I write this at the beginning of Holy Week. We have just celebrated
Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem with a really joyful Procession
through part of Prestbury, followed by a united Parish Eucharist. I
couldn't help wondering what the sleepy residents of South View Way were
making of it all and perhaps some of us who took part were also wondering
quite what we were doing! But surely we were showing, in a very public way,
our own excitement on entering the most Holy Week of the Christian year -
the week which takes us from celebration, through betrayal, suffering and
death and then culminates in the joy of the Resurrection.
On the Monday of Holy Week we celebrated the Resurrection a little early
at the requiem Mass for Fr Michael Mason, a retired priest who has
worshipped in Prestbury for many years. That service was a wonderful
reminder of the risen life which Jesus won for us and in which we all can
share. The joy of Easter is that we are given hope, even in the darkest and
most difficult times of our lives.
'We are an Easter People' is a phrase we often hear used to describe
Christians. Our question must be, 'do we live as Easter People?' Do we show
in our own lives the joyful belief that God loves us so much that he sent
His only Son to die for us and to rise again so that we can share in His
Over 80 people took part in Springboard for Faith during Lent. A
wonderful 'success', but also, I hope, a wonderful experience for every one
who took part. Hopefully an experience of God's love which will empower
some (hopefully many) to do something more. To think and pray about how we
can respond to the challenge of 'Phase 3' - to invite others to share
something of whatever particularly touched us during the six weeks of
In Eastertide we think and talk especially of 'new life'. As we emerge
from the season of Lent, we also emerge from winter into spring and we look
forward to summer. As Christians, let us bear witness to that new life in
our own lives. As a Church, let us pray for signs of that new life in all
that we do and let us look forward, in hope and in joy, to all that God has
in store for us, His Easter People.
At the end of the Springboard for Faith programme, we can pause
for a moment to recognise how much we enjoyed it, and how it helped us grow
together as a community. You came in large numbers (88 in all), you kept
coming even when the subject was challenging, and each one of the groups
built up its own supportive identity. The final meeting was unforgettable,
with a delicious supper (as planned) and an (unplanned) candlelit finale.
As I write, the two outside events on Palm Sunday and Good Friday are
still to come.
Then after Easter we get to Springboard Part 3. Still using the Passion
Play video, we look for ways of reaching out to our friends and neighbours.
At this point we leave behind the name Springboard for Faith. We
have already jumped on the springboard, and now we are 'taking off' or
'diving in'. We want to offer the chance to find out a bit more about the
historic source of our faith, and the way it relates to our everyday life,
with no obligation to immediate commitment. The headline for this phase is
something like 'Come and see'.
Exactly what form it takes is up to you. We shall be looking again at
the discussion questions, and re-shaping them to suit people coming from
outside a church background. Beyond that, we are not expecting a tidy
unified scheme. The video and discussion material could be used in
- Some groups could hold 5 or 6 weekly gatherings, on the same lines as
the programme we have just finished;
- or you could watch 2 sections of the video in each session,
completing the whole thing in 3 weeks, and using as many of the
discussion pointers as you like;
- or just invite a couple of friends to watch the whole 60 minutes of
the video story, and see what discussion flows naturally out of it;
- or you might like to lend a copy of the video to someone, and perhaps
talk it over when they return it;
- or perhaps you have got another idea.
WHEN - any time between 1st May and 31st October this year.
Whichever day, whichever time of day suits you.
WHERE - in your own home, or someone else's; or if you fancy
inviting someone to a meeting on neutral ground, we could probably arrange
one in St Nicolas' Church Room or perhaps elsewhere.
Whatever way you choose, you won't be on your own. You'd almost
certainly want to team up with a few others from Springboard for Faith
to form the nucleus of a group as well as some neighbours who aren't
regular churchgoers. And if you don't feel up to leading discussion
yourself, we can find someone. And in any case, we'll be there to back you
up before and during the time your group is running.
If you weren't able to come to Springboard for Faith you need not
feel left out of the outreach programme. Buy or borrow the video, and when
you have watched it yourself, consider how you might invite someone else to
see it. The title is Jesus Today, Tomorrow, Forever?, and the price
is £10, available from Wesley Owen Books.
Talk about it. Think about it. Pray about it.
If you are willing to host a group, or lead one, or are just interested,
join us for a short meeting on Wednesday 17th April in St Nicolas' Church
Room, from 8.15 to 9.30, (coffee served from 8 o'clock).
Saturday 2nd March was the day upon which the Prestbury Ministry
Leadership Team (Linda Biggs, Peter Brown, Margaret Compton, Fr Michael,
Beryl Elliott, John Elliott, Fr Stephen, Margaret Holman, Sylvia McKenzie,
Jerry Porter and Sue Read) were to receive the Bishop's mandate at
Gloucester Cathedral. This was the culmination of two years of training
during which we worked through the six core training modules produced by
the Local Ministry office and attended various Local Ministry days and
weekend residentials (all to be completed before mandating).
The day started at 10 am when we gathered with other teams from around
the diocese. Five including ourselves were to be newly mandated, the other
four were to have their mandate renewed. There was excitement in the air as
we met in the Chapter House with the friends that we had made throughout
our training and looked forward to the Mandating Service (or was it because
we were sat in Harry Potter's classroom!). After the initial get together a
quiet morning of reflection and preparation began, led by an old friend of
Prestbury, Elizabeth Vooght, now a member of the Thornbury Local Ministry
Team, using vision, music and word. The morning gave us all a chance to
step back from the rush of every day life and prepare ourselves for the
afternoon. We then took a short break, which was very welcome as by now we
had all become very cold, before gathering in the Cathedral where Barbara
Merrick (Local Ministry Officer) took us through our paces for the
afternoon. This was followed by lunch at which we were joined by the Bishop
and Archdeacon. (We were worried at this point that Fr Stephen was going to
miss lunch as he was still sitting in his car trying to get warm.)
We were now ready to make our way back into the Cathedral where all our
friends, family and congregation were gathering ready for the service that
was based on the theme 'baptism'. After the processional hymn the Bishop
welcomed the congregation and then led us in prayer. The readings, by Local
Ministry facilitators, were taken from Isaiah and the Gospel of St Luke.
The Bishop then preached, reiterating the fact that all God's people were
called to minister. It is however the role of the Ministry Teams to lead,
co-ordinate, encourage and enable the work and witness of all God's people
in the church and the world. It was then time for the actual mandating of
the Teams. Barbara Merrick presented the teams to be newly mandated:
Fairford; Coney Hill; Painswick, Sheepscombe and Cranham with The Edge,
Pitchcombe, Harescombe and Brookthorpe; Thornbury; and ourselves. The
Bishop gave his mandate to each team one by one with the words 'It is a joy
to mandate you as the Local Ministry Team of ...'. The teams of Chipping
Sodbury and Old Sodbury; Dursley; South Cerney with Cerney Wick and Down
Ampney; and Westbury with Flaxley and Blaisdon were now presented to the
Bishop to receive renewal of their mandate. After the intercessions, led by
another Local Ministry facilitator, and the Bishop's blessing the service
concluded with a rendition of 'Colours of Day'.
All present agreed that it really had been a joyous occasion and the
beginning of an exciting episode in the life of the Parish of Prestbury.
A Celebration of Ministry
On the 2nd March 2002 Gloucester Cathedral was bursting at the seams,
(350 people were expected, 450 were there) to participate in the mandating
ceremony of five Local Ministry Teams (one of which was our own Prestbury
Team) and four teams renewing their Mandate.
The teams were seated in semi-circles on opposite sides of the main
aisle, in the centre of the Cathedral. The Bishop moved slowly along each
line, giving every member of each team their Mandate.
There was a great sense of anticipation in different parts of the
congregation, as 'their' Team stepped forward to receive their mandate.
The whole ceremony had a strong spiritual feeling to it; and at the end
there was a celebratory air, with people milling about everywhere, cameras
flashing and a final farewell handshake from the Bishop for nearly every
member of the congregation.
On a wintry day at the end of February we ate our picnic lunch by the
river watching the London Eye creep slowly round. It seemed not to be
moving unless compared carefully with nearby buildings. Occasionally it
really did stop, but only momentarily. (This was to allow wheelchair
access; all other passengers have to step across the gap while the wheel is
turning.) We walked across the bridge, collected our tickets and 'flew' for
half an hour. As we rose above the rooftops it was tempting to start
photographing, but the view is better higher, and higher still, except for
St Paul's, which is most impressive at the moment when it dominates the
skyline. For a long time the giant hub of the wheel was above us, then
abreast, then at last we were higher. It was strangely exciting to see
other cars above us, then only one car, and finally to realise that we were
now at the top. The view is wonderful and far-reaching, and the Eye moves
so slowly that there is ample time to gaze in all directions. Of course,
then we had to come down again, with slight feelings of regret, but that is
life: the experience, however brief, of being up there is worth it.
In the evening we went to The Mysteries, a vibrant musical sung
and danced by a South African company, whose Musical Director is Charles
Hazlewood (formerly of Prestbury!). All the actors spoke or sang in their
mother tongue: Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and many others not listed
in the programme. The musical instruments were large oil drums, upturned
plastic dustbins and the actors' voices. At Creation the empty world filled
up audibly rather than visibly, and every imaginary animal coaxed into
Noah's ark could be heard clearly - birds, elephants ...
The play took us from the Fall of Lucifer right through to Pentecost.
The first half ended with the birth of baby Jesus with all the joy and
horror immediately surrounding it. After the interval God became Jesus (the
same actor played both parts) so simply that it was quite breathtaking, and
of course brought home the realisation that he is not two people, but one.
There is much in this play to jolt us out of our prejudices, for example
we might try to identify ourselves (in my case English-speaking,
white-skinned and fairly well-dressed) with Jesus in the trial before
Pilate, Pilate being the representative of the occupying forces of the
Roman Empire. But this Jesus was not white, spoke a language I did not
understand and wore ragged jeans, while Pilate was dressed immaculately in
British naval uniform and spoke impeccable English. I found it humbling to
have to identify culturally with the 'enemy' rather than with Jesus.
Other preconceived ideas about God were similarly challenged: for
example Noah and his family were all dancing around in the ark after the
flood, singing a catchy song, when God walked on stage. They all shushed
each other and stood sheepishly waiting to hear what he had to say; but he
too started dancing and beating time with a stick on an empty wine bottle,
so they all joined in even more enthusiastically than before!
Do go and see The Mysteries if you can. It is running until May
18th at the Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.
In 1997 Bishop David told the Deanery clergy that the Diocese could no
longer afford 'industrial chaplaincy'. He suggested that clergy should
consult with the industries in their parishes to see if there were any ways
in which we could offer help. I wrote to Mr Gillespie at Cheltenham
Racecourse, received a warm welcome, and since then have attempted to give
some basic support to full time staff and to be present on race days. So
last month I was at the three-day Festival.
Festival days involve arriving early for the briefing and to meet with
members of St John Ambulance and the Red Cross who will be on duty.
I then usually walk around the tented shopping village to meet
stall-holders, and then the hospitality marquees and viewing lounges to
meet catering and security staff and hosts. I hope that a Church presence
demonstrates that we are concerned for all people. It has certainly led to
discussion and to requests and referrals for ministry.
Part of my role is to be a support to people, families and friends in
the hopefully unusual event of a major medical incident, occasionally
inevitable with 50,000 race-goers each day. Issued with an intercom radio,
I am able to be reached throughout the day. It means being at the course
for 9 or 10 hours, and I return home ready for an armchair. However, on two
nights this year I spent the evenings visiting parishioners in the general
hospital, and the third chairing our PCC meeting.
I am able to share in the excitement and enjoyment of the best three
days of steeple-chase racing in the world. Either you do or you don't - and
Gold Cup Parking
Many thanks to Fred and John in the car park at St Nicolas' during Gold
Cup Week and to Gillian and her team in the kitchen who made and served
refreshments. Altogether they raised £922, which has been given to
the Renewal Appeal.
Don't forget that church has two cassette tapes available to be borrowed
for a period of a few weeks at a time. They are the gospel according to St
Mark and the gospel according to St Luke. It is good to have a chance to
hear the familiar stories and they really come alive when read by a
See Kathy Beacham at St Mary's or Sue Read at St Nicolas'.
At the well attended Parish Annual Meeting and Vestry Meeting held in
St Mary's Church on Sunday 17 March, Ken Bradbury and Jerry Porter were
elected to be Churchwardens and Eileen Jones and Peter Attwood were elected
to be Assistant Wardens with special responsibility for St Nicolas'.
The two new members of the Parochial Church Council are Jackie Moles and
Marion Beagley. Doreen Morris, Kay Porter, Margaret Compton and Liz
Greenhow were elected as representatives to the Deanery Synod.
Grateful thanks were extended to members who had completed their terms
of office, and to the Treasurers, clergy and, of course, Bob Lyle, who has
served for over forty years as Churchwarden.
Kay Porter, PCC Secretary
Yes, we are making progress, if rather more slowly than we had hoped.
A brief history. About a year ago we thought we were close to
awarding a contract for the work to be done and had authorisation from the
PCC for the expected expenditure. After protracted negotiations however the
agreement between the architect and the main contractor broke down in May.
Subsequently three local building firms were invited to tender, but by
September these had all declined the work. It was then proposed that we
appoint project managers to bring together the various subcontracts; this
approach was approved in December.
The current situation. The Fabric Committee, under the authority
of the PCC, have appointed a firm of Chartered Surveyors to act as project
managers. They have been busy removing odd ceiling tiles to determine
asbestos content (thankfully none!) and to allow a structural engineer to
inspect the girders on which the new ceiling will have to be fixed. The
object of this exercise is to determine exactly what problems we shall
encounter before work begins.
Unfortunately the cost has been escalating due to delays beyond our
control and the discovery that we shall have to pay VAT at the full 17.5%
(we had based earlier estimates on a reduced rate, but this is only
applicable to listed churches and St Nicolas is not of sufficient
architectural interest to warrant listing). As a consequence we are now
likely to be seeking compromises to save money and the PCC have directed us
to look at cheaper options for the ceiling, e.g. plain wood boarding rather
than the horizontal stepped design originally proposed (the less favoured
alternative is to keep the ceiling as designed but leave out the new
heating and flooring).
The future. We are still not in a position to let contracts, tell
you the final cost or announce a start date for the work, but hope to do so
shortly. Once started the project is likely to take about four months to
It has been brought to the attention of the MLT that how the chalice is
currently administered at St Nicolas' (one chalice to each half of the
communion rail) may not be the most appropriate and can lead to a degree of
confusion. So to try to improve the situation we shall (with effect from
May when a new rota is due to begin) administer two by two with both
assistants moving together around the whole of the communion rail behind
the priest after the host is administered.
The MLT are in the process of reviewing the question of pastoral care
within the parish. As a first project we are setting up a hospital visiting
scheme. We have approached a number of people, including those who
expressed an interest in hospital/sick visiting when filling in their 'Time
and Talent' form in 1999. We would be delighted to hear from any others who
might be interested. We are planning to have a meeting of all interested
people towards the end of this month - look out for date, time and venue in
a forthcoming Weekly News Sheet. Also, we hope to arrange some training by
the Diocese a little later in the year.
Of course we need to know who would like to be visited! Pastoral Care is
the responsibility of us all so we ask all parishioners to help us in this
task by bringing to our attention any who may be sick or who have family
and friends who are due to go into hospital and would like a visit. We can
then make the appropriate arrangements, if required.
We will keep you informed as plans for this and other areas of parish
development begin to unfold.
Please feel free to get in touch with any of the
members of the MLT.
Margaret Holman, Jerry Porter
We held our Annual General Meeting in the tower on the evening of
Tuesday 5th March 2002 at 8.30 pm after some ringing practice. At this
meeting we thanked Janet Covey-Crump for being our Tower Captain for the
last ten years and we presented her with a present and some flowers. She
had decided to step down as Tower Captain. We elected Mary Lynch, who has
rung at the tower for many years, as our new Tower Captain. Jenni Scruton
remains in her position as Tower Secretary and Treasurer. David Lynch is
the new Steeplekeeper. He replaces Jonathan Sweetman. Our thanks to all our
ringers for all their efforts over the past twelve months.
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's (MMMSM)
Our new season of mid-morning music in St Mary's church
opens with concerts in May and June featuring pupils from Dean Close
School. On Wednesday 15th May there will be a recital of Ensemble music
(Trios and Quartets). On Wednesday 19th June the concert will consist of
Piano and Violin Solos. On both occasions coffee will be served at 10.30am
and the music will start at 11 o'clock. As in past years there will a
retiring collection in aid of church funds.
St Mary's Church Spring Cleaning - Friday 26th &
Saturday 27th April
Please help brush those cobwebs away on Friday evening
26th April from 4.30pm and sweep up the mess on Saturday 27th April from
10am; long-handled brushes are available but please bring your own dusters,
polish, ladders etc. Refreshments will be provided. See you then.
Calling All Bake Stall Contributors
After Easter we would like to experiment for three months
(April, May and June) by dispensing with the reminders. We invite members
to contribute to the stall on any (or all!) of the dates:- April 21st,
May 19th, June 16th, i.e. the third Sunday in the month.
Linda & Margaret
Sunday Refreshments at St Mary's
Thank you for your continued support for this venture.
Since our contribution to 'Cheltenham Open Door' at Christmas, we have made
a profit of £100 which we are donating to St Mary's heating fund.
Bible Study Groups
We shall continue our fortnightly studies of the Acts of
the Apostles; chapter 17 on 10th & 11th April; and chapter 18 on 24th &
25th April. Please see pewsheet for venues. We start at 8pm, and usually
finish at about 9.30. For more details please contact Sue Read or Kathy
Rockers' Half-Hour and the London Marathon
On Sunday 14th April one of our Rockers' mothers
will be running in the London Marathon to raise money towards sending young
people from Gloucestershire on Outward Bound® personal development
Rockers' summer term starts on Thursday 18th April
at 2 o'clock in St Mary's church. All people caring for pre-school children
are welcome to bring them to this informal service consisting of action
songs, a bible story, tea and toys.
Let the Children Live!
We are forming a group to raise funds for
Let the Children Live! a charity which
supports street children in Colombia. If you are interested in joining us
please contact Molly Campbell.