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Prestbury Parish Magazine

April 2006


The Easter Mystery

MLT Re-Mandating

Fr Michael’s Sabbatical Leave

Youth Prayer Vigil

Our Voice

Gold Cup Parking

Football Match Report

Church service or holiday slide show?

The Celebrate Page

Pakistan… India…

The Shaping of a Parish - Part 1

Some articles from this month's magazine have been included elsewhere in the web site:

The Services in Holy Week

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month


The Easter Mystery

There are some things about Jesus that we will never be able to understand on this side of heaven.

We’ll never understand the real misery and sadness that Jesus experienced on the cross. We do everything we can to prolong life and postpone death. Most people fear the pain of death. My experience as a priest is that, in truth, many Christians fear death and feel uncertainty of life beyond. The New Testament tells us that Jesus died for every sin that has ever been and ever will be committed. He has taken all that sin on himself. He conquered death and evil through allowing himself to be sacrificed.

We’ll never understand what went on in that spiritual battle in heaven when Jesus died on the cross. Every time we read the words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” we read a mystery. How could God forsake Himself? How can God who is spiritual and immortal become human and die?

I don’t know. Nor do you. We will never understand what it is to be completely forgiven and cleansed from our sins. We will never understand our redemption. For these are spiritual mysteries.

I believe that one day, beyond death, all of these mysteries will be made clear. For now, through the revelation of God in Scripture, we can know that there is only one Sacrifice for the sins of all. We can know there is a way of coming close to God and this involves his forgiveness through Jesus. We can know there is a plan of salvation for all and it is only made possible through Jesus Christ who died for us, who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

This is what matters. You can have the sure knowledge if not the complete understanding. These promises are for you. Jesus calls you to respond to him with your faith, your repentance and your willingness to obey him. At your baptism you were promised the forgiveness of sins and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to empower you to live a Christian life. He promised never to forsake you. He hasn’t and he won’t.

Many, many more people beyond the Christian faith don’t begin to understand. But with your help they could know. This Easter, rejoice in your knowledge of the saving love of Jesus – and share it.

Fr Stephen


MLT Re-Mandating

At its meeting in February the PCC reviewed Local Ministry in the parish, identifying many ways in which people are involved in all kinds of ministry. They concluded that Prestbury is moving steadily in the right direction of ‘all-member ministry’ – everyone exercising his or her ministry as a baptised member of the body of Christ. The PCC then passed a resolution asking Bishop Michael to re-mandate the existing Ministry Leadership Team.

All are invited to Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 29 April at 2pm when our team will be mandated alongside others. Please continue to pray for our Ministry Leadership Team: Fr Stephen, Fr Michael, Fr Grant, Fr Peter, Linda Biggs, Margaret Compton, Beryl Elliott, John Elliott, Margaret Holman, Sylvia McKenzie, Jerry Porter and Sue Read.

Fr Michael


Fr Michael’s Sabbatical Leave

In the November edition of the Magazine I wrote about my sabbatical leave which at that time seemed a long way off! As we all find, time has flown by and I begin my sabbatical this month – on Easter Monday, 17 April. Including time for our family holiday, this means that I shall be away until Sunday 13 August. I shall not be away from home for the whole time, but I shall be relieved of all my parish duties for that period. Arrangements have been made for other people to cover the things I do each week. Any emails sent to me will automatically be forwarded to the Team Office and replies sent from there. A message on the answer machine will redirect callers to other members of the clergy team and all my post will be sorted in the Office and dealt with (I hope!) or piled up for my return!

I am very fortunate to be able to spend some of my sabbatical time staying with various Christian communities, including Franciscans at Alnmouth in Northumberland, Jesuits at St Beuno’s in Wales and the community on Iona off the west coast of Scotland. Lots of time for prayer, reflection and reading! As I remember you all and include you in my prayers, please pray also for me and for the family during my absences.

Fr Michael


Farewell to Nick

Nick Kaleniuk finishes his placement in the Team Ministry on Easter Day. We have very much enjoyed having Nick, Alex and their baby son Nicholas with us every Sunday since last November, as well as at weekday events. We send Nick our love and prayers as he prepares to commence his training for ordination.


Youth Prayer Vigil
Maundy Thursday – St Nicolas’

On Maundy Thursday (13 April) young people will be going deeper into the significance of the last supper and the garden of Gethsemane. We will be taking part in a Passover meal, joining the congregation for the Maundy Thursday Liturgy and then moving into creative prayer activities. There will also be an opportunity to join other members of the congregations in the Maundy Thursday Vigil in St Nicolas’ Church. The event starts at 6pm at St Nicolas’ and will run until 11pm and it is open to all young people in Year 7 and upwards.

Andy Macauly

Youth Work Dates

Lounge – Last session before Easter: 28 March – restarts 27 April

Space – Last session Viney Hill (31 March) – restarts 29 April

Synergy & Elevate – restart 23 April

Andy Macauly


Our Voice

Over the next few months the young people from the different youth groups will be getting stuck in to a film making project. This will involve them ‘having their say’ – talking about issues that matter to them. Synergy & Elevate’s contribution includes some creative retelling of the Bible. It has already been great fun as well as helping all of us to think more deeply about key issues.

Pray for all the groups as they take part, that God would help us to connect our stories with his stories. The project will climax with a premier night (possibly even a weekend) and release of a DVD in the summer/autumn.

Andy Macauly


Gold Cup Parking

For several years now, Jackie Moles has opened up the car park at St Nicolas’ church for the race goers to the Cheltenham Festival, which is a great favourite with the Irish. On the first day of the festival Jackie spotted someone in a hat resembling three pints of a very famous Irish stout and remarked she would like one (hat that is). And to be sure the next day her wish came true! We had one happy Jackie.

We have a happy Treasurer too: the parking raised £2700 and the refreshments, coordinated by Gillian Jackson, raised £190. Thank you to Jackie and Gillian and all who helped them for all your hard work during Gold Cup Week.


Match Report

18 March 2006
Prestbury v West Cheltenham

It was a cold Saturday morning as Prestbury Parish lined up to play West Cheltenham. Although we had never played them before, they wore the same kit as our arch rivals St Matt’s. It was a good start from Prestbury who were playing against the wind and there were several chances to score, one of note an audacious lob from myself which I was about to celebrate but it dropped just over the bar. However, just before half time some slack defending and bad luck led to West Cheltenham squeezing the ball home.

The second half was even better from Prestbury who genuinely had the better chances with some good corners and intelligent play leading to near misses from Tim and Lee with Jack holding up the play well and bringing others into the game. There was a lot of effort put in with Stephen Murton racing down the flanks to chase up what seemed a lost cause which almost resulted in a goal. Even though Prestbury had most of the possession, West Cheltenham scored another goal in a controversial fashion as the linesman and referee disagreed over an offside call but the goal stood. Even so, Prestbury dug deep and got their reward when Tim burst the ball, and passed from the resulting drop ball for Lee to stab it in.

Overall it was a much improved performance and we all went to the Royal Oak after for chips and a few drinks. We had a good turnout in the crowd with many braving the bitter conditions including Lucy and Kathryn, although I think they may have been in it for the chips afterwards.

Chris Rudge
reporting from Prestbury Playing Field


Church service or holiday slide show?

Delightfully, it was both. In fact it was even more – it was a mini-pilgrimage. First we sang the marching song, Fr Michael leading us up and down the aisles, in and out of the pews, most of us waving flags or playing assorted percussion instruments. Next he asked us about any long journeys we had made recently. Then he showed us a selection of the colour photographs he had taken on his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, interspersing them with appropriate songs and prayers. We saw the crowded narrow streets of Jerusalem; we saw a shepherd leading his sheep on a rocky hillside with far less grass than we are used to here at home. We saw the boat out on the lake, and lastly we saw the pilgrims standing among the trees and rocks on the shore preparing for the open-air Eucharist. To conclude Fr Michael produced some round flat loaves of freshly-baked home-made bread, broke them in half and passed them round, inviting us all to take a piece and share in this simple meal. Yes, that was Celebrate! on the last Sunday of February.

Frances Murton


The Page

Celebrate! Plus – the story so far…

Who’s it for?   You
When did it begin?   October 2005
What’s its purpose?   A chance to check out faith questions
What’s been covered so far?   What Christians believe and how they grow
What’s happening now?   Taking part in our church Lent groups
When do we restart?   Thursday 27 April at 8pm
Where will it be it?   Watch our notices!
Who’s it for?   YOU!

What’s different on Palm Sunday? (9 April)

We shall meet at the Infant School at 9.30am, walk up to church for a short service, then back to school for breakfast.

Christian Aid Week

Is there any chance you could help with the house-to-house collection during Christian Aid week in May? Have a word with Lisa Roberts or Sharon Macauly on Sunday morning or phone Gill Ashman.

This Month at Celebrate....

We continue looking at who Jesus says he is and then after Easter we start a new series on Surprise! Do come and join us at 9.30 on Sunday mornings.


Pakistan… India…

Sarah Lyle and the team continue their expedition from the lowest point on Earth to the highest. They started at the Dead Sea in December and have cycled through Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran. They entered Pakistan on 11th February, and immediately were invited to play cricket with the border guards. They needed an escort throughout their journey in Pakistan, and their accommodation for the first few nights was on concrete floors in police stations. The road varied from straight to hairpin bends, flat to very steep, well made up to dirt track or mud bath. Across the desert in was single track with the sand encroaching on it; in other places it was shady and tree-lined, along canals, sometimes dual carriageway. The cyclists are noticeably stronger now than when they were in the early hills in Turkey.

They crossed into India on 1 March and had to abandon the van which they had bought in Jordan. They were struck with how colourful India is, how green the landscape – in total contrast to some of the countries they had travelled through. They also became more aware of the poverty. The weather varied between hot and sunny, drizzle, a sandstorm and pouring rain. Among the animals they have seen are oxen, water buffalo, camels and monkeys. The team left India and entered Nepal on 14 March.

For up-to-date information see the online diary on



Part 1: 1066 and all that ...

To most Cheltenham residents, Prestbury consists of no more than a twisting street of old houses on the way out to Cleeve Hill and Winchcombe. Even if you live here, the full extent of the parish can be a surprise. Some years ago, when we carried out a 20th century Beating of the Bounds, we found ourselves first negotiating a pig farm near Swindon village, then crossing the A435 near the (then Jardinerie) garden centre, and later picnicking high on the hill quite near the radio masts.

On the ground, the parish of Prestbury is a long thin rectangle, roughly four miles long and a mile and a half across. If we were laying out parish boundaries today, this is probably not the shape we would choose, but Prestbury’s boundaries, like those of most parishes outside towns, go back to the days of the Anglo Saxons. In those days each parish needed to be as far as possible self-sufficient, with a fair share of whatever natural resources the locality had to offer. So Prestbury stretches from the Cotswold ridge beyond Upper Hill Farm in the east almost to today’s mainline railway in the west, providing the parish with grazing land on the hilltop, woods for timber on the slopes and fertile land for crops in the valley. The two long boundaries are formed by streams, Hyde Brook to the north and Wyman’s Brook along the south.

Map of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Prestbury

The village lies right in the middle of its parish. When people first began to gather there we do not know, but in 1086 the compilers of the Domesday book found an established settlement with its own priest, and they rated its value at four times that of neighbouring Swindon. From the beginning, development centred around the mill stream, with water for domestic use and for power. Today, St Mary’s church lies close to the stream, and though no part of our building is dated much before 1200, the Domesday priest may well have ministered in an earlier church, however small and simple, on the same site.

Farmsteads clustered within the village, surrounded by the humbler dwellings of labourers. For a long time there were few houses if any outside the village centre, and the main thoroughfares within the parish served the flocks and herdsmen going between village and hill pasture, with narrower tracks for the men going out day by day to work in the fields. The line of Mill Street and Mill Lane was trodden out early by traffic to the mills; Shaw Green Lane is old too, its fluctuating width even today typical of an old drove road. The Burgage must have been laid out around 1249, when the bishop was granted a weekly market, and needed a wide level place to hold it. Deep Street is recorded in 1393; if we are to take the name at face value, some centuries of traffic must already have gone that way to wear it down.

People rarely travelled far beyond the parish, and most went on foot. Business or family connections might take some to Cheltenham, along the line of Prestbury Road. The way to Southam and beyond was along Church Lane, past the west end of the church and across Mill Lane to continue on the field path. Another track led from the end of Lake Street and northwest across what is now the race course towards Bishop’s Cleeve. For the few with business further afield, the road to London lay up Noverton Lane, via Stow. The modern Southam Road and Evesham Road did not exist.

The traditional village should boast a manor house, and Prestbury manor was already there when the Normans came to England. This was not today’s ‘Manor House’ on the corner of Lake Street (although that has an interesting history as a bakery, there is no evidence associating it with any manor), but a moated building to the west of Spring Lane. This imposing structure, one of the residences of the bishops of Hereford, was such a noteworthy feature in the landscape that it may even have given the village its name: Prestbury, ‘the priest’s fortified place’.

Beryl Elliott

This is the first of three articles about Prestbury Parish.

Part 1      Part 2      Part 3



Parish Annual Meeting

The Vestry Meeting and Annual Meeting will be on Sunday 2 April at 6.30pm. in St Mary’s Church, Mill Street

Please make every effort to attend the Annual Vestry Meeting and Parish Annual Meeting.

During these meetings Churchwardens, Assistant Wardens and PCC members will be elected.

Please see the church notice boards for nomination lists.

The Prestbury and Pittville Youth Charity ( AGM will follow on immediately after the Parish Annual Meeting. If you are a member, please stay on for what will be a brief meeting!


The Team Office

The Team Office has been relocated from Fr Stephen’s study to its new location at St Nicolas’. Kay Porter, our Administrator, will be in the Office as usual on Mondays 0900-1230, Thursdays 0900-1200 and Fridays 0900-1230. The Team Office phone number remains the same: 244373 or email

Fr Stephen has a new number at the Rectory which is 575649 or email


Memorial Service for Malcolm McKelvey

There is to be a Memorial Service for Malcolm on Sunday 18 June at 2.30pm at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham. If anybody would like to go, please contact Christine so that she can give the school a rough idea of numbers.


Saturday Lettings at St Nicolas’ Hall

The Management Committee of St Nicolas’ Church Hall is offering a special reduced lettings rate to groups that would like to book the Hall regularly on a Saturday at least ten times a year. The Hall in Swindon Lane is an extremely popular venue for daytime and evening activities Monday to Friday but the Committee would like to see more people making use of it at weekends. During the week there is a packed timetable which includes portrait painting and calligraphy classes, Marle Hill WI, pilates, aerobics, playgroup and toddler groups as well as Guides, Brownies and youth clubs.

Contact Tricia Wilson on for more information.


Christian Aid

Christian Aid Week – can you help?

Christian Aid Week is from 14 to 20 May. We hope that our usual loyal volunteers will be able to help us and that others will join them.

On Saturday 6th May there will be a Christian Aid Fair at Holy Apostles’ Church Hall, London Road. We shall be running a grocery stall there and would appreciate donations and/or help. Details later!

If you can help in any way please let us know.

(St Mary’s) Gill Ashman
(St Nicolas’) Paddy Spurgeon


St Mary’s Upper Room

Many thanks to Lynda and Roger Hodges for repainting and curtaining the Upper Room and improving the cupboard spaces there. The room is used regularly by both church and other groups and it is now a much more cheerful place to be in!

Ken Bradbury


Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir

We had a wonderful, light-hearted concert with a superb performance by the Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir and their soloist, Kate Barrett. Everyone sat tapping their feet and swaying to the music which covered everything from Gilbert & Sullivan to Andrew Lloyd Webber. To date the net profit stands at £533.88 – well done and thank you to all who helped and supported us.

Marion Beagley


Mothers' Union

Mothers’ Union

This month’s meeting is at 7.30pm on Tuesday 25 April in St Mary’s Church. Mrs Dawn Firkins will give a talk ‘Up to speed’ on drug awareness. Please join us.

Marion Beagley



St Mary’s Bakestall and Traidcraft Stall

Our next bakestall will be a week early on Sunday 9 April (Palm Sunday) with contributions from members with surnames G-M. This will coincide with the new monthly Traidcraft stall, so please bring twice as much money with you!

If anyone would like to join the cake-making rota, please let us know.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews



Prestbury Parish Magazine - April 2006

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