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Prestbury Parish Magazine

March 2007

Cheltenham Racecourse from the perimeter path by Stephen Murton
Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.                  Hebrews 12:1b

Photograph: Cheltenham Racecourse from the perimeter path by Stephen Murton


Happy Lent!

INSOMNIA '07 – Gloucester Cathedral

Celebrate! Ladies Night

Ecumenical Service

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Changing Theology of the Eucharist

Lent 2007

Coffee and Hazlenut Meringue Cake

Horse Racing

Parish Annual Meetings

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

Match Reports of North Cheltenham Churches football team

The Registers

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month


Happy Lent!

YOU WILL BE READING this during Lent and so firstly I’d like to wish you a ‘happy Lent’! This season should be a positive time of growth – personal spiritual growth – and I hope that you are making use of the opportunities on offer within our Team Ministry. I would also like to encourage you to join us for Evening Prayer at St Nicolas’ (4.30 pm Monday to Saturday) when we will be using ‘Praying Together in Lent’. This booklet of prayer material and resources is also available for you to use at home – please ask if you would like your own copy.

Lent leads us prayerfully to Holy Week and the Triduum – the three great services of the Church’s year on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. This year we will have the opportunity to share in those wonderful liturgies together as a whole Team: Prestbury and All Saints’. The ‘first act’ will be in St Nicolas’ on Maundy Thursday, the ‘2nd act’ in St Mary’s on Good Friday and the ‘3rd act’ in All Saints’ on Holy Saturday. We make the journey through these three days with Our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also important for us to make the journey with one another. Sharing this most holy time together should be a source of great joy. Just because a service does not happen in ‘your church’ please do not make that an excuse to stay away. Transport between the churches will be arranged!

There are always lots of things going on but I would like to tell you about one thing which I think is very exciting. Our PCCs have had to reconsider the question of admission to communion before confirmation, because the rules have changed. The most significant change is the removal of a lower age limit, which used to be seven years. In agreement between parents and myself I shall be able to admit to communion on the basis of baptism rather than age. (Fr Grant has written about this elsewhere in this magazine.) After Easter I will be working with Celebrate! leaders to prepare the Celebrate! congregation at St Mary’s to receive communion and we hope to have our first Celebrate! communion service in May. I will also be hoping to discuss with parents in all three churches about admitting their baptised children to communion.

‘What has happened to confirmation?’ I hear you ask! Well it hasn’t gone away and is a wonderful opportunity to declare publicly one’s faith commitment. We will also be working with any adults who wish to prepare for confirmation, hopefully at a service in June.

Happy Lent!

Fr Michael


INSOMNIA '07 – Gloucester Cathedral

ON THE EVENING of Friday January 26th a minibus full of young people and leaders headed to Gloucester Cathedral to spend the night AWAKE!

The purpose of this was to raise money for local homelessness charities, those in our partner Diocese in India and to give space for young people to engage with the reality of homelessness. There were several hundred young people from all over the Diocese there too, with local homelessness organisations and a packed programme of events running right through the night! All our young people had an amazing time, stayed awake and raised £1000 between them. Here is a taste of some of what went on and how our young people felt about it.

Thank you to all those who supported our young people through sponsorship!

Sharon Macauly

Cardboard City
Cardboard City

We all thoroughly enjoyed our sleepless night in the Cathedral. After an awesome opening by Andy Flanagan including worship and song, we enjoyed chilling out and attending many of the activities! I mainly enjoyed the drama about homelessness. The whole night was so much fun and it all went to a good cause!

Kathryn Thomas

Insomnia was a great experience. It started off with some inspiring worship led by Andy Flannigan and then we got the chance to find out some more about homelessness. A number of charities and groups had set up stalls with information and answers to a quiz we were given. Throughout the night there were many activities to participate in. Along with the usual football, open mike and toast eating I took part in a project where we were given the amount of money a homeless person has to survive on for a day and we had to make the food we would buy and cook. It’s scary how little they can buy with the funds they have. We also had the opportunity to experience homelessness by spending some time outside in the cold, talking to people who encounter homelessness every day.

Andy Wood

Insomnia '07 was an event that I will remember for a long time: for the meaning behind it, for what I learnt and the enjoyment I had from it. As many would agree, it really touched everyone, giving insight about homelessness and what it means. For us staying up all night we had the chance to experience what exactly some of this was like, and some of the facts we learnt were horrifying. We learnt of the need some young people have for support, from people such as those at Night Stop, who make it possible to allow young people to carry on with their lives. For me what made it was the performance and worship by Andy Flanagan, the words and music were something I will remember forever. For Andy Flanagan’s involvement in such an event shows that he cares, and he wants to change this problem of youth homelessness. In a way this made me more determined, for the rest of the night, to get involved and try to learn as much as I could. One workshop I attended was the cooking to a tight budget, where I learnt the importance of having friends, and working together, otherwise it is practically impossible to live by yourself as a youth when homeless. This event is something I will not forget, and I am pleased with the money and awareness that was raised about the issue of homelessness.

James Radburn

Jamming in the early hours of the morning
Jamming in the early hours of the morning


Celebrate! Ladies Night

What is community trade? A good crowd of ladies from Celebrate! met for an evening together with a ‘Body Shop’ consultant who unpacked this question by describing the many local communities the company work with to produce the ingredients of their products; conveying that they pay fair prices to the people they trade with, which in turn allows communities to school children, build wells, pay for medical treatment, and women within them growing as equals to men as they develop businesses and gain respect. The Body Shop has been trading with such communities for over 20 years and as a consequence we were told stories of many lives transformed.

Trying out some of the products as we chatted and caught up, was a good way to spend the evening. However that wasn’t the only reason we held the evening. It was our intention that all the commission from the party along with the proceeds of the raffle go to INSOMNIA ’07 – (an event which you can also read about in this edition of the magazine). Our evening raised over £80, which will be split by INSOMNIA between homelessness projects here in Gloucestershire and in our partner diocese in India.

A great night, a good financial contribution, and I hear on the grapevine that people are talking about our next night together – so watch this space!

Sharon Macauly


Ecumenical Service

ON SUNDAY JANUARY 21st All Saints’ were privileged to host an Ecumenical Service during the week of Christian Unity. Many churches were represented and we were taken, in thought, to a village in the Eastern Cape, near Durban.

Readings from the Foot of the Cross told of the difficulties and suffering trying to maintain life and faith in this area ravaged by HIV/AIDS.

A youthful and enthusiastic group of musicians from St Gregory’s led us in our singing, and recorded African music from the area gave us time and atmosphere to meditate.

It was both an inspiring and humbling experience.

When we came to offer refreshments after the service the cups and saucers we had set out were quickly used. As we scurried around to set out more crockery we realised that the congregation well exceeded our expectations! This and the fact that they were happy to stay for further fellowship was very pleasing.

Mary Shepherd


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

ON SUNDAY 21st JANUARY 70 members of the congregations of the Churches Together in North Cheltenham (CTiNC) met for the annual service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year for the first time we were at All Saints’ in Pittville.

This year’s service used material from South East Africa and during worship we were asked in different ways to reflect on the lives of fellow Christians there whose lives have been blighted by AIDS.

The music for the service was provided (as it has been for the last three CTiNC services) by members of St Gregory’s Music Group. The other churches did readings and led prayers. An especially moving part was a meditation ‘At the foot of the Cross’ performed by members of St Mary’s and St Nicolas’. Here, each verse of a song was interspersed by the thoughts of parents, wives and children who, whilst not all afflicted with AIDS, have been devastatingly affected by it.

After the service, tea and delicious cakes were provided by All Saints’ and we were able to move around and meet and talk with our friends from the other churches. We were also able to fully appreciate the glories of a church described as ‘Cheltenham’s hidden gem’.

These ecumenical services are an excellent way to get a spiritual lift. Why not join us for the next CTiNC service which will be for Christian Aid week and will be held at Prestbury URC on Sunday 13th May at 6.30pm?

Fiona Hall


The Changing Theology of the Eucharist

AS FR MICHAEL’S letter tells us, the rules for First Communion have changed and we as a parish will be changing. Gone is the old age limit of seven and although there are still rules about how to prepare people for communion, how to celebrate and record it, there is a clear change to saying that Communion is the right of all the baptised, whatever their age or understanding.

For some years now First Communion has made a big difference to the lives and worship of our 7-13 year olds. However, when it started many of us did not actually change our views on what it meant to be ‘ready’ for Communion. Rather we just saw that younger children were capable of being spiritual, capable of knowing things about God, capable of beginning a relationship with him in their own right.

Mentally, what most of us did when Communion before Confirmation was introduced was extend a lot of the ideas about Confirmation back. In our services we asked first communicants to make promises and declare themselves ready for this important step. But the new theology (or to be more accurate the very old theology that has been rediscovered) challenges us in a different way. It says we have been asking the wrong questions. Receiving Communion is not about being ready, not about being capable, not about our taking another step. Communion is all about God and his grace, not about us and our merits.

Ironically the Church of England has learnt this lesson, not by thinking about Communion, but by thinking about Baptism, about Alpha courses, discipleship and the journey of faith. What Anglican theologians have come to realise (a point which the Orthodox never forgot) is that Baptism is the whole of our faith. In Baptism God gives us everything – the keys to the kingdom and his very Self. He does not hold anything back.

Bishop Michael puts it like this, ‘Admission to the body of Christ and all that goes with it is complete in the sacrament of baptism. No one is half in the Church, no one is half committed… Logically [first communion] follows, where a candidate is old enough to eat, straight away from baptism. We emerge from the water of baptism, are clothed in Christ and sit down to eat with the Church.’

In the past we tended to see Baptism as freely given but Communion as somehow earned – a reward for knowing enough or behaving well or coming to Church regularly. But actually Communion is not a prize for being a good Christian; it is the spiritual food which gives us the energy to be good Christians.

Confirmation is still important. Growing into the promises made on our behalf at Baptism is still important. Faith is as much a journey of change and growth as it ever was. But Communion is God’s gift to us to keep us going along the way as we journey towards his heavenly banquet.

We cannot understand Communion for it is a mystery – something Jesus does not tell us to think about but to do. ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19). Communion is one of the four pillars of Christian life witnessed in Acts 2:42, ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ So we cannot wait for children to be old enough to understand and we certainly would never want to say God’s grace is only for those with a certain IQ or reading-age. Nor is Communion something we are ‘ready’ for. The Eucharist is the means by which God changes us into his Image, the way he transforms us to be like him. No one can be ready for that. But thank God, he is ready for us!

We see this time and again in Jesus’ ministry. All people had to do for Jesus to come to them was to want him. Yes, Jesus made demands, yes those demands could be enormous, a total change of life. But that always came later.

Take the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. At the start of the story Zacchaeus is small in stature and small in spirit – a typical tax farmer, despised both for collaborating with the Romans and for the ruthless way he turned a profit on his tax farming by overcharging the townspeople. Jesus was passing through his town but Zacchaeus could not see through the crowds and no one would let him near the front, so he climbed up into a sycamore tree. There are no signs that he had great plans to change his life, no stirrings of repentance or great knowledge of God. He simply wanted to see Jesus – he recognised something special, even if he could not have said what it was. Jesus looked at him in his tree and without another word invited himself to tea. He did not make any conditions or demands. Zacchaeus wanted him, so he went to Zacchaeus.

It is only afterwards that things change. Only after experiencing unconditional love does Zacchaeus repent and change his life for the better. We see that God’s grace comes first. Our actions, our knowledge, are only ever a response, not a precondition. And this should be our expectation in Communion. God’s grace should come first, Communion should come first. Discipleship and commitment, understanding and transformation of life come afterwards as we grow in faith as children and as adults.

So as you look at the children in church on Sundays or watch your own children, fidgeting, colouring, finding their own way through our services, do not ask yourselves, ‘Are they ready for Communion?’ Ask simply, ‘What possible reason would God have for turning them away?’

Fr Grant


Lent 2007

It is not too late to join either or both of our Lent courses. All are welcome.

Refreshed in Jesus

The evening Lent group, led by Sue McLeish from Kemerton, continues to meet on Thursdays at St Nicolas’, following the Refreshed with Jesus presentation of St Matthew’s Gospel, accompanied by readings from Bruce Marchiano’s book In the Footsteps of Jesus. Each session includes excerpts from the book relevant to the Gospel chapters to be shown on video, followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion. Refreshments are available from 7pm for a prompt start at 7.30pm. There will be no session on 15th March.

Jen Swinbank

Can we Build a Better World?

Learning from William Wilberforce

Our afternoon Lent Course is being led by Father Paul Iles on Thursday afternoons at St Nicolas’. This course celebrates the life, work and faith of a great Yorkshireman and pays tribute to his work in combating slavery.

The five sessions are:

  • Slavery: then and now;
  • Friendship & Prayer: then and now;
  • Change & Struggle: then and now;
  • The Bible: then and now;
  • Redemption & Restitution: then and now.

Please sign up on the lists in church and order your course booklet, price £5. Money with order, please. Can we Build a Better World? begins on Thursday 1st March at 2.30pm. NB there is no session in Race Week, 15th March.

Jen Swinbank




A Quiet Afternoon led by Father Tim Raphael on Saturday 10th March at All Saints’, from 12 noon to 4 pm beginning with a light lunch of soup and rolls


Coffee and Hazlenut Meringue Cake

Another dessert we had at the Epiphany supper

This makes a large dessert, serving 12. It can be prepared entirely and frozen for up to 1 month, then defrosted for 1 hour before your party. It’s a recipe I found in a magazine years ago.

Ingredients – Cake

6 oz. Hazelnuts in their skins
1 tbs. Cornflour
6 large Egg Whites
12 oz Caster Sugar

Ingredients – Coffee Cream

3 tbs. Ground Coffee
6 tbs. Milk
2 tbs. Caster Sugar
3/4 pint Double Cream
1 tsp. Icing Sugar


Cover 4 baking sheets with baking parchment, marked with 8" circle. Finely grind hazelnuts and mix with cornflour. Whisk egg whites in large bowl until stiff. Whisk in half caster sugar. Fold in remaining sugar, followed by hazelnuts. Spread meringue mixture over 4 drawn circles. Bake in slow oven (150°C) for 1 hour. Remove, cool on sheets and peel off paper.

Warm ground coffee with milk, bring to boil. Set aside for 10 minutes then strain into bowl. Add sugar and cream and beat until thick. Turn one meringue layer upside down and dust with icing sugar through sieve. Pipe 12 rosettes of cream around edge. Use remaining cream to sandwich layers.

Janet White


Horse Racing

“Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword… In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds… He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.” Job 39:19-25 (NIV)

Here in Prestbury this month we might reword this passage so that the horse ‘charges over fences and hurdles’, ‘cannot stand still when the starting pistol sounds’ and ‘catches the shout of race-goers in the grandstand’. If you have ever stood at the racecourse perimeter fence on a sunny afternoon in Gold Cup Week and watched the horses coming down the hill you will appreciate Habakkuk 1:8, where Babylon’s horses are described as being ‘swifter than leopards’.

Horses are mentioned in over thirty different books in the Bible, mainly in the Old Testament. Still thinking about racing, consider this picture from Jeremiah 12:5: ‘If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?’

As well as representing strength, horses are seen as a symbol of wealth. Even today we tend to think of people who own lots of horses as being fairly well-off, so how rich was King Solomon who, according to some versions owned twelve thousand horses?! (1 Kings 4 and 10, 2 Chronicles 1 and 9)

Horses are also a symbol of honour and respect. In Esther 6:6-12 Haman answers the king: ‘Bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden… robe the man the king delights to honour and lead him on the horse through the city streets…’.

Different coloured horses feature in visions in both Old and New Testaments. Zechariah, in chapter 1, sees a man riding a red horse, with red, brown and white horses behind him; in chapter 6 he sees four chariots, ‘the first had red horses, the second black, the third white and the fourth dappled – all of them powerful’. A white, a fiery red, a black and a pale horse are all mentioned in Revelation chapter 6.

But for all their strength and status implications, look what James has to say in his letter: ‘When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.’ (James 3:3). Just a small piece of metal attached to some strips of leather, but with it we have control over this powerful creature. With a simple twitch of the reins we can turn the horse in the right direction, or in the wrong direction. James is really talking about the human tongue – how easily we sometimes say the wrong thing instead of the right thing. In verse 10 James continues: ‘Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. This should not be.’

So when you join me on the perimeter path this month we shall enjoy watching these magnificent racehorses, but we can also think about our day-to-day lives as followers of Jesus, and how to let him direct not only our conversations but our whole selves in his service.

‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.’ (Psalm 20:7)

Frances Murton




Women’s World Day of Prayer

2nd March 2007

Services using material from Paraguay will be held at three venues:–

10.30am St Mary’s Church, Charlton Kings

2.00pm St Andrew’s URC

7.30pm St Christopher’s, Warden Hill

All are welcome at any church.


Calling all Committees

Our Annual Church Meeting will take place on Sunday 25th March. Prior to this meeting I have to prepare a report which needs to include a small ‘thumb print’ paragraph from each committee that reports back to the PCC. If you are the chair of any committee, or work in a specific area that needs to be mentioned, I would be most grateful to receive your short article by Friday 16th March. With many thanks.

Marion Beagley,
Secretary to the PCC


EverestMAX – the Longest Climb on Earth

On Saturday 17th March in St Nicolas’ church I am giving an illustrated talk about the expedition last year from the Dead Sea to Mount Everest. The talk, with slides, starts at 7.30pm and will probably last about an hour depending on questions. Entry is free, but there will be a retiring collecting with all proceeds being donated to the three charities which the expedition supported. There will be refreshments afterwards and I shall have some DVDs for sale.

Sarah Lyle


St Mary’s Bakestall

This month’s bakestall at St Mary’s is on Sunday 18th March with contributions from those with surnames A-F. Do contact one of us if you would like to join the rota.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews


Annual Church Cleaning and Churchyard Tidy-up

Saturday 24th March 10.00am

Please come along to help as more hands make light work. We will commence at 10.00am. If you can bring your own forks, spades etc this would be most helpful. Cleaning materials will be available. Coffee and biscuits will be served mid-morning for the workers.

See you there.

Doreen Morris


Parish Annual Meetings

Sunday 25th March  6.30pm

St Mary’s Church, Mill Street

preceded by a Passiontide Service at 5.45 pm

Music, readings and prayers led by members of St Mary’s & St Nicolas’ Choirs

Please make every effort to attend the Annual Meeting of Parishioners and Annual Parochial Church 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 take place after the Annual Meeting. If you are a member, please stay on for what will be a brief meeting! Refreshments will be served between the two meetings.

Prestbury and Pittville Youth ‘AGM PLUS’

The AGM of Prestbury and Pittville Youth will follow the Parish of Prestbury Annual Meeting on the evening of Sunday 25th March, as in the past two years. But this year, you will not only be able to hear about the busiest and most successful year for the charity, you will also have a chance to see highlights from the young people’s film Our Voice, whilst sipping a glass of wine and munching a few tasty nibbles.

Tricia Wilson


Mothers' Union
Mothers’ Union

Our March meeting takes place on Tuesday 27th March at the United Reformed Church in Deep Street. The speaker will be Canon Sarah James and her subject will be ‘The Church of England’. Now that is an interesting one – wherever will it lead us? All are welcome to join us on this occasion.

Marion Beagley


To all St Mary’s Flower Arrangers

The Annual Meeting of St Mary’s Flower Arrangers will be held on Wednesday 28th March at 7.30pm. We would welcome, with ‘Open Arms’, anyone who feels they would like to be part of this friendly team of flower arrangers. Help and advice will be given. Thank you all.

Sheila Beer


Experience Easter

There will be an ‘Experience Easter’ event in St Mary’s on Palm Sunday afternoon 1st April. Further details to follow.


Mothers' Union
Mothers’ Union

The MU Wave of Prayer is on Sunday 15th April. Prestbury’s slot is between 10 and 11am and will be held in the Upper Room at St Mary’s. We may have to cut it short in order to accommodate the normal 11am service.

Marion Beagley


An Important Date for the Diary!

Bishop Michael will come to consecrate St Nicolas’ on Sunday 30th September at 3pm.


World Vision
World Vision Christmas Card – Update

The alternative Christmas Card donation of £210 will help families in Angola to buy the seeds and tools they need to be self-sufficient. Thank you once again for your generosity. Please also see the ‘Thank You letter’ from World Vision in the church porch.

Margaret Waker & Margaret Holman


The Children's Society
Knit It! with the Children’s Society

I have received information about an exciting and creative appeal to get involved in – the Knit It! You can hold a sponsored knit with friends, or you can knit and sell your items. The Society has easy to follow free fundraising patterns that you can order or download by visiting, or call 0845 600 8585. There are also Knit Kits, developed with Patons, in the shops.

Janet White




Prestbury Parish Magazine - March 2007

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