As I write this we still have four rehearsals for the Passion Play to go
through and, of course, the whole of Holy Week with its climax at our Lord's
resurrection, which we celebrate with the great Easter Vigil - The Lord is
risen - He is risen indeed! By the time you read this we shall be recalling
all that follows that great event - doubting Thomas' revelation with his
utterance 'My Lord and My God'; the appearance of our Lord to the disciples
on the road to Emmaus and their reaction to each other 'did not our hearts
burn within us as He explained the scriptures' and all that takes us up to
our Lord's Ascension and Pentecost.
It reminds me that we are so privileged in our celebration of the seasons
in our worship. We re-enact the story year by year with the great events of
the birth of our Lord at Christmas, his death and resurrection at Easter and
the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As we grow in our faith, we seem
to learn something new with each new account that we read or listen to.
Sometimes what we read seems to speak directly to the situation that we find
ourselves in and we wonder why it has not meant the same thing to us in the
past. But at the centre of it all we have the great truth that our Lord was
ready to give up His life to save us.
So what do we have to offer when others question us about our faith? It
would not impress if we were to enter into deep theological argument, so we
need not worry if that is beyond us, but a simple telling of the story with
which we are so familiar - now that is a different matter. And if that story
can be recounted with special reference to those occasions when the story
seemed to be speaking directly to our situation - that is even better still.
We must not underestimate the ignorance of so many people. Let us tell the
story without any assumptions about previous knowledge. After all, even if
the listener has heard it before, it may well mean something different this
Let the story burn in our hearts and let us not be afraid to share it
with anyone who shows interest. With a story like ours it seems criminal to
keep it from those we know and love. We have been saved. Do we not want them
to be saved too?
On Sunday 13th March we welcomed Joan as the preacher at both of the main
services in St Nicolas' and St Mary's. This was the last 'formal occasion'
on which Joan would be with us before leaving Cheltenham at the end of April
to take up a new appointment in Wolverhampton, so it was our opportunity to
say 'goodbye'. As a token of our love, prayers and best wishes, at St
Nicolas' Joan was presented with a crucifix and at St Mary's with some book
tokens and a potted arrangement for the garden.
Joan has ministered in the United Reformed Church in Cheltenham for
fourteen years, working in Warden Hill and St Andrew's as well as in
Prestbury and in St Paul's Maternity Hospital. We have shared Ecumenical
Services with her locally and across Cheltenham. Also, as clergy, we have
met together regularly and have greatly valued her friendship and support.
We shall miss having Joan as a neighbour and friend but assure her of our
prayerful support as she responds to God's call to this new work.
It was with sadness that we heard of the sudden death on 11th March of
Dr Frank Merrett, for many years a Lay Reader in this parish. We shall
publish a tribute to Frank in next month's magazine.
Andy is a member of All Saints' and has recently been recommended for
training for ordained ministry. In September he will be moving to Oxford to
train on a full-time basis at St Stephen's House Theological College. Andy
is keen to use the remainder of his time in our Team Ministry as usefully as
possible, gaining experience to prepare him for his studies. We have agreed
to his taking the role of a Pastoral Assistant in the Team and as such he
will be shadowing the clergy as far as possible. This means that you might
meet him on a visit or at a meeting or some other event. Andy will on
occasions take part in services and will also be invited to preach. We are
sure that you will make Andy welcome!
At the request of the PCC the Bishop of Gloucester has agreed to the
appointment of eight new Lay Ministers of the Sacrament in our Parish. This
gives permission for these people to administer the Sacrament (both bread
and wine) during a Eucharist and also to take the Reserved Sacrament to the
sick and housebound. These new Ministers will be formally admitted to this
office during the Eucharist using an official form of words which the
The new Lay Ministers of the Sacrament are:
This is Christian Aid's 60th anniversary and we shall be celebrating it
on Saturday 16th April at Holy Apostles' Church Hall, London Road. There
will be a Spring Fair, opening at 10am (entry 50p to include tea or coffee),
with stalls selling books, cakes, toys, toiletries, jewellery, groceries,
plants, bric-a-brac, a raffle etc., refreshments and lunches. At 2pm there
will be a service of thanksgiving, with a commitment to make poverty
history, followed by the cutting and sharing of the 60th birthday cake. Some
of us will be in charge of the grocery stall an we should be grateful if you
could leave gifts for that or any of the other stalls in one of our churches
the previous week. (All Saints' will be selling plants.) Above all, please
come and share this special day.
Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon
was a fantastic evening! What most struck many visitors was the 'buzz' which
greeted them on entering St Nic's.
Each group had put together their own displays - either on good old
display boards or the more hi-tech PowerPoint presentations. The emphasis
was on getting stuck in, not just watching. Visitors to the Synergy zone
could try their hand at the Goat for it! computer game while learning about
how goats could make a real difference to communities around the world
struggling to survive. Following the challenge of considering God's response
to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, there was a chance to chill in the
Labyrinth while reflecting on the presence of God and individual identity.
Then it was on to Elevate, with their Fair Trade chocolate taste test.
Elevate young people had devised some tough questions with the challenge for
visitors to have their say to 'Big Father' on video.
In the hall there was an opportunity to learn Circus Skills or just see
them on DVD along with footage of the hard work of the Holiday Projects.
Dance mats, basketball and snooker gave a taste of The Space youth club.
Finally there was a chance to chill out in The Lounge - finding out about
the group which meets there every Tuesday and sampling the Fair Trade tuck
shop, staffed by young people.
It was fantastic to have so many visitors who were really interested in
the young people and their groups. I was really excited by the thought and
creativity which the young people had given to their activities and
displays. Interestingly the underlying message which seemed to emerge was
their passion for fairness and care around the world. Perhaps a challenge
for the wider church?
The evening ended with young people, the youth team and exec members
feasting on chips. The sense of togetherness was very powerful - a
reflection on the value of the evening and on the relationships within the
youth work. Thanks to all those top people who made it happen!
The Annual Meeting took place on 13th March 2005, preceded by the Vestry
Meeting. There were approximately fifty people in attendance. Mrs Sue Bolton
was appointed minute secretary for both the Vestry meeting and the Annual
meeting. The Revd Canon Stephen Gregory chaired both meetings. He thanked
the out-going churchwardens for their hard work, especially Mr Peter Attwood,
who had completed his six years in office. New churchwardens and assistant
wardens were elected: Mr Jerry Porter, Mrs Marion Beagley, Mr Peter Horne
and Mrs Sue Bolton. There was one existing vacancy on the Parochial Church
Council for a three-year term at St Nicolas', plus one more for one year
only to replace Mrs Sue Bolton. Mr John Moles was elected for three years
and Mrs Ruth Shaw for one year. At St Mary's, Mrs Mary Turner was elected as
a Deanery Synod representative. Two more would be appointed by the PCC. Mrs
Sarah Woodall was elected to serve on the PCC for three years. A
comprehensive report of Parish proceedings was reported and this is
available on request from the Parish Office.
Marion Beagley, PCC Secretary
The first Prestbury and Pittville Youth AGM followed the Parish AGM on
Sunday 13 March and, considering they were uncharted waters, was negotiated
very smoothly. Father Michael Cozens, in the Chair, and Gill Wood, Hon
Treasurer, presented the 2004 Annual Report and Accounts which showed a good
balance carried forward, mostly for work on specific projects, so they
stressed the need to raise more funds to cover running costs in 2005.
Andy Macauly's Youth Work report, detailing the very wide range of
opportunities for young people now being offered, was warmly received and
thanks expressed to him and his committed teams of adult volunteers and
The new Executive Committee for 2005 was put in place. There was a big
welcome for new members Julia Hook (as Hon Secretary) and Charlie Chan, both
from All Saints'. Linda Biggs and Daphne Philpot were appointed by Prestbury
PCC. Julie Lane and Tricia Wilson were elected by the members and Father
Michael and Gill Wood continue in their roles.
We held our Annual General Meeting in the Tower after ringing practice on
Tuesday March 8th. We were pleased to welcome Fr Michael as Chairman.
All of the Officers were re-elected. Mary Lynch continues to be Tower
Captain, Jenni Scruton Secretary and Treasurer, David Lynch Steeplekeeper
and Anthony Smith Quarter Peal Secretary.
The meeting closed at 10.15pm after which several ringers went up into
the bell chamber to show Fr Michael the bells.
As usual during Holy Week there is no ringing and we take the opportunity
to spring clean the ringing chamber and interior parts of the tower.
|Youth Team Meeting
||Thursday 14 April 7.30pm in St Nicolas' Room
||Sunday 17 April
||Sunday 17 April
|The Lounge restarts
||Tuesday 19 April
|The Space restarts
||Thursday 21 April
For more info: Andy Macauly youthprestbury.net
fantastic Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival (at Cheltenham racecourse!) is
taking place again this year. There are contributors from around the world
with performances and activities for all ages. If you wish to purchase
weekend tickets, they are cheaper before 30 April. A group of young people
will be camping - any young people interested very welcome to join us!
For further information about the festival, the youth camping or the
chance to get discounted tickets please contact Andy Macauly. The Greenbelt
website is www.greenbelt.org.uk
from which it is also possible to purchase weekend tickets.
In February half term a group of 80 pupils from Denmark Road School went
to Prague for a music tour. It took a gruelling 27-hour coach journey to
reach our destination, but it was worth it. We played in two venues: the
first was the church of St Simon and Juda, and the second was a retirement
home. St Simon and Juda church had a wonderful acoustic, and was wonderful
to play in, especially when we were told that the Prague Symphony Orchestra
play there frequently. The concert in the retirement home was a smaller
affair, but well attended and enjoyed by all.
We were all delighted when we woke up on the third day and discovered
that a good layer (around 4 inches) of snow had fallen overnight. We all
thoroughly enjoyed having snowball fights and crunching our way around the
historic Jewish quarter, as we were all quite unused to that large amount of
snow. It was quite different from the light dustings we have in England! I
was interested to note how well the Czechs dealt with the snow; everything
carried on as normal. Had the same weather happened in England, things would
have definitely ground to a halt!
Other highlights of our trip were a dinner cruise on the River Vltava, a
tour of the famous castle district, and a trip to the visually spectacular
Black Light Theatre. However, the ultimate highlight for many of the group
was the snow! We all had a thoroughly wonderful time, and are now looking
forward to our next music tour. We just don't know where that will be yet!
Christian Aid Week -
We hope that everyone will support the house-to-house
collection. It would be wonderful if some more parishioners (over the age of
16) could spare 2 or 3 hours to help our loyal team of collectors, to make
this a record total. Please contact one of us if you can help.
Gill Ashman (St Mary's) and Paddy Spurgeon (St
St Mary's Bakestall
The next bakestall will be on Sunday 17th April, when we
shall be pleased to receive contributions from members with surnames
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Prestbury Mothers' Union
Our next meeting will be at St Mary's on Tuesday 26th
April starting at 7.30pm. The talk is Flowing with Milk and Honey by
Elizabeth Haughton. All are welcome.
Very many thanks to all the ladies who so generously gave
the lovely flowers on Mothering Sunday.
Churchyard and Church Annual Spring Cleaning Day
We would like to thank everyone who turned up on Saturday
19th March to help with the church cleaning and the churchyard. We had a
very happy band of helpers and an enjoyable time together. There were about
35 of us in total, which was excellent, and we were able to achieve a lot
more. It was lovely to see new faces there. We had five very keen helpers
who were waiting in the churchyard when we arrived at 9.45am!
Doreen & Henry Morris
Gold Cup Parking
Very many thanks to John and Jackie Moles for organising
the car parking, to Gillian Jackson for organising the refreshments, and to
all who helped them during the extended four-day Gold Cup festival this
We raised £2,240 from the car parking alone, and a further
£215 from the sale of refreshments, giving a grand total of £2,455! This
money will be a substantial contribution towards the cost (currently
estimated at £4,000) of redecorating the exterior of St Nicolas', scheduled
to take place towards the end of May.
Thank you all very much for all your hard work.
Gill Wood, PCC Treasurer