ON 1ST SEPTEMBER the North Cheltenham Team Ministry celebrated (without any
fuss) its first birthday. Where has that year gone?! Looking back it would be
easy to think that nothing much has changed and that being part of a bigger Team
Ministry has not made any difference. I would want to refute those assumptions.
I do feel that we have made some positive steps forward and, although they are
quite tiny ones, I think they have made a difference. Seeing people from our
different churches meeting together for worship and then for lunch on the
occasion of Fr David’s First Mass was really encouraging. Opportunities like
that remind us that we are part of a church which is bigger than just the
service we normally attend and we can take strength and encouragement from that.
This can then lead us into action and the Alpha course, which has just begun, is
a positive example of drawing on resources (especially human ones) from across
the Team Ministry.
One of the things which I feel is important is that our Team Ministry has
some sort of vision for the Team, something which, in our very different
parishes, we could all feel that we share. Obviously we all share our faith in
God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but what does that shared faith mean to
us and what are its implications for North Cheltenham? A small group of people
were set the task of producing a vision or mission statement for North
Cheltenham. They limited themselves to just three meetings and by the end of the
time produced this:
As a member of the North Cheltenham Team Ministry, do you consider this a
statement which you feel you would endorse? Does this accurately reflect what we
as a Team want to be known for and if so, what do we need to do to ensure that
it is a true reflection across the whole Team? The purpose of this statement is
not to make all our five churches look and feel the same. We do not want to
change the uniqueness of each of our five worshipping communities and make them
into one ‘brand’, but we do want our separate communities to have a strong sense
of belonging to one another, having strong ‘family ties’ and a sense of a common
purpose. A shared vision statement will hopefully help us achieve that. It will
give each of our parishes something to check against when they are planning so
that, for example, if one parish in the Team were considering introducing a new
study programme, it would consider whether those plans fitted in with the vision
statement for the whole Team. In other words, are we all moving in the same
direction, focussing on the same values?
We recognise that in order for the vision statement to be ‘owned’ across the
Team, it needs to be understood. The working party who produced it took notes of
their discussions and I hope these will help to explain the understanding behind
the words of the statement. This list comes from that small group and will not
be exhaustive; you may have things which you think should also be included.
Worship should be an expression of our love for God and offered in response to
God’s love for us. Some of the key aspects of worship are that it should be
accessible, involving all, connecting, valuing different styles, welcoming.
This should be an expression of love and care for the community, for people
and the environment, for the vulnerable, for family life, for the wider world.
Our serving should be resourcing, recognising and valuing people’s daily
Recognising our brokenness and also our strengths and gifts, we should be
growing in the quality of our relationships, growing as Christians in our
faith, growing as Christian communities, growing in service and in worship and
in the number of people who join us to follow Christ. We also recognise that
growing in our diversity is a positive thing.
- Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ
We acknowledge that God loves us and has shown that love to us in Jesus Christ
and so we should be creating places where people can talk about faith. We
should be proclaiming the Gospel at times of need and encounter, with a
confidence in the truth of the message: ‘boldness with sensitivity’. We
recognise the need to hand the message on to the young.
The working party also identified some values which it felt should underpin
the shared life of the North Cheltenham Team Ministry. Again, this list is not
necessarily a complete one, but includes respecting one another, valuing
diversity in the opportunities for worship across the Team and discovering
Christ in our diversity, everyone having a part to play, being a people who are
growing in God’s love, building on our strengths, celebrating our gifts,
celebrating the things that are good, seeking the fullness of life which is ours
in Christ, being aware of the Church when we are together.
All four PCCs have already received this from the working party and been
asked to reflect on it. It will also be discussed by a new group – the North
Cheltenham Liaison Group – which meets for the first time this month and is made
up of licensed ministers and representatives from the five churches of the Team.
We have also consulted with the Revd Andrew Braddock, the Diocesan Missioner,
who was very positive about the vision statement and the work which has already
been done. He observed that the four different areas of the statement can be
applied at three levels: to the life of the Team, to the life of each parish in
the Team and to the life of every individual member of the Team. He also
encouraged us to keep it simple!
During Advent, in each of our five churches, you will be hearing more about
the vision statement and the values which underpin it. Each one of us will be
encouraged to reflect on our own discipleship: what it means to us individually
to be a disciple of Christ and how the various aspects and values of the vision
statement are seen and reflected in our lives. This is the first stage of
‘owning the vision’ for the North Cheltenham Team Ministry. You will be hearing
more of all this very soon!
WHAT do you say when ‘thank you’ seems too small a sentiment? The Alpha
supper (on Monday 14th September) was really first class. Nearly thirty of us
sat down to eat, of whom just over half were guests.
I was deeply impressed by the way in which our small team set to: getting
everything set up and creating a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere; then continuing
in a way that I can only describe as ‘professional’, ensuring the guests had all
they needed and that the inevitable little crises were handled quickly and
discreetly; and finally clearing everything away without pushing folk out the
door, so that we could lock up and leave the Village Hall exactly as we found
it. Well done to all of them, to Peter Greenhow for a superb meal (even the
pasta was home-made), to Revd Andy Osmond, our guest speaker from West
Cheltenham, who has been involved with Alpha for several years, and to
everyone who has held this in their prayers – THANK YOU.
As I write this (the morning after) I know of three who have already signed
up for the course, another three who have said they will, and I am confident of
a few more. This means we have a viable group. I look forward to sharing more
detailed news with you in due course.
Did any of you go to Greenbelt in August? I camped again on the helicopter
field, which was handy both for the Franciscan tent (where I joined twenty
others for Morning Prayer and/or Compline) and for access to the perimeter path
if I wanted to come home.
One event I was drawn to was a ‘Bluegrass Eucharist’. My only experience of
bluegrass music was a foot-tapping fiddle piece which my son learnt some years
ago. Sure enough, the band included a violin and a banjo with other instruments
and it made you want to dance.
The other highlight for me was during the main Sunday service, which this
year was not a Eucharist; instead we anointed one another with olive oil from
Palestine. The theme was the conflict in the Holy Land and the search for peace.
The Old Testament reading, the story of Noah sending out the dove, was read in
Hebrew, and also printed in Hebrew in the service booklet. The New Testament
reading, the parable of the sower, was printed and read in Arabic. I don’t
understand either of these languages, but I did enjoy watching the wonderful
sign language interpretations of both readings – you could see Noah carefully
passing the dove through the window and the dove flying round searching and then
carefully bringing the olive leaf back in its beak; and you could see the
farmer’s seeds growing and withering, growing and being crushed by weeds or
pecked by birds, growing and flourishing.
And then there were fun elements: a giant ice block with ‘treasures’ hidden
inside, which gradually revealed themselves as the ice melted; two ‘ladies’,
complete with hats and handbags, riding around on outsize motorised shopping
trolleys with all the sound effects – loud music, vrooming as they accelerated
up an incline, squealing as they cornered sharply.
And the food was good too – bacon and egg breakfast in a roll on my way to
one early morning event, banana and maple syrup pancake the next morning, not to
mention the multi-national dishes available for lunch and dinner...
The focus of the holiday project was the transition to secondary school, with
the bulk of the fifteen young people being those starting at secondary school in
September ’09. Team challenges, ‘Ready Steady Cook’, a treasure hunt, a low
ropes course, the bushcraft experience and BBQ made it a packed week of
activities. One of the features was the fantastic team of young leaders – giving
their own experience, example and encouragement to the younger participants. The
week really hit the mark: as one young person put it: ‘I have gained confidence
and it has made me more happier and made me want to get up in the mornings’.
Many thanks to all who gave of their time to make it such a great week!
Our regular evening groups (Elevate and Chill) provide a great way to
continue to support those who have just moved up to secondary school. New
members are very welcome!
Andy will also be joining Wes from Cheltenham YFC doing detached youth work
on a Wednesday lunchtime this term. This is a great opportunity to offer support
to existing contacts and build positive links with further young people.
Toasting Marshmallows at the end of the Bushcraft
Monday 12th October at 7.30pm: PPY Parents’ Information
Evening, Church Room, St Nicolas’.
No youth work on Sunday 25 October, Tuesday 27 or Thursday 29 – ‘half-term’.
Tony is in his third year as Curate in the Coln river group of parishes (Andoversford,
Withington, etc) and is joining us for a placement as part of his training. He
will be working mainly in St Mary’s and All Saints’ and will join us on Sunday
18th October. A requirement of the placement is that he does not work in his own
parishes but works full-time with us for the six weeks or so that he is here. In
effect he is another member of the clergy staff team for that time. Please
introduce yourself to Tony and make him welcome!
Since the last magazine I have spent a week enjoying doing not a lot on a
tiny Greek island, Halki (sometimes spelt Chalki – the Greek is Χαλκη), off the
west coast of Rhodes. The sun was already too hot to sit in at seven o’clock in
the morning! The sea was deep blue, warm and very clear. And the harbour-front
tavernas served good food.
Walking to one of the beaches I stood a while in the shade of an olive tree by
the road, looking down towards a grove of olives, and it struck me that the
bible doesn’t tell us how hot and sweaty Jesus and his followers would have
been, nor that they probably had to keep flapping flies away from their faces.
And the sheep and goats that get sorted in Matthew’s gospel – we think of
sheep as fat and woolly and could not possibly be confused with goats, but here
on this Mediterranean island both were lean and scraggy and you had to look
closely to spot the difference between hair and wool.
The only town, Emborio, is terraced up the hillside around the harbour, the
main walkways just wide enough for narrow vehicles, the others only suitable for
motor scooters or pedestrians, and there are many steps! The water supply for
the island is brought by ship, which came twice during our visit and it took
many hours to pump the water up to the storage tanks on the hills above the
The ruins of the castle built by
Knights of St John in the fifteenth century
Fantastic views of the island and
the sea from the top
We enjoyed three different beaches, one sandy the others pebbly, all walking
distance from the town, and also climbed up to the ruins of the castle built by
Knights of St John in the fifteenth century. A steep rugged climb, but fantastic
views of the island and the sea from the top. Up there, in the ruined chapel of
St Nicolas, are some Byzantine frescoes. The icon of St Nicolas from that chapel
is now housed in the 19th century church of St Nicolas in Emborio.
Do you play the piano?
We still need to recruit a couple more pianists to help with the Sunday
afternoon services in Bay Tree Court residential home. See last month’s magazine
If you can help, or you know of anyone who might be able to, please contact
Stephen Murton starting his cycle ride at John o’ Groats
on Tuesday 22nd September
Stephen is raising money for Prestbury and Pittville Youth (PPY)
by cycling from John o' Groats to Land's End. If you would like to sponsor
him, please contact the editor by email to
WE heard the bells ringing at seven o’clock on Saturday evening and so walked
down to St Nicolas’ church, Halki, to see what the service would be. We found a
christening just beginning in the pebbled courtyard.
The pebble-mosaic courtyard
The font was a pot-bellied urn, about two feet high and the same in diameter,
part filled with water, to which oil was added. Two men, presumably father and
godfather, took turns holding the baby, who looked about three or four months
old, while the priest sang the opening part of the service. The baby was then
laid on a special side-table, draped with a white towel and sheet, which struck
me as resembling a bier and shroud, strangely appropriate when you consider the
symbolism of baptism.
The baby was stripped naked, wrapped in the sheet and brought back to the
font, where the priest anointed every part of him, front and back, from his
forehead to the soles of his feet, with liquid oil. Then the priest grasped this
slippery baby firmly under the arms, held him up for all to see and then
carefully sat him down into the font, out of sight, where he scooped oily water
over his head, and then held him high again. Three times this little boy was
plunged into the waters of baptism and three times ‘raised to new life’. The
priest then laid him back into the men’s arms and wrapped him in the sheet. Next
the priest dressed him in special white garments while intoning more prayers.
Eventually the men returned him to the table where an army of aunties and
grannies dressed him properly. Then back to the two men by the font, who held
him while the priest censed him from the opposite side of the font, four times,
each time having moved a quarter of the way round the font. And the thurible, by
the way, had bells all the way up the chains, so the censing was quite musical!
The whole ceremony took about an hour, by which time it was eight o’clock and
dark, and we disappeared off down to the harbour front for dinner. I think they
all did too; certainly we recognised many of the children in their party clothes
quite late into the evening.
... and First Communion
THE following morning, Sunday, we again responded to the bells and arrived at
the church at about ten to eight. The cantors were already singing, although the
priest was still flitting around getting robed: a simple white cotton cassock in
place of yesterday’s black one, with a much more ornate gold embroidered stole
than yesterday’s. People came and went throughout the next two and a half hours,
buying and lighting candles as they entered, and then venerating each icon
before taking a seat.
The bells were rung again at 8am and 9am, and more people arrived. The
singing, in Greek, was continuous throughout the service, and I understood
little other than ‘Kyrie eleison’ and ‘Amen’. The priest spent most of his time
at the altar behind the screen, but the door was open, so we could see him. He
emerged to sing the Gospel and to process round the church with the communion
The screen and cantors’ lectern
I guess the first hour was a form of Morning Prayer, while the second hour
was certainly the Eucharist. For this the priest added a simple cape to his
vestments, white with gold embroidery. Sitting or standing seemed random, except
for obvious places like the Gospel and the Creed, when everybody stood.
The consecrated bread was a round loaf cut in chunks; the wine was in a small
pot-bellied cup and the priest administered with an ornate long-handled spoon.
Only the children and one elderly woman received wine, the very first child
being the little baby baptised yesterday evening. After receiving the wine they
took the bread from the bowl; one boy even went back again for a second piece!
Eventually the service ended, and the priest said something in a normal
everyday voice, which seemed strange after two hours of chanting, and only then
did the rest of the congregation go to the front to receive a piece of communion
bread, most people kissing the priest’s hand as they took the bread. There were
also five larger loaves which the priest had blessed during the service. These
were cut into large hunks, about 4"-6" across, which we all took home with us.
St Nicolas’ church, Halki, Greece
The harbour at Emborio, Halki, with St Nicolas’ church
The point is this: the one who
sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will
also reap bountifully. ... And God is able to provide you with every blessing
in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share
abundantly in every good work. ...
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply
your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will
be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce
thanksgiving to God...
9:6-11 (NRSV) abridged
Driving through the countryside this week-end, I saw signs everywhere that
Autumn is almost here, the leaves changing colour on the trees, hay rolls dotted
across shorn fields and the hint of cold in the early mornings, all indications
that nature’s ‘rhythm of life’ is moving on, and it will soon be time to
celebrate Harvest time.
Similarly, God has given us seeds to sow, to cultivate and eventually to
reap, and it depends on each one of us as to how sparingly or bountifully we
share the ‘seeds’ we have been given.
Put another way, life is like a great dance to which everyone has been
invited by God. He equips each of us with the ‘tools’ with which to dress
ourselves, and then it is left up to us to do the best we can. There is a ‘guide
book’ and many models for us to fashion ourselves on, but it is still our
decision as to how we get involved in the dance, or whether we turn away and
find distractions in other places.
Like nature’s cycles, our lives can go round and round with monotonous
regularity, numbing us and making us reject anything that is outside our circle
of life, as we are unwilling or frightened to step out of the circle or to
change any part of its pattern.
Change, then, is difficult and can be quite scary, as we do not know where
God is calling us to go, and to accept might send us down paths which we would
rather not tread, because they are against our so called ‘better judgement’.
Yet it is God’s changes in our lives that enliven us, that put new seeds of
thoughts in us, that make us want to do more, to go that little bit further
along the Way that God has chosen for us; and in so doing, we are able to share
our new-found gifts, and attract more people into God’s world. By doing this we
are the ones who are enriched by the love which God shows in so many different
ways. Our own reward, we are told, is righteousness, and by showing that same
generosity of spirit to others, we can influence others into following our God
and also being able to join in the eventual harvest.
I found this prayer amongst some papers I had, and it sort of sums up all we
can really ask our God for and not appear greedy!
‘Give us Lord, a bit o’ sun,
a bit o’ work and a bit o’ fun.
Give us in all the struggle and the sputter
our daily bread and a bit o’ butter.
Give us health our keep to make
and a bit to spare for others’ sake.
Give us, too, a bit o’ song,
and a tale and a book to help us along.
Give us, Lord, a chance to be
our goodly best, brave, wise and free,
Our goodly best for ourselves and others
till all men learn to live as brothers.’
The Ordination of Women debate
Both Prestbury PCC and All Saints’ PCC have had some
discussions concerning issues surrounding the ordination of women to the
priesthood. Both PCCs identified the possibility of a further meeting which
would be open to anyone who would like to attend.
All Saints’ PCC has invited Canon David Hoyle (Diocesan Director of Ministry) to
speak about the nature of priesthood and to facilitate a discussion. This
meeting will be held in All Saints’ Church on Sunday 4th October at 3.30pm and
all are very welcome to attend.
St Mary’s Bakestall
The bakestall this month will be on Sunday 18th October,
provided by the A-F team, and will be in aid of Lepra Health in Action.
Their News Programme booklet is on the church notice board for you to see.
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Prestbury Mothers Union
Our October meeting will be held on Tuesday 27th October at
the United Reformed Church at 7.30pm. Father Paul will present a Musical Soirée
and anyone is welcome. He is always worth listening to!
Friends of St Mary’s Prestbury
The Friends’ first event will be on Saturday 31st October at
7.30pm in St Mary’s church, when Edward Gillespie, Managing Director of
Cheltenham Racecourse, will talk about the history and daily life of the
racecourse. The event is open to both members and non-members. The cost will be
£10 per head, which will include a glass of wine and a finger buffet.
Monday 2nd November: All Souls’ Day
9.30am: Said Eucharist in St Mary’s
with names of departed read
4.30pm: Said Service of the Word in
St Nicolas’ with names of departed
7.30pm: Sung Requiem in All Saints’
with full list of names of departed
Sunday 8th November: Remembrance Sunday
Act of Remembrance during the
9.30am service at St Nicolas’
Act of Remembrance 10.45am at
Prestbury War Memorial
3.30pm in St Mary’s: Memorial service
for those bereaved in the past year
NB no 6.30pm service in St Mary’s
Gloucestershire Police Choir
On Friday 11th December at All Saints’ Church at 7.30pm the
Gloucestershire Police Choir have kindly agreed to hold a concert on behalf of
the Orphanage in Kenya that is supported by the Revd Maz Allen of the United
Reformed Church. You will recall that Maz leads a party of people out there
every other year, to work on various projects, and she is always looking for
sponsorship for this very worthwhile charity. The Choir are always worth
listening to and they will be singing an assortment of Christmas music. Tickets
will be available soon at all churches at £6.00 each.
Thank you to all who supported our weekend of fun and
entertainment. We made a staggering £1,318.00, which far exceeded our
expectations. We will be sending £1000.00 to Let the Children Live! to
help support the street children in Colombia. We have also purchased and had
made new curtains for the stage area of Prestbury Hall as our donation to them
for the use of the hall. Thank you for all your positive comments about the
show; watch this space for our next production! If you would like to join us we
would welcome any new members; just give me a call.