak to Kay Porter or Fr
On behalf of the Parish I should like to welcome Mrs Nicola Bennett as
the new head teacher of St Mary's Junior School. Mrs Bennett was previously
head teacher of Northleach CE Primary School. She took up her appointment
with us on 1st January and says she already feels very much at home in the
school. We are delighted that she is with us, and offer her a warm welcome.
On the afternoon of December 6th 10 pupils and their teacher from
Berkhampstead School came to Abbeyfield House to sing Christmas carols to
us, the audience of 7 residents with members of the house committee and
friends, all of whom were comfortably seated in our large sitting room. The
selection of carols was wonderful; we were privileged to hear several
carols which are not normally sung and this fact made the occasion
thoroughly enjoyable, so much so that the residents spoke about the
selection and the singing at our supper table. We were quite gripped by the
singing. As this was a new experience for us we hope Berkhampstead School
will have us on their calendar for next year.
Jack Beaver, resident
Christmas Procession with Carols on Christmas Eve in the Cathedral
church of Norwich was a memorable occasion. Seating was provided in every
place possible from the High Altar Sanctuary, Choir, Crossing, Nave
Sanctuary and Nave to the Western Crib. Most seats were taken an hour
before the 3.30 start. It was refreshing to see this magnificent building
coping gladly with so huge a congregation wishing to participate in the
celebration at this appropriate time.
The first reading, as was meant, created a dramatic contrast to the
anticipating hubbub before the start. A voice from the organ screen
proclaimed, 'Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the Lord'
(Zechariah). Subsequent readings were from the Nave Pulpit, Lectern in the
Crossing, Centre of the Nave and the Western Crib. The two Cathedral Choirs
in the procession sang in the vicinity of these situations which ensured
that every person felt intimately involved. To me, the highlight in the
music was the solo voice in Lully, Lulla (Kenneth Leighton): it
seemed to haunt the whole cathedral. Surely it must have been the Choir
Girl of the Year.
aving entered the cathedral from the attractive city centre bustling in
the final hours of its own long commercial Christmas, I found the voice
proclaiming the Epilogue most apt at this moment marking the end of the
commercial and the start of the true Christmas:
When the song of the angels is stilled
when the star in the sky is gone
when the kings and princes are home
when the shepherds are back with their flocks
the work of Christmas begins
to find the lost
to heal the broken
to feed the hungry
to release the prisoner
to rebuild the nations
to bring peace among the people
to make music in the heart.
The National Federation of Women's Institutes issued a pamphlet, Pathway
to the 21st Century, inviting all Women's Institutes throughout Great
Britain to celebrate the millennium by identifying and carrying out a
project to enhance their local environment.
The Prestbury WI mulled this over on several occasions without coming to
any decision on how they could become involved. Many members already
contribute their time and talents within the community and had undertaken
several projects in the past. Then in March 2000 they conceived the project
of restoring the seven stone steps down into Mill Street from the
Churchyard of the Parish Church of St Mary's. The steps form part of a
public footpath through the churchyard connecting Mill Street to Prestbury
High Street as well as leading to the front porch of the church. It is
therefore quite an important access route for the village.
Quotations for the work were invited; that from Robin Paul, Stonemason,
was accepted. A proposal to the Parochial Church Council was
enthusiastically received, and they agreed to share the cost.
As the churchyard is in a Conservation Area, Gloucester Diocese,
Cheltenham Borough Council and English Heritage all had to be consulted and
a Faculty and Planning Permission had to be obtained.
A form of words and a style of lettering to be inscribed on the risers
had to be agreed - English Heritage objected to the new WI logo and
insisted the words "Women's Institute" be written out in full.
The work started on 16th July 2001 with the removal of the sidewalls and
the old steps, which were set aside to ascertain whether any could be
recycled. New stone was purchased, the final wording and style of lettering
was approved and engraved. At length the steps were re-laid, the side walls
rebuilt and the work completed on the 3rd November.
During this whole period from March 2000 onwards Prestbury WI was busy
fund raising: coffee mornings and lunches, proceeds from Christmas
entertainment, local history lectures, a donation from St Mary's Sunday
Bake Stall; quizzes, raffles, sponsored 'swims and slims'; the sale of
music tapes, books, and vegetable produce from the WI stall, and many
personal donations. The WI had been instrumental in the promotional sale of
a Millennium booklet produced by Prestbury Parish Council for which they
gave a donation; this was then given to the project. One activity which
proved most lucrative and popular was the filling of Smartie tubes with
coins which fitted, ie 1p 5p 20p £1. Each member was given a full tube of
Smarties which they returned filled with coins.
A final sum of £1314.64 was handed to the PCC who paid the full account
of £2290.08. The balance came from the Churchyard Fund.
The Millennium Steps were
dedicated and blessed on 14th January in a simple and reverent service led
by Fr Stephen and Fr Michael. Many members of Prestbury WI and St Mary's
church were present, and the Rev Joan Winterbottom (URC) also attended. A
reporter from the Gloucestershire Echo took several photographs of the
occasion. Tea and biscuits were served in the church after the ceremony.
The refurbishment of the steps into St Mary's Churchyard has been
completed. It seemed a very long time to replace some rather dangerous
stone steps but perhaps this was a procedure well worth suffering to
maintain the environment of our lovely village.
It has been extremely well executed; the steps look good and are a joy
to walk on. Prestbury Women's Institute and St Mary's Church hope and trust
these steps will give service to the people of Prestbury for many decades
A worthy witness to AD + MM.
Sheila Beer / Bob Lyle
Venue: St Andrew's nice new building, Churchdown.
Date: Friday 7th December to Saturday 8th December 2001 (overnight!!)
Insomnia was an all-night sponsored event to raise awareness for
homelessness in our diocese and to highlight the Christian church in India.
I was initially struck by the enthusiasm that the young people in Prestbury
had towards this event. They went out with a fervour collecting
sponsorships and advertising what they were going to undertake. We also
attended a couple of planning meetings beforehand and young people gave up
their time to accompany Andy Macauly and me and to contribute
constructively to these meetings. A great advert for our churches and for
young people in general!
As for the event, it was a good turnout with many youth groups from
across the diocese represented and a healthy contingent from Prestbury!
There were, during the night, many activities for the young people to take
part in, which included a band, DJ's, a time of worship and drama. There
were also workshops on homelessness, third world issues, stress management,
bullying and family struggles. During the early hours of the morning we had
a juggling workshop run by our own Mr Macauly and a banner painting
workshop run by Claire Radburn and Kirsty Walters. Claire put a lot of hard
work and effort into producing two fantastic banners, one of a map of India
and one of the Insomnia logo, which young people were then encouraged to
paint with images that they had thought of during the evening. At the end
of the event we were told that Bishop John would be taking these banners
with him when he visits churches in India shortly.
One of the most interesting things during the night was that the young
people were encouraged to build a shelter out of cardboard boxes outside
the church. To demonstrate our focus on homelessness, Bishop John and a
local MP slept outside in these shelters overnight. Although this may seem
like a publicity stunt, especially if you have seen the photos in the local
papers, actually it was very cold and this was proved to be the case when
we had trouble de-icing our cars to go home in the morning! I think it was
really encouraging to see Bishop John getting directly involved in a cause
that I know he feels strongly about.
From a personal point of view, as a leader, I got a chance to interact
with the young people and to spend some quality time (albeit tired time!)
with other youth leaders and especially my fellow youth workers, Liz, Emma
and Andy M. I felt that the event was very worthwhile and gave a fantastic
positive image of young people wanting to get involved in their own
community and in communities in other parts of the world. I especially want
to say thanks to our young people in Prestbury who did us proud: Rob, Sam,
Dave, Claire, Clare, Simon, Andrew, Alex and Kirsty.
December 16th saw Twilight Zone put on their much planned Christmas
party. Once we had got over the shock of seeing everyone in evening dress
(strictly no jeans or trainers said the publicity) we got into enjoying a
fantastic event. It featured the DJ-ing talents of DJ Nuclear and band
Atlantica, both from the youth club. There was also copious amounts of food
- cheers to Liz and Kathy in particular!
The highlight for me was that the event was the idea of young people and
it was young people who made it happen - even turning up early to decorate
the hall. (Thanks to Becky and Sam and their team.) There was an outward
looking focus as the Brownies were able to use DJ Nuclear's talents for a
party beforehand. An entirely suit-able Christmas event!
Reading Edward Wyatt's article entitled 'The Departed (2)' in the
December magazine reminded me of a visit to Berkeley Churchyard some 7
years ago. My son, then aged 10 years, wrote down an epitaph from a
headstone in his notebook. It is a rather wistful little ditty, as follows:
Here lies the Earl of Suffolk's fool,
Men called him Dicky Pearce;
His folly served to make folks laugh,
When wit and mirth were scarce.
Poor Dick alas! is dead and gone,
What signifies to cry?
Dickys enough are still behind
To laugh at by and by.
Helen McCarthy (Prestbury Writers Circle)
Parish Pilgrimage to Walsingham 2002
I have now received the application forms for our
pilgrimage to Walsingham in May - we have places reserved for 20 people.
The cost of accommodation and all meals (ie full board) from after supper
on the Friday until after breakfast on the Monday is £86.85 (children -
under 17: £52.11; under 5: free). Please contact me for an application form
which also gives details of accommodation available, meal times etc. I have
to submit a list of pilgrims and their accommodation requirements, together
with a non-returnable deposit of £10 per person, no later than Friday 22nd
March. Transport arrangements will be sorted out in due course.
Date for the Diary - Plant Sale at St Nicolas'
On Saturday 18th May there will be a Plant Sale at St
Nicolas' in aid of the Renewal Appeal. Once again we shall be most grateful
if all gardeners can help us: perhaps by taking some extra cuttings,
growing some bedding plants, a few vegetable plants or herbs, and potting
up herbaceous perennials. Last year's sale proved that bedding plants,
geraniums and fuchsias sell like hot cakes.
I shall be glad to answer any queries. Happy gardening!
Spend a few moments in the weeks leading up to Easter
answering the questions on the Confectioners' Quiz. Win a 'sweet delight'.
Quiz sheets are available in the churches or from Jessie Strawson or Marion
Godden £1 a sheet. Closing date Sunday 17th March. Proceeds to St Nicolas'
Intercessions at St Mary's
We could do with a few more names to add to our list of
those who lead Intercessions at St Mary's on a Sunday morning at 11
o'clock. If you think you could help, please contact me.
We desperately need one or two more people to adopt a
patch of grass in St Mary's churchyard. We have all the equipment (mowers,
strimmers etc) but we would like you to commit about an hour once a week
(in the summer; once a fortnight in the spring/autumn) to come and mow. If
you can help please ring Ken Bradbury or Bob Lyle.
You've just got one chance to join us for a Bible study
this month because we'll not be meeting while the Springboard for Faith
series is taking place. You can choose between meeting on Wednesday 6th
February or Thursday 7th February, both at 8pm, to work through Acts
chapter 16 together. More details from Kathy or Andy Beacham. Watch out in
future editions of this magazine or the weekly pew sheet in church for
details of dates and venues for April.
From the proceeds of St Mary's Bake Stalls in 2001 we
were able to support the following Charities:
Red Cross £50 (for El Salvador)
SOS Children's Villages £100
Children's Rescue Fund £20 (for Ethiopia)
Africa Now £20
European Children's Trust £20
Rescue Foundation £20 (for brain damaged children)
Red Cross £50 (for Afghanistan)
Unicef £30 (for Afghanistan)
Let the Children Live! £60
Save the Children £60 (for Afghanistan)
This gives the grand total of £450. Thank you everybody!
St Mary's Sunday Refreshments
Many thanks to all who support this venture. The
half-yearly profit (June-December 2001) resulted in £100 being donated to
'Cheltenham Open Door at Christmas'. If anybody is interested in joining
this rota please contact me.
Thursday Morning Eucharist
Each Thursday we have a half-hour service in St Mary's at
10.30am followed by coffee and biscuits. We all pay for our coffee and this
last year, 2001, we have raised £500 for St Mary's Heating Fund. What a
wonderful achievement and I would like to thank everyone for their support.
Do come and join us in 2002, we may even raise £600 this year!
Thanks to all who took part in the carol singing for
Christian Aid before Christmas. The area total raised was something over
£1600. The amount raised by St Mary's was £127.29 and by St Nicolas'
Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon
The 2000-2001 annual collection amounted to £415. Thank
you very much all current box holders. If anybody is interested in becoming
a box holder, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thanks to everyone who supported Rockfish and others at
our concert in December at Charlton Kings. We raised over £2000 for TEAR
Fund's work in Afghanistan.
Kathy & Andy Beacham
Wedding Cake Recipe
The recipe that was used for the Wedding Cake I made for
the Celebration of Marriage last May has at last(!) been typed and is
available from me. I am asking for a donation of 50p to cover photocopying
and help the St Nicolas' Renewal Appeal fund. Also typed up is the recipe
for Lemon Meringue Roulade which I took along to the Sidespersons' shared
buffet in the summer. Sorry it has taken so long but there have been a few
distractions this year.