All over the world human beings are expressing their hope for what Jesus
described as ‘the Kingdom of God’1. In May this year, over eight
thousand young people converged on Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, for a
meeting organised by the Taizé Community2. This was probably the
first time that significant numbers of young people could come together from the
former Soviet states in one of their own capitals. These thousands of
individuals seeking reconciliation and building together the communion of the
Church are a sign of hope, a sign that a future of peace is possible.
Peace, or ‘shalom’, as any Hebrew scholar will tell you, is far more profound
than the absence of war. It is a vision of a world in harmony with itself:
nations reconciled to one another after generations of alienation; individuals
in right relationship with each other; a sense of self-worth and fulfilment for
every human being; the celebration (not just acceptance) of differences; an
equal sharing, and responsible stewardship, of the resources of the earth. It is
this great dream that the Church seeks to embody, no matter how often we stumble
in our journey towards it.
One of the great tragedies of humanity is that we grow apart from one
another, and allow differences to obscure the reality of our connectedness. In
the eighteenth century it was the emergence of science that became the focus for
division. Christians in influential positions did not all respond in the same
way. Some embraced the new ideas uncritically, while others condemned them
because of a perceived (but not real) threat to the life of faith. Even today
there are many who believe that science and faith are opposed and
irreconcilable. But no one thing or idea is in itself the cause of division in
the human family. We have to take responsibility for how we respond, and if
faith is to be real it must undergo a testing, perhaps many3.
Cheltenham has just played host to the annual Science Festival, a celebration
of the incredible things that have been discovered through scientific enquiry.
This year has also seen a recollection of the life and work of Charles Darwin, a
man whose own faith was challenged, first by his theory and then by the tragic
loss of his daughter aged ten. When faced with human suffering, or with any kind
of challenge, it is common to want to retreat into our certainties. When we do
this, whether we realise it or not, we are forgetting that a future of peace is
possible, that the mystery of tragedy and of loss is a part of the greater
picture of life and hope.
So the Church must learn constantly to become a place where we are not afraid
to doubt, to live with questions and uncertainty, and to listen with patience
and attentiveness to everyone, even if their ideas seem to threaten our very way
of life. Within the heart of every human being there is a longing for peace.
Will we be among those whose trust not only allows us to see the future that is
coming, but also to hasten its arrival?
1 See for example Mark’s Gospel, chapter 4, from verse 29.
2 Source: http://www.taize.fr/
3 The novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote: ‘My faith has been
refined in the crucible of doubt’.
Sunday 28th June at 10.15am in Gloucester Cathedral, Jennifer Swinbank is
amongst those being ordained to the diaconate. Deacon Jennifer, as she will be
known, will be licensed to serve in our North Cheltenham Team Ministry. Although
she hopes to be able to work across the whole Team, much of her ministry will be
based at All Saints’.
Please join us to officially welcome Jennifer into her new role on Sunday
12th July from 12.30pm in All Saints’. This will be a ‘bring and share’ lunch,
so please bring a small plate of something savoury or sweet to share. We hope
that people from across the Team Ministry will come to the lunch after their own
morning services, though you are very welcome to come to the Mass at All Saints’
at 10.30am if you wish.
It was good to welcome back Fr Stephen Gregory to the Eucharist at St Mary’s
on Monday 1st June, the fortieth anniversary of his ordination to the
Fr Stephen was Vicar of Prestbury from 1995, also Priest-in-Charge of All
Saints’ from 1999 and finally Rector of the Prestbury & All Saints’ Team
Ministry from 2003 until his retirement in 2006.
Members of Celebrate! agreed some time ago to sponsor a child through World
Vision. We recently received a letter and card from World Vision:
‘We really appreciate the support you have given to Ousmane this year.
Your sponsorship means that Ousmane and the community he lives in get access to
life’s essentials such as food, clean water, education and healthcare.’
Thank you to all who help us support Ousmane in this way.
Our main aim at the all-nighter was to raise as much money as possible for
the Water Aid charity. This involved there being two people on exercise bikes
all night in rotation; this was a huge success thanks to everyone who took the
challenge and got involved, which was good to see. After watching the Water Aid
video it made me realise how important it was to raise the money that night. As
well as this there were other activities such as sport, cinema, kitchen and
lounge area. It was really good to see everyone take part, be good sports in the
evening and to meet new people. Also it was good to see not many people fall
Also, a big good luck to Stephen Murton, who is taking the challenge to bike
ride to Lands End from John O’Groats. This inspired us to run the exercise bikes
over the night.
Cycling for PPY and Water Aid
As you may have seen in the weekly notice sheet, I am planning to cycle from
John O’Groats to Lands End in September this year to celebrate (!) my
retirement. I intend doing this as a sponsored event to support the
work of Andy and Sharon Macauly for Prestbury and Pittville Youth.
I shall be hovering with sponsorship forms at the end of various services
between now and September, and hope that you will be willing to support me in
this escapade, taking advantage of Gift Aid tax benefits if possible.
Thank you in anticipation.
Following a period of consultation the PCC considered the responses which had
been received and then agreed to ask the Archdeacon of Cheltenham for permission
to establish a welcome area by the font for an experimental period of fifteen
The Archdeacon visited St Mary’s in June to look at the proposed area. He
indicated that he would be willing to grant the permission but would need to be
satisfied that, because this is an experiment, the pews that are removed can be
stored and replaced if necessary. We are currently making arrangements for
storage and also investigating floor covering, which will also need be
removable. When we are in a position to go ahead then we will formally ask the
Archdeacon to give his permission for the fifteen-month experimental period to
begin. We will let you know when that happens.
Thank you to all those who responded to the consultation. We will also be
asking for opinions once the welcome area has been established.
On April 18th a group of eight volunteer ringers arrived at the tower to ring
for the wedding of Fr Daniel and Sarah. The bride’s parents, who are also
ringers and whom we had met on several occasions, found time to join us briefly
in ringing on what was a very happy day.
We were pleased to welcome to the tower on a recent Sunday evening eight
members of the Elevate group of Prestbury and Pittville Youth accompanied by
three helpers. After a short talk about the history of the bells and a chance to
chime one each to get an idea of the feel and weight of a bell, the group
ascended to the bell chamber where they were treated to the sight and sound of
the bells at close range (ear plugs were provided!). They then watched a
demonstration of six of the bells being rung in rounds. Everyone felt that it
had been an interesting experience.
We are into the wedding season again, with several couples requesting bells
for their big day.
We look forward to welcoming any visitors to the area who are ringers and who
may wish to join us for Tuesday evening practices (7.30 to 9.00pm) and/or Sunday
service ringing at 10.15 for 11.00am.
From Thursday 10th September to Sunday 13th September St Mary’s church will
be open for National Heritage Open Days from 2pm to 5pm.
Our theme this year is The ways we travelled and we will be
investigating all kinds of maps, roads, footpaths in and around Prestbury and of
course the means by which we travelled along them.
The tower will be opened by our team of ringers each afternoon, and
refreshments will be served in the church. The Friends of St Mary’s will
also be launched this weekend (see article below).
A number of churches in our area and throughout the country have set up
‘Friends’ schemes to help with the maintenance and repair of their churches. At
St Mary’s we have had a planning group who have been working towards starting a
‘Friends of St Mary’s, Prestbury’ and this will be launched in September.
Membership of the Friends will be made up mainly of local residents who have
affection for St Mary’s church, but who may not necessarily be involved in the
religious life of the church, or people living outside the area with local
The Friends will contribute to the maintenance and improvement of St Mary’s
church and churchyard, both by donating and raising money and by enlisting the
time, enthusiasm and resources of people who can give them. All money raised
will only be spent on projects approved by the PCC.
If you would like more information about ‘The Friends of St Mary’s,
Prestbury’ then please talk to Jim Mackie.
AS I have previously explained, in spite of its pompous title, the House of
Laity Meeting is the exclusive ‘talking shop’ of us lay members of the Diocesan
Synod, and is very useful.
On 4th June we had a lengthy and very lively discussion on the appointment of
Parish representatives on the Deanery Synods and since some aspects of this have
caused concern we are raising the matter at the forthcoming Diocesan Synod.
This led on to a discussion which roused us all to a state of great verbal
animation. You might be surprised to hear that, but it was a matter very close
to our hearts: communication between church members.
The definition of ‘a church’ is a building for worship. The definition of
‘the Church’ is the people involved in the worship, in our case the Church of
The Church of England is governed by the General Synod, which consists of
members of the Diocesan Synods, which in turn consist of members of the Deanery
Synods. Deanery Synods are made up of representatives from the parishes, in
other words YOU and ME.
We are all ‘The Church’ and we all have feelings and views about our
spiritual life. If we have concerns we must talk to the clergy and the PCC and
our Synod representatives. They are friends and acquaintances, not strangers.
They, in turn, should discuss our concerns at Deanery level, and so on up the
chain. If we are not prepared to be involved at individual and parish level,
then I am afraid that we cannot complain when ‘The Church of England’ displeases
The next stage in our discussion was the machinery of the various synods. We
all felt that it took some time before the workings became clear to us. A member
from the Stroud area suggested a set of ‘Ladybird Book’ type of instruction
booklets, one for each level: PCC, Deanery and Diocesan Synod. Then new members
would have an accurate pocket book to help at the beginning instead of sitting
at a loss and unable to take a proper part in proceedings. We all voted for this
to begin in the new session.
Bishop Michael is quite determined that we local churches, both buildings and
people, move on to become an integral part of our local communities once more.
At the Diocesan Synod he is proposing the following motion:
‘That Synod welcomes “Building the Future” as an important statement and
resource on the role of church buildings in the mission of the diocese, and
formally adopts the policy that, as far as possible there should be a church
building in every community
- Enjoying the support of the community
- Open during the day
- With signage that explains the Christian faith and the Church’s use
- A place where people pray, both in shared worship and on their own
- Ordered for good and lively worship
- In wide use by the community
- A place of welcome, dialogue and of healing
- Recognised as a sign of God’s presence in the community that gathers
That is a very resounding cry for action, you must agree. Now is our
opportunity to get up and do something positive. Please don’t let it slip away.
As a parish we are on the move.
Hodges, Diocesan Synod Representative
It was a gloriously hot afternoon and we ate ice creams as we walked. We
viewed Holman Hunt’s Light of the World in Keble chapel, listening to
snippets of Mozart being rehearsed, admired the brickwork and huge mosaic
murals. We ambled through Christchurch Meadow and sat awhile by the river
watching punts and canoes, ducks and swans, and my visit ended with Evensong in
the coolness of Magdalen chapel.
I had arrived at St Stephen’s House theological college at ten in the
morning, was immediately co-opted into the small choir to sight-read, in Latin,
the alto part of a Gabrieli motet. Keeps the brain active! The service was as I
remember it when I first came to St Mary’s – all responses and most of the
Eucharistic prayer sung. Very nostalgic! The college and its church are tucked
away almost out of sight, with a great sense of peace in the cloisters.
It was interesting to meet tomorrow’s curates, about to leave college and go
out to their parishes. It made me think about how we as parishioners welcome our
deacons and priests. We know how we like things done in our churches, but are we
perhaps sometimes too quick to try and squeeze the newcomer into our mould,
rather than waiting to see what he or she brings to us? A year ago David came to
us as deacon, now priest. Earlier that year Daniel joined us as team vicar, and
now we have Jennifer. Each has much to offer, and not necessarily what we are
ON SATURDAY 6th June I drove to Gloucester with two others to attend the
Ordination to the Priesthood of seventeen deacons at the Cathedral, amongst whom
was our own Father David Gardiner, tenth on the list, this order being kept
throughout the service. We arrived three quarters of an hour early, yet the
Cathedral was more than half full, and was completely packed, with some people
sitting in the choir stalls, by 4.30 when the service began. We had good
positions from which to watch and take part, and the order of service was very
clearly explained in our booklets. The Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir sang all
the settings and motets, and no fewer than five of our North Cheltenham Team
Ministers were present, along with many other priests, and the Bishop of
Tewkesbury, assisting Bishop Michael, who conducted the whole service.
After an introduction each ordinand was presented by his or her sponsor to
the Bishop, who then asked the Director of Ordinands to confirm that they had
taken the necessary oaths and make the Declaration of Assent.
The ordinands were then called to make their declarations of pastoral duties
and care, and, this done, the congregation were asked to pray for and support
them. After intercessions came the ordination prayer, and the laying on of hands
by Bishop Michael and all the priests who were present. Then each ordinand’s
hands were anointed.
I found myself to be uplifted and very excited by this most moving ceremony,
that we could all witness such a devotion and faith exchanged between God and
The congregation welcomed the newly ordained priests, then the liturgy of the
Eucharist followed, with Holy Communion distributed from several points.
Bibles were presented to each new priest before the Blessing, then they were
led by the Bishop through the Cathedral to the applause of the congregation. A
Joyful Day indeed!
Fr David with Bishop Michael outside the Cathedral
Photograph by Colin Holman
‘Called to be servants and shepherds among the people’
WITH THE above words Bishop Michael introduced the Liturgy of Ordination at
Gloucester Cathedral on June 6th when seventeen priests to serve in the Diocese
of Gloucester were ordained, including Fr David Gardiner from our Team. The
Bishop continued by saying that they were to be messengers, watchmen and
stewards of the Lord; they were to declare in Christ’s name the absolution and
forgiveness of people’s sins; they were to preside at the Lord’s table and they
were to bless the people in God’s name. However, as Bishop Bill Ind (former
Bishop of Truro and of ‘Island Parish’ fame) pointed out in his sermon, priests
are nevertheless human and are fallible like the rest of us. Despite that, as
Bishop Bill has mentioned before, we should expect them to be honest with
themselves and with others about their failings – and it is a great comfort that
God only calls wonky people.
Before the Laying on of Hands the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir and the
congregation sang the Litany, which in my view made a very solemn and very
suitable contribution to an impressive choral service. The Laying on of Hands
was conducted with due dignity and was followed by the Eucharist, with the
Bishop presiding and the newly ordained priests assisting in the administration
of Holy Communion.
It was a truly uplifting occasion – and when at the end the Bishop led the
newly ordained priests along the nave to the applause of the vast congregation,
including many supporters from the North Cheltenham Team, there on the Bishop’s
immediate right was Fr David, beaming. A memorable sight!
Fr David’s First Mass
ON TRINITY SUNDAY, 7th June, I was privileged to attend a very special
service at St Nicolas’ church, Prestbury.
Our curate, David Gardiner, had been ordained Priest at Gloucester Cathedral
the day before, and he was to preside, for the first time, at the Eucharist.
As it was a benefice service, members of all five churches attended, about
two hundred, I believe. It was a most uplifting service, with a great sense of
‘family’. Not only was David supported by the large congregation, but also by
members of his own family. Indeed his mother, Fiona, who is a Reader in the
Diocese, preached a not only spiritual, but, dare I say, entertaining sermon.
I think we are very fortunate to have the Revd David Gardiner as one of the
team of clergy. To complete the happy occasion a delicious lunch was served.
Hilary Halsey, churchwarden,
St Mary Magdalene, Elmstone Hardwicke with Uckington
Fr Tom Clammer, Fiona Gardiner, Fr David, Fr Michael
Photograph by Stephen Murton
Fr David’s Second Mass
What a wonderful service at St Nicolas’ for Fr David’s first celebration of
the Eucharist! That is written about elsewhere.
The following morning, in the quiet of St Mary’s, David was completely alone
at the altar, no deacons (or rectors serving as sub-deacons), no one to point to
the right place on the page. Yet he didn’t falter. In a congregation of just
four, I found it every bit as moving as Sunday’s service.
CONGRATULATIONS on the award for the parish magazine; the location of the
presentation brought back a very happy memory
In June 1944 I was in the RAF and stationed in the flats next to the Royal
Albert Hall. We were given tickets for a concert, which was in aid of the
Merchant Navy, at the Central Hall. Doris Hare had a BBC radio programme called
Shipmates Ashore and this was the stage version.
Luckily for me, it included so many of my favourites: with singer Anne
Shelton, Tommy Handley and the cast of the ITMA radio show, Eric Portman, one of
our best film actors, and just about everyone else who was not working in the
West End that night.
We even had Wing Commander John Wooldridge, the Mosquito pilot, who had just
crossed the Atlantic in under six hours! A wonderful night!
A further show biz event at the Hall was more recent. The first performance
of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, in its twenty-minute
version, was performed at a London school. It was decided to give it one public
performance at the Central Hall and, as they say, the rest is history.
A great place.
It shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my
spirit on all flesh: your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men
shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
Joel 2:28 (RSV)
Joel’s prophecy is quoted with passion by Peter when he addresses the men of
Judea on the day the Apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Act 2:17).
While we should continue to meditate on the gift of the Holy Spirit during the
rather featureless weeks of the Trinity season, this is not my intention in this
reflection. Perhaps because I shall be eighty when this is published, I observed
the way the prophet differentiates between the old and the young. ‘The young
will see visions and the old will dream dreams.’ One seems to me to be
active and the other passive. Visions are of the future, of the potential for
activity, while dreaming is associated with advancing years, sitting by the
fireside thinking back over the past and what might have been. There must be
more to one’s final years. There is.
So as it was the BBC Poetry Season I turned to Yeats:
Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth, …
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul claps its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.
Striking and illuminating with the poet’s gift for the memorable phrase, but
when mortality and incapacity loom, ultimately insufficient. As someone who has
always considered himself a Christian, albeit one who has periods of spiritual
barrenness, I need reassurance. Can I be confident that I can trust God to be
with me when faced with inevitable decline? I turn to the Bible. It provides
many examples of the honour in which the old were held and valued for their
wisdom but it also recognises the less attractive aspects, when the old are
rejected and fact that old age does not always come with responsible behaviour
(read Paul’s letter to Titus 2:1 3). While it is reassuring to read in Psalm
90:10 of a possible future of three score years and ten, we know there is more
to old age than that. We have all witnessed distressing evidence of decline in
our friends and families – lack of mobility, hearing or sight, chronic illness,
apathy, dementia and the loss of personality. But whatever our circumstances,
the reading of our Lord’s encouraging words should lead us to become more aware,
not less, of the value of growth in the Christian life. ‘Lo, I am with you
always, to the close of the age.’ (Matthew 28:20)
There are also God-given compensations, opportunities for service even if
bedridden, time to pray for those we love, time to consider how far God has been
with us as we travel. Every day, every experience, is still important in what it
can offer. ‘Let us remember that the last years of our life are worth living.
Even when our journey leads us into the desert, when through weakness or
infirmity we can contribute little to our fellows or even care for ourselves, we
are always in God’s love and love remains our last gift to God and to others.’
(Dr Tom Rudd ‘Growing Old with God’.)
Bible Study Groups
There are two bible study groups, both meeting on Tuesdays: in
St Mary’s church at 10am most weeks and in All Saints’ church at 7pm roughly
every other week. Please see the weekly notice sheets for exact details of dates
during the summer months.
Prestbury & Pittville Youth dates
Our final youth sessions are on Sunday 12th July. Youth work
restarts next term from Sunday 6th September. Many thanks to all who have
contributed to a great year!
Please pray for:
* 24-29 July: staying at Soul Survivor Festival
* 24-28 August: 360° Connect Holiday Project (for those moving
up to secondary school)
For more info:
Sunday Club and Celebrate! dates
Celebrate! (St Mary’s 9.30am) and the Sunday Clubs
(St Nicolas’ 9.30am and St Mary’s 11am) meet for the last time before the summer
holiday on Sunday 12th July. They all restart on Sunday 6th September. For more
information about the Sunday Clubs please contact
Sunday 12th July has been designated as ‘Sea Sunday’, when we
are asked to pray for all seafarers around the world and also for the work of
The Mission to Seafarers. For more information about this, visit
St Mary’s Bakestall
Sunday 19th July is the date for the next bakestall, provided
by the G-M team. The money raised will be sent to Every Child, who are
urgently appealing for donations to help children in Ethiopia. Their letter is
on our notice board for you to read.
Relax in August: NO bakestall in the holiday month!
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
Our July meeting will be our summer outing to Winchester on
Tuesday 28th July. All outstanding monies due to Marion by Sunday 26th at the
There will be no meeting in August.
Our September meeting will be on Tuesday 22nd September at St
Mary’s at 7.30pm. Our speaker will talk about Energy Efficiency, which should be
of interest to us all in these days of both economic downturn and global
warming. Please join us even if you are not a member.
With the reopening of the URC chapel, Soul Café returns on the
fourth Sunday of each month. On 26th July the theme is Respect & Dignity
and on 23rd August Festival & Celebration. Do join us at 6pm for these
short informal sessions, refreshments included.
Fr Daniel & Maz Allen
Two Cheese & Wine Evenings
at Prestbury Hall
on Friday 4th & Saturday 5th
Each will be
an evening of comic entertainment similar to last year to raise funds for
Let the Children Live!
Both performances to start
We currently have 106 people booked to join us at our Sidmouth
weekend in September. There are a few rooms vacant if you would like to make a
late booking. For further details contact me.
Ride and Stride
On Saturday 12th September, the Gloucestershire Historic
Churches Trust (Reg. Charity No. 1120266)
will be holding its annual sponsored Ride and Stride.
Every year the Trust makes awards to church communities to
maintain their buildings for worship and a significant amount of money awarded
is raised through this sponsored event. We are appealing to you to help us give
money back to communities which desperately need it in order to keep their
You can do this by taking part in our Ride and Stride or by
sponsoring a participant. This year, for the first time, you can also choose to
be sponsored to spend the day carrying out tasks in your own church or chapel.
Further information, together with sponsorship forms, is
available from your Local Organiser, details below. Each participant can
nominate a church/chapel of their choice to receive half of their money.
The cause is a good one and, although good weather cannot be
guaranteed, those who take part have an excellent day. Please consider how you
can best support the event.
For information about the Trust’s work and how to support it
please look at the new website www.ghct.org.uk
The Local Organiser for Prestbury is