I write this at the end of Easter Day, having just read St John's
account from chapter 20 of his Gospel for the third time. Yet again I was
struck by the detail we are given of this eyewitness account of Jesus'
resurrection. Clearly we are to be in no doubt from this account that Our
Lord Jesus Christ, who was very definitely dead when he was laid in the
tomb, was, by the first Easter morning, very much alive. So, throughout
this Easter season we are glad to continue to make the joyful proclamation,
'Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!'
The role of Mary Magdalene was crucial to the Easter story. Why she
stayed at the tomb when the men - Peter and John - had gone home, we will
never know. Perhaps she was just so distraught with grief that she did not
really know what she was doing. Many of you will be able to identify with
that experience. And yet, it was in the depth of that grief that Jesus came
to her and in a very intimate way called her by name. Mary wanted to rush
to him, but he stopped her and instead she did as he asked and went to tell
others what she now knew: that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead.
How Mary must have been bursting with that good news as she rushed away
from the garden! How it must have poured out of her! How it must have
inspired others, bringing them to also believe and transforming their
The Easter good news has the power to transform our lives too. I think
we have experienced that through the wonderful services we shared in during
Holy Week and Easter. On Maundy Thursday, and then again on Easter Day,
many of us shared in that experience in the 'renewed', or we could say
'transformed', St Nicolas'. The building has been physically renewed and we
will celebrate that renewal over the first weekend of May, but the renewal
campaign was also about personal renewal. I hope that for all who have been
involved there will be a real sense of personal transformation; of growth
in faith; in love for God and for one another.
Whether or not you worship regularly at St Nicolas', everyone has a
right to be proud of what has been achieved, because so many across the
Parish and beyond have contributed in very many different ways. As we
celebrate the renewal of the building, let our celebration also be of our
shared faith. The faith which has the power to transform, to renew. The
faith which is centred in the Easter Gospel; the good news that Jesus
Christ is truly risen, as Mary Magdalene was the first to witness.
New ceiling, new windows, new flooring, new heating - after 10 months'
work at St Nicolas, we're back in church, and it's time to celebrate!
The early May Bank Holiday weekend is full to bursting with a massive
array of events and displays in the church and hall - from the Spring Fair,
to our Thanksgiving Service, to the Youth Groups' talent show.
We are hoping that many people in the surrounding community will want to
find out what has been going on behind the scaffolding and boarded windows.
Please invite your neighbours and friends to come along and see the
finished result - and join the celebrations.
Here's a taste of what is in store from 3rd to 5th May. There really is
something for everyone - so see you all there!
Saturday 3 May
St Nicolas' Spring Fair - 12 noon to 3.30pm
Browse and buy from the toy, bric-a-brac, and book stalls; build up
an appetite on the games and bouncy castle; then relax with a ploughman's
lunch. Not forgetting the chance to win with our celebration raffle!
Thanksgiving Service - 4pm
To be led by the Bishop of Gloucester and attended by the Mayor
of Cheltenham, together with representatives of those who have been
working on the refurbishment and many other visitors.
Sunday 4 May
Thanksgiving Eucharist - 9.30am
The church will then be open to visitors from 11am to 5pm, and during
the afternoon cream teas will be on the menu.
Choral Evensong - 6.30pm
This service will be followed by an Organ recital at approx 7.30pm.
Monday 5 May
An opportunity to shine in the limelight! The Youth Groups are
promising another dose of fun and laughter with a Talent Show at St
Nicolas'. This is a ticket only event - please see members of the youth
groups for details - and starts with a barbecue at 1pm.
Synergy and Elevate are organising the
by the Talent Show as part of the St Nicolas' celebration weekend.
There are still places for performers - whatever your talent! Tickets for
the combined BBQ and Talent Show are also now available: £3 for adults,
£2 concessions, see Jon Lyle, David Smith, Kirsty Walter or Andy Macauly.
Places are limited!
The Scheme which brings into existence the union of our two parishes as
a Team Ministry will be submitted to the Privy Council for approval by Her
Majesty the Queen during May. This means that (subject to her approval!)
the Scheme comes into operation on 1 June 2003.
What does that mean? We will become one benefice, and be known as 'The
Prestbury and All Saints' Team Ministry'. Fr Stephen will become the
Team Rector and Fr Michael the Team Vicar. Fr Paul is already licensed to
both Prestbury and All Saints' as an Assistant Priest (House for Duty). He
will be licensed to the new Team. Grant Bayliss and Peter Brown will both
be licensed as Deacons to the Team Ministry when they are ordained on 29
June. Peter, as a member of the Prestbury Ministry Leadership Team, will
mostly exercise his ordained ministry in Prestbury. All Saints' are
currently exploring Local Ministry and it is expected that they will form
their own Ministry Leadership Team made up of members of their
The Scheme provides for our two parishes to remain distinct and so we
shall retain our two separate PCCs. This means that in many ways people
will not notice many differences, although it is hoped that we will soon
discover that there are things which it is good for the two parishes to do
Fr Stephen and Fr Michael will continue to be in Prestbury on alternate
Sunday mornings as far as possible. They will also continue to take
responsibility for different areas of Parish life, extending these
responsibilities to include All Saints'. These areas of responsibility are
|Finance, Stewardship and Fabric
|Mission & Outreach
|Education & Nurture
|Parish Events (our Common-Life)
||Fr Stephen & Fr Michael share this area
||Shared with the
Fr Paul will concentrate mainly on pastoral ministry, although his
expertise will continue to be drawn upon in many different ways! We
continue to be very well served by Fr John Mead and Fr Tim Raphael, both
retired, who take some services and also offer pastoral care. We look
forward to 'fitting' our two new Deacons into this new pattern!
At some point we hope to have a special service to inaugurate the new
Team Ministry - watch this space! In the meantime, please do not hesitate
to ask one of the clergy or a member of the Ministry Leadership Team if you
have any questions about the new Team Ministry.
It has been a great pleasure to have been part of the confirmation
preparation for nine young people from the Parish: James Walter; James
Radburn; Rosie McGowan; Hannah Smith; Eleanor Fagan; Anna Broekman; Lucy
Evans; Charlotte Underwood and Alastair Smith. Together with the rest of
Elevate, we have been looking together at what the Christian faith is all
about and how to put that into practice, with time to share those difficult
I have been struck by the importance of remembering that our faith is a
journey and of keeping on that road. The support and friendship of the
group as they travel together has certainly been vital. We are now looking
forward to a special stage in the journey - the confirmation service. This
will be on the evening of Friday 6 June at Gloucester Cathedral. Please
pray for all those taking this step of confirmation as they continue ever
onwards with God.
On Sunday 29 June Peter will be ordained Deacon at Gloucester Cathedral.
He will be an Ordained Local Minister within the context of the Prestbury
and All Saints' Team Ministry - St Mary's, St Nicolas' & All Saints'. All
Peter's service to the church will be entirely non-stipendiary (i.e.
We should like to provide Peter with the necessary robes - cassock,
surplice, alb, etc. To do so, the four churchwardens would be most grateful
to receive donations.
On Maundy Thursday Her Majesty the Queen presented the Royal Maundy
in Gloucester Cathedral. We are delighted that five people from our
Parish have received this honour: Eileen Jones, Reg Viveash, Jim Moore
and John McKenzie were nominated by the parish, and Raymund Waker by
Congratulations to them all!
Eileen Jones with Fr Stephen
At the well attended Parish Annual Meeting held in St Mary's Church on
Sunday 6th April, 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 new members of the Parochial Church Council are Peter Horne and Jim
The meeting recorded many thanks to those members of the Council who
were ending their service and to the Treasurers, and the meeting also noted
how fortunate the Parish is in having a team of such dedicated and caring
Kay Porter, PCC Secretary
The AGM was held on Friday 11 April 2003 at very short notice in
readiness for the Easter festival. For the first time ever, a Church
Warden, Ken Bradbury, chaired our meeting for the sixteen members who
Last year the charges for wedding flowers had been increased and this
resulted in nearly £200 extra in our bank balance - a great help should we
plan a specific festival in future.
Particular thanks were expressed to Angela Schofield, who for twelve
years or more had organized helpers for doing the wedding flowers. She
hoped to relinquish the job next year so was giving us time to find a
replacement. Similarly, Sheila Beer agreed to shadow Barbara Lyle in the
preparation of the next rota and Joan Rushworth undertook to be in charge
of the windowsill ladies thus relieving Lindsey McGowan, who now cheerfully
organizes the other festival flowers.
Ron Middleton's tips and her demonstration of a windowsill arrangement
were warmly applauded. We were asked to encourage new members to join our
number for a task which gives great joy to so many of our congregation.
These feelings had been expressed in the prayer which had opened our
meeting. This was a modification of the dedication prayer given by Bishop
David at the opening of the Friends' Garden at Glenfall:
Eternal God and loving Father, the
creative source of all things green and growing, we thank you for all
that our senses tell us of your glory in the flowers and fragrances
around our world. Accept at our hands, we pray, the adornment of our
Parish Church here in Prestbury and our gratitude for all whose work and
skills are directed towards the arrangements at St Mary's. May the
colours and shapes of plants, changing as the seasons change, refresh the
spirits of all who see them, so that we may pass on our way rejoicing,
restored in hope and renewed in faith. Amen.
March was a busy month for us in the tower. Local bands rang two quarter
peals in memory of Bertha Hardman - one consisted of 1260 changes of
Grandsire Triples - the other 1260 changes of Plain Bob Doubles. The full
peal attempt, which was to have been rung for Bertha's 90th birthday, was
successful and was dedicated to her memory. It consisted of 5024 changes of
Plain and Little Bob Major and took almost three hours to ring on the
afternoon of 29 March.
We were pleased to ring before the service for Malcolm McKelvey on
Saturday 15 March. It was encouraging to receive many remarks from people
who enjoyed hearing the bells on the way to the celebration.
Our tower AGM took place at 9 pm on 18 March in the tower after normal
ringing practice. Fr Michael kindly chaired the meeting for us. The meeting
ended at 10.30 pm. The officers listed in the Parish Directory remain
The afternoon of Saturday 22 March saw us taking part in the
Association-wide Training Day. Six helpers rang with five learners
throughout the afternoon. The learners were improving their ringing skills.
They came from various parts of the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan
Association. It was nice to meet other ringers and to help them to become
proficient. Many of our own ringers went to other towers on the Training
Day - some to help and some to learn!
At the time of writing, we are looking forward to ringing for Palm
Sunday and Easter Sunday. This year, a bell is to be tolled during the Good
The wedding season will soon be upon us. We hope to ring joyously for
these happy occasions.
Plant Sale at St Nicolas'
There will be a Plant Sale on Saturday 17 May at 2.00pm
in aid of the Renewal Appeal.
We hope to have all sorts of plants on sale, and will be
grateful for donations of bedding plants, herbaceous perennials and
vegetable and herb plants. If you are able to supply anything, please ring
me by 14 May and I will collect, or please deliver to St Nicolas' on 17 May
between 10.30am and 12.30pm.
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's
This year's season starts on Wednesday 14 May with a
concert of instrumental music performed by Dean Close Scholars in St
Mary's church. Coffee and biscuits will be served from 10.30am and the
music will start at 11 o'clock. The retiring collection will be in aid of
church funds. All are welcome.
Concert by the Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir
Saturday 7 June - All Saints' Church
There will be a concert in All Saints' at 7.00pm on
Saturday 7 June by the Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir. All proceeds
will go to the Youth Work of the Parish. Tickets cost £7.00 and are
available now from Marion Beagley, Gill Wood, Marion Godden or the Parish
Office. Get yours now to avoid disappointment!
If you are interested
why not join
St Mary's or St Nicolas' Church Choirs?
No previous experience is
necessary, just an ability to sing in tune and a lot of enthusiasm
We sing a wide variety of
There are also
opportunities for occasional social events
Rehearsals take place
on Friday evenings from 6.30pm - 8.00pm
St Nicolas' Choir sings at
the 9.30am Sunday Morning Eucharist at St Nicolas' Church and St Mary's
Choir sings at the 11am Sunday Morning Eucharist at St Mary's Church.
Both Choirs sing at a monthly Choral Evensong at St Mary's.
Both choirs also join
together from time to time to sing at occasional joint services and
For further details,
Ian Higginson - Parish
Director of Music
Sunday School & Club
St Mary's Sunday School begins a new term on Sunday 4
May. The children meet in the Upper Room at 10.50am and rejoin their
families during the Eucharist.
St Nicolas' Sunday Club starts again on Sunday 11 May in
the Hall at 9.20am. 4 May is Parade Sunday at St Nicolas' and all children
will be in church.
Enquiries about Sunday School/Club to Linda Biggs or just
turn up at church.
Our new term starts on Thursday 1 May in St Mary's church
at 2 o'clock. If you are looking after a young child aged 0-5 years,
whether your own or someone else's, do please come and join us for this
very informal service. We sing songs, listen to a short Bible story (or
play in the baby corner), colour a picture and have a cup of tea. For
further details contact Frances Murton at rockersprestbury.net or just
Christian Aid Week
To cover the St Mary's and St Nicolas' ends of the
Parish, many volunteers are needed to collect from house to house during
Christian Aid Week, 11-17 May.
If you can help with collecting, please speak to Gill
Ashman or Paddy Spurgeon. Thank you.
Coffee Morning Thanks
The Coffee Morning held on Tuesday 1 April in aid of The
National Star College, Ullenwood, raised the sum of £432. We would like to
thank everyone who made the effort to come, despite the weather, and gave
Jill Kannreuther and Diana Le Clair
St Mary's Bakestall
The next stall will be on Sunday 18 May, for contributors
with surnames N-Z.
Linda Matthews & Margaret Waker