THE SUMMER MONTHS are often a good time to ‘take stock’. I began the
process of reflection – ‘taking stock’ – during my recent retreat, which I
spent at Burford Priory. What is particularly on my mind at the moment is
the change in our clergy team, with the dawning realisation that by the end
of the summer I will be the only full-time priest in the Prestbury and All
Saints’ Team Ministry!
There will be plenty of opportunities to embarrass Fr Grant when we say our
goodbyes to him, to Chris and the family, later in July. I shall miss him
enormously and am very grateful for his loyal support, his friendship and
for the many times when we have discussed things together and I have
benefited from his wise reflection. Fr Grant has also been a great ‘doer’;
taking things on and bringing considerable talent to so many areas of parish
life. We have much to thank him for!
In the autumn we will re-advertise the Team Vicar post which we were not
able to fill. Also, I anticipate that at some point (hopefully before
Christmas) the Scheme will go through creating the new North Cheltenham Team
Ministry. Then I will be joined by other colleagues and of course by Fr
Stephen Eldridge who will be another ‘full-timer’!
I am very grateful for the ministry of Fr Paul, Fr Peter and Andy Macauly
and also the retired clergy who give so much of their time; we are very
blessed! But I am also very aware of all those who work away in so many
different roles within our parishes. This is what ‘lay ministry’ is all
about. We can identify so much of it and at the same time know that there is
a great deal of ministry which goes on that we are unaware of. Thank you all
for your ministry!
As I look to the immediate future I know that I am going to have to very
carefully use my time; I’m aware that I can’t do everything! I know that you
will understand if I don’t attend every meeting or every coffee morning and
I also know that you will understand that I won’t personally be able to give
pastoral care to everyone. But then I know that many other people are
sharing that ministry with me, and their ministry is every bit as valid as
mine! My retreat also reminded me of how vital prayer is. We are praying
communities and we should see that as our major resource, especially as we
continue through this time of transition. This is a ministry in which every
single one of us can share, so please pray regularly for our parishes, for
the new Team Ministry and for the work God wants us to do in this part of
On Saturday 14th July from 9:30 the children’s team will yet again be
hosting another of their successful activity days in St Nicolas’ Church and
Hall. As always many months of planning go into these days and we look
forward to welcoming all those who will be joining us on the day. There will
be a variety of activities on offer including the usual ‘messy’ ones.
If you have half an hour to spare at 3pm in the afternoon do please feel
free to come and join us for our closing worship and witness for yourself
the atmosphere these events evoke. Please also take time to look around all
our Churches on the 15th as you will have the opportunity to admire the wide
range of objects the children will have made.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any further information.
Malcolm McKelvey was Director of Music in Prestbury parish from
1989 to 2003 and this series of concerts in his memory is to raise money for
work on St Mary’s organ.
On Friday 20th July in St Mary’s church Charles Hazlewood will be
recording a programme in his BBC Radio 3 series ‘Discovering Music’. There
is no charge but tickets are required. Please telephone the Parish Office on
244373 if you would like to come and we will order the tickets from the BBC.
The orchestra, Excellent Device, will play arrangements by Schoenberg, Berg
and Webern of four waltzes by Johann Strauss the younger: Kaiser Waltz;
Roses from the South; Wine, Women and Song and The Treasure Waltz.
The concert starts at 6pm, but please be in your seats by 5.45pm. All are
welcome, and there will be a retiring collection for St Mary’s organ fund.
Further concerts, all in St Mary’s, are as follows:
Saturday 22nd September 7.30pm (Christine McKelvey)
Saturday 13th October 7.30pm (The St Cecilia Singers)
Wednesday 7th November 11am (Peter Greaves).
A swarm of bees appeared in St Mary’s churchyard recently (8th June).
They had left their hive somewhere and landed in a tree. They hang there in
a swarm while they send out scouts to find a new home. Beekeepers love to
find a swarm at this time of the year because they can shake them off the
tree (brave people!) and take them home and give them a clean wooden hive
where they will make their honey and the beekeeper can have some of it!
A swarm of bees in May is
worth a load of hay,
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon,
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly!
St Mary’s Churchyard
Following on from the success of filling the skip with the contents of
the ‘heap’, we really do need two new members to join the Grass Mowers. It’s
a very friendly arrangement, with each person having their own section of
the churchyard to mow. There are twelve sections, so it’s not a huge area
each, and mowing can be done whenever you wish. Usually an hour a fortnight
is enough and mowing machines and strimmers are provided. It’s really quite
a pleasant task and very necessary as part of keeping our village tidy.
If you are interested, please see or phone me.
On being appointed a lay representative to the Diocesan Synod, I was
surprised to receive the minutes of a meeting described as “the House of
Laity” and an invitation to their next meeting. My response to this was
bewilderment. However the account soon reassured me.
The object of the House of Laity – made up of the non-ecclesiastical
members of the synod – was to more fully inform members from parishes on the
matters to be discussed at the next Synod so we could understand and offer
constructive thoughts and opinions instead of attending in a state of dumb
inertia! The sole aim is to help parishes to understand and take a more
active part in the life of the Diocese. It is heartening to know that the
“Powers-that-be” do value our feelings (I hope!).
The first and main item on the agenda was finance. We had all previously
received the annual report of the Diocesan finance committee. The news is
that the Diocese of Gloucester is nearer balancing their accounts than at
any year for a long while. One of the biggest helps was the payment of
Quotas on time by using direct debiting. Due to the good accounting and
house keeping of our former and current treasurers we have never defaulted
in this. All Gill Wood’s hard work and nail-biting is definitely appreciated
but apparently a number of parishes don’t work the same way.
A massive re-organisation is taking place to run our financial affairs in
a straight-forward way using the most modern big business techniques
enabling us to spread our funds as far as possible. Rapid Response is the
aim in future to resolve matters before they become too complicated. I
rather liked the sound of that.
Another topic in the forefront at present is youth ministry. A major
effort to increase contact with young people is going on. Painswick parish
has a Christians-in-Sport scheme running with the local sports coach who is
also a Youth Minister – akin to our Andy Macauly. This is a different angle
from Prestbury and Pittville Youth perhaps but very interesting.
The congregation of Painswick asked themselves, “Where have all the young
ones gone?” and the answer was blatantly obvious: “Painswick Rugby Football
Club on a Sunday morning”, hence the decision to have a trained youth
minister who is also a sports coach working with them. Although the young
people are still not in church, many of them are actively discovering and
enjoying the Christian faith in other ways and places.
I felt very proud when I realised that the work done in our parish does
put us at the frontier of Diocesan Youth Work. Thank you all who are so
committed to this.
Amidst a lot of more technical talk the final interesting topic was
comments on the Easter Experience. Everybody had something good to say –
along with the expected first time mistakes but other dioceses were
impressed enough to ask if they can use Gloucester ideas themselves next
It was in this general discussion which moved on naturally to prayer
mazes and Easter eggs, that the “Open the Book” work in schools was brought
up. When asked for my experience I mentioned that it was a Palm Sunday
procession ending in a Big Breakfast Party in school that had triggered the
birth, ultimately, of Celebrate!. The idea of putting a very modern form of
worship between two very traditional services each week was quite literally
a show stopper, a new congregation, to a large extent, plus Sunday Club,
plus the youth clubs, plus Prestbury and Pittville Youth project to which we
add our various weekday service, and Mothers’ Union, we have so much to be
grateful for. I know so much more is needed to make us grow far further for
all age groups but I came home feeling, dare I say it, excited?
The thought of sitting through a diocesan synod isn’t daunting any more.
I’m still a very green recruit but I think it is going to be a worthwhile
experience. Things are happening, the Church of England is trying hard to
adapt to the 21st century.
Please join us on Sunday 22nd July from 12.30pm on the school playing
field (behind St.Mary’s Infant School in Bouncers Lane). Bring your own
picnic and something to sit on – there are lots of shady areas! Also, please
bring a bottle of something to share. During the afternoon there will be
some organised games on the field as well as some informal worship and a
chance to say ‘thank you and farewell’ to Fr Grant, Chris, Bethany and
Sarah. This is a Team-wide social occasion! Please speak to one of the
Wardens if you’d like directions, or if you would like transport to be
arranged for you.
Please place contributions for a leaving gift for Fr Grant in a clearly
marked envelope in the collection plates or hand to a Warden.
The wedding season is well underway!
The Central Council of Church Bellringers held their AGM in Cheltenham
this year. Many experienced ringers from all over the country came to ring
with us for the 11 o’clock service on Whitsunday. There was standing room
only in the Tower! In the evening four members of the Council joined four
local ringers in ringing a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major.
We are always pleased to welcome ringers to the tower who may be visiting
the area for their summer holidays.
This year the ride will be on Saturday 8th September. The idea is to
raise as much money as possible to help look after the church buildings in
our county. This is done by keen cyclists or walkers visiting as many places
of worship as possible in a given time on that Saturday. They should arrange
for their travels to be sponsored by many people. Half the money raised is
given to the Trust. The participants each choose to which church their other
half is given.
In 2005 All Saints’ church was awarded £10,000 towards the renovation of
Once again we are calling on you to help. You could be one of those who
have a strenuous day out and deserve to collect the sponsorship money. If
you are less active perhaps you could generously sponsor someone who asks
you. Another useful role is to be in church to welcome any visitors to our
parish. Please help in any way you can.
Sponsorship forms may be obtained from Bob Lyle at St Mary’s or Nigel
Woodcock at St Nicolas’.
Cat and Mouse
by Jennifer A, aged 9
(reproduced from the
May 1999 edition of the
Prestbury Parish Magazine)
or, While the cat’s away…
By the time you read this Frances, your usual editor, will have returned
from a holiday to see the midnight sun. She left me in charge to put the
magazine to bed. To be fair, Frances had done most of the hard work of
asking people to write things. All I needed to do was gather up the articles
that arrive on paper or by email and put them together into an attractive
magazine. It sounded easy so I readily agreed.
The illustration is not entirely a pun on the title. The first edition of
the magazine to appear on the Internet was that of May 1999, some eight
years ago. It’s still there, although not in the obvious place. Much of the
magazine is reproduced and placed on the world wide web each month. People
away from Prestbury can have a look and keep up with our news. Moreover you
can have a look and see the photographs in full, glorious colour, and more
besides. And it’s free! The cover pictures look quite stunning; the black
and white reproduction of them in the paper magazine does not do them
justice. On average 40 visitors a day come to the website and, gratifyingly,
many stay to look at more than the one page the search engine found for
In February Beryl mentioned the short period of Ordinary Time between
Epiphany and Lent. We are now in the much longer period which lasts from
Pentecost to All Saints’ Day. Those of you who come to Morning or Evening
Prayer in St Mary’s or St Nicolas’, where we use a version of the Franciscan
Office, will have felt the shift from the joy of Easter to the expectancy of
the ten days leading from Ascension to Pentecost. The day after Pentecost
Sunday we drop straight back into Ordinary Time, but it struck me, sitting
in St Mary’s that Monday morning, that it is by no means an anti-climax.
‘Ordinary’ Christians leading an ‘ordinary’ life do so as post-Pentecost
people, filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Pentecost is not just a festival; it
is an ongoing experience.
Other services in other churches
I don’t know how often you manage to get to a different type of service
in a different church or even a different denomination. We have the
opportunity to do this every week, of course, within our own parish, but
recently I went slightly further afield.
Hester’s Way Baptist Church,
which I attended for several years when I first moved to Cheltenham,
celebrated their fiftieth anniversary at the beginning of June. Cambray and
Salem Baptist churches had jointly funded this new mission church when the
vast housing estates were being built in the 1950s, and it still has a very
local mission to the people in that area.
It was good to be back there for several reasons, not least for the
excellent half-hour sermon (the Church of England doesn’t know what it’s
missing!) from guest preacher the Reverend David Coffey, president of the
Baptist World Alliance, who spoke on Acts 2:42-47, reminding us that
learning, sharing, praying together and praising God are all essential if
the church is to grow. It was lovely to meet again people I had not seen for
over twenty years, and we sang! Not only the four hymns during the service,
but another dozen as well after lunch in the adjacent hall before tea and
cake were served. The afternoon ended with a communion service, which
unfortunately I was unable to stay for.
You fixed the earth on its foundations, for ever and
ever it shall not be shaken.
In the ravines you opened up springs, running down between the mountains,
supplying water for all the wild beasts;
on their banks the birds of the air make their nests, they sing among the
From your high halls you water the mountains, satisfying the earth with the
fruit of your works;
for cattle you make the grass grow, and for people the plants they need,
to bring forth fruit from the earth, and wine to cheer people’s hearts.
- Psalm 104, from verses 5,
10-15; New Jerusalem Bible
Whatever our plans for the summer, July and August bring a change of
pace. There is a pause in regular social activities, leisure to stop and
stare. Whether you are off to exotic locations, or looking forward to a
couple of days out, the chances are you will find yourself enjoying the
beauty of a natural scene, coast, mountains or countryside.
Which Bible passage would you choose to express the way you feel as you
look at a beautiful view?
At first glance, the Bible’s attitude to nature does not quite seem to
match our need. Reading Psalm 104, we can imagine the harmonious lines of
the hills, we hear the song of birds and the music of water, we enjoy the
colours of trees and plants. The psalmist looking at the same things thinks
of their usefulness: grass and plants to feed animals and people, springs
for drinking, even the hills a water catchment area. Have we lost the magic
In fact Psalm 104 is inspired by the creation story in Genesis, beginning
with the vision of God on the first day of creation, ‘wearing the light as a
robe!’. The verses I have chosen concentrate on day three, when dry land and
water are given their own separate places, and the land is clothed with
‘seed-bearing plants and fruit-trees’. They also look forward to day five
when birds appear, and day six when God makes animals, and finally creates
human beings to be masters of the other creatures, and to enjoy earth’s
bounty. The creator has built the world as a perfectly functioning whole.
Yet the psalm is far from prosaic; the mood is one of elation, a hymn to the
perfection of creation.
The Bible is not blind to beauty. Read the Song of Solomon, chapter 2;
the writer moves with startling ease from delight in plants, weather and
birds to delight in a human body; yet his expression of sheer joy in the
created world is alone good enough reason to cherish this book. But first
and foremost, the Bible reminds us of the absolute goodness of God’s world.
Just by being itself, every natural thing praises its maker (Psalm 19:3-4).
All this fits in with the strong feeling many of us have that being in a
natural place brings us closer to God. We are dimly aware of the complexity
of what we see, the long timescale of its history. And today there is a
growing awareness that we have a responsibility to care for the earth, to
treat it with respect so that it can continue to fulfil its God-given role
of supporting life for animals and people.
And may we still allow ourselves simply to enjoy natural beauty? Jesus
did. ‘Think of the flowers growing in the fields... not even Solomon in all
his royal robes was clothed like one of these.’ Yes, it is good to stop and
St. Nicolas Sunday Club
The last Sunday Club for this term will be on 8th July and
will begin again on
Sunday 9th September.
Regular Youth Group Dates
Date For Your Diary:
End of Term Party Sunday 15 July;
restarts Sunday 9 September
End of Term Party Sunday 15 July;
restarts Sunday 9 September
End of Term Party Tuesday 10 July;
restarts Tuesday 11 September
End of Term Party Thursday 12 July;
restarts 13 September
360° Active Holiday Project:
Mon 13 - Fri 17 August
Fri 24 - Mon 27 August
For more info call Andy Macauly
PPY Alternative Fashion Show –
Following the success of the Our Voice Film
Premiere, Prestbury & Pittville Youth are preparing for their ‘Alternative
Fashion Show’ on the evening of 10th November at St Nicolas’. Please do book
out that evening to join us to share in this gala event, help raise money
for PPY and awareness of issues around fashion.
St Mary’s Bakestall
The next bakestall at St Mary’s is on Sunday 15 July with contributions
from those with surnames G-M. There will be no bakestall in August. Do
contact one of us if you would like to join the rota.
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Our next meeting will be our annual Garden Party and will take place on
Tuesday 24 July at Tatchley House, by kind permission of Bob and Barbara
Lyle. We will start half an hour earlier at 7.00pm. Please bring a small
plate of food to share and items for a bring and buy table. Together with a
raffle all funds raised will go towards the MU work overseas.
Please note there will be no meeting in August.
Bible Study Group - Summer Social
An opportunity for all members, regular or occasional, to enjoy an
informal evening together. Tuesday 24th July - 7pm at Southam.
Please speak to Julia Hook or Jennifer Swinbank if you need to arrange a
Children’s Society boxes at St Mary’s
I will be opening your boxes in July/August this year. Please bring any
boxes to Celebrate! or see me before the 11 o’clock Eucharist.
14th - 16th September
For those of you who have booked to join us at the Team Week-end in
Sidmouth, can I just remind you that payments are due by 1st August. At that
time, should you be using the coach to travel with us, can you also let me
know your favoured pick up point. Following receipt of payments I will
confirm all week-end details with you.
If you have not booked, there are still a few places available, but only
with shared facilities. There are some single and some twin rooms left and
all are very close to shared shower rooms, toilets or bathrooms. So, if you
have been thinking about it but not decided, now would be a good time,
before we have to send off our final requirements. Give me a call if you
wish to know more.
St. Peter’s Pilgrimage....
To Bath Abbey and Henley Mill Garden will take place on Friday 20th July,
leaving St. Peter’s at 9:15am and returning at approx 8:00pm. Cost is £20 to
include the coach fare, driver’s tip, guided tour of and donation to the
Abbey, garden visit and afternoon tea.
Do join us if you can. To book a place, please ring
total for Christian Aid Week was £5944.54.
This was made up as follows:
St Mary’s £4490.54
St Nicolas’ £1230.00
Ecumenical Service £224.00
Many thanks to all of you who gave, collected and counted to achieve this
excellent result, over £300 more than last year’s.
Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon
Prestbury Open Gardens.
A BIG THANK YOU to all those who opened their gardens on the weekend of
16th-17th June and to those who provided the refreshments and to those
involved in other ways. The latest figures show we raised about £1,400 for
the gardens and £400 for teas.
I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes during
my long stay in hospital. It meant a lot to me to know that so many people
were thinking of me and wishing me well.