For Christians Ash Wednesday means the beginning of Lent - a time when we give concentrated and careful
thought to the personal self-discipline needed to develop our discipleship to make it stronger and tough
enough to withstand the demands which are put on it. Lent is the period when we aim to make our commitment to
the Gospel more total and complete.
Yet just at the moment to write about such things is hazardous. Everything we are planning today may well
be overtaken by events. We have been given a warning by some that tomorrow (14 February) could mark a definite
turning point in world affairs from peace towards war. If that happens, these sentences will almost certainly
prove to be inadequate and perhaps hopelessly shallow. A very dark shadow lengthens around us and we have been
warned that this heightened state of alert is likely to remain in place not only for the weekend of the
present Muslim religious festival but much, much longer; perhaps for years to come.
So this year's observance of Lent is bound to be different and difficult for anyone who takes it seriously.
The Christian world with its ancient customs and inspiring teachings seems more and more like life on another
planet, hardly touching the world we see daily on TV and read about in the media. But there is a link - a
vital connection in fact - for Lent too has a dark shadow at its centre. The shadow which lengthens as the
weeks go by is of course the cross. We believe the death of Jesus marks the all-pervasive and irreversible
turning point in world history. A crucified Jew from long ago is the saviour of all humankind. At times that
sounds an arrogant and preposterous claim, which in many contexts it is. So Lent is provided to give us time
specifically to deepen our understanding of its truth. But then truth is as much something which grasps us as
something we struggle to grasp.
Brother Roger of Taizé asks this question in one his letters, 'if you want to carry a fire right into the
darkest nights of humanity, will you let an inner life grow deep within you?' Lent is a time of interior
growth but there is nothing private about it. Few realise that it may be hidden but its power is very public
and can bring enormous changes to the world around us. Another contemplative, Thomas Merton, points in the
same direction, 'we have to remember that we look for solitude in order to grow there in love for God and in
love for others. We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them: we do not leave
them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good.'
No one quite knows what we shall be facing between now and Easter but, however events turn out, there is
nothing which cannot be coped with better when we contemplate the death of Jesus and the cross which brought
it about. More: whatever happens, still there is nothing which can separate from the love of God which we know
in Christ Jesus our Lord - if only we take up our own cross and follow him.
Malcolm McKelvey came to Prestbury having retired as Director of Music at Christ's Hospital, a post he had
held with distinction for well over 20 years. No words can express our gratitude for the contribution that he
has made to the worship and life of our parish over the past thirteen years. Sadly, illness has meant that he
should now take a less active part in the musical life of the parish. This is a tremendous loss to us.
Malcolm is invariably kind, supportive and encouraging to all who come into contact with him. He is an
instinctive accompanist of worship, a rare ability that springs from his faith. He has inspired so very many
He has been a wonderful support and friend to all the parish clergy.
He has trained and encouraged very many choristers. Together with the number of his pupils, their names
would probably fill this magazine. Many have gone on to distinguished musical careers; many others would give
thanks for the profound enjoyment of music that he helped them to discover.
Visiting singers and instrumentalists invariably comment on his sympathetic accompaniment.
Malcolm has always been so very strongly supported by Christine, whose own musical contributions have
contributed greatly to the life of the parish. He directed both Musica Vera and the Prestbury Camerata -
choirs that have brought enjoyment to very many.
Eagerly anticipated choir outings, usually to cathedral cities, have always been meticulously planned. In
every place, Malcolm has contacts and friends, and their welcome of the Prestbury visitors always enhanced the
We have delighted in his compositions: organ works, settings for the Eucharist, settings for psalms, hymn
tunes. I once mentioned to Malcolm that I found the traditional tune, Ratisbon, rather dreary for Wesley's
majestic 'Christ whose glory fills the skies'. Within a week he arrived at the Vicarage door with a hymn tune
he had written - appropriately named 'Viveash' - and now we would sing it to no other.
The PCC have asked Malcolm to accept the title of Music Director Emeritus. He holds a place of special
honour and huge affection amongst us.
We give thanks for the very special ministry of this good and extremely modest servant of God.
On Saturday 15 March at St Mary's church, we shall celebrate Malcolm's contribution as Director of
Music. There will be a service of thanksgiving, beginning at 6pm. Then some of his former pupils will
entertain us. Afterwards we shall have a party and make a formal presentation to Malcolm. Do come. Everyone is
Preparations for the 2003 Christian Aid Week are already gathering steam - and this year we are appealing
for more people than ever before to volunteer their help!
The long-standing Christian Aid representatives for the parish, Gill and Paddy, have been working with the
Mission & Outreach team to find helpers who may be willing to take on a task in the coming weeks, and during
Christian Aid Week itself - could you be among them?
Top of our 'wish-list' is that both new and existing volunteers will come forward this year to help with
door-to-door collecting. This is a very straightforward job that involves delivering envelopes to houses in
one road just before Christian Aid Week begins, and then collecting those envelopes during the Week itself.
There is also a great need for people who may be able to take on the job of 'local co-ordinator' to
organise collecting in a small area of the parish. A typical area consists of about 10 streets, and we ask you
to find enough door-to-door collectors to cover your allocated 'patch'. Lots of information and support is
available to local co-ordinators - why not talk to Gill or Paddy to find out more?
In Prestbury we strive to push an envelope through the door of every home in every street, road, cul-de-sac
and avenue! It is an enormous task for a few people - but with more volunteers this enormous task could be
lightened, and could be enormous fun! It would be wonderful to have enough people to work in pairs during the
door-to-door collection - indeed, this is something that Christian Aid actively encourages.
Please pray about Christian Aid Week and the preparations, and think about the part you could play.
All offers of help - even an hour here or there - gratefully received!
Caroline Sexton, Mission & Outreach Committee
Since November the children at Rockers have been tracking four-year-old William's journey round the world.
In November William and his parents flew to Bangkok, Thailand, and then spent a week at the seaside in Hua
Hin. 'It is VERY HOT!' says the email. They settled into a routine of going to the beach
for a quick paddle first thing - warm, clear water and lots of little crabs to chase and bury in the sand -
then back for a breakfast of banana pancakes. The bananas are very small, very yellow and taste of vanilla.
A visit to an elephant orphanage was exciting.
William thought the big ones a bit too big but enjoyed feeding the little one bananas. Elephants are hairy,
all covered in two-inch prickles.
Back in Bangkok, William enjoyed a ride on a boat up the Chao Prya River, passing temples and houses on
stilts, some modern ones looking really luxurious.
Next stop was Hong Kong where William met his uncle and family. One day they had a lovely walk down from a
monastery and through a forest. Another walk went through the Botanical Gardens to the zoo, where a visitor
was feeding chips to an orang-utan!
Then William had a really long day on an aeroplane via Singapore to Perth in Australia. During his stay in
Perth he went to a park where he could stroke and feed kangaroos, and to a zoo where there were more
He also went camping for a
few days in the Margaret River winery area. The campsite was full of trees and a possum feeding up a tree was
dropping twigs on everyone! Later on a kangaroo bounced past. William's Dad took part in a Triathlon and came
third in his age group. He also enjoyed a hot day watching cricket at the WACA - England v Sri Lanka.
William spent Christmas in Canberra, staying with his aunt and family. It was really weird going to the
local church for the children's carol and Nativity service in summer clothes and sandals! Father Christmas
managed to track William down and he enjoyed opening cards and presents from people here in the UK. Christmas
afternoon was spent by the pool and William and all his new friends enjoyed splashing around.
During January William travelled along the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide and celebrated
his fourth birthday with a trip to Adelaide Zoo. Then on to Tasmania for a lovely week with his Grandma, who
had flown out from England. (It was usually Grandma who brought William to Rockers.) The latest email says:
'She and William have hardly left each other's side.'
Frances Murton, rockersprestbury.net
Following Raymund Waker's article 'Experience
China - China Experience' in the February Magazine, I would like to ask all those who visit China with a
tour company to remember that the places they visit, food they eat, hotels they stay in, etc are chosen by
that company with the main aim of trying to suit Western tourists' tastes.
My son and daughter-in-law live in Shanghai. It is the second largest city in the World, with 17 million
residents, vast, varied and cosmopolitan. In 1990 it was made an Economic Development Zone and has undergone a
massive building boom since then. I am sorry that Mr Waker's tour company does not seem to have taken him
beyond these development areas, for instance, to see the rich interiors of some of the magnificent old
European-style buildings along The Bund waterfront or around the areas which were British, Russian and
French-owned trading concessions in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Nor, it seems, did they give him a chance to visit one of the many well-stocked local produce markets, in
streets and market halls in the traditional Chinese residential areas, which are still widespread but
regrettably disappearing fast. He could have bought the ingredients to make his own really tasty dumplings!
Nor was he able to watch, or even join in, the kite flying, ballroom dancing, choral singing, calligraphy, Tai
Chi or any of the other activities in one of the many lovely parks, where caged songbirds are taken for
outings on sunny days.
It is not only impossible, as a tourist, to get the true flavour of Shanghai, it is also difficult to
comprehend just how many different Chinese peoples there are, with their regional languages, local dishes,
unique spices, spectacular costumes and ancient customs. Some of them were making fine porcelain when we were
trying out recipes for woad!
I would recommend everyone to visit China, but, please, do so with an open mind and don't blame China and
the Chinese people for the inevitable shortcomings of tour operators!
Further details are now emerging of the Bank Holiday weekend of celebrations for the
completion of the work at St Nicolas'.
On Saturday 3 May, the church will be open from 12 noon and
will contain displays of the history of St Nicolas' Church, the restoration work and current activities
associated with the Church and Hall. There will also be a Fete in the grounds and ploughman's lunches will be
At 4.00pm there will be a Thanksgiving Service which will be
attended by the Bishop of Gloucester, the Mayor of Cheltenham and representatives of those who have been
working on the building.
On Sunday 4 May, there will be a Thanksgiving Eucharist at
9.30am and then the church will be open for visitors. Cream teas will be served during the afternoon and there
will be musical entertainment. At 6.30pm, both choirs will sing Choral Evensong.
On Monday 5 May, the Church will again be open during the
afternoon. There will be a barbecue at 5.00pm followed by a Talent Show organised by members of the Parish
As you can see, there will be lots happening, so make sure you have the weekend booked in
your diaries and let other people know all about it!
The Parish Annual Meeting
This will be held on Sunday 6 April at 6.30pm in St Mary's Church. Please be
considering whom you might wish to nominate to serve on the PCC. Nomination forms will be available in both
Is anyone in possession of a wheelchair which is no longer required? If so, would you be
prepared to loan or donate it to St Mary's Church where we could make very good use of it? Please speak to
Jean Axton or to one of the Churchwardens.
Many hands make light work!
Helpers desperately needed for churchyard tidy-up and church spring-clean at St Mary's on
Saturday 29 March from 10am. Bring light tools if you can. Free coffee. Fish-&-chip (shop) lunch for all
who order by 11am.
Iain Godden, former choirboy, server and sacristan at St
Nicolas', is running the London Marathon on 13 April raising money for Dreams, which provides
treats for terminally ill children. If anyone would like to sponsor Iain please contact his mother, Marion, at