It feels very appropriate that, as I write this piece for the Christmas
edition of the magazine, snow is forecast. Indeed already the wind has changed
direction bringing colder, more icy weather: a wintry blast to accompany our
Christmas shopping! I am reminded immediately of what I think is probably my
favourite Christmas Carol, ‘In the bleak mid-winter’. I know that
Christina Rossetti’s words create a slightly romanticised image of the
Christ-child being born into something like a winter wonderland, but I do think
that the underlying message of the carol deserves closer consideration.
Verse two begins:
‘Our God, heaven cannot hold him
nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away
when he comes to reign’.
We are reminded that, although we often concentrate on the baby Jesus, nursed
by his mother Mary and laid in ‘a mangerful of hay’, the truth of Christmas for
us is that God really did come down to earth to live as one of us. God truly
became man and so, not surprisingly, the cherubim, seraphim, angels and
archangels and the whole company of heaven gather to worship him, to ‘fall down
before’ and to adore.
All of our Christmas services reflect this sense of awe, wonder and worship.
We too can come before the Christ-child, who is our Lord and God, and worship
him, giving thanks for the gift of himself to the world and celebrating his
birth with joy, because he is our Saviour. And Christmas is such a good
opportunity for us to bring other people with us to one of our services, so that
they can share in this Good News with us.
The last verse of the carol is, I think, the most moving and also the most
challenging. Jesus has come to live as one of us, to experience life in the same
way that we do and to suffer and to die for us so that, through his resurrection
from the dead, we may share in his eternal life. This is his great gift to us –
the greatest gift of all – and so, what can we possibly give to him in return?
The answer is in the final line of the carol: ‘give my heart’. Give your
heart to Jesus as you celebrate his birthday this Christmas.
Andrew is coming towards the end of his time with us in North Cheltenham. Many
of you will be aware that in January he is moving to take up a full-time post as
Assistant Curate in the parish of Friar Park, which is in Wednesbury in the
Diocese of Lichfield. Fr Andrew’s last Sunday with us will be on 21st December,
when he will be at All Saints’, and he will be here for the Christmas services.
He will be officially ‘received’ into his new parish on Sunday 4th January
during a Sung Eucharist at 5pm in the parish church of St Francis, Friar Park.
We intend to organise a coach to take us to this service and sign-up sheets are
available in the churches for you to request a seat. I hope that many of us will
be able to show our thanks and our support for Fr Andrew as we ‘hand him over’
to his new training parish.
We enjoyed a great evening on 15th November led by our young people and this
has been reported on elsewhere in this magazine. During the evening I spoke
about the urgent need for a strong body of support for our youth work and I need
to share some of our concerns with you all.
As a registered charity Prestbury and Pittville Youth (PPY) relies on
external funding for the majority of its income. The climate for charity funding
has changed in the past year or two and is continuing to change. It is growing
harder to raise and manage funds. Most funders will only support new or
developmental projects, not existing work. There is a new emphasis on
‘Sustainability’, ie the need to show that the whole charity is solvent so that,
if funders give money for a project, that money will be used for the specified
project and not diverted to pay for the day-to-day running costs of the charity.
We have had, and are continuing to have, some success with raising funds for
‘projects’ like the Re-create project which culminated in the event on 15th
November, in which members of all of the PPY groups had a chance to take part.
The difficult bit, but an absolutely essential bit, is to raise funds for the
work that has been operating successfully for years like the groups Elevate,
Synergy, The Chill (formerly called The Space) and The Lounge. We need local
support for those groups so that we can demonstrate to project funders that all
our work is ‘sustainable’: the new projects and the regular groups.
If we can tell national funders that we have ‘x’ number of people who support
us by donating funds towards the running costs of our regular groups, it
demonstrates the strength of local interest and makes it easier to show that PPY
is important to the local community and that its work is sustainable.
We are also often asked how many ‘members’ the charity has. That is not how
many young people use our services (around 300 in any year); it is those adults
who are registered as members of the charity. They receive information about
PPY, invitations to events and the Annual General Meeting and can vote at the
AGM. And again, a large adult membership can be used as evidence of high levels
of local community support.
PPY continues to be very grateful to those local grant-making trusts (eg
Prestbury United Charities, Charles Irving Trust, Summerfield Foundation, etc)
and local businesses (eg UCAS, Spirax Sarco, Chelsea Building Society, Zurich)
who have provided funds over the years as that also helps to demonstrate the
level of local interest to national funders. Prestbury PCC also makes an annual
contribution to support the work.
Please can I ask you, on behalf of PPY, to continue regularly to hold the
work in your prayers? Can I also ask you, if you are not one already, to become
a Member of PPY? To do this, simply complete one of the membership forms, which
are available in any of our churches. Thirdly, please can I ask you seriously
and prayerfully to consider giving a regular amount of money to support this
vital and significant work? Forms are available to make a financial pledge which
can be gift-aided. Our youth work is very highly regarded because it is not only
very successful but also of a very high standard. All of us should feel proud of
what has been achieved on our behalf. Now we have to ensure that it is able to
continue to deliver such a quality provision in the future.
These days more and more information about us is being stored on computers.
It should not come as a surprise that information about you is being held on
computers in our parish. These notes are not meant to be exhaustive but attempt
to be reassuring by giving you an idea of the information held.
According to the Data Protection Act those holding the information have a
duty to ensure it is correct, kept only and as long as needed for the purpose
intended and away from prying eyes. The latter is ensured by keeping anti-virus
software and firewalls up to date; not gratuitously passing copies to others;
and restricting access to computers and removable media.
What data are stored?
In the main contact information is collected so we can write to you all
individually or as families, for example on Stewardship Sunday, and for the
clergy to call or visit you. The sources of the data are from you:
- Electoral Roll Application form – you have to supply your name and
address. This information is collated and the list must be displayed in church
prior to the Parish Annual Meeting. We also ask for a telephone number and the
name you prefer to be known by but this information is not publicly displayed.
The form lets us know which church you usually attend.
- Bankers Order forms – the Treasurer photocopies each form before sending
the original to the appropriate bank. Names and addresses and the pledged
amount may be transferred to a computer. Details of the bank accounts are not
transferred as there is no need.
- Gift Aid forms – names and addresses are recorded.
- Stewardship Envelopes – again there is a list of names and addresses held
separately for each envelope number.
Someone, me at the moment, tries to prepare a Directory of the names,
addresses and telephone numbers of all our churchgoers and at which church we
are likely to find them. The data extracted from the Electoral Roll is a good
starting point. This list is shown to the stewardship contacts who may have
additions and corrections. Eventually a final list is prepared for printing. The
distribution of this is very restricted and only used in the administration of
the parish. If you move house it is most helpful if you let us know your new
address so we keep our information up to date.
I hope you agree there is nothing ‘sinister’ being collected about you, but
there are places where data about some of you is held on computer and made
The Pewsheet, the Prestbury Parish Magazine and the Website
Some of you arrange for notices to be included in the pewsheet and this
magazine. In some cases these are about identifiable people. Naturally, if you
require a response you have to give out names and telephone numbers and
sometimes addresses and other details so people can contact or find you. These
media are prepared and stored on computers. The team administrator and the
magazine editor accept notices and articles in good faith, assuming implied
permission to publish widely. In due course you get to read what is published.
Moreover most of the pewsheet is posted each week on the parish website. I
hope this is helpful to those who are unable to attend our churches regularly.
The webmaster (me) is careful to remove street addresses and to disguise email
addresses before posting. After a week or two the private telephone numbers are
The magazine has been published on the website since May 1999. This gives us
all a chance to see the pictures in colour, and for those away from the parish
an opportunity to keep up with our news. Frances has removed all the addresses
and telephone numbers and some of the articles before I receive the text.
I recommend you all to have a look through our website and check all
references to yourself. You can also type your name and ‘Prestbury’ into your
favourite search engine and see what comes up about you. As webmaster, I will
consider sympathetically reasonable requests for alterations or removals of
On the evening of Remembrance Sunday, and with the bells still half muffled,
a quarter peal of 1,260 changes of Grandsire Triples was rung in memory of Dr
Bob Lyle MBE. We had been honoured to ring at Bob’s funeral in September, when
we were joined by several ringers who had known Bob in the past and some who had
rung in Prestbury many years ago.
A number of visiting bands have sought and received permission to ring the
bells at St Mary’s this year. Some of our own ringers have visited other towers
in the area and further afield to ring or attempt quarter peals.
In accordance with recommendations from the quinquennial review, additional
handrails etc have been fitted on the tower steps and in the tower this year to
improve safety for ringers and others using the steps and ladders.
We look forward to the Christmas season which is always a busy time for
Advertisements in the Magazine
We are looking for an Advertising Editor for the Parish Magazine. Your role
would be to receive letters, phone calls or emails from prospective advertisers,
discuss with them the style, content and size of their proposed advertisement
and inform them of the cost. Some advertisers design their own advertisements,
but need to be advised of the required dimensions; others will prefer you to
design the advertisement for them.
You would be responsible for arranging all the advertisements on a given
number of whole pages (currently six), which you would then give to me for
inclusion in the printed magazine each month.
You would also liaise with Shirley Brown, who is responsible for invoicing
advertisers and sending out renewal reminders.
If you are interested in taking this on, or would like to discuss it, please
Frances Murton, Editor
The Main Man
FOR MANY months preparations have been made for what would be a fantastic
youth event, enjoyed by all involved. The four youth groups (Synergy, Elevate,
The Chill and The Lounge) have all been working on their contributions with
eager minds for the creative arts project taking place.
As a member of Synergy and a young leader at the Chill, I have had the chance
to get involved with many of the projects put together for the Re-Create event
held on Saturday 15th November. It has been a journey for all of us, with almost
everybody getting stuck in, whether it be selecting photos to be presented,
editing video or practising music and drama. And then: crunch time. The day of
the event came, and I found myself stood in an unrecognisable St Nic’s church
with people racing around trying to get the stage and exhibition set up.
Although it was manic, the preparations paid off and the show was truly
entertaining. As one of the compères of the show I had to do a lot of
improvising (especially with the many technical difficulties!).
Of course, the project wouldn’t have happened without all those helpers who
worked their socks off! It was so fantastic for young people, like myself, to
show others their talents, and have a good time doing it. The project has
allowed all of us to grow closer as a youth organisation, and as friends.
‘Re-Create’ at St Nicolas’
THE CHURCH and hall were transformed on Saturday evening 15th November with
coloured lights and music, a large stage, posters and loudspeakers and young
people moving busily in all directions.
Prestbury and Pittville Youth had prepared a Creative Arts Evening. They
entertained us in a variety of ways, with songs of worship, videos, short comic
sketches and an exhibition in the hall. The difference between life in our
consumer society and the deprivation of people in other parts of the world was
illustrated in the scenes and in a very moving Tearfund documentary about AIDS
orphans in Africa. The message – recreate, recycle, share and give to others –
was delivered clearly and humorously.
Ministry of Silly Walks
We were very impressed by the teamwork of the young people and their leaders:
musicians, technicians, photographers, actors and producers all worked together
happily and cheerfully and stayed behind to put the church furniture back for
Sunday’s worship. Thanks to them all for their hard work which gave us all a
very enjoyable evening.
& Leslie Spurgeon
Youth Group Dates
Elevate: End of Term Party Sunday 14 December; restarts Sunday 11
Synergy: End of Term Party Sunday 14 December; restarts Sunday 11
The Lounge: End of Term Party Tuesday 9 December; restarts Tuesday 13
The Chill: End of Term Party Thursday 11 December; restarts Thursday
PPY team party 22 December, Whitethorn Drive 6-8pm
PPY Year 11+ party 22 December, Whitethorn Drive 8pm onwards
PPY Team Meeting – Thursday 8 January 2009
For more info on any of the above please contact:
From Wednesday 7th January the evening Eucharist will be held at St Nicolas’
at the earlier time of 7pm. The Passion Play rehearsals will follow this
service. There will be no service in St Mary’s on Wednesday evenings until after
I have recently spent four days at Glenfall House on an individually guided,
silent Ignatian Retreat – an amazing experience!
Glenfall House, in case anyone is not aware, is the retreat house and
conference centre for Gloucester Diocese and is right on the doorstep of our
North Cheltenham Team – and well worth a visit. It offers facilities for
conferences and meetings as well as a programme of in-house events such as quiet
days of reflection and residential courses and retreats such as the one I have
just attended. This year it is also offering ‘Quiet Garden Days’ – an
opportunity to find a still place to reflect, read, paint, pray and draw closer
There is an active Friends Group whose support helps provide extra features
for the comfort of those who stay at or visit the house and gardens. Information
about Glenfall can be found on their website www.glenfallhouse.org and I am
happy to talk to anyone about what Glenfall House offers.
New Year’s Eve in the Snow
A few days after Christmas 1942 my friend Bev and I, serving together in the
RAF in Beirut, Lebanon, were granted leave. Despite threatening weather we made
for the nearby mountains fifty miles away, where we stayed with friends at a
small hotel at Bjarke, near the Cedars.
Our leave was to expire on New Year’s Day: we were due back on watch that
evening in the operations room where the flight of all aircraft through a large
area was monitored, partly by radar and also by reports from police posts in the
On New Year’s Eve, though very comfortable at the hotel, we began to get
anxious: it was snowing! Would we be able to return to Beirut next day? However,
we enjoyed the party on that evening with the mother and father who ran the
hotel, together with their three daughters. There was a break in the
jollifications when the young people went to the nearby very small church for a
short service. They had a struggle there and back – through the blizzard! We
were trapped (secretly hoped so!), but had the idea of visiting the nearby
police post where eventually we made contact with our operations room. Could we
have an extra day’s leave? The officer in charge said a very definite ‘No’. We
must get back in time somehow!
We had little sleep that night, and had to rise early, to be told a local bus
would be operating! And the weather had improved, so we made it back to work all
right. But it was hard to keep awake!
Soul Café is an opportunity to sit down with a cup of
tea or coffee with a few others and to take time out to reflect on the big
issues. Although it happens in the URC Church building, it is a very different
kind of ‘service’. There is some simple worship, and a few thoughts are shared
by the person leading, but it’s also a chance to talk and to listen to others
and to be quiet too. It is especially designed to be accessible to people who
don’t normally go to Church, and we won’t try to ‘evangelise’ or convince you to
change your mind about anything. The aim is to listen and to respect everyone
and so to help create community.
So if you are reading this and think you would like to know more, please
contact Maz Allen or Fr Daniel or just show up. It will be good to see you.
Back in August ten people met together to have a meal at Prestbury Vicarage
(kindly provided by Marion Beagley), and to hear about the Alpha Course. This
consisted of ten talks (on DVD) and a day away. Meeting on Tuesday evenings we
watched and then discussed the talks, given by the author of the Course, the
Revd Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton. The reason this was not
widely advertised was because it was a pilot scheme aimed at finding out whether
we can run Alpha and giving some people the chance to experience it for the
first time. The good news is that we are now confident we can run a course,
probably after Easter, so watch out for more about it in future issues.
When I first went to Alpha I didn’t know what it would be like. Would I have
my questions answered or would I come away more confused?
It all began with a relaxed supper, with no obligation to commit to attending
the full course. It was good to see what I would be letting myself in for if I
decided to stick at it through the first few weeks. I really appreciated the
chance to get to know people, especially since I had just moved here… and there
was good food!
Nicky Gumbel’s talks turned out to be more engaging than I had expected,
exploring the facts about the life of Jesus. The thing I liked about Alpha is
that it left me free to make my own mind up, to take it or leave it. There is no
pressure by anybody to be convinced or to come to faith: it is a journey you can
choose to take at your own pace.
The talk is a starting point for small group discussion. Any questions that
come up can be thought through and no question is too basic or too hard to be
explored. No-one claims to have the answers; it is a personal journey which you
take together and I learned a lot from what those in our group decided to share.
Our day away on 1st November was fun and relaxed. We heard three talks but
the main focus was for us to get to know God a little better.
The Alpha course has been a help to me on life’s journey. I do not believe I
was there to have all my questions answered but to understand a little more of
what my life is about and what God is doing with it.
Jesus said, All power is given unto me in heaven and in
earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even
unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)
I found myself singing these words of one of our modern day Christian songs
the other day:
‘For I’m building a people of power and I’m making a people of praise, that will
move through this land by my Spirit, and will glorify my precious name…’
and I was aware of the powerful message contained within them: God is urging us
to become powerful people moving through this land.
Are we moving through this land proclaiming His message? It is all too easy
to be Sunday Christians, regular in attendance at church week by week, but what
are we doing on the other six days of each week? Are we glorifying God’s
precious name? Do we speak to others about our faith or do we keep it well under
wraps as, perhaps, we find it difficult to share it with others? We do not have
to go around shouting it from the rooftops but we certainly should not be
ashamed to admit what we believe.
Look at the words quoted above from St Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 28. Jesus
does not ask us to go out alone or unprepared. No, He promises that He will be
with us always, walking alongside and giving us the directions that we shall
need to do His will on earth. Not necessarily ‘moving through the land’ as the
song suggests, but perhaps living here in Prestbury, or wherever we happen to
be. Let us move our loved ones and neighbours, perhaps by the way we live, so
that they may want to sample the everlasting love of Jesus which is ours through
His sacrifice for us at Calvary.
As we prepare the presents, the food and the inevitable build-up to our
Christmas celebrations, we could rethink our commitment to God as we approach
Christmas this year. He came as a babe to Bethlehem and we all know so well the
story, but we could take time this year to soak up the wonder of the enormous
gift of God to us in His Son. He, the Almighty, became flesh as we are and lived
a faultless life here on earth, before being crucified for our sins. What a true
gift that was for us, who are sinful people and who could not hope to experience
God’s love, because we all fall short of all that He intended for us to be.
The song continues:
‘Build your church, Lord, make us strong, Lord, join our hearts, Lord, through
your Son. Make us one, Lord, in your body, in the kingdom of your Son.’
In Christ we can be reborn and have the hope of salvation through His cross.
May we have the desire to be just one of the ‘people of power’ mentioned in the
song and let us, in our own corner of the world, wherever that may be, make a
difference and glorify His precious name, being made one in the kingdom of God’s
The Real Christmas
On Saturday 6th December from 2pm to 5pm we will be holding
our ‘Real Christmas’ gathering in St Mary’s church. The children will be
decorating the Christmas Tree, the Christingle working party will be in
residence assembling their crates of Christingle oranges for the next day’s
service, and all our usual Advent activities will be happening.
The choir will help us all sing some early carols and members
of the clergy team hope to join us with some thoughts on the approaching
Christmas Season. Absolutely all ages are welcome, from pushchairs to
Enjoy the usual welcoming glass of mulled wine and a chance to
buy a seasonal tea while you are with us, and the odd Christmas card or gift.
Hodges, Parish Events Committee
St Nicolas’ Patronal Festival
United Sung Eucharist at St Nicolas’
9.30am on Sunday 7th December
followed by seasonal refreshments
There will be a said Eucharist at 8am as usual at St Mary’s
and All Saints’ and Celebrate! will take place as usual at 9.30am in St Mary’s
BUT no 10.30am service at All Saints’ and no 11am service at
We hope you will all join us at St Nicolas’!
Christingle Service 2008
Shining light into darkness…
This year we shall be holding the Christingle Service in aid
of the Church of England Children’s Society in St Mary’s Church, Prestbury, on
Sunday 7th December at 4.00pm.
Christingle is a simple, moving service with great appeal to
children, young people and their families. Christingle oranges are presented to
everyone who brings a gift of money for the work of the Society. We hope that
you will be able to come and help raise money to brighten the lives of children
for whom Christmas would otherwise be a rather bleak time. We hope to see you
World Vision alternative Christmas Card
YOU are invited once again to take part in this Charity scheme
by bringing just one card bearing your personal greetings to all your Church
friends instead of sending individual cards. The display board and box for
donations to World Vision will be available in St Mary’s church in mid-December.
Our Christmas social evening will be held on Tuesday 16th
December at 7.30pm. Please bring a small plate of food to share – drinks
will be provided. If you have any relevant readings or sketches, please bring
Our first meeting for 2009 will be held on Tuesday 27th
January at 7.30pm at the United Reformed Church in Deep Street. Our speaker will
be Fran Toland, who is the Diocesan Assistant Social Responsibility Officer.
Don’t let her title put you off – she is one of the most inspiring speakers I
have come across and I can guarantee that you will be on the edge of your seats
to hear what she has to say. Her talk is entitled Mission – the Final
Frontier and she will inspire us all to take up the challenge to be
missionaries for Christ. Please join us and learn more about the work being done
in Gloucestershire by committed Christians.
Christian Aid Carol Singing
Once again our choirs will be singing Christmas carols for
Christian Aid on Saturday 20th December. Members from St Nicolas’ will be at the
Oakley Sainsbury’s in Prior’s Road from 10-11am, while those from St Mary’s will
be at the Oakley Sainsbury’s in Prior’s Road
Please note new venue from
11am to 12 noon. Do come and support us when you do your shopping that day. You
are welcome to join in the singing.
North Cheltenham Churches FC in Charity Final – 20th December!
AS WINNERS of the fair play league, NCC have made it to the
charity final of the Cotswold Churches League on Saturday 20th December, 10.30am
kick-off at Newlands, Southam Lane, Bishop’s Cleeve, GL52 3PE. Please come and
support your team – the fan base makes all the difference. (There is a small
entrance charge which will go to charity). There will even be mince pies for all
who come to support!
More info: contact
Candlelit Nativity Service
St Nicolas’ Church
Wednesday 24th December
Do join us for this wonderful time of worship on Christmas Eve
All are welcome!
Children are invited to dress as Shepherds, Angels or Kings
Candlelit Crib Services
St Mary’s Church
Wednesday 24th December
4.00pm & 6.00pm
Children are invited to dress as Shepherds, Angels or Kings
All are welcome!
On Tuesday 6th January in St Mary’s church there will be an
Epiphany Sung Eucharist followed by supper. Tickets for the supper will be on
sale nearer the time and full details will be announced in church and in the pew
sheets. The service is of course free of charge and begins at 6.30pm.
Hodges, Parish Events Committee
St Mary’s Bakestall
We were pleased to be able to send £20 in October to both
Everychild and SOS Children. The same sums again were given to the
Cambodia Trust (patron Desmond Tutu) and the Alice Glenister Foundation
in November. This brings our total giving to charities to £477 this year, a
record sum achieved by generous bakers and buyers. Thank you!
There is no bakestall in December, so we start all over again
next year with the bakestall for all three teams on Sunday 18th January. If you
would like to join the teams, please have a word with one of us sometime.
Linda Matthews & Margaret Waker
Sidmouth September 18th – 20th 2009
If you have tentatively booked to join us at
Sidmouth next September, but have not
yet received a booking form, please contact me and I will rectify that.
If you are still undecided whether to come, do ring me and let
me explain what it is all about. The sooner the better as there are not many
A big thank-you to all who participated in the Gloucestershire
Historic Churches Trust sponsored walk/ride event in September. Thank you to all
who so generously contributed and supported this annual event. The total raised
amounted to £318 at St Mary’s and £337 at St Nicolas. Half of this money goes to
the GHCT and half will be returned to our Church coffers in due course. Next
year’s event will be held on 12th September 2009.
Prestbury URC and St Mary’s CofE
Relax – think – discuss – think – relax
A time to meet, chat, be quiet …
A time to pray, connect, to be …
A time to listen and to be heard …
A time especially designed for those who don’t usually go to Church
Every 4th Sunday 6.30pm at Prestbury
United Reformed Church, Deep Street
25 January, 22 February, 22 March, 26 April
Team Pilgrimage to Walsingham, May 2009
A North Cheltenham Team Pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady,
Walsingham, is being planned for the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend 2009, i.e.
from Friday 1st May until Monday 4th May. If anyone is interested in joining us
or would like to know more about Walsingham (the shrine, accommodation, sample
programme, transport, cost), please contact me. Booking forms and more details
will be available early in the New Year.