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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Youth Work Dates
Lounge – Last session before Easter: 28 March – restarts
Space – Last session Viney Hill (31 March) – restarts 29
Synergy & Elevate – restart 23 April
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
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.
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.
reporting from Prestbury Playing Field
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.
Celebrate! Plus – the story so far…
|Who’s it for?
did it begin?
What’s its purpose?
||A chance to check out faith
What’s been covered so far?
||What Christians believe and
how they grow
What’s happening now?
||Taking part in our church Lent
do we restart?
||Thursday 27 April at 8pm
Where will it be it?
||Watch our notices!
Who’s it for?
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
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
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.
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’.
This is the first of three
articles about Prestbury Parish.
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
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 (www.ppy.org.uk) 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 adminprestbury.net
Fr Stephen has a new number at the Rectory which is
575649 or email fr.stephenprestbury.net
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
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 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
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!
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.
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.
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