'How time flies!' The summer holidays have been and gone and September
brings the beginning of a new school year. Please remember in your prayers
all those who are involved in the education of our children and young
people. Pray for our local schools: St Mary's Infant and Junior Schools and
Pittville School - for their pupils, staff, helpers and governors. As we
think of those from our congregations who serve as governors we give thanks
for all they do on our behalf in the schools which we support.
September also sees the start of a new term for our Sunday School at St
Mary's and Sunday Club at St Nicolas'. Please pray for the children who
will attend, for their Christian nurture and especially for those dedicated
volunteers who lead this vital work with our children.
And in September our various Youth Groups restart - Twilight Zone, The
Space and Synergy. This September a new group begins, called 'Elevate',
which is a group for younger members - those in their first couple of years
at secondary school - which will be run along similar lines to Synergy,
looking at faith issues. Please pray for all the young people we will be in
contact with through these groups and for all those who give so generously
of their time and talents as youth leaders.
As we pray for our Youth Work, we must not forget to give thanks for
Andy Macauly and for all that he has brought to this area of nurture and
outreach. Time has certainly flown by, because Andy is now into his third
year with us! What that means is that we are now urgently seeking ways to
ensure that all this excellent work can be continued after May 2003. We
hope and pray that we will be able to continue to employ a full-time Youth
Worker (Andy if he'll stay!), but that will depend on securing a large
amount of finance. We will need between £25,000 and £30,000 each year
if we are to carry the work on.
We will be applying to as many potential sources of funding as we can,
but we will also need to have some funding already secured. Last time we
had almost £18,000 through the Diocese, but that source is not available to
us this time and we know that we face a tough challenge.
But if we approach this challenge with faith and a huge
amount of prayer, we must believe that God will bless us and all that we
are attempting in His name. Please pray and please let us know of any
potential source of funding that you might be aware of.
'Self-admiration is the death of the soul. To admire ourselves as
we are is to have no wish to change. And with those who don't want to
change, the soul is dead.' (William Barclay)
'In a higher world it is otherwise but here below to live is to
change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.' (John Henry Newman)
'If it ain't broke don't fix it.' (My Dad)
I wonder what you think of change?
In my life at the moment it seems as though change is everywhere. By the
time you read this article, Sharon and I should have moved to Cheltenham,
and hopefully you should see more of us both, as people. We are
particularly looking forward to worshipping together in Prestbury.
There is much change within the youth work too. We are starting a new group for Year 7
and 8 called 'Elevate' - a chance for young people to explore faith through
discussions and creative activities. There will be changes in leadership -
Sharon Macauly will be taking on the role of Team Leader for Synergy as a
volunteer, while Emma Bradley will be Assistant Team Leader for The Space.
A number of other volunteer workers (both adults and young people) will be
starting in September. These changes and the ongoing contribution of all
the volunteers to the youth work will contribute to the diversity,
creativity and relevance of the work we undertake.
It is also a time of change for many young people as they move from one
school to another school or college. Please pray for all those with the
challenge of learning in a new environment and of getting to know new
friends. Please also pray for young people as they move up into new groups
- that there would be a real sense of welcome and co-operation.
Change is definitely all around us, but I wonder if the writers quoted
above had a different kind of change in mind. Perhaps they were thinking
about a change which was not so much about events around us but more about
our relationship with God. It is this change, most of all, which we strive
for in ourselves and in those we meet.
Youth web pages
I have been asked to write a few words about my ordination training. I
suppose the first thing to say is that it is two years down and one to go.
By this time next year I shall have been ordained deacon in the Parish of
Prestbury for just over a month. Scarey!
So what have I been up to? Well, as you can imagine, most of it is
attending lectures and producing assignments. Not the most exciting things
to write about really. However, one or two of the lecture courses have been
particularly good and I feel very privileged to have been able to attend
them. Almost without exception the good ones have involved studying the
Bible. Would you believe that we studied the Old Testament in the first
half of the term and the New Testament in the second? Not in depth, of
course, but it served to give the whole picture - a sketch really. Now we
can gradually fill in the details. It has really brought the Bible to life
- not that I ever considered it dead before, but now I see it with new
glasses. The other lecturing highlight was the course on the Psalms. I have
always had an affinity for the Psalms, but never quite knew why. Well now I
have a much better idea, and I love them all the more for it.
I suppose I ought to mention the fact that we have done courses on
Salvation, Doctrine, Church History, the Reformation, Liturgy and, of
course, Theology. I have to admit I am not your A1 student on most of
those, although the Reformation was quite exciting.
We also have a number of residential weekends on a variety of topics
throughout the year, usually two a term. These can be especially
enlightening as the whole weekend, including the worship, is geared to the
topic being studied. The days are long with Morning Prayer starting around
7.30am and Evening Prayer finishing around 9.30pm and a full schedule,
apart from an after lunch break, in between.
Then there is Easter School. For the last two years this has started on
Easter Sunday and finished the following Sunday. It is really gruelling
with each day as full as the residential weekend days except Thursday,
which is a quiet day. Oh what joy! There are lectures each day and group
projects built up throughout the week. The outcome of these can be a
'Theological Model' made out of lego, bits of string etc, to illustrate our
thoughts on the topic we have been working on all week or an act of drama
to do the same thing. Either way it is quite a challenge. Thank goodness
there is usually someone with an initial idea, someone ready to plan the
operation, someone to lead and ready and able hands do whatever is
required. The whole task then becomes quite fun. At the end of the week
there is the review. Anybody can take part and there is no pressure to do
so either way. I couldn't resist it. I have done my bit there - never fear.
I even rewrote the words to the Beatles 'Lady Madonna' and performed my
masterpiece solo and unaccompanied. My words generally took the micky out
of the lecturers - isn't it funny how students always do that! - so they
were very well received.
The other activities we have are Placements, which are generally
longer-term tasks. The first one is a Social Placement - mine was in Bay
Tree Court. I had to spend up to twenty hours talking to the residents. I
then had to produce a diary of my conversations and a report reflecting
'theologically' on what I had heard. Where is God in that place? My report
was marked in the normal way and I was then asked to do a thirty minute
presentation on the 'Theology of Growing Old'. There were ten of us making
presentations, so with discussion after each one, the whole process took
another residential weekend to complete. Very gruelling but very
enlightening. Others covered such places as the Law Courts, an
undertaker's, a factory and the council rubbish tip.
My next Placement is my Parish Placement. This starts on September 8th
and lasts for two months. I shall be working in the Parish of St Luke's
under the wing of Mike Lodge the vicar. At the end of that there is another
residential weekend reporting back on our findings. See you all again
towards the end of November.
Springboard has been a nationwide project. Every parish was asked to
think about its responsibility for mission, and to take at least one new
step in its own local outreach. In Prestbury the Springboard story began in
Lent 2001 and will finish this autumn as we conclude this year's programme
based around the video of the Cheltenham Passion Play. Springboard is
coming to an end, but outreach will go on.
We can look back on very real achievements over the past 18 months:
- Lent 2001: 'Growing New Christians'. Small groups addressed
questions about how people come to faith, and which age-groups and areas
in Prestbury most need our effort.
- Lent 2002: Five very enjoyable evenings in the Infant School, with an
unprecedented number of participants. Discussion, sharing and listening
based on the video. New contacts and friendships among our own and other
congregations. Sensitive and helpful guidance from a new team of group
leaders. Memorable celebration supper.
- Palm Sunday: Procession through a large part of the village, with a
short service at the War Memorial. Participation of staff, parents and
pupils at St Mary's schools.
- Good Friday: Processional act of worship from Capel Court via Mill
Street to St Mary's, followed all the way by a large audience, many from
outside our congregations, who also continued into St Mary's to witness
the closing scenes.
- Thanks to these two open air events, many people in the parish are
more aware of their local church.
- Over the summer, and continuing, individual contacts with neighbours.
More planned for early autumn.
- Overall, a new awareness of what mission means in a village or
suburban situation, and of our individual responsibility. Honest
recognition of the problems, - and of our own inadequacies.
All in all, a good start. Was it good enough? Could we have done more?
Perhaps it was good enough IF this turns out to be the start of a much
bigger story. Many of us still shrink from 'Mission'; we'd like to leave it
to bolder characters than us. But in reality, the Good News is often spread
by small acts and quiet words. Anyone can do it. To start with -
- Don't underestimate the small practical tasks that are part of
outreach. Deliver Christmas and Easter cards in your street. Take a turn
as steward or welcomer when the church is open for a Flower Festival or
- for your neighbours,
- for those who work in your local shops and pubs,
- for the people you greet in the street.
- Pray for them by name if you know it, but pray for them anyway; they
are already known to God.
- Be ready to use words at the right moment, (and there will be a right
moment, when you least expect it). 'Do not worry beforehand about what
you will say, but when the time comes say whatever is given you to say;
for it will not be you that speak, but the Holy Spirit.' (Mark 13:11)
The most northerly bell tower in Britain is at Haroldswick Methodist
Church on the island of Unst in Shetland.
On alternate Sundays the service is in the morning or the evening and
although I was on Unst on a Sunday it was the wrong sort to hear the bell
Read Anthony's description of
the bells in our parish
I was weeding the vegetable garden one day in the middle of July when
there was no magazine to edit, and I was reflecting on the various 'garden'
analogies in the Bible. God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine and we are
the branches (John 15:1-8), God is the gardener, his word is the seeds and
we are the soil (Matthew 13:3-9,18-23), to mention just two, and then I
thought of this:
Once there was a gardener who had many different gardens. In some he
grew flowers, in others vegetables. He was pleased with this particular
garden - neat straight rows of carrots, leeks and beans were growing where
he had sown seeds. In between the vegetables weeds were sprouting too, but
the gardener knew that regular attention with a hoe would scratch most of
them out before the garden even knew they were there. If he ignored them
they would grow taller and need digging out, so he set to work immediately
with the hoe. Occasionally he came across a deep-rooted dandelion, which he
dug out with a small fork - a slight disturbance for the soil, nothing too
painful. But there was another weed, sometimes visible in long tendrils,
sometimes only a leaf or two peeping through the surface of the soil,
sometimes nothing visible at all - bare earth, seemingly weed-free. The
gardener knew the hoe was useless here: nothing but the largest garden fork
and hours of painstaking deep, earth-turning would clear the garden of this
weed - convolvulus, or bindweed. Carefully digging deep below the surface
he gathered handful after handful of long white root. He dug again in the
same place and revealed yet more root, the tiniest piece of which would
grow again if left.
Yes, that is what I found in my garden that hot July day - bindweed. And
it made me think: God is like a gardener and we are his various gardens.
The carrots and leeks, the pretty flowers and shrubs, are the things in our
lives which God is pleased with, while the weeds are our sins. Regular,
frequent contact with God ensures most sins are dealt with before they take
root. Occasionally something needs a bit of uncomfortable 'digging out',
like the dandelion. But what about the bindweed? Maybe there are other
things in our lives which need God to dig and dig, so deep that it hurts,
again and again, before we are clear.
This is where my analogy breaks down: it is, after all, gardeners who
choose to attend or neglect their gardens, not the other way round. But
with God it is we, the 'gardens', who often neglect our relationship with
him. He does not neglect us, but is always accessible and available, always
willing to sort us out, if only we ask.
How often have you acquired a new gizmo and thought you've got it worked
out how to get it to work (or how to put it together) when you come up
against some glitch and however much you yell at it, or thump it, you
simply can't get it to do what the picture suggests it will do? After
stopping for some tea or coffee and scratching your head a bit, it occurs
to you that just maybe there's something helpful in the uninspiring black
and white booklet that fell out of the box when you tore it open in your
great haste to get the new gadget out and working. So you find your specs
and glance at the small type written in strange English and after a bit you
realise what you've done wrong and so you put it right and "Hey Presto"
it's all up and running as the maker intended.
Can you see a modern day parable here?
If you can, and more especially if you can't, come along and join us as
we refer to the "maker's manual".
Thursday 12th September
Wednesday 25th September
Thursday 10th October
Wednesday 23rd October
All meetings start at 8pm. Further clarification from Sue Read.
'Reaching' - A series of practical workshops to
help develop Christian Ministry amongst older people in our community
Four different workshops are offered, taking place in different areas of
the Diocese. The sessions in Cheltenham will take place at Christchurch,
Malvern Road, as follows:-
||Prayer Life of Older People
||Thursday 19th September
||Worship in Residential Homes
||Thursday 10th October
||Ageing and Spirituality
||Thursday 24th October
||Thursday 14th November
All the sessions begin at 7.00pm with coffee and are free of charge.
This is not a course, so you can choose the number you wish to attend.
If you would like more information, please speak to Fr Michael.
The organisers need to know numbers attending by 12th September.
A day on this subject is being offered by the Spirituality Network for
Gloucestershire. It will take place on Saturday 14th September from 10.00am
- 3.15pm at St Philip & St James Church Centre in Hucclecote. The day costs
£6 and tickets are available from The Revd Pauline Green, cheques payable
to 'Spirituality Network for Gloucestershire'. Bring a packed lunch, drinks
The Spirituality Network runs the Introduction to Spiritual Direction
Course on which Fr Michael is a tutor. Please speak to him for
The current threat to the Noverton environment prompted me to seek the
origin of the name given to these purlieus of Prestbury's 'eastern front',
which others might like to share. The earliest reference to the area given
in James Hodsdon's interesting Historical Gazetteer of Cheltenham (1997)
dates from the 12th century when the Bishop gave land at Prestbury called 'Overtowne'
to Llanthony Abbey. This presumably identifies the 'forty acres of his
fertile Prestbury estate' given by the Bishop of Hereford towards the
upkeep of the refounded Augustinian Priory at Hempstead, near Gloucester,
noted by Lynda Hodges in The Life Story of a Church (St Mary's, Prestbury,
1991). Hodsdon speculates that 'Overtowne' might mean either 'upper
village' in relation, I suppose to the centre of the parish at the Burgage,
or 'the settlement by the bank', as derived, I assume, from 'Over' (from
the German 'Ufer', river bank), of which there are well-known examples in
the county (Over, Ower, etc). But while that would fit the site of the
Priory on the banks of the Severn, I doubt that the modest Noverton Brook,
which trickles sedately through my garden, would ever have formed such a
major feature of the local landscape in Prestbury as to determine its name.
'Upper village' fits the area admirably, however.
Whence Noverton, then? Hodsdon dates the change precisely from 1575 -
William Shakespeare was then 'creeping like a snail, Unwillingly to school'
at Stratford - when some scribe wrongly copied 'atten Overtowne' as 'atte
Novertowne'. And as Noverton it has remained. So did they pronounce it 'Noverton'?
Among other queries which a local historian may be able to settle are
the origin of the 'Cockcroft Lane', particularly as in Twentieth Century
Memories of Prestbury (p.71) Ron Bowles recalls it as 'Leg of Mutton Lane';
and then there are the boundaries of Noverton which the Geographia Street
Plan of the Cheltenham area locates in the fields between Upper Mill Lane
and Queen(s)wood Grove! Does this mean that Noverton encroaches on Southam?
And does it extend up the hill to the limits of the parish boundary at
Drypool Farm? We tend to take our historic patch for granted, but perhaps
Trevor W Hearl
St Nicolas' Renewal - Progress at Last!
We have decamped to the hall, the old ceiling is gone,
lots of scaffolding has appeared and, if you peer between the scaffold
poles, you will see that new ceiling supports are being put in place. There
is still some way to go with the renewal and we are currently predicting
that the church will be handed back to us at the end of October (a slip of
3 weeks due to problems getting scaffolders), after which it will be 2-3
weeks before we can resume services.
Assistant Parish Director of Music &
Organist and Choir Director of St Nicolas'
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Ian
Higginson, FTCL, FLCM, to the above post with effect from 1st October. He
will be well-known to many local people in his capacity as conductor of the
Cheltenham Choral Society.
Church's Ministry Among Jewish People
The above ministry is holding 'The Bible
Comes To Life Exhibition' at St Matthew's Church, Clarence Street, from 5th
to 10th October 2002.
We have been approached by the organiser to
see whether Prestbury would take the responsibility of manning one of the
ten display stands during that week. The times in question are: 14.00-16.30
and 19.00-22.00 respectively. Having taken part in this exhibition many
years ago when it came to Stow on the Wold, I can recommend it to you all
as a very interesting and worthwhile project. If you could help at any of
the sessions during the week I would be very pleased to include you on a
rota. Contact me at St Mary's or Beryl Elliott at St Nicolas'. If you
cannot help I would recommend that you try to visit it whilst it is in
Cheltenham as it gives a very good insight into Judaism.
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
Annual Sponsored Ride and Walk - Saturday 14th September
The 20th Sponsored Ride/Walk will take place on Saturday
14th September. Churches and chapels of all denominations will be open
across the diocese between 10am and 6pm, so you can plan your route through
the town or across the countryside, visiting as many or as few as you like.
If you are unable to participate, then please consider sponsoring someone
else. Half the money raised goes to our own churches, the other half to the
Trust to help any church in the diocese. Further details are available from
Bob Lyle or Nigel Woodcock.
St Mary's Bake Stall
We shall NOT be holding a bake stall in church in
September. Instead we invite everybody to contribute a cake or other baked
item to our cake stall on Saturday 7th September at the Jubilee
Celebrations on Prestbury Pavilion Playing Field.
Linda Matthews & Margaret Waker
The Children's Society
Thank you to all box-holders at St Mary's. The total
collected this year was £432.42.
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's (MMMSM)
Our last concert in St Mary's this season is on Wednesday
25th September, and will be a Violin and 'Cello recital given by Jane and
John Stilwell. Coffee will be served at 10.30am and the music will start at
11 o'clock. There will be a retiring collection in aid of church funds.
Pilgrimage to Rome
Fr Stephen is looking into the possibility of leading a
spiritual visit to some of the early Holy Places probably in mid-February
when it is quiet and the weather usually fairly mild. Please let him know
if you are at all interested.
I am very grateful to Andrea Jackson, who has organised
and led a series of informal Rockers sessions in St Mary's during the
Term starts on Thursday 12th September at 2 o'clock in St
Mary's church. This short informal service is ideal for all people
(parents, grandparents, child-minders) who look after babies and pre-school
children during the day. Come along and join us for a few action songs, a
short bible story, a cup of tea and the opportunity to meet others. We
finish by 2.45pm so that there is time to get to school if you need to meet
Please note that the initial training session being run
by ACCORD will now take place on Tuesday 10 September at 7.15 for 7.30pm in
St Nicolas' Church Room and not on 17 September as given in the July/August