Most of you will already know that I am to retire from stipendiary
ministry this autumn.
Our last Sunday at All Saints’ will be 5 November, and the following
Sunday, 12 November – Remembrance Sunday – will be our last in St Mary’s
and St Nicolas’. In the intervening months there will be time enough for
We invite friends from all areas of our life to a Eucharist of
Thanksgiving on Saturday 4 November at All Saints’, at which Bishop Michael
has kindly agreed to preside and preach. It was impossible to choose in
which church to hold it, so in the end I drew it from a hat!
This year, 2006, marks our Ruby Wedding anniversary in July. It will not
be easy to get most of our family together at this time, so we shall
include a thanksgiving on 4 November. I give thanks for all the love and
support which Vicky has invariably given me, not least during the thirty
eight years of full time ministry.
Life is a pilgrimage, a journey towards God – before the term Christian
came to be used, the very first name for our faith was The Way. Along the
Way, we travel with fellow pilgrims, hopefully supporting each other. A
priest’s role differs along the path – to lead, to walk beside, to comfort
and console, maybe to carry and to teach. He is at all times a sacramental
and prayerful bridge between pilgrim and Christ – who is both the unseen,
ever-present fellow traveller, and the destination. The priest has to learn
that there are times when he also has to be carried by the love and support
of pilgrims, of whom he has been given care.
Fr Peter Chicken, parish priest of SS Philip & James, Leckhampton, was a
big man in every way. Great in faith and integrity, Peter was a feet-on-the
ground, hard working, caring parish priest. He was a visionary leader,
prepared to face up to and tackle the needs of today’s Church both in his
parish and in the Deanery. A most loving husband and father, who never
forgot his Geordie roots, Peter was a great pilgrimage man. It was a shock
to us at Easter when Peter was diagnosed with untreatable, rapid, malignant
cancer. He faced up to it, typically, with faith and courage. ‘Very soon’,
he told me, ‘I shall know all the answers’. And now, no doubt, he does! Our
prayers and love are for Pat and their family. May he rest in peace and
rise in glory.
For my friend, Peter, and for all you, my friends, ‘I thank my God every
time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers
for you.’ Philippians 1:3.
We pray for all those being ordained Priest or Deacon in our Diocese at
this time. We pray also for Annabel, Freya, James,
Leah, Louis and Nicholas, who will make their First Communion on
Sunday 2 July.
Bishop Michael writes:- ‘Vocation is very high on the Church’s
agenda at the present time. We need Christian people aware of what God
wants to them to be doing with their lives and motivated to do it. We need
more Christian teachers and more Christian Youth Workers. In our churches
we need more Priests and more Readers. In particular we need to challenge
the young about their vocation. As a diocese and in every parish we need to
explore this together.’
Vocations Sunday 2006 will be kept in the Diocese of Gloucester
on Sunday 2 July – the same weekend as the ordinations of deacons and
priests. In preparation, a representative from every parish in the Diocese
is to attend a special Evensong in the Cathedral on Sunday 25 June. The
Bishop will preach about vocation and give to each person present a copy of
a Pastoral Letter to be read in every church in the Diocese on the
A very warm welcome to Peter Greaves, who has moved to Cheltenham from
Tunbridge Wells. Peter has extensive experience as a parish church
organist, including Kent, and Farnham in
Surrey, and we very much look forward to his leadership.
Peter is enthusiastic to build up and extend the choir, and to encourage
music- making, including our membership of the Royal School of Church
We ask God’s blessing on his ministry here.
Boat Girl at St Mary's
When you are boat girl or boy you carry a tub
of incense. You have another person carrying a thurible. You
walk around the church. If you are on your own you carry both.
Lottie, age 6
The Pentecost Picnic organised by the Churches Together in North
Cheltenham on Sunday 4 June was well attended on a hot afternoon. While we
all gathered the ice was broken with a few party-type games and then after
a DIY picnic lunch there was a brief Worship led by Andy Macauly, youth
worker from Prestbury and All Saints’, with music provided by the
Celebrate! Music Group. Andy then persuaded the children and some
unsuspecting parents into a game of rounders – being so hot the drinks
stall run by the URC did a brisk trade afterwards! What might have
developed into a long lazy afternoon in the sun was curtailed by the
gathering of dark clouds and a sudden downpour – the weather forecasters
certainly got that right!
We are grateful to St Mary’s Infant School for allowing us to use the
school and the lovely setting of the playing field for this enjoyable
occasion, which was attended by families from all the local churches. The
next CTiNC event will be a joint service at St Michael’s, Whaddon, in
Fiona Hall, URC
We must say thank you to Susan Banks and Tricia Wilson for their time as
Lettings Secretaries of St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ Halls, respectively.
Susan served for over fifteen years, Tricia for nearly nine years. Both
carried out this work faithfully and well, often well beyond the call of
duty. On behalf of both churches and of all the hall-users, our grateful
The Letting Secretary of the Prestbury Hall is now Mrs Linda Dove, and
inquiries concerning St Nicolas’ Hall are now made with the Team Office.
Details are inside the back cover of the Magazine.
Earlier in the year, Mrs Diana Griffin relinquished her role after ten
years as co-ordinator of the Prestbury Clock Winders’ Society. This unsung
group was founded in 1985 by the late David Chudleigh, and operates under
the motto, ‘Communa Bonum’. Members take it in turns to climb the tower
steps twice a week to wind the church clock at St Mary’s.
Over the years Diana and her husband, Tim, have recruited, encouraged
and generously entertained members of the group, and we are most grateful
to them. Mrs Vivienne Kinnear has now kindly become co-ordinator.
We are also grateful to Des Weeks, former landlord of the Plough, who
for many years has been the ‘engineer’, adjusting the mechanism to keep
Fr Michael will be back on duty on Sunday 13 August, which just happens
to be the deadline for the September magazine, so there will be no peace
for him from me! We hope he is refreshed from his sabbatical and look
forward to hearing about it in Sunday sermons, weekday talks and, of
course, magazine articles.
Tradition tells that after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,
the Apostle Santiago (St James), brother of St John and son of Zebedee,
left Judea for Spain to spread the Gospel. He wasn’t too successful,
converting just seven people, so he returned to Jerusalem.
Santiago led the Council of the apostles in Jerusalem, described in Acts
ch 15, and he was the first apostle to be martyred, beheaded by Herod
Agrippa in 44AD.
Legend has it that his friends stole away the body, and sent it to Spain
in a stone boat without oars, sails or crew, landing at Padrón, not so very
far from Cape Finisterre – the reputed end of the earth. On arrival,
Santiago’s body was said to be covered in scallop shells, and his friends
buried him in a field some 20km inland from the coast, in a spot where the
local queen had witnessed a series of miracles and converted to
Santiago lay forgotten for several centuries. Then, in 813, a Christian
hermit followed sweet music and twinkling stars to a remote hillside in
Galicia. In what became known as the Field of Stars (Compostela), he found
human remains which were identified as those of Santiago. Soon the king of
Spain built a chapel on the field, and declared Santiago the patron saint
of Spain, and his tomb became a shrine.
Visions of Santiago multiplied, and he was called upon to support the
Christians against the Moors (Muslims from Africa) who were fighting to
establish Islam throughout Spain. To some he became Santiago Matamoro (the
Moor slayer), pictured riding a white charger, sword in hand.
To many more Santiago became the peace-loving
upholder of pilgrims who came to pray at the tomb*. Over the centuries,
pilgrims streamed to Compostela walking the Camino (path) from all over
Europe – popes, kings, wealthy people and poor. More than half a million
pilgrims travelled in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, many from this
country. Beautiful churches were built along the various Caminos across
France, Italy, Germany and Spain, and refuges and monasteries were built
along the way to offer hospitality. Compostela was the most visited Holy
Place after Jerusalem and Rome.
The Camino fell into disuse in the 18th and 19th centuries, but was
revived in the 1960s largely thanks to the efforts of the humble parish
priest of O Cebreiro, a tiny mountain top village on the Camino in the
Spanish region of Cantábrica. Interest has grown, and in 2005 some 200,000
people reached Santiago, now a World Heritage site. We visited
O Cebreiro, holding
our own Mass in the small Romanesque church.
We began our pilgrimage along the Camino from Roncesvalles, high in the
Pyrenees, on the Franco-Spanish border. Like all pilgrimages it was for a
multiplicity of reasons – amongst them: a personal quest for God, the
opportunity to see beautiful landscapes and historic buildings, to walk,
talk and pray with fellow Christians for a while, and to pray beside the
grave of one of Jesus’ disciples.
Give me my scallop shell of quiet;
My staff of faith to walk upon;
My scrip of joy, immortal diet;
My bottle of salvation;
My gown of glory (hope’s true gauge)
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage
Sir Walter Raleigh
* St James is usually depicted in a pilgrim’s hat and
staff, bearing a scallop shell, a gourd filled with wine and a scrip
Fr Stephen Celebrates Mass -
photos by Janet Green
The Churches and the Pilgrims - photos by
The Road to Santiago – May 2006
After Jerusalem and Rome, the greatest shrine in Christendom was in
northern Spain at Santiago de Compostela, long believed to be the burial
place of Saint James. Countless thousands of pilgrims throughout the
centuries have followed – and still follow – the long and sometimes
dangerous road or ‘camino’ to Santiago, seeking spiritual enlightenment and
forgiveness for their sins.
And so it was that, in a modern version of the great journey, a group of
thirty-four British pilgrims met up at Heathrow on a sunny day in May. We
came mainly from Prestbury and All Saints’ but were joined by a handful of
fellow pilgrims from other parts of the country, who were soon to become
firm friends. Together we travelled from high in the Pyrenees to the
Atlantic coast, long thought to be the end of the earth.
For me the memorable aspects of the journey were the three Ws – walking,
worship and wine (the latter representing the fellowship and fun in the
Walking – we made most of the journey in comfort by coach, informed and
amused by our charming Spanish guide Emma. But most days we managed to
travel part of the camino on foot. These walks were an important part of
the experience, giving opportunities for quiet reflection or conversations
with old and new friends, as the mood took us.
Worship – the settings for our worship as a group were varied, from the
splendour of the high altar in Burgos cathedral lit by mediaeval glass, to
the stark simplicity of an ancient chapel high in the mountains. But,
wherever we were, our celebrations of the Eucharist, though short and
simple, seemed to bring a fresh meaning and perspective to the familiar
And as we travelled our personal journeys became entwined with those of
our fellow pilgrims. As relationships deepened, often over a meal and a
glass or two of wine, there was much laughter, a few tears, and a real
sense of love and support for one another.
All in all, a memorable experience – we are very grateful to Fr Stephen
for making it possible.
Although we can’t claim to have suffered the hardships of the pilgrims
walking with heavy backpacks, we felt a unity of purpose, and our knowledge
of languages enabled us to converse with other travellers from around the
world, confirming the Pilgrimage’s truly international appeal.
Nor did we imagine when we embarked on our journey that John (a less
than regular church-goer!) would end up reading a lesson in Spanish during
our mass in Santiago Cathedral on the last day. However, we have now
discovered that the unexpected invariably occurs on pilgrimages led by
Father Stephen! And was it simply by chance that our journey began at
Roncesvalles in a thick damp mist and ended at Santiago de Compostela in
John and Stella Caney
The Team-wide Education and Nurture Group met in mid-May to review
recent activities and to consider future Education and Nurture events.
Lent Groups had once again been well supported, although a couple of the
groups had been rather small. The small profit made on the charge for books
and CDs had made it possible to send resources out to Argentina and St
Helena at no cost. The Easter week social evening for group leaders and
hosts had been welcomed. It was felt that the time was right to look for an
alternative to the York Course for Lent 2007. A presentation on
St Matthew’s Gospel was suggested.
The Maundy Thursday afternoon event for children at All Saints,
concluding with an interactive narrative of the Last Supper was very
successful and was felt to be worth encouraging as a team-wide event in
future years. Stations of the Cross continued to be a valued part of the
Holy Week worship, especially the all-age event at All Saints on Good
Friday. A new set of Station pictures, produced by the Julian Shrine in
Norwich, had been identified; with the introduction of Stations of the
Resurrection after Easter, it was suggested that it might be worth
exploring the production of art work for Stations via links into schools or
Father Paul was to present an evening to consider the life of St Peter
on 22 June at St Mary’s. In the Autumn a team-wide initiative straddling
mission, education and worship would be taking place using the Bible
Society project ‘8.32 – it’s time to set the truth free’. It had
already been arranged that Education initiatives taking place during this
period would reflect the Biblical emphasis. The Autumn programme would
include an Education on Location event hosted by each of the three churches
in the Team, and a Quiet Day at Nympsfield. The current year’s activities
would conclude with a one-off event in Advent.
There had been no Walsingham Pilgrimage this year but attention was
drawn to the annual Glastonbury Pilgrimage in June. The Walsingham
Pilgrimage and Sidmouth weekend were already in the 2007 Calendar. It was
suggested that a locally based Parish Weekend be considered for 2008.
The group will be pleased to consider any suggestions for future events
and activities in the ongoing Education and Nurture programme across the
Team. Please contact Colin Holman at St Mary’s, Margaret Compton at St
Nicolas’ or Jennifer Swinbank at All Saints’.
Elevate Garden Party Sunday 16 July;
restarts Sunday 3 September
Synergy Garden Party Sunday 16 July;
restarts Sunday 3 September
The Lounge restarts Tuesday 5
The Space Summer Party Thursday 13
July; restarts 7 September
Generation Rising Alton Towers Trip,
Saturday 22 July
360 Holiday Project Mon 14 - Fri 18 August
Greenbelt Fri 25 - Mon 28 August
Youth Team Meeting Thursday 31 August, 7.30pm St Nicolas’ Lounge
‘Our Voice’ Premiere Night Saturday 9
September 7.30pm St Nicolas’ Church
For more info: Andy Macauly
Saturday 9 September 7.30pm St Nicolas’ Church
Young people from Prestbury & Pittville Youth groups are fully involved
in producing a film entitled ‘Our Voice’. The idea is for young people to
have a voice – this involves retelling parts of the Bible in contemporary
ways, recording activities they are in to and voicing their views on key
The resulting film will be screened on Saturday 9 September at St
Nicolas’ Church from 7.30pm. It will have an ‘Oscars’ theme – so lots of
posh frocks (and suits) and plenty of awards. All are invited to attend
what promises to be a fantastic night, tickets are £3 adults, £1.50
concessions, £7 families. DVDs (including out takes) will be on sale too!
Proceeds go to Prestbury & Pittville Youth. Please support the youth work
and engage with what the young people have to say.
For more info contact Andy Macauly.
This summer we are running a one week project for young people aged
11-18. The week includes an outdoor activity day, community action, team
building, new challenges and activities. Participants get the chance to
achieve the Gloucestershire award as well as being part of a great team
doing something really worthwhile. The dates are 14 to 18 August. If
you would like further information please contact Andy Macauly. There is
only a small charge for the end of project trip and everything else is
free! Please pray for this week that there is good team spirit in a safe
Greenbelt 25-29 August 2006
The fantastic Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival (at Cheltenham
racecourse!) is taking place again this year. About 30 people (young &
young-ish) from here will be camping – it is not too late for any young
people interested to join us!
For further information about the festival and the international
speakers, musicians and artists (for adults and children as well as young
people) log on to www.greenbelt.org.uk. Weekend tickets are available from
the web or reduced day tickets for locals (with address ID) are available
on site during festival. You can also contact Andy Macauly for further
In July we expect to continue with our theme from the old testament book
of psalms. We’re also looking forward to focussing on Rockers and the
pre-school age group in particular on 2 July. The other ‘special event’
this month is due to take place at 10.30am (NB later start than usual) on
16 July at the Infant School. After our outdoor worship, there will be
games and a barbecue to enjoy together. Last meeting this term is 23 July.
… and the summer holiday
- Between 30 July and 27 August there will be no Celebrate! Be sure to
put 3 September in your diary, because that is when we meet again in
St Mary’s at 9.30am.
- While we have some holiday time off school and work and our normal
routine, why not take the chance to pop into a Christian bookshop to find
a book or DVD to enjoy over the summer?
- How about getting a family ticket for the amazing Greenbelt Festival
that runs over the August bank holiday from 25 to 28 August – at the race
course? People flock here from many miles away and it’s right on our
doorstep. Why not take advantage of the wealth of activites on offer?
Money saving tip – take along proof of your local residence and get a
reduction in the ticket price.
- Regular Sunday and weekday services in St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ are
listed on the back cover of this magazine, special extra services are in
the Diary; you may find a change is as good as a rest if you’d like to
come along to any of them.
Dear Lord, may the fullness of your love
come in to the lives of our church, our neighbours and our families,
for Jesus’ sake.
Fr Michael returns
Remember to pray for Fr Michael as his sabbatical continues into July.
He’ll be back in the parish in the middle of August and with us when
Christian Aid Week
Many thanks to everyone who contributed in any way to
produce the excellent total of £5501.21. We thought you would like to know
how this total was reached.
House-to-house collection at St
House-to-house collection at St Nicolas’ £1016.53
Collection at Celebrate! £83.33
Half of collection at Ecumenical service £76.80
Collection at Elevate & Synergy service £23.10
St Mary’s bakestall £20.00
St Mary’s refreshments £12.21
Collecting tins at Park and Bakery Stores £8.22
Late envelopes so far £13.66
It has been very encouraging to receive so much support
from everyone in the parish.
Paddy Spurgeon (St Nicolas’) &
Gill Ashman (St Mary’s)
Gloucestershire Police Male Choir
My thanks to all who supported the fine concert in June
in aid of the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line. A happy time was had by all
and my thanks to the choir for kindly presenting the concert on behalf of
the children. Twelve children from Chernobyl were able to join us and they
sang two songs in Belorussian, The blue carriage and We walk
together joyfully, bringing the house down because it was so emotional.
We raised over a thousand pounds, which will be used for these needy
children. Thank you all very much.
Open Gardens Weekend
My thanks to all the participating gardeners who kindly
worked so hard to make their
gardens available for us to enjoy.
Cream teas in the
church were very popular and thanks to all the ladies of the parish who
worked over the weekend to produce the lovely teas. We raised the grand sum
of £1400 for church funds and we are very grateful to everyone who
Rockers & Celebrate! Working Together
Rockers will also be hosting part of the Celebrate!
Service on Sunday 2 July. This will include lots of fun action songs, and a
short story for children and adults to enjoy. See you all there!
Rockers’ Garden Party
Our annual Garden Party will be hosted by Fr Stephen
Gregory at Prestbury Rectory on Thursday 6 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 Fete and Barn Dance
Saturday 8 July – Fete
2-5pm, Barn Dance from 7.00pm
There is still time to offer help and goodies for the
fete. We start at 2pm on the Scout Field in the Burgage and finish at 5pm.
The evening Barn Dance will now take place at The
Plough, Mill Street, from 7 to 11pm, not as previously advertised at
the Royal Oak. This is due to the licensing laws and we are most grateful
to Simon for helping us on previous occasions. There will be no charge for
the dance but a BBQ will be available at a reasonable cost for your
Come along and enjoy this family fete and dance – bring
your children and your grand-parents – there will be something for
everyone. All proceeds will go to church funds.
Calling all Cricketers
Anyone who would be interested in playing cricket for the
parish on Saturday 15 July, please talk to Fr Grant or Andy Macauly.
St Mary’s Bakestall
The next bakestall at St Mary’s is on Sunday 16 July with
contributions from those with surnames G-M. Do contact one of us if you
would like to join the rota. There will be no bakestall in August.
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Our next meeting will be a garden party on Tuesday
25 July. The time has yet to be confirmed, either afternoon or evening.
Watch the pewsheet nearer the time. Please
join us – new members will be most welcome. There will be no meeting in
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
Reg Charity No 280879R
Annual Sponsored Ride and Walk
On Saturday 9 September the Gloucestershire Historic
Churches Trust will be organising its Annual Sponsored Ride and Walk. It is
the Trust’s major fund raising event and if you can ride a bicycle or a
horse or walk, it is hoped you will be willing to participate in it. If
none of these applies to you, your support by agreeing to sponsor
participants will constitute an excellent alternative. If you could spare
some time on the day to keep our churches open and welcome the visitors
that would be most appreciated, too.
Further information about the event, together with
sponsorship forms, is available from Bob Lyle at St Mary’s and Nigel
Woodcock at St Nicolas’.
Half of the money raised is given to the churches of the
choices of the participants. The other half is to be given to the Trust for
its grant aid fund, which exists solely to assist churches and chapels
facing financial headaches in respect of repairs and restoration costs.
The cause is a good one and, although good weather cannot
be guaranteed, all those who have taken part in past years have experienced
an enjoyable day.
Please consider how YOU can best support the event. Thank
Team Pilgrimage to Walsingham 2007
– dates for your diary
The next Prestbury & All Saints Team Ministry Pilgrimage
to Walsingham will take place from Friday 4 May to Monday 7 May 2007.
Further details will be given later in the year, but it is not too early to
indicate an interest in joining.
Jam Jars, Bottles …
I have a large number of jam jars mostly with lids, all
shapes and sizes, and would be pleased to pass them on to anybody who is
making jams, chutneys etc, maybe for the church fete or other event.
I am organising a bottle stall at the Church Fete,
Saturday 8 July, and would be pleased to receive donations, large or small,
edible, drinkable or cosmetic!! Please bring to church or contact me. Thank
Rockers Musicians Required
Do you have a spare hour on a Thursday? Can you play an
instrument? Pre-school children and their carers would be very grateful if
you could join the rota and play music whilst we sing and dance. Music will
be provided. Please contact Vicky Dunn.