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Prestbury Parish Magazine

December 2009 /January 2010

St Nicolas’ Church in early evening sunlight

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle.

Ecclesiastes 11:6a


Photograph:    St Nicolas’ in early evening sunlight
by Stephen Murton


‘The bells of waiting Advent ring’

Congratulations and Thanks to Cyril Beer

Street Pastors

The ‘Real Christmas’

Eager Beavers

PPY Update

God’s Calling

John O’Groats to Land’s End

The inaugural event organised by the Friends of St Mary’s

Diocesan Synod

Saint Gilles and the Camargue Connection to Santiago de Compostela

Support and Delegation

Some articles from this month's magazine have been included elsewhere in the web site:

The Registers

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month


‘The bells of waiting Advent ring’

ADVENT is the time when we wait and prepare ourselves to greet the Lord Jesus when we celebrate his coming into this world at Christmas. It is also a time of change in the Church’s year, a time of endings and new beginnings. Many of us do not really like new beginnings because they take us into areas of uncertainty and we are reluctant to let go of the things we know and understand, all those things with which we have become most comfortable. Few of us really like change because it challenges our sense of security. Even those aspects of our lives that are not so good can seem better than the unknown that lies ahead.

And yet this next stage of our journey is not all unknown for we have a familiar story to take with us, the story of a man who looked on outcasts with affection, who spoke words of forgiveness to those who could not find it anywhere else and who died for his friends. We hear again the story that was told by Jesus’s remaining followers of their commitment to their work of spreading the Gospel. It is our story too because Christians are the people of the story. We tell it again and again through our worship, through our acts of service, by growing together as Christian brothers and sisters, by witnessing to our faith in word and deed in our daily lives. We tell the story so that it may enter into us until it becomes part of us and we tell the story so that we may become part of it, because the story is not over.

Worshipping, serving, growing, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ: these are the tasks that we have set ourselves as a Team. This is a summing up of our vision for the future of the mission and ministry of our churches. Where will it all lead us? I cannot say, for that is the unknown part of our pilgrimage from God and our returning to God. As we journey we may find that our progress is often slow as we move forward step by step. We may sometimes find ourselves tempted to give up or to go off in a different direction, but we must persevere because the important thing is the journey that we are taking, and taking together. We still have an important part to play in making the story a reality both in our own lives and in the lives of other people.

Worshipping, serving, growing, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let this be our story as we begin a new year in the life of our Team.

Fr Stephen


Congratulations and Thanks to Cyril Beer

At a public ceremony recently, Cyril received a Long Service Certificate from Gloucestershire County Council in recognition of his twenty-four years of service as a school governor. Cyril had been a foundation governor at both St Mary’s Infant and Junior Schools. Latterly he served solely at the Junior School, where he was kept well and truly busy as Chair of the Premises and Finance Committees as well as being Vice-Chair of the Governing Body.

Sheila and Cyril Beer

Cyril had experienced many changes in governorship over the years as it shifted into the highly accountable, policy-statistic-target focussed role of today and he talks nostalgically of his early days as governor. The days when he physically dealt with the vagaries of school drains, heating, lighting and was on call ready to bale the school out of yet another flood. Cyril worked tirelessly raising funds to build the present day Infant School. For years he has negotiated with school architects and contractors, always with that uncommon common sense that characterised his style. He has dealt with and understood the complexities and changing systems of school finance and budgeting.

Cyril, you were remarkable in the generosity of your time, your knowledge and commitment. We thank you. We miss you… and who is going to cook the food at the governors’ barbecue in the summer?

Daphne Philpot, Chair of Governors, St Mary’s Junior School


Street Pastors

A few weeks ago I went to the Street Pastors launch at Cambray Baptist Church. Twenty-five volunteers have been accepted for training during November and early December and are hoping to be on the streets in time for Christmas. To start with they will be working only on Saturday nights, though they hope eventually to add Fridays as well. A further group will start training in the New Year. There are some bookmarks in both churches with more information. Please take one for your prayer time.

Frances Murton


The ‘Real Christmas’

Saturday 5th December is the date of our pre-Christmas celebration this year. For those not in the know, the ‘Real Christmas’ afternoon is a time when we mark the start of Christmas preparation. This isn’t another bazaar, although we will have a sprinkling of little stalls, Holy Name Hall representatives will bring olive wood carvings from Bethlehem, the United Reformed Church will have some of their lovely hand-crafted cards again, and there will also be mulled wine for all, festive nibbles and tea.

Celebrate! will be running a Christmas decorations workshop and the Sunday Clubs of St Nicolas’ and St Mary’s are joining together to run a ‘Star Workshop’. These stars will decorate lots of homes for certain but we are also hoping for some super ones to decorate both churches this Christmas Eve as well. The church choirs join us for carol singing, David and Diane Lyle bring the handbells for us to try our hands at ringing more carols, the Christmas quiz in aid of Let the Children Live! will be revealed and Nick Moore has agreed to provide some festive music.

A couple of days earlier some of the men of St Mary’s will have cut our big Christmas tree and hauled it down from Queenswood ready for the children to decorate. A working party will be assembling Christingle oranges for the service the next afternoon and members of the clergy will be with us to lead our thoughts to the real meaning of Christmas, the meaning that is so easily lost beneath all the tinsel and high powered shopping. Everyone is welcome for an easygoing family afternoon, 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free, of course.

Parish Events Committee


Eager Beavers

Since the opening of the colony in Spring 2008 the Beavers have been very busy working towards their challenge badges. Last month seven of the Beavers attained their Chief Scout Bronze Award. Some examples of their challenges included ‘doing their best’, visiting the local synagogue and fire station, having a sleep over, learning about fair trade (eating bananas dipped in chocolate), visiting the Robins football ground, packing a rucksack for a hike and taking part in a keep fit session.

The 1st Prestbury Scout group is always looking for volunteers. In January we are keen to re-launch Cubs and hold meetings every week. If you are interested in helping as part of a team to support the re-launch, or have admin or IT skills and able produce fliers or newsletters to support the Scout group, or would like to help with some fundraising events, please contact Linda Jackson.


Used postage stamps

Do you throw away your used postage stamps? Please don’t. Let me have them (foreign and commemoratives only please). As Christmas approaches we shall all be getting more so please start saving them now. The Scout Holiday Homes Trust has specially adapted caravans in various seaside locations available to handicapped Scouts and others and their families. Used stamps and post cards can be sold to provide much needed money for the upkeep of this greatly appreciated facility. Many Thanks.

Gillian Jackson


PPY Update

November seems to have been a month of new initiatives…

* The CORE project is a partnership between PPY and The Rock – providing an alternative curriculum for students from St George’s Centre. The initial project focuses on team work, serving others and learning new skills. There has been some excellent engagement by young people – particularly enjoying the chance to develop skills in digital photography.

* Community Challenge is a small group project with students from Pittville School based around involvement in community action projects. Our first challenge is to prepare the Whaddon Children’s Centre’s allotment for the growing season. The group have amazed us so far with their level of commitment and team work. We are looking forward to our Christmas BBQ to round off the challenge!

* Stephen Murton successfully completed his (nearly) 1000 mile cycle ride in aid of PPY.  A group of ten leaders and young people accompanied Stephen on the Cheltenham leg of his trek. As well as the money raised it has been a great chance to explore further learning about healthy lifestyles with young people.  Thanks again, Stephen!   (See Stephen’s articles in this and last month’s magazines and elsewhere on this website for photos and details.)

* Our commitment to supporting the transition to secondary school has meant that we have opened one of our groups, Elevate, to young people in Year 6. This has been greeted with enthusiasm from the young people and will help to build relationships before young people make what can be a challenging move. New young people of the right age are of course welcome at all of our groups.

Thanks again for your support! Do please pray for the work.

Andy Macauly

Youth Group Dates

  • The final youth group sessions this term are on Sunday 13th December
  • Groups restart from Sunday 10th January.
  • The PPY Team Christmas Party in on Saturday 19th December in Whitethorn Drive at 7.30pm.
  • There will be a PPY Team meeting on Thursday 7th January in St Nicolas’ Church Room at 7.30pm

For more info on any of the above please contact: Andy Macauly


God’s Calling

When Fr Daniel asked if I would like to write something for the parish magazine I did my usual trick of saying yes before I had engaged my brain! So here I am staring at a blank piece of paper, wondering what on earth I should write about.

To coin a very familiar phrase perhaps I should ‘start at the beginning – a very good place to start’. By ‘beginning’ I mean by introducing myself.

I can hardly believe it has been two years since I took up my post as Resident Director at Glenfall House, the Diocesan retreat and conference centre. I have worked in retreat houses all my working life, since graduating in theology almost twenty-five years ago – it is a fantastic and valuable ministry. When I arrived at Glenfall I was already exploring my vocation to ordained ministry in my previous diocese of Worcester. It had been a long journey, mostly because of my denial and reservations that God would be calling me, along with a sense of being quite happy with things as they were thank you very much.

However you can only ignore things for so long, and so after twenty years I decided the time was right to put it to the test. So having arrived in a new job, with a new house, new diocese and new parish church I found myself, four months later, going to a selection conference in Ely – rather hoping that the answer would be no. Of course, God has a sense of humour and so the answer was yes.

The months since then were spent a little adrift, with me not really feeling a sense of belonging – the diocese that sponsored me handed me over to Gloucester, because that was where I now lived, and of course I was no longer heavily involved in my local parish. I was in a new job with all the demands of evening and weekend work that being in a residential post holds, and I certainly did not want to march into St Mary’s Prestbury expecting to have a ‘role’ – especially when I could not commit to much on a regular basis once training had started. Training started in September that year, and life became a hectic whirl!

Over the past eight weeks I have been on ministerial placement at Gotherington, Oxenton and Woolstone, part of the Bishop’s Cleeve benefice. I have been assisting with services, pastoral visiting and preaching. It has been a richly rewarding experience, and has enabled me to realise that I need to work out how I can fit in to the life of St Mary’s, what gifts I can bring, and how the parish can play its part in my ministerial development. I look forward to being back amongst you over the coming weeks, and to seeing what the future holds.

Liz Palin


I Need Help!

In March every year Prestbury life, particularly at St Nicolas’, is affected in some way by the Gold Cup week. While the intrepid ‘car-parkers’ brave the weather and make a lot of money a small band of others serve coffee, tea and biscuits to race-goers, coach drivers, Police and anyone else who feels the need. For about ten years I have been involved and for the past seven have organised this small but vital service. Last year I decided five mornings plus the buying and organising was too much and cut it down to four. This year I really must cut down further. PLEASE, I NEED SOMEONE TO HELP.

Gillian Jackson


John O’Groats to Land’s End

(continued from last month)

Having enjoyed the company of Prestbury and Pittville Youth as far as Frampton, where we picnicked on the green, I continued on my way to Bristol for the overnight stop. A relatively short stage on the following day gave me time to visit I K Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and take in the views over Bristol and the Avonmouth Gorge. I consequently had a rather late coffee stop at a pub and was sorely tempted by their Sunday carvery, which was just getting under way, but I already had sandwiches made up. My B&B stop for the night was a nice 16th century farmhouse just outside Taunton, with a dairy herd of about sixty cows, plus assorted farm cats. Unfortunately the village pub was unexpectedly shut, so although they didn’t officially do evening meals, the farmers very kindly prepared a meal for me.

Taunton Castle gate
Taunton Castle Gate

After having had pretty good weather thus far, things took a turn for the worse from now on and the next three days got progressively wetter. Fortunately I was able get clothes dried out at my overnight stops, so at least I started the day dry, but I left small puddles of muddy water on the floor at two coffee shops and a McDonald’s as a memento of my visit. I gave thanks for bridges and bus shelters under which to hide for lunch breaks and that my panniers lived up to their advertising as being waterproof.

From Taunton, my route took me via Teignmouth, then to the south of Dartmoor via Totnes, crossing the River Tamar on the Torpoint ferry at Plymouth, finally arriving at my overnight stop with family in Liskeard.

On the penultimate stage from Liskeard to Penzance, I was beyond wet, with spray from overtaking lorries and cars determined to add to the deluge but the wind was finally, for the first time in the journey, right behind me from the north east all day and I was regularly seeing 20mph+ on the speedo – hooray! But, in the only mechanical ‘incident’ during the whole trip, by the time I reached Penzance I had no brakes left, having had to use them frequently since the start to prevent myself running out of control down some of the more hair-raising descents with blind corners; fortunately there was a bike shop still open in Penzance, and I was able to buy some new brake blocks.

Waking early on the final morning, after the previous day’s appalling weather, I was greeted by an absolutely cloudless sky for the final ten-mile stretch down to Land’s End where my cousin from Liskeard had driven down to wave me over the finish line (yes, there is actually a Start/Finish line painted on the road!) and take photos. Then all that remained was to get back to Penzance (into the wind again – grrr!) to catch the train home, and with time to spare I was able to detour along the coastal B roads and visit the open-air cliff-side Minack Theatre at Porthcurno.

Arriving at Land’s End

So that was it. In all a total of 994 miles, compared with my original planning estimate of 970 – the extra miles being accumulated through a few brief, but unmissable diversions to places of interest close to my route, including Dunnet Head, Lake Windermere, the Garden of Remembrance at Lockerbie and the Minack Theatre at Porthcurno on the way back to Penzance from Land’s End. I passed loads of cyclists doing the trip from Lands End, but encountered very few doing it north to south! At one point I even encountered a cycling holiday tour group whose support vehicle had a trestle table laid out in a lay-by with refreshments!!

Amazingly nothing went wrong with me (apart from getting wet, and the inevitable aching legs and occasional knee twinges which passed off), or mechanically with the bike – apart from the replacement brake pads. I averaged about sixty miles a day and, with breaks, I was cycling from about 8.30 in the morning until around 5.00-5.30-ish in the evening. As a result of the strong headwinds, my average speed was only around 10-11 mph, but I did manage to hit 30mph on a few occasions and I am sure I could have reached 50mph if I had not held onto the brakes on some of the more exciting descents, but when you can’t see what’s round the corner…!!

And finally, most important of all, thanks to people’s enormous generosity across the churches in the Team, I managed to raise in excess of £2000 for the work of Prestbury and Pittville Youth! Thank you to all who supported me both monetarily and by keeping me in your thoughts throughout this journey.

Stephen Murton

see more pictures


The inaugural event organised by the Friends of St Mary’s

On Saturday 31st October some eighty members and supporters of the Friends of St Mary’s met in the church to enjoy the first in a programme of social events to raise funds to assist in the maintenance of the church facilities. After being greeted with a welcome drink, the audience were treated to an excellent talk by Edward Gillespie, the manager of the Prestbury Park race course. In a very interesting and amusing session, Edward traced the history of horse racing in the area right up until the present day. During questions he explained his thoughts on future developments at the race course. This included the possible new stadium for the Robins. If built, this would also provide new permanent hospitality accommodation for the races. He believed that this was probably now on hold for the time being. More likely was a new quality hotel for the race course, if a suitable site could be found.

During a splendid two course supper produced by the ladies of the Friends of St Mary’s Edward remained to talk with many of the people who had enjoyed his presentation.

This was a successful event with which the Friends are well pleased and they would like to thank everyone for their support.

The next event in the Friends’ calendar is a bridge evening at the church on Friday 15th January.

Tony Noel


Friends of St Mary’s – Bridge Evening

We are holding a Bridge Evening in the church on Friday 15th January. We hope that all keen bridge players will be able to come. The evening, which includes supper and a drink, starts at 7.30pm. Tickets (£15) are available from Jim Mackie, telephone Cheltenham 524213. All the proceeds will go towards the special fund for the upkeep of the church building and churchyard.

Jim Mackie


Diocesan Synod

The Diocesan Synod runs in blocks of three years and this autumn meeting was the first of the new triennium 2009-2012 so for the next three years you will continue to have updates from me.

From slight bewilderment as a novice representative three years ago I have developed into a seriously committed member. It is complicated at times but it is a relief to know exactly how we stand in these rather ominous times. To spur us on in a positive spirit we met at 9.30am in the cathedral quire and shared a beautiful sung Eucharist. The sense of purpose was helped by an awareness of nearly a thousand years of Christian prayer held within that magnificent space, vast but also intimate as we packed the stalls.

Bishop Michael gave the presidential address. He explained the motive behind our alliance with dioceses in Sweden (Lutheran), South India, Africa and California. He feels that in this troubled and ever changing world, Christians must unite and develop friendships in which they can discuss problems and differences in an honest fashion, learning from each other by sharing successes and failures, to speak out but also to LISTEN to all the various points of view. This reminded me of the old adage, ‘a trouble shared is a trouble halved’. He asked particularly that we in Gloucestershire should work in the same manner: talk together, eat together, pray together and in that depth of fellowship it will be easier to find a just and peaceful way forward in our parishes. I found it a very thought provoking address.

The Synod was held in the Chapter House after a hasty coffee break. Appointment of officers to fill vacant posts, budget and financial matters were dealt with first. The clergy pension fund is causing even greater concern. Before 1977 all such matters were dealt with centrally but due to the worsening financial problems the Church Commissioners transferred the burden to the dioceses. They are now requesting that the Commissioners should revert to using some of their capital assets to assist once more because it is impossible to meet the increasing level of funding required.

We parishes donated £5.7 million towards the diocesan running costs last year but we need to increase our share by 4% to restore the spending power to that of 2006 due to increased cost of living. The board of finance is taking drastic measures to help. Stipend and salary costs are frozen, trainee curate places are cut by one. When vacancies in parish clergy posts arise new appointments will be held over for six months and the accommodation let on a six month lease to generate extra income. The contribution to the Church of England nationally will be reduced also. Bishop Michael and the Board of Finance felt ashamed at having to do this but it is totally unavoidable. If funds are not there they simply cannot be spent.

We ended the morning on a far happier note with a presentation by a visiting team on ‘Fresh Expressions’. This is an ongoing national project to reach people who have little or no real knowledge of the Christian faith. They have no interest in any kind of organised worship so things like ‘Back to Church Sunday’ are complete non-starters for them. There are many different ways of finding the love of Christ to discover and put into action BUT, and this is the important bit, this does not involve the way in which we are worshipping as a congregation now. We are looking at ‘Not only but also’. My first response? Bewilderment. But then came realisation. In Prestbury we already have Rockers, Celebrate!, the Alpha Course, The Lounge and The Chill and now the new Friends of St Mary’s. These are all fresh expressions, ways of making contact with others in our local community who don’t come to church to worship. In Surrey a group was rather humorously started as a holiday club for the retired and they set about doing some of the things that you enjoy doing but wouldn’t do alone! Sooner or later the feeling of comradeship, giving thanks for this and gradually a kind of praying evolved. God is worldly wise light years beyond any of us. In Prestbury this idea will probably surface again in another form but don’t draw back in suspicion, just remember, ‘Not only but also’.

Lynda Hodges


Saint Gilles and the Camargue Connection to Santiago de Compostela

We have recently returned from two weeks in La Grande Motte, a 1960s French new build town on the Med in Languedoc-Rousillon, about ten miles from Montpellier and west of the Petite Camargue.

It was with much delight that on one of our forays into the Camargue we discovered the Basilica Abbey Church of St Gilles Gard, in the somewhat isolated and impoverished town of St Gilles. Here, we learnt about the Abbey’s link to the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago de Compostela. Not only had we holidayed near Santiago with our family in 1998, but I also joined the Prestbury and All Saints’ pilgrimage in 2006. These connections inspired me to explore the St Gilles Abbey Church during our visit and have inspired me to share the following information in the hope of bringing back memories of the pilgrimage.

According to legend, Saint Giles, otherwise known as Aegidius, was born in Athens during the middle of the 7th century. He came from a rich family but renounced all his wealth to become a hermit, firstly in Arles and later in the Flavienne Valley, where his sole companion was a doe which provided him with milk. One day King Wamba of Wisigoth was out with his huntsmen and Giles was accidentally wounded by an arrow meant for the doe. As a peace offering Wamba granted him the valley, where he was asked to found a monastery. The hermit was known for his numerous miracles. He died in 720 or 721. His cult (which has a following even today) believes in his ability to protect people against fear and fire, to heal them of all nervous illnesses and to safeguard their children.

The town of St Gilles Gard was once an important medieval port. St Giles (Aegidius) is buried here in the Abbey Church, which was one of the most famous places of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages and also the first stopping point for pilgrims bound for Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, who were following the Via Tolosana which led from Arles to Toulouse and crossed the Pyrenees to join other routes.

The Abbey Church (listed in 1998 among the UNESCO world heritage sites) was originally established by the monks of Cluny Abbey as a shrine to St Giles.

During the Wars of Religion the church was twice destroyed by the Protestants and the interior is without interest. Fortunately the catholic army arrived before Duc de Rohan, who was knocking the church down for the second time, was able to get round to the west front. The catholic army saved a masterpiece of medieval sculpture, rivalled only by St Trophime. It is among the most beautiful of the great Romanesque portals and a definitive example of the Provençal Romanesque.

There are three doorways linked by a colonnade and richly adorned with sculptures of the life of Christ. Nearly all the scenes are taken from the Gospels, except for a few from the Old Testament such as Balaam on his ass cursing the Hebrews. Other animals represented are bears, lions, camels, monkeys and, if you can call it an animal, a centaur.

Basilica Abbey Church of St Gilles Gard

The sculptures are the work of different schools: the central portal, which is the earliest, was carved by sculptors from Toulouse at the end of the 12th Century, while the other two, postdating the Crusader conquest, were by northern artists from the Île de France. The statues of the Apostles, which are later still, seem to have been the work of local artisans.

The crypt is the same size as the church above and is in fact an underground church, one of the earliest in France to be built with ogival vaulting. Here is the tomb of St Giles, hermit and thaumaturge, to which the pilgrims used to flock. The crypt has remained as it was in the Middle Ages. It contains the sarcophagus of the saint rediscovered in 1865 by Father Goubier and bears the inscription:

(Here lies the body of the blessed Aegidius)

Our digital camera does not do justice to the detail of the façade. However, the www link below provides an overall view. Should you be travelling through the Camargue in the Arles / Aigues Mortes area you will pick up the tourist signs to St Gilles, portraying the superbly sculpted 12th century façade of the abbey church. It is well worth a diversion.

References: The Companion Guide to the South of France Archibald Lyall, Gard

Jean Johnson


Support and Delegation

It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down.

Exodus 17:11-12 (The Message)

I have chosen three passages for this article. Two deal with delegation and the third with support where delegation is not an option.

In Exodus 18:13-27 Moses is the leader and so the people come to him, firstly to learn about God, but also for advice on their problems and for him to arbitrate in their disagreements with each other. Whether Moses has set this up or whether it has just developed over time we do not know, and it is irrelevant anyway. It is how things are. It takes an outsider, Jethro, who happens to be visiting, to see how tiring and time-consuming it all is. ‘You’ll burn out… you can’t do this alone…’ he says, and tells Moses to choose competent people and appoint them as leaders over small groups. They will judge routine cases, and will bring only the complicated cases to Moses. ‘They will share your load… you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people will flourish also.’

In Acts 6:1-7 we see a similar situation. The new Christian church was growing rapidly, but some of the day-to-day running was being overlooked in the excitement of evangelism: one group felt that another group was being favoured in the daily distribution of bread. How we interpret that into our modern-day situations at St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ I don’t know, but their solution was that the leaders called a meeting and said: ‘It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with care for the poor.’ Care of the poor, however, was important, so seven trustworthy people were chosen and commissioned to deal with the distribution of bread, while the leaders got on with their ‘assigned task of prayer and speaking God’s Word’.

In the Church of England, and in most other Christian denominations, distinction is made between those who are ordained and those who are not. On the whole our ordained clergy are our leaders, but that does not absolve the rest of us from doing things. Much of the running of a Christian community can be ‘delegated’, but our leaders cannot delegate to us unless we are willing. I know we are sometimes reticent in offering to help with things in case it is interpreted as criticism of the way those things are currently being done, but maybe there is scope for us to do more.

Some things, of course, cannot be delegated, which brings me to my third passage, Exodus 17:8-13, part of which is quoted above. Amalek has attacked Israel, so Moses tells Joshua to select some men and go and fight, while he stands on the top of the hill holding God’s staff. It seems that only Moses is allowed hold up the staff, and when he tires, as all humans do, the other two give him their support to enable him to continue.

As we enter the new Christian year this Advent, and the secular New Year in January, let us resolve to be Aarons and Hurs and support our leaders in whatever way they need; let us resolve to take on extra tasks, however small, thus setting our clergy free to lead both us and others nearer to God.

Frances Murton


St Nicolas’ Patronal Festival

St Nicolas’ Patronal Festival will be celebrated at the 9.30am service on Sunday 6th December.

We welcome the Revd Dr Sandra Miller, Diocesan Children’s Officer, and the service will include a unique St Nicolas’ drama.

At 11am, after refreshments, there will be a short organ recital given by Colin Smith, former organist at St Nicolas’

All are welcome



Christingle Service 2009

Shining light into darkness…

This year’s Christingle Service in aid of the Church of England Children’s Society is in St Mary’s Church at 4.00pm on Sunday 6th December.

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 there!



Christmas Quiz

Last year’s quiz was very successful, and we are hoping for more entries this time. If you are looking for something to test the knowledge of family and friends please buy a copy for £1. All proceeds will go to Let the Children Live!.  After going on sale at ‘The Real Christmas’ quiz sheets will be available in St Nicolas’ and St Mary’s.  The first correct entry selected after Saturday 2nd January will receive a book token.

Janet White



Mothers’ Union

The MU Christmas Social is on Tuesday 8th December at 7.30pm at Tatchley House, hosted once more by Barbara Lyle. Please bring a small plate of food to share and something for a bring and buy stall to raise funds for MU causes overseas. Please note this is a week earlier than published in our programme.

Our first meeting in the New Year will be on Tuesday 26th January at St Nicolas’ at 7.30pm. Our speaker will be Edward Wyatt, whose subject will be In the footsteps of George Fox. This is a follow-up power point presentation following on from last year’s interesting and informative talk.

Marion Beagley



The Christmas Story –
The Message in the Cards

An illustrated talk by Vivien Northcote at St Nicolas’ on Thursday 10th December at 7.30pm. All are welcome.



World Vision Alternative Christmas Card

We should like to invite you once again to take part in this scheme which we have supported for the past seven years. Instead of sending individual cards to all your church friends, just bring one card with your personal greetings to display in church and make a donation to World Vision.

For almost sixty years World Vision has worked with vulnerable children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Much has been achieved by working in partnership with other organisations such as Viva, Toybox and United Christian Broadcasters, which reaches thousands of people every week through their radio, TV channels and websites.

Margaret Waker pp Margaret Holman



Christmas singers wanted!

If you would like to sing Christmas carols with the choir at the Carol Service (20th December), Midnight Mass or Christmas morning, why not come along to choir practice at St Mary’s? The practice is from 7pm till 8pm on Friday evening, and is usually followed by a visit to the Plough. Anyone interested in joining us for this period would be more than welcome. The ability to read music and sing like Aled Jones isn’t vital; enthusiasm is far more important!

David Smith, St Mary’s Organist



Candlelit Nativity Service
St Nicolas’ Church

Thursday 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 and
to bring a present for a needy child

Candlelit Crib Services
St Mary’s Church

Thursday 24th December
4.00pm & 6.00pm

Children are invited to dress as
Shepherds, Angels or Kings and
to bring a present for a needy child

All are welcome!


Epiphany Supper

The Epiphany Supper will be held in St Mary’s Church on Wednesday 6th January after the Festal Eucharist, which will start at the earlier time of seven o’clock. The Parish Events Committee is delighted to announce that the folk singer, Nick Holditch, will be with us and entertaining us between courses. Together with Lyndon Doddington he is also giving the opening concert at the first ever Cheltenham Folk festival in February.



St Mary’s Bakestall

The proceeds of the November bakestall, amounting to £39 were shared, as planned, between the Alice Glenister Foundation and the Cambodia Trust. This year our total giving to the charities we support stands at £433.50. Thank you to all our bakers and buyers who made this possible. Quite an achievement!

There will be no bakestall in December, but business as usual for all three teams on Sunday 16th January.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews




On Saturday 6th February from 10am to 4pm at Hucclecote Methodist Hall, the Revd Andrew Braddock, Diocesan Missioner, will help us explore what Mission means in practice. He will explore ways of helping local congregations to grow in faith and confidence so they are better placed to reach out and connect with their communities.

To book a place, please contact Sylvia McKenzie.



Team Pilgrimage to Walsingham, May 2010

A North Cheltenham Team Pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady, Walsingham, is being planned for the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend 2010, ie from Friday 30th April until Monday 3rd 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.

Colin Holman :



Open the Book

Thank you to all who supported the coffee morning at the URC in November. We raised £124.50 towards new props for Open the Book. Our team currently goes into three local primary schools to read and act out Bible stories.

Julie Jefferies



Charity Bike Ride

In September, my son Thomas cycled from Berlin to Istanbul (over 1800 miles) with three other student friends, raising money for Camfed and Teenage Cancer Trust. There is a blog about this ride on

Donations can be made via  for Camfed and  for Teenage Cancer Trust.

Stephen S Wilson



Prestbury Parish Magazine - December 2009 /January 2010

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The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933

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