As I write this page for our now award-winning
parish magazine, the view outside my window is of a sunny and warm
garden, with a gentle breeze and evening birdsong, yet also with a fine rain
falling. We are definitely moving into the months of summer, which we
are told are going to be particularly warm and dry this year, yet there is a
reminder in the rain of what we are moving into summer from, and what will
come again after. A reminder that this is a part of a cycle, something
that happens over and again, albeit with some variance.
And so it seems appropriate that I write this for a time when I shall
have been in post in Cheltenham for a year. Last summer, many folks
grumbled of how damp the weather was on the whole, but one of my abiding
memories from that time is having to drive with the windows of the car open,
because the sun did in fact shine, and the air was in fact warm. It
seems appropriate, too, to speak of cycles, because on the sixth day of June
I shall be ordained. Again.
This may strike you as rather odd. ‘Ordained again?’ you may be
wondering, ‘why on earth does he need to be ordained again? Was there
something wrong with the last one?’ Well, no, but although I am being
ordained again, and again I will face Bishop Michael in Gloucester
Cathedral, and although this will follow a three-day retreat at Glenfall
House, and although my job title ‘Assistant Curate’ will not change, there
is something rather different this time around. Last year I was
ordained and sent to minister amongst you as a Deacon, a servant of God’s
people tasked with accompanying them along their spiritual roads.
This time, with the permission of Bishop Michael and the blessing and
assistance of the congregation of Gloucester Cathedral, and indeed all who
worship in our North Cheltenham Team, I will be sent back to you as a
Priest. What does this mean? The most visible difference is that
I will be able to preside at the Eucharist and other services on my own.
Where before as a deacon I have assisted one of our other Priests at the
altar, I will be able to conduct the entire service myself. I will be
able to pray God’s blessing upon people, baptise in formal services, and
While as your Curate I will always remain your servant and companion on
the road, as a priest I hope to be able to minister to you in whatever
capacity is needed, and also to help my colleagues to better serve our whole
team, here in North Cheltenham. As always, however, this ministry is
not one that can be accomplished through my own strength or capabilities
alone, and so in this month I ask you especially to pray for God’s grace for
me and for all those being ordained this year.
Saturday 6th June at 4.30pm Fr David will be ordained priest in Gloucester
Cathedral. We hope that he will be well supported by members of our
North Cheltenham Team Ministry. On 7th June (Trinity Sunday) Fr David
will preside at the Eucharist for the first time. This is a very
significant occasion for a new priest and one which we would all want to
share in. As this will be a Team-wide celebration we will not be
having services in any of the churches of the Team Ministry at the normal
times in the morning apart from a Said Eucharist at 8am in both St Mary’s
and All Saints’ and Celebrate! at 9.30am. The main Sung
Eucharist for the whole Team, at which Fr David will preside, will be at
11am in St Nicolas’. This will be followed by lunch. If you
would like to attend the lunch please sign up on one of the lists which are
on display in each church.
Sunday 28th June Jennifer Swinbank will be amongst those who will be
ordained deacon in Gloucester Cathedral. Many of you will already know
Jennifer, who has been a member of All Saints’ for a number of years.
She has spent the last year at St Stephen’s House Theological College in
Oxford as part of her training for ordained ministry and will be ordained to
serve in the North Cheltenham Team. This will be on a non-stipendiary
(unpaid) basis and Jennifer will be continuing her full-time work in the
National Health Service. Although she will mainly be ministering at
All Saints’ she will also be involved in Team-wide services and other events
and so will have the opportunity to meet many of you.
Fr Andrew, who spent the first six months of his ministry with us, will
be ordained priest on the evening of Wednesday 24th June in the church where
he is now serving in the parish of Friar Park in Wednesbury. Fr Andrew
will preside at the Eucharist for the first time on Sunday evening 28th June
at the church of St Francis, Friar Park.
Please keep David, Jennifer and Andrew in your prayers as they prepare
for ordination and as they continue to grow in the particular ministry to
which God has called them.
judgement Outstanding was given to our school by Ofsted in its
recent inspection. I want to share this good news with you. The
following may sound too good to be true, but it is true! The school is
outstanding in all categories: Overall effectiveness, Achievement and
standards, Personal development and well-being and Quality of provision.
The text of the report is full of superlatives including:
- The outstanding leadership of the headteacher
- The excellent curriculum
- Spiritual, moral and social development is outstanding
- All pupils achieve very well and attain standards that are
significantly above average because of outstanding teaching
- The school has very effective systems for the care, guidance and
support of pupils
- The outstanding governing body is very supportive
When I shared this good news with the congregation at St Nicolas’ I was
aware that I was looking at present and former pupils, their parents and
grandparents, some of whom went to the St Mary’s schools themselves some
while ago! There was a very real sense of community. The Church
Schools Review Group (The Way Ahead) states: Church schools … are
jewels in the ecclesiastical crown.
We are blessed in our schools here in our parish.
Philpot, Chair of Governors
group of twenty pilgrims from the churches of the North Cheltenham Team
travelled by car to spend the Spring Bank Holiday weekend at the Shrine of
Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk. One could not help wondering how
long the journey would have taken if we had been living in medieval times,
travelling on foot or on horseback. Our 290-mile trip took five hours
with a generous break for lunch and a rest for the driver.
On our arrival we were greeted by Fr Stephen Eldridge and some of our
group who had arrived earlier. We were escorted to our rooms carefully
arranged by Colin Holman beforehand. After a welcome cup of tea in the
Norton Café Bar we met for a briefing and our first visit to the Holy House
for prayer, returning there on Saturday morning for the Eucharist.
Saturday afternoon was free. Some members of our group decided on a
visit to Sandringham House and gardens, others opted for a trip to the coast
to sample the bracing Norfolk air at Holkham Bay. We were blessed with
fine weather. After supper in the spacious modern refectory we joined
other pilgrims for a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, singing the
Sunday morning everyone walked to the spacious and splendidly restored
parish church for the Eucharist concelebrated by the parish priest,
Guardians of the Shrine and visiting clergy. In the afternoon everyone
took part in the sprinkling ceremony at the holy well, beautifully
introduced for us by Bishop Lindsay Urwin, the Administrator. Our
group made the Stations of the Cross after supper and our visit ended with a
last visit to the Holy House on the Monday morning.
The Shrine has been much enhanced recently by the addition of the Milner
Wing of modern single rooms on two floors designed with a lift and rooms to
accommodate disabled pilgrims. It also has a state-of-the-art Welcome
Area, ideal for day pilgrims and groups of all ages.
In all it was a wonderful and uplifting experience. Our thanks to
those who organised the weekend. Deo Gratias!
Photographs from Colin & Margaret Holman
Our 2010 Pilgrimage has already been booked for Friday 30th April –
Monday 3rd May.
The 2009 Prestbury and Pittville Youth AGM was held on 26 April in St
Nicolas’ Church. It marked the end of the first five years for the
Youth Development Worker, Andy Macauly, reported on the work of PPY in
2008 saying that he and his staff and volunteer leaders had worked with 266
young people during the year. He showed
- the work of the four regular leisure-time groups, Chill, The Lounge,
Elevate and Synergy
- the all-group creative arts project ‘Re-Create’
- the summer holiday week for 11 year olds who were about to start at
- the extremely popular all-group residential weekend at Viney Hill
Activity Centre enjoyed by 38 young people from across the groups
- the members of Pittville Youth Action Group, the day-time alternative
Hon Treasurer, Gill Wood, presented the Annual Accounts to 31 December
2008, highlighting the fact that nothing had been added to the reserves in
the year with income just covering expenditure. She stressed the
importance of local support for the work with young people and the need to
improve on current levels of committed, gift-aided giving.
The Chairman expressed thanks to the members of the Executive Committee,
in particular to Charlie Chan and Julie Lane who had decided to stand down.
All the places on the Executive Committee were filled. The Revd
Michael Cozens was elected Chairman for five years. Gill Wood
continues as Hon Treasurer for another year. Liz Greenhow was elected
Hon Secretary for three years. Linda Biggs and Clare Wyatt were
nominated by Parish of Prestbury. Jill Bradley and Julia Hook were
nominated by All Saints’ Parish. Peter Horne and Tricia Wilson were
elected for one year.
The Chairman thanked members for their support, prayers and time and
urged them to encourage others also to support Prestbury and Pittville
Youth’s work with young people.
Meeting to mark Prestbury and Pittville Youth’s Fifth Birthday
PPY is five years old and we are hoping a lot of people will help us make
the next five years as successful as the first five. So we are holding
a ‘Consultation and Ideas Meeting’ on Sunday 21st June 2009 from 4.00 to
5.30 pm in St Nicolas’ Church. Please come along with all your ideas
There are over 300 young people aged ten and above who join our four
regular evening groups or come to our school-based or summer holiday
activities. Last year they joined in a project doing art, crafts and
music making. This year’s project includes open-air activities and
learning about the environment. What other activities would be good?
If you are a bit older, could you be a volunteer leader with one of our
youth groups? Could you help spread the word about our many
achievements, keep our website up to date or join a team running a
fundraising event? What else could you do to support local young
We have also produced a full colour leaflet showing our work and our
young people. If you have not yet had a copy, or would like more
information, please contact Tricia Wilson on 01242 572017 or
Pittville Youth, Registered Charity No: 1103099
Members of the Lounge help Whaddon Children’s Centre with
The following thoughts set our local, North Cheltenham, mission –
which was discussed at our Annual Meeting in April – in the global context.
The aim is to develop, over time, a strategic approach to mission across our
Team in a way that is both faithful to the way of Jesus and effective in
meeting the spiritual needs of our community.
The mission of the Church is universal and has been articulated in many
ways. All Christians share a vocation to live as disciples of Christ,
loving one another and so giving a ‘witness’ to the world (see John chapter
13, especially verse 35). There are prayerful and active aspects to
this which have to be ‘worked out’ in local situations. All human
beings have the same essential needs but these are expressed differently, so
wherever it exists the Church listens to the culture around and tries to
respond appropriately. Often we fail, which is part of the process of
following/growing in Christ, so we do not lose heart but we acknowledge our
limitations. Whatever we do there will always be more that we do not
do, so there is a need to be wise: to identify how our general
Christian calling is made specific. We do so trusting that Christ is
in us, by his Spirit, and so is seen through who and what we are (not what
we would like to be, or what others would like us to be). It follows,
therefore, that a ‘Mission Strategy’ is a limited approach, focussing on
what we discern to be the need in our locality, and setting aside other
things that, although they may be interesting, are not what we have agreed
to focus on. Therefore our mission strategy should help us:
- Identify and clarify the values that guide our mission
- Identify the areas that we are going to focus upon in prayer and
- Identify the things that we are going to set aside or refer to other
- Direct our resources in ways that are both faithful and effective
It should be subject to review every few years, as all expressions of the
church have their own natural life cycle. When an initiative comes to
an end it is important to close it in a prayerful manner, with thanksgiving,
and to move on as the Spirit of God leads us.
The hallmarks of any form of Christian Mission are that:
- It accords with the Word of God (the Bible)
- There is agreement in the Church that this is where our prayer and
energies should be directed
- Specific individuals sense an inner movement of the Holy Spirit to be
- The circumstances allow it
Sometimes a work is well established and ongoing, at other times it is a
new thing that God is calling forth. The same guidance (above) applies
in every case.
It is my hope that God will stir up in us a new excitement about mission,
which is not only a part of Christian life or an aspect of Church, but is
God’s giving of his love to the world, a journey that will bring wholeness
to all those involved with it.
We began the week with a lively ecumenical service at Holy Name Hall,
where Nigel Quarrell from the Bristol office thanked the people of Prestbury
for their generous support and answered questions about the work of
Christian Aid and over 600 partner organisations. The music group from
Holy Name Hall provided good support for the hymns. Sadly the service
was not very well attended; perhaps the beautiful weather was to blame.
A collection of £72.80 was taken for Christian Aid.
The house-to-house collection went well. Many thanks to all the
volunteers who collected and counted and helped with transport to the bank.
Thanks above all to everyone who gave so generously. The totals so far
are £1,219.96 at St Nicolas’ and £3,954.29 at St Mary’s giving a grand total
of £5,174.25 in the parish.
Paddy Spurgeon & Roger Hodges
Christian Aid Co-ordinator
After nearly 40 years, Paddy Spurgeon has decided that the time has come
to stand down as Christian Aid co-ordinator at St Nicolas’. We pay tribute
to Paddy for her dedication and commitment to the work of Christian Aid and
to ensuring that the annual collection in the St Nicolas’ area of the parish
has always been covered. Her enthusiastic encouragement will be hard to
replace, but we must find someone who is willing to take over from her.
Please speak to me if you would like to know more about this role. Very
many thanks, Paddy!
At the Annual Meeting of Parishioners on 26th April the following were
elected to serve as Churchwardens of the Parish for one year:
With responsibility for St Mary’s
With responsibility for St Nicolas’
We thank the Churchwardens for all that they do in the Parish on our
behalf. Please keep them in your prayers.
At the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, the following were elected:
To serve on the PCC
To serve on Deanery Synod
Prestbury actually has four lay places on the Deanery Synod but only two
of these were filled at the meeting. Since the Annual Meeting, Colin
Holman has offered to take one of the vacant places and this will be
confirmed by the PCC at its next meeting. If anyone would like to
consider taking the other vacant place, please speak to one of the clergy or
one of the Churchwardens. The Deanery Synod usually meets four times a
year and has more of an overview of the whole town, which is roughly the
area covered by the Deanery. Any lay member of Deanery Synod is also
an ex-officio member of the PCC.
We thank those who stood for office and those who continue to serve on
the PCC for the time they give to this important aspect of our parish life.
On Saturday 16th May we drove right into the centre of London, which felt
very strange when we reached places where I have only ever been on foot!
In the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, just across the road from the
Abbey, I met with fellow members of the Association for Church Editors (ACE)
for a very short AGM followed by the culmination of this year’s Magazine
Awards Scheme. It was a good day out, always interesting to meet
fellow editors and compare publications.
If you have a moment (and a computer) look at the Church of England
website and see what Archbishop Rowan and others have to say about parish
magazines. There is even a prayer for editors!
www.cofe.anglican.org/about/diocesesparishes/parishmags. A couple
of other websites you might find interesting are
The keynote address was given by the Reverend Martin Turner,
Superintendent Minister of Central Hall, who spoke inspiringly about church
magazines, editors, awards and where God comes into it all.
Martin considered three things important: firstly that in our
magazines we are called to echo our God of creativity. There is
excellent computer software available, so use it creatively. But
beware our motives: am I producing a good magazine to serve my own
personal needs or am I offering my creativity to God so that it becomes his
Secondly we are called to echo our God who makes all things new.
If the Holy Spirit is calling the Church forward to new things, then the
magazine should reflect this – it is a great tool for bringing change.
As editor I should spend time in prayer discovering what God wants to say to
And thirdly echo our God of community. Often the church
magazine is the only thing, apart from personal visits, which links elderly
or housebound people with their local community. It is also a great
tool for outreach – does my magazine open the door for people to find what
they are longing for?
As for winning awards – Martin said the greatest achievement is the
reward of serving God in all that we do, including editing and producing
Methodist Central Hall, Westminster
Before talking about magazines, the Reverend Martin Turner gave us a
quick overview of Central Hall and his role there. It was built in
1912 as the headquarters of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Today the
building functions in three spheres: spiritual, commercial and caring.
It is a multicultural church with 390 members and a major emphasis on
the healing ministry. The great hall seats 2,500 but they mainly use
the smaller chapel.
It is also a huge conference centre, with an annual turnover of
millions, but all profit is ploughed back into the building. (It costs
£22,000 to clean the windows, which is done three times a year.) And
it is a thriving family centre for the local neighbourhood, running
such things as parenting classes, a blood pressure clinic, a place for
divorced parents to meet their children under supervision, and the café in
the basement is open to the public.
At the end of the afternoon we were taken on a tour of the building,
including stepping out on to a balcony roughly level with the clock on the
west front of Westminster Abbey – a view very familiar to all of us because
that balcony is where the television cameras are always situated during any
event involving the Abbey.
After lunch we had a short talk on the birth of the parish (or church)
magazine as we know it today. In January 1859 the Revd John Erskine
Clarke in Derby published a 16-page booklet called The Parish Magazine
containing articles about Christian devotion, Church teaching, natural
history and biography, poetry and a short sermon by a notable ecclesiastic
such as Charles Kingsley. This was available each month to parishes
throughout the country, who could buy as many copies as they needed and
insert them into their own locally printed covers. Other similar
publications followed in due course, including The Sign in 1905.
Our own Prestbury Parish Magazine started in 1885 in exactly that format:
a cover and four pages, with the 32-page The Gospeller as its
nucleus, replaced the following year by Banner of Faith. And
this was still the case as recently as 1972: our own distinctive
cover, a few pages of Prestbury parish information, and The Sign
stapled in the centre.
The Awards Ceremony
The Awards Ceremony itself took up the rest of the afternoon, with much
posing for photographs when receiving certificates.
The 78 entries had been judged according to six criteria, with a winner
and maybe one or more commended or highly commended in each category.
AttractiveCover was inevitably won by a glossy full-colour-print
magazine (we’ll get there one day!). Then there were Overall Layout,
Use of Headlines, Use of Graphics, Clarity in Communicating
a Christian Message and Appeal to the wider Community.
Our magazine was commended for communicating a Christian message. I
was particularly pleased because this is one aspect of our magazine which I
felt needed addressing after the feedback from the competition four years
ago. We have always had a Christian message in the front page article,
usually from a member of the clergy, but now we also have a series of
articles by lay people reflecting on passages from the bible, and quite
often one or other of you writes about a service which has moved you, or a
helpful quiet day or retreat, or maybe comments on Lent or Advent study
I have not yet received our magazines back with the judges’ comments from
this year’s competition, so I shall wait till next month to discuss how well
we scored in all the other categories.
So where do we go from here? Well, I shall keep on doing my bit,
but you must also keep on sending me the articles – long ones, short ones –
and the photographs. And when you have read your copy of the magazine,
pass it on to someone else. Above all, pray – for the writers, for the
readers, for the production team. Pray that God’s love will move
through our pages, and through our website, to reach those who need him.
Frances is too modest to say so herself, but the excellent magazine which
we all enjoy and which the judges commended is largely a result of her
dedication as editor. On behalf of us all I would like to congratulate
Frances on a well-deserved award and on the continuing high standard of our
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and
this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of
works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to
be our way of life. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NRSV)
What does the song Amazing Grace say to you? Every time I
hear it sung, by professional artists, a congregation in church or a group
of elderly people in a nursing home, it still has the power to send shivers
down my back! But why? What is so special about it that makes it
stand out from so many other songs? Have you listened to the words,
truly listened to them, so that they touch that inner space deep down in
your heart, perhaps your soul, and realised the power, the strength of God’s
love which is indeed amazing, and which is given to us so freely through the
grace of our Lord Jesus?
What do we give in return? Do we go out and tell people of this
love? Through our many acts of worship, through prayer and by our
giving of our time and talents, we try to do what we believe God would want
us to do. Most of this is done in a quiet way, doing as Paul tells us
we should, without boasting of our good deeds, and if we follow the words of
the passage, Paul says that whilst we are free agents and can choose the
lives we lead, if we have faith, however small, and let God guide us, He has
prepared a whole way of life for us. That really is quite awesome!!
At a time when we are being threatened by credit crunches, a pandemic and
it seems that the integrity of numerous hitherto unknown politicians is
highly suspect, when the media tells us, however, that we deserve and should
expect perfection in every area of our lives, because ‘we’re worth it’,
where does God come into the equation? To many He doesn’t, in fact,
too many people are not even aware of His great love.
So what can we do about it? We do not like standing out from the
crowd, we do not want to make a fuss; most of us have mundane predictable
lives that have the odd tragedy or disaster in them, and often only then do
we find our faith deepening as we lean on God for support. Or maybe we
don’t: whatever has happened could also weaken our belief, as we ask
ourselves, ‘How can God do things like this to us?’.
Yet God made us so that we could perform ‘good works’ for him; and how
can we do this without going out and telling people about him? Here
too we should maybe look to Paul, who ignored the people who mocked him, who
imprisoned him, and just carried on telling everyone he met about the great
love of God and that by the grace given to us through Jesus, we would be
saved. There are people all around us who try to make religion a joke,
but who deep down are searching to fill the emptiness of unfulfilled lives,
and these are the people that we should be trying to bring to faith.
Maybe they will never step into a church or profess belief, but if we can
give them the basic knowledge that Jesus died for love of them, then we have
sown a seed which could grow one day in God’s own time.
‘Beloved, since God loved us so much, we
also ought to love one another.’ (1 John 4:11)
Date for the diary
On Thursday 11th June we celebrate the Feast of
Corpus Christi, when we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, Christ’s
gift to us of his body and blood for our spiritual nourishment. Do
join us for a Sung Mass with a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at 7.30pm
in All Saints’. The service will be followed by refreshments.
(Morning services as usual.)
St Mary’s Bakestall
The bakestall this month falls, once again, on Father’s
Day, Sunday 21st June, and this is the turn of the A-F team.
In April we were able to send two charities £25 each:
Practical Action and Mission Aviation Fellowship, while in May
our proceeds were directed to the parish collection for Christian Aid.
If you would like to join one of our teams, please let us
know. As always we are very grateful to all who support the bakestall
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
This month’s meeting will take place on Tuesday 23rd June
at St Mary’s Church at 7.30pm. Julie Jefferies from the URC will tell
us about her recent trip to Kenya and the work that was undertaken whilst
they were there. Anyone is welcome to join us to hear about this
In July we will have our outing to Winchester Cathedral so
there will not be a meeting that month.
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary’s
Music Scholars from Dean Close School will entertain us on
Wednesday 24th June in St Mary’s church. Coffee is available from
10.30am and the recital starts at 11am. Entry is free but there will
be a retiring collection for the organ fund. All are welcome.
Saturday June 27th 2pm at St Nicolas Church
Please support the fete again this year. There will
be all the usual stalls, plus a bouncy castle, dance display, BBQ and much
Daphne and Allan are organising another ‘Doggy-Gymkhana’,
so please contact them
if your dog would like to take part.
If you could start collecting items for the stalls –
books, CDs, toiletries, toys, games, bottles, soft toys, bric-a-brac and
china – we would be happy to ‘house’ things a little nearer the date of the
Janet Ford, Janet White, Gill Wood
We have had a good response to our invitations to find out
more about Alpha. However, all those who responded said they would
like to do it in the Autumn rather than now, so the launch supper will take
place in September. Please keep praying for all our North Cheltenham
folk, especially those who have not yet made the Good News their own.