July and August are the months of High Summer when the year tips over into its second half. Usually it is a
time for holidays, relaxation and hopefully a little much needed personal space. So Summer can be an
opportunity to uncover our constant need for recreation: using the word in its best meaning of renewal.
The longing to be made new runs deep within and is a primary motive for both worship and prayer. But, if we
face the truth, worship and prayer often become frayed at the edges because too often they are crowded into a
weekly timetable which is top heavy with other concerns and priorities. Perhaps summertime can provide time,
space and renewed energy to do some thoughtful sorting out.
For instance, one glorious summer day, a couple of years ago, I went to Mells in Somerset to visit the
place where the famous poet Siegfried Sassoon is buried (near to Mgr Ronnie Knox and the Anglo-Irish novelist,
George Birmingham). Those who knew Sassoon remember how in conversation he usually veered from one extreme to
another. He could be virtually tongue-tied with unfinished sentences hanging in the air and such repeated
hesitancies that no one really understood what he was saying. On other occasions he could be so talkative that
no one else could get a word in edgeways! Doctor Rivers, who nursed him after he was invalided out during the
war, said of him, 'he had a penchant for monologue rather than dialogue'.
The phrase stuck with me. Sometimes it is something similar which frustrates our worship and our prayers.
Either we stumble and mutter to little consequence or we say far too much and finish up getting nowhere.
During the long days of summer, it might be worth sitting quietly for a while to ask ourselves which happens
more frequently to us, especially in prayer - monologue or dialogue? Certainly for worship and prayer to be
fulfilling and satisfying we have to train ourselves to move away from monologue and into a deeper and deeper
appreciation of dialogue. It can be hard discipline since a daily hazard for every Christian is to settle for
talking to ourselves instead of waiting on God and the perennial temptation for the Church is to become self
obsessed instead of being open to the movement of the Spirit.
Once we spot these temptations, though, we might also notice that, however sorely such things must try the
divine patience, God's forbearance is total. He never interrupts our chatter and self concern, as it were.
God's way of revealing himself is much more likely to be through silence and stillness and in moments of
watching and waiting. That always sounds odd in a world where activity and achievement are so over-valued.
However, remember how summer leads to harvest and similarly how true worship and prayer lead to disclosure and
After a long struggle, Sassoon came to Belief and in a note he wrote alongside his poem Renewals he says,
then his most often repeated words were from the psalms - Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).
Familiar words to hold onto and treasure for all who need new strength.
Does it seem as if everything stops during the summer? Once you've had your break in the foreign sun, you
are back home and you've watered the garden and walked the dog are you at a loose end? Don't despair, because
the bible studies continue all the way through the Summer and into the Autumn. So if you sometimes say 'Oh yes
I'm sorry to miss the BS but I've got to go somewhere else at the same time' perhaps you'll be free to join us
at some point this July or August. We are looking at some 'I am' passages and unwrapping these sayings of our
Lord from St John's gospel. We also have two guest speakers during this period, Fr Michael Cozens on 16 July
and Fr Peter Brown on 13 August. They will be speaking about 'Spiritual Direction' and 'The Call to
If you would like to come but have a problem with transport please contact me. We start at 8pm and finish
Thursday 3 July
Wednesday 16 July Spiritual Direction
Thursday 31 July
Wednesday 13 August The Call to Ordination
Thursday 28 August Study to be led by Fr Tim Raphael
Wednesday 10 September
Thursday 25 September
Sue Read, Ministry Leadership Team
I would like to say a big thank you to all who contributed so generously to the cost of my robes. I was
presented with them at 8 o'clock and 11 o'clock at St Mary's and at 9.30 at St Nicolas' - all on Sunday 8
June. For the benefit of those who were unable to be there: the money collected paid for my Cassock, Surplice,
Cassock-Alb and red Stole. I shall be wearing all but the Cassock-Alb for the Ordination service on Sunday 29
June. I pray that the Holy Spirit makes me worthy to wear them and worthy to serve you all for many years to
I would also like to thank you for the prayer support you have given to both Shirley and myself over what,
at times, has been a tough three years. The power of prayer is something I am becoming increasingly aware of
and, I feel sure, it helped us through immensely.
I am also getting cards and presents. I feel overwhelmed and will do my best to thank you in the best
possible way - serving you in this wonderful Benefice of Prestbury and All Saints.
Thank you and may God bless you all.
Peter Brown (gosh it will be Fr Peter by the time you read this)
Friday 22 - Monday 25 August, Cheltenham Racecourse
What Is ?
If you haven't been before, Greenbelt is a massive Christian creative arts festival drawing contributors
and festival goers of all ages from around the world. There is music, seminars, theatre, worship, a focus on
world issues, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and it is on our doorstep!
What Is There This Year?
A highlight is Umoja the South African show described by the Daily Telegraph as 'A spectacle with heart and
collective triumph' (performing Saturday and Monday). Music includes London Community Gospel Choir (Monday),
Willard Grant (Monday), Aqualung (Monday), Quench (Friday) and throughout, the superb Martyn Joseph. Speakers
include Steve Biko's son, on his father's struggle against Apartheid. Seminar subjects include 'The New Age',
'The Sermon on the Mount', 'Making Work Meaningful' and 'Cloning'. The Sunday communion service (10.30am) is
always a highlight, creative and uplifting with so many thousands together. I suggest getting a programme when
you go on site to make the most of all the options, do log on to
www.greenbelt.org.uk if you can.
Who Is Not There This Year?
Sharon and Andy will not be at Greenbelt this year. This means that the Parish will not be able to provide
a supervised residential at Greenbelt. I know young people are making their own arrangements to attend the
festival and we pray that it would be a fantastic time!
What Are The Ticket Arrangements?
It is possible to buy weekend tickets (details on website). As local residents, it is possible to buy day
tickets at a reduced rate on site (£15 adults, £10 child, £11 young people) or even evening tickets which are
£10 for adults etc (bring proof of address).
So are you going to make the most of this fantastic opportunity?
(for more info: www.greenbelt.org.uk or contact Andy
We have been busy with the usual ringing for services and weddings. Two Sunday nights in May had no
Evensong at St Mary's, so we were able to have those evenings off. A group of over 20 ringers from Essex came
to ring for the 6.30 service on 18 May. They were visiting the area to ring at as many towers as possible and
were staying in a hotel on Cleeve Hill.
We had a well-attended Branch Practice at Prestbury on 24 May, at which we were iven a talk by Mark Davies,
a particularly talented Cheltenham ringer, about the theory behind method ringing. Over 20 branch members
listened with interest and we tried some of his ideas to give his voice a rest.
We entered a band of six ringers for the annual branch striking competition, held this year at
Childswickham on Saturday 14 June. We were placed fifth out of nine, which we regarded as a good effort. The
competition was won by the Charlton Kings ringers.
We rang a successful quarter peal of Plain Bob Major for evening service on Sunday 15 June, which we
dedicated to Cyril and Sheila Beer on the occasion of their wedding anniversary. We had missed their special
one last year.
At the time of writing, we are looking forward to joining the other members of the Cheltenham Branch in
ringing for a Civic Service at Gloucester Cathedral on Sunday 22 June.
Hope you continue to enjoy hearing our ringing throughout the summer!
At long last we are now in a position to host another of our successful activity days in
St Nicolas' Church. As on previous occasions we hope to invite 100 children from around the Benefice to a day
of fun and fellowship. The theme this time is set around Moses and a variety of workshops have been devised to
explore this particular period from the Old Testament - the life of the Israelites during their escape from
Egypt and their time through the Exodus.
As always, an event of this size needs your support, both prayerfully and physically. If you would like to
help in this important outreach please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
See pictures, reading and a poem from
Jonah the Groaner (15 July 2000)
Thirty-two years ago, when we were struggling to come to terms with 'decimalisation', Alan and I befriended
a young Japanese man, who, whilst travelling the world, lost his passport and travellers' cheques on arriving
in London. He was told by the Embassy that he had to get a job in England whilst his duplicate passport was
sorted out and he was sent to an hotel in Stow on the Wold, rather a far cry from Tokyo where he had been
brought up! We took him under our wing and became good friends. He has since visited us twice for holidays and
one of his daughters has also stayed with us.
Having heard so much about their culture we decided in 2000 to visit Japan and see for ourselves the Land
of the Rising Sun. We had a wonderful three week trip and were accompanied for most of the time by either our
friend or by one of his family or work colleagues. This proved to be invaluable, as everything is written in
Japanese and Chinese symbols and it would be very difficult to find your way around if left to your own
devices. They showed us many shrines and temples. Temples are used in the Buddhist religion and shrines are
used for the Shinto religion. Both are very ornate, built mainly of wood, but gilded and decorated very
ornately. At the entrance to either you would find an incense burning urn or a trough of water, with which you
purify yourself before entering. You would also remove your shoes as it is a great insult to the Japanese to
wear shoes in temples, shrines or houses. Imagine how this cuts down on housework with no dirt from outside
being trodden into the house!
Japanese houses are small and mainly built of wood. They generally consist of two rooms downstairs and two
rooms upstairs plus a bathroom. The bathroom is a very important feature as it is not used in the same way as
in the west. Firstly, the Japanese spend about fifteen minutes showering, taking great care to ensure that
they have removed all dirt and grime. Then, once they are spotless, they get into a Hot Tub, which all the
family use, as, after all, they are already clean. The object of the hot tub is to relax and let your pores
open and enjoy the heat - the hotter the better. All the family can use the same tub and water and often will
all get in together and discuss the day's happenings. How very civilised and everybody talks to each other and
knows the highs and lows of all the family members.
Food is beautifully presented and eaten with chopsticks, called hashi. Young babies have a ceremony of the
chopsticks, when they are first put on to solids and Mother feeds them with their own chopsticks. Many babies
are also presented to the Sumo (meaning wrestler) and it is thought to be a great honour if the Sumo can make
the baby cry. This will give the child a long and happy life! Whilst in Japan we ate many strange things,
including raw fish, eel, seaweed, pickled pigs' guts, rice, noodles and other delicacies. In three weeks, we
all lost weight and had no ill effects from the different styles of food eaten. Water is very safe to drink
and they make saki wine from rice, which is similar in taste to whisky and can be drunk hot or cold.
We met many Japanese people, who all want to practise speaking English. Although I have a limited knowledge
of the Japanese language, not many people wanted to hear me speak Japanese, they were far more interested in
my English accent. We visited the equivalent of the Houses of Parliament. They call their House of
Representatives the Diet House and the members are called Diet men. We met one diet man who invited us for
lunch in the members' only dining room of this most impressive building.
Kimono is the traditional dress for Japanese women, but now normally only used for special occasions, like
weddings and University graduations. The materials used are beautiful and made of silk with many ornamental
objects, like belts and bows etc. An everyday kimono is called a Yukata and I was very privileged to be fitted
for my own, which has just arrived. Perhaps I will wear it to Church one day and surprise you all! On the
other hand, perhaps not!
The weather in September and October, when we visited, was very warm and sunny. During July and August they
have monsoons and the air is very humid. We have just visited for a second time, in April/May, and the weather
then was very warm and sunny. We saw some of the much publicised Cherry Blossom, which is beautiful and is
highly regarded by the Japanese. They have days off from work just to look at the cherry blossom because it is
an important part of their life. Their culture is very different from our western life: there is virtually no
crime; no graffiti; everyone is honoured to have a job, no matter how trivial; and they are a kind and
If you wish to know more, I have many items of interest and do give talks about my experiences. Please ask
if this article has been of any interest to you.
Flame in the Mind. A Journal of Spiritual Passion by Michael Marshall
This book was praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury (whose Lent book for 2003 it was) for its use of the
turbulent Christian journey of St Augustine as an encouragement for us to 'view the spiritual life as an
ongoing and dynamic journey'. While I found much of the book relevant and searching, I was aware that I became
less involved and less happy with the approach. I am sure that this is as much a lack in my appreciation of
his method as a failure in the author but there is no doubt that looking back now its impact was limited.
Apart from the book not being amenable to daily reading, I failed to respond to the premises behind the
personal reflection questions at the end of each chapter, probably because those premises failed to connect
with my own experience. What I do remember (rather perversely!) from the book were the quotations from other
writers which had the effect of leading me back to consider reading or re-reading the works of such as C S
Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, T S Eliot, William Temple and Julian of Norwich and of course, The Confessions of St
Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Lessing (a new version in English by Edward Kemp)
The story is set in Jerusalem in 1192 with Muslim forces occupying, Christian forces invading and Jews just
living there, among them Nathan, respected by all sides for his wisdom.
The audience not only laughs and weeps with the actors, but also gasps in disbelief at the outrageous
statements - all the more shocking as we recognise our own unvoiced prejudices.
Boy meets girl, but is Nathan's beautiful daughter Jewish or Christian? Is the handsome young Crusader
Christian or Muslim? Does it matter? There are deep thoughts here, such as when Nathan asks Saladin: 'Which is
more important - that I am a Jew and you a Muslim or that we both are men?' or when the Christian monk says
that the orphaned child 'needed love rather than Christianity'.
Written in German in 1779, this plea for religious tolerance is starkly relevant today. It has been playing
in the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, Sussex, since May, and there are still a few performances in early July
and August. Details from the Chichester Festival Theatre Box Office 01243 781312 or
Memories - Minehead Easter 2003
Singing hymns in the Big Top with 4000 people in the congregation. Animated interactive bible readings with
audience participation. A group of people with physical and mental disabilities waving large flags during the
singing as their contribution to the worship of God. 'Faith at Fifty' seminar (and I was one of the youngest
people there!) where the message was don't 'marginalize' older members of our churches; people over a certain
age still have a lot to offer; the speaker was 65 and showed no signs of stepping down from active service.
Being fascinated by the signers for the deaf who interpreted throughout every major meeting talks, readings,
prayers, songs and even instrumental music. 'Deaf Awareness' workshop, where a young woman gave her testimony
in Sign Language, which had to be interpreted into spoken English for those of us who couldn't understand.
'Encountering Islam' seminar - understanding a little more about the Islamic faith and how to preach the
Gospel of Christ without being offensive. An evening being talked through a Passover meal by a Messianic Jew
and seeing how obviously the Christian Eucharist is embodied within that ritual - the second of three pieces
of wafer is broken and hidden, the third cup (of redemption) is the one Jesus referred to as his blood, the
fourth cup (of praise) is the one he did not drink from. Browsing for well over an hour in the Christian
bookshop in the concourse, and an afternoon just walking along the beach. Being integrated into the group from
Emmanuel Church, Rowanfield, because they know my daughter. Having all my meals cooked for me by my daughter
and her friend. The Easter morning service at 7.30am, with hot cross buns at the end to take home for
breakfast. Rushing late to the Big Top one evening, stopping on the way to sit quietly for a few minutes in
Butlin's tiny chapel listening to the singing in the distance, then continuing to the Big Top at a gentle
walk. Praying with friends, praying with complete strangers. And much more. Ask me about it. The theme of the
week was the 'Mission of God', and everything was portrayed as an underground map with stations. The title of
the week was 'Shepherd's Bush to King's Cross' - and we read about Moses. Think about it.
Frances Murton, your Magazine Editor
Surprising? It shouldn't be; you can find anything on the net if you know where to look. Here are two sites
I've come across.
The Mothers' Union provides a prayer for each day of the week, changing monthly. The selection is
fresh and approachable, and definitely not just for mothers! Look at www.themothersunion.org/spirituality.asp
Sacred Space leads you gently through a short meditation on a selected Bible passage for the day. An
oasis of quiet for anyone who spends a lot of time on the computer. Not just for Jesuits!
Do you know others? It would be good to hear of them.
The total raised in the House-to-House Collection has now risen to £4,941.47. Apart
from the St Mary's Sunday School shoe-shine there were no special fund-raising efforts this time, as the St
Nicolas' Celebration occurred just before Christian Aid Week. This makes the final total particularly
gratifying. Many thanks to all of you who gave so generously, collected, counted and helped with transport.
Please will more people consider helping next year? We try to give collectors a 'patch' that
suits them and no-one needs to do more than 40 houses, though some offer to do more and some fewer. If you can
spare just 2 hours you can make a difference.
Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon
I have taken over from Margaret Holman as Box Holder Secretary. I will be collecting and
opening the boxes during the month of July. Box holders, could you bring your boxes to church or contact me so
that I can make arrangements to collect them.
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
Annual Sponsored Ride and Walk - Saturday 13 September 2003
The 21st Sponsored Ride/Walk will take place on Saturday 13 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 or Brian Wood.
Rockers' Garden Party
Our annual Garden Party will be hosted by Fr Stephen Gregory at Prestbury Vicarage, Tatchley
Lane, on Thursday 3 July from 2pm to 4pm. Older brothers and sisters are welcome to come along after school
and join in the fun. (If it is wet, we shall have our normal short service in St Mary's church.)
St Mary's Bakestall
The next one will be on 20 July for contributors with surnames G-M and the profits will be
added to the £26.20 raised in June, which was not enough for the herd of goats we hope to buy for East Africa
through World Vision.
There will, as usual, be no bake stall in August.
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir
Thank you to everyone for the support for last month's concert. We raised the splendid total
of £2055 from which there are no expenses. A really wonderful effort, and all we had to do was sit and enjoy!
Many of us feel it would be helpful to understand more about the major religions of the
Middle East. Consider joining others from around Gloucestershire at an evening meeting in Gloucester in
September entitled 'The Children of Abraham at Prayer and at War'. The speaker is the Revd Christopher
Lamb, whose considerable and far-flung experience includes six years in Pakistan with CMS, nearly ten years
involved in the BCMS theological project for other faiths, and seven years as inter-faith relations secretary
for the Board of Mission. Put the date in your diary, and book soon.
Venue: St Lawrence Church Centre, Barnwood, Gloucester.
Date & Time: Thursday 25 September, starts with coffee at 7pm, ends at 9pm.
Tickets: £3, available from 28 June, from Revd Bill Brown, Cirencester (01285 641761)
I would like to thank all those who have contributed so far towards the Romanian Orphanage
Project fund over the past few weeks. To date more than £400 has been raised! That is a splendid sum and it
will be invaluable in enabling us to spend time at the Orphanage helping them create a better environment,
giving them the support and love that they have missed. We will be contributing in many practical ways as well
as providing 'quality' time for them. The visit takes place in August and when I return I will be able to
provide a full report of the work we have been able to do as well as a display of pictures and photographs.
The Orphanage project is an ongoing undertaking and I hope I will be able to go out to Romania again in
subsequent years. Again thank you so much for your very generous support and interest in this venture. It is