Now if I had asked you to sit down and think of the first word that
popped into your head to describe our church life in Prestbury, 'trendy'
may not have been top of your list. However, one of the latest ideas to
come from both the scholars and those on the front line of mission in
Britain is that of the 'mixed economy' church.
It may sound a bit more familiar from Geography lessons than RE but one
of the key insights into the shape of people's faith lives in 21st century
Britain is that Christianity is unfamiliar to most people - they have never
been to Sunday School, their vague memories of RE at school blur Jesus with
Buddha and the trip to the local crematorium for their grandfather's
funeral seemed rather wordy and sort of washed over them. It is not that
they do not want God - there is a lively interest in spirituality - but
'Church' seems a bit irrelevant. The people we meet every day are at such
different stages in their faith journeys that we can no longer invite
everyone to the same service and expect it to touch them all equally.
The Eucharist is rightly the centre of our faith, the supreme means of
grace, but to someone who has barely heard the name Jesus, let alone who he
is and what he has done for us, communion can seem boring, impenetrable,
irrelevant and, worst of all, exclusive. Instead of being a sign of God's
generosity, it may seem to keep newcomers out, second-class citizens. To be
a missionary church in 21st century Prestbury the experts tell us we need
to offer a variety of ways to be Christian, a variety of services.
As Bishop Michael put it in his first sermon to the diocese, we need to
be a 'both/and' church not an 'either/or' one. And indeed that is precisely
what we are trying to do. Through our long consultation process, through
much listening to each other and to God, we have come to the 'trendy'
conclusion. We have decided to be a 'both/and' church. Instead of forcing
everyone to adapt to one uniform sort of worship, we are trying to expand
We have been doing it for years anyway - St Nicolas' is very different
from St Mary's, the 8 o'clock has an atmosphere of its own, the Eucharists
with a Difference, the Youth Services and the regular worship at Elevate
and Synergy have all shown different ways that we can worship our one God.
We do not have to be identikit Christians, Church can be 'both/and' - our
God loves all our worship, as long as it is from the heart, an authentic
response to his love for us.
So now we are preparing for another option - a family service at
St Mary's at 9.30 every Sunday, starting in October. Something entirely
different. It will not be just a stepping stone to coming along to the
later service but a whole new congregation offering their own worship to
God in different ways, with drama, different styles of music, lots of
activity and all in a way perhaps more easy for those just starting their
journey of faith to make sense of.
It will take time and effort and prayer to build the new service up and,
if we are serious about being a 'both/and' church not an 'either/or' one,
then it will take commitment and possibly sacrifice from all our members,
not just those who want to go to the new service. It will not work if, as a
church family, we say 'That does not affect me! I go to another service'.
We need to be one body committed to being Christians together in both
traditional and new ways, equally valid, equally worthwhile. We need an
enthusiasm from all of us to encourage one another, to share the good news
of Jesus as we have experienced it in our lives and to declare unashamedly
that there are many different routes to Jesus, many different ways to God.
And when you put it like that it does not sound too 'trendy' after all,
just good old-fashioned common sense!
Encouraged by the very positive response to the special
Palm Sunday event and the
Summer picnic for
children and their parents/carers, we have taken the significant decision
to launch a weekly service aimed mainly at families. This will take place
at St Mary's church every Sunday at 9.30am, lasting about forty minutes. It
will be a time to welcome family members of all ages for non-eucharistic
worship with songs and activities which should appeal to adults as well as
children. The first service will be on 10th October. Please keep this
important new venture in your prayers.
If you would like more information or are interested in helping to run
this new service in any way, please talk to Daphne Philpot, Fr Michael,
Andy Macauly or Jerry Porter.
Daphne Philpot, Mission & Outreach Committee
From time to time at St Nicolas' a Eucharist with a Difference is held
at the 9.30 Sunday service. The central core of the Eucharist is always
kept but other parts of the service are altered in a number of thought
The service sometimes requires a greater degree of participation on the
part of the congregation than normal. Drama may play a part. Service
booklets may be replaced by projected words and images. A talk may be given
not by a member of our clergy team.
It is not possible to bring all of these elements to you by way of the
magazine but here, below, is the talk Clare Wood gave in July. I trust you
will find it as much a source of blessing as those of us who were fortunate
enough to be there at the time.
Sue Read, MLT
Isn't it lovely when you get handed the title of what you have to talk
about? I've been asked to talk about 'Questioning Priorities and the
Importance of a Relationship with God'. But surely talking to you about
having God as one of your priorities is unnecessary. You're here on a
Sunday morning; you're not washing the car, watching TV or eating breakfast
in bed. Surely your priorities are right and God will of course be duly
But is that all God wants? Full seats on a Sunday morning? I fear that
the answer is 'no'. What is the true measure of our priorities and
character? Unfortunately for us, it is not by our behaviour on a Sunday
morning that we will be judged. It's a bit like the saying 'A puppy is for
life, not Christmas'. The same can be applied to our relationship with God;
you can't acknowledge him for an hour every Sunday morning and then switch
him off for the rest of the week. He should have his rightful place in our
minds all the time!
It is important to ask yourself 'What priorities do I value?' and
consider all the things you deem of importance. Then step back and compare
the list you come up with to the priorities that God values. How do they
differ? For most of us, if we are being honest with ourselves and with God,
the two lists are far from identical. (At this point it might be a good
idea to remind ourselves that God does not demand perfection, even if he
deserves it!) In order for you to compare your list against God's we need
to first determine what God's priorities actually are. Don't worry, I won't
throw that question out for you to answer, however tempting!
He wants us to love him and to love each other; this is pretty
self-explanatory and we all know the meaning of it, but how many of us can
claim that we wholeheartedly follow this, Christ's most important
commandment? We all need reminding.
He wants us to live the life that he has planned for us; to do that we
need to obey him. In Romans 6 Paul announces:
'Thanks be to God, though you used to be slaves to sin, you
wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.'
Paul stresses that obeying God's will doesn't mean that we are being
manipulated or put under any formal laws and rules - it is quite the
opposite - we are being liberated! Liberated from the captivity of sin and
certain death. Liberated from the memories of sin and its effects.
Liberated to be the people we were created to be. Following his will is a
blessing, not a restriction.
We must trust the plans he has for us; think back for a minute to Moses:
'But Moses said to the Lord, "Since I speak with faltering lips, why
would Pharaoh listen to me?"'
When we are called by God to evangelise, don't hide behind excuses! God
will be there with us guiding us in what to say and do. He turned the
stammering Moses into the greatest leader of his time. Surely we should
give God the chance to use the gifts, abilities and experience, he has
given us, for his service.
He wants us to be thankful; there's a charming story of a boy in primary
school who was thankful for his glasses, in his own words he said 'they
stop the boys from hitting me, and the girls from kissing me'. Whether the
blessings we have are great or small it's important to reflect on them,
even if counting your blessings is the hardest arithmetic to master.
Perhaps what God longs for most for each of us is to have a relationship
with him; God wants to be in a relationship with every single one of us,
where we come to know him every day in prayer to get to know him more,
because it is through prayer that we discover God's will. Every one of us
here has some kind of relationship with God and it is part of our call as
Christians to develop this relationship. For some this task may seem
impossible, how can you develop a relationship with someone you can't see
or hear? The answer, I believe, is that you can see God; in the same way we
see the wind, we can see the effects of God, on individuals, communities
and nations. He is actively at work through us and we can see those
changes, if we look. I also believe we can hear God; the gift of the bible
enables us to hear the word of God and we can find daily inspiration from
The most important moments of the day are when you open your heart to
the Lord, seeking what he has to say to you and speaking honestly with him.
We sometimes think of God as too distant to confide in him about our
dilemmas. But when we go through troubled times God is there to help us
through, he can help us handle anything! At moments of difficulty the
answer is not to put God on the shelf gathering dust until the storm has
blown over, the problems we tell God about need not be the simple and
sanitized ones, he wants us in his presence even when our hearts are full
of conflict and pain. Let us be honest with him, God is not another person
whom we have to pretend to be fine to, our relationship with him can go no
further if it is based on denial and lies.
So let our aim be to journey through life with God. Jesus said:
'Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the
road to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and
narrow the road that leads to life, and only few find it.'
Jesus reminds us that we must lead the life he wants us to; grace does
not dismiss discipleship and mercy does not release us from our need to
So to summarize briefly I set to you three tasks:
- The first is to honestly ask yourself what your priorities are;
- The second is to compare your priorities with God's priorities for
- And the third is to set aside a quiet time each day to develop your
relationship with God through finding inspiration in the bible and
praying. For, it says in Matthew 6, 'when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father,
who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.'
Our new term will start on Sunday 5th September at the
usual times: 11 o'clock at St Mary's and 9.20 at St Nicolas' and we look
forward to seeing you there. If you feel that you would like to assist in
any way please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Wednesday 8th September The Birthday of the BVM
St Mary's Patronal Festival
A Sung Festival Eucharist for the whole Team
Ministry 7.30pm St Mary's Followed by a celebratory glass of wine! Join
us for this very significant occasion in our Church year!
Sunday 12th September
First visit to Prestbury by The Rt Revd Michael
Perham, Bishop of Gloucester who will Preside and Preach at both Sung
Eucharists 9.15am St Nicolas' and 11.00am St Mary's
Please note earlier start time at St Nicolas'. This is to
allow Bishop Michael time to greet members of the congregation before
leaving for St Mary's
We start our new term on Thursday 16th September at 2pm
in St Mary's church. If you and your small child/grandchild (0-5 years)
would like to join us for this short informal service do come. In addition
to action songs and a bible story there are toys for the babies and a cup
of tea for the adults.
Prestbury Mothers' Union
The next meeting of the MU will be on Tuesday 21st
September in St Mary's Church. Mrs Theresa Vearncombe will talk about the
International Year of the Family. The meeting starts at 7.30 pm and all are
St Mary's Bakestall
Over the past three years our successful stall has
managed to send £1,200 to various Charities! All credit to the faithful
band of supporters!
This year we seem to be in difficulties and really need
some new contributors to make up the numbers in our three teams so that no
one is asked to provide more often than once every three months. If you
feel you can help please do have a word with Linda or Margaret.
Our next Bakestall will be held on Sunday 26th September
for contributions from those with surnames N-Z.
Linda Matthews & Margaret Waker
Feast of St Michael and All Angels Wednesday 29th September
We normally celebrate this Feast with a Sung Eucharist;
however this year our new Bishop is visiting the Cheltenham Deanery from
27th to 29th September. On Wednesday 29th Bishop Michael has asked clergy,
readers, members of Local Ministry Teams, Churchwardens and PCC members to
join him for a Deanery Eucharist at St Philip & St James, Leckhampton,
followed by a meeting with Bishop Michael at the University Lecture Theatre
at the Park Campus. I am sure anyone would be welcome to attend the
Eucharist. We will still have our normal Said Eucharist at 7.30pm in
St Mary's that evening.
We hope to have a churchyard cleanup in October so that
it will be neat and tidy for the winter. There is also a huge heap of grass
cuttings to dispose of and probably some pruning to do. As many people as
possible will be needed, so keep watch for the date in the weekly notices
and in next month's magazine.
We start our Harvest Celebrations this year on Saturday
October 2nd in St Mary's Church Hall, Bouncers Lane (full details next
month) and continue with Harvest Services on Sunday October 3rd at St
Nicolas' and St Mary's at the usual times
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's
There will be a mid-morning concert at St Mary's on
Wednesday 13th October starting with coffee at 10.30am. It will be given by
Music Scholars from Dean Close School. Please come!
St Mary's Sunday Refreshment
The proceeds from Sunday morning refreshment, £150, have
been sent to World Vision for the Sudan crisis.
Ringing course at St Mary's
I would like to say a public Thank You to Mary and David
Lynch who ran an 'introduction to change ringing' course over a six-week
period in July and August. During the course about half a dozen people
climbed the stone steps and then the wooden ladder into the ringing chamber
of the tower at St Mary's and learned about the theory of ringing and
experienced the joys and problems of the hands-on practicalities of bell
handling. We enjoyed having the chance to do this.
I would like to thank everyone for their kind
congratulations upon my receiving the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
It is indeed a great honour but it has been a privilege
to have been able to serve such a caring community as Prestbury over so
many years and in a variety of ways. I have been conscious of the help and
support I have been given by so many people in the medical practice,
churches, schools and charities to name a few.
Young people have also helped, particularly in the Scout
Movement locally and throughout the county. There are so many grand young
people and their leaders who work voluntarily with enthusiasm and
dedication who have shown great support and friendship.
Of course little could have been achieved without the
wholehearted support and encouragement of Barbara; the great thing is that
we have enjoyed it all and hope to continue to serve in several ways for
years to come.
Also my sincere thanks for all the kind thoughts, prayer
and cards for my heart bypass operation in Bristol Royal Infirmary on 23rd
July. An eventful two months from which I am recovering steadily thanks to
PS Travellers along Tatchley Lane may not have been aware
that, for the past few months, they have been in jeopardy of falling
masonry from our chimney! However, having now suffered a week of disruption
through the necessity of scaffolding to make the repair, all is safe again
and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.