Irresistible New Life
We have just completed the great fifty days of
Easter and as I write this, on Pentecost Sunday, the powerful story from chapter
two of the Acts of the Apostles is very much on my mind. We celebrate Pentecost
as ‘the birth-day of the church’ and we read about how the disciples were all
together, in Jerusalem, praying and waiting for the gift Jesus had promised
them. Whether they had any inkling of what to expect we do not know, but they
soon found out! ‘Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a
violent wind’ (Acts 2:2). And there was fire and they were all able to speak in
different languages and other people visiting the city were able to understand
them. Jesus’ promised gift is realised in a manner which must have far exceeded
the expectations of even the most faithful disciples. This is new life: sudden,
unmerited, irresistible new life. The new life of the church. New life for
individuals within the church. New life through the power of the Spirit of God.
At Pentecost we pray for a fresh out-pouring of the Holy
Spirit on the church today and, as we are constantly being reminded, that means
on us the people of God, not on our church buildings, beautiful as they are!
Across our North Cheltenham Team Ministry we make our prayer for the Holy Spirit
to empower us for ministry and mission in this part of God’s kingdom. We
especially pray for the Holy Spirit to be at work in us as individuals and in
our various church communities, as we continue to develop our vision for North
On Saturday 26th June, PCC members and others from across the
Team Ministry will meet at St Nicolas’ for a ‘Team Vision Day’ which will be
facilitated by the Revd Andrew Braddock, the Diocesan Missioner. The day will
begin with some exploration of the thinking behind the vision statement
(reproduced below). We will then work in church groups, spending some time
reflecting on our own local situation. Remaining in those church groups we will
then do some ‘vision thinking’: asking what we hope our local church community
might be like in one, three or five years’ time.
Using the four areas of the vision statement we
hope to be able to bring away from the day some emerging priorities for each of
our church communities to work on. In this way we hope that the vision statement
will become a tool for empowering the mission and ministry of the local church
within the family of the North Cheltenham Team.
It is very important to surround this whole
process with prayer: please pray especially during this month for those who will
attend the Team Vision Day and for all that comes from it. It is also very
important that every one of us is open to the Holy Spirit working personally in
us: prompting us to be involved in this process of exploration and discernment
and equipping us to respond to whatever it is that God asks of us as a result.
Visiting Norwegian Choir
During the first week of June, Colin Smith (a former organist
and choirmaster at St Nicolas’) will be bringing a choir from his church in
Norway to visit Cheltenham.
The choir was started in 1982 by one of Colin’s predecessors
and was built up on Anglican lines with choir members in cassock and surplice.
The choir took many ideas from English liturgy and choir tradition, not least
regular evensong which the choir continues to sing every month, practically the
only choir in Norway to do so. They also sing an annual ‘Nine lessons and
carols’ service at Christmas. Otherwise the choir sings regularly at the
services at Gamle Aker church which is the only surviving medieval church in the
city (and indeed the oldest building of any sort in Oslo). They have had many
trips abroad, and have sung in St Peter’s Rome and in St Petersburg.
On Friday 4th June at 5.30pm the choir will sing
Evensong in Gloucester Cathedral and then on Saturday 5th June at 6pm
they will sing Evensong in St Mary’s church in Prestbury. They will also be
present for the Sung Eucharist in St Nicolas’ on Sunday 6th June at
Anyone is very welcome to attend any of these services; it
would be good to be able to show our visitors a warm and supportive welcome! Do
come along to meet them!
Six people from across our Team were amongst a total of
twenty-eight who were welcomed into the full communion of the Anglican Church in
a service at Tewkesbury Abbey on 8th May.
It was a liturgy rich in symbolism as Bishop John, the
candidates and congregation journeyed together, from the welcome and
presentation of candidates at the great west doors of the Abbey, to the font for
Baptisms, then on to Confirmation, Admission to Communion and Reception into the
Church of England, in the great central space in front of the chancel arch.
After sharing the Peace, everyone moved into the Chancel to
take their places for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, celebrated at the High
Altar, at which the candidates were the first to receive Holy Communion.
Finally, they processed down the Nave, to the applause of everyone present.
Our love and congratulations go to Richard Angove and Julie
Latchem from All Saints, Elizabeth Heathcott from St Lawrence, and Rachel
Cruickshank, Emma Hammond and Anita Claydon from St Mary.
Please continue to hold them in your prayers as they continue
to travel with us in the way of Christ.
‘A Celebration of Shared
The Celebrate! music group played at the service in the cathedral in
photograph by Clare Wyatt
Julia has almost completed her three years of ordination
training on the WEMTC scheme. Following an extended placement in Winchcombe she
has returned to worship with us in North Cheltenham, mainly at All Saints’,
which is regarded as her ‘sending parish’.
Julia will be ordained as a Deacon in Gloucester Cathedral on
Sunday 27th June during a service which begins at 10.15am. Anyone is very
welcome to attend the service.
After her ordination, Julia will return to the Winchcombe
Benefice where she will serve her curacy on a non-stipendiary basis. Please keep
Julia in your prayers as she prepares for this significant moment in her own
pilgrimage of faith.
At the Annual Meeting of Parishioners on 25th April 2010 Mary Turner and
Margaret Holman were elected as Wardens with responsibility for St Mary’s, and
Margaret Compton and Susan Bolton were elected as Wardens with responsibility
for St Nicolas’.
photograph by Brian Wood
Pilgrimage to Walsingham
(30th April – 3rd May 2010)
I have just experienced Walsingham for the first time. We
arrived at the Shrine and checked in to the Milner Wing. Supper followed in the
Refectory, with a choice of hot meals and cold. Afterwards Raymond and I
explored the village surrounding the Shrine. As darkness fell we returned to the
Norton Room, beneath the Refectory, and joined the fifteen other pilgrims in a
merry evening of light-hearted conversation and anticipation.
A merry evening of light-hearted
conversation and anticipation
On Saturday our group met in the Orangery with Fr Stephen
Eldridge. We proceeded to the Holy House for our First Visit, followed by Mass,
celebrated by Fr Stephen, who would officiate in larger Masses, presided by
Bishop Lindsay Urwin, the current Administrator of the Shrine. We then had free
time, before Bible Study in the Barn Chapel, led by Fr Peter. We reflected on
the Gospel reading to be used in the Mass on Sunday in the village’s Parish
Church of St Mary. After lunch we had more free time, and some visited a nearby
After lunch some visited a nearby beach
At 5.00 pm we attended Shrine Prayers with the visiting
pilgrims from other parishes, followed by Concelebrated Mass of Our Lady, when
Deacon Jennifer assisted Bishop Lindsay – a privilege for the only Deacon
present that weekend. For the first time we heard one of Bishop Lindsay’s very
learned and amusing sermons: an education and a pleasure for all. Later followed
the highlight of that day: the Address and Procession of Our Lady. This involved
all the 200 pilgrims, later processing with candles out of the Shrine Church
into the recently landscaped gardens, around the many metres of footpaths and
back into the Church, singing the Walsingham Pilgrim Hymn, which relates the
history of Walsingham from 1061 almost to the present day. After this Mass
followed the Laying on of Hands, with an opportunity to make confession. We
repaired to the Norton Room until retiring for the night after a very moving and
Sunday found us again in the Orangery for administrative
feedback and reflection on the pilgrimage so far. We then proceeded to the
parish church for the 11.00 Mass with all 200 pilgrims and the village
congregation, after which we met the Vicar of Walsingham, Fr Banks, who was
wearing the bright red cassock appropriate to his office as a Chaplain to HM The
Queen. After lunch Raymond and I visited the Shrine Shop and others in the
Later on we were with all the pilgrims at the Procession of
the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, with a sermon from Bishop Lindsay, and a
hymn to the music of The Lincolnshire Poacher! After supper our own
pilgrims, led by Deacon Jennifer, gathered for Stations of the Cross, which
started outside then reverted to the indoor route when it started raining.
Finally this was followed by Rosary and Intercessions in the Holy House, when we
said our own prayers, led by Fr Stephen.
On Monday we gathered in the Holy House for the Last Visit,
to formally say goodbye to Walsingham and to each other. Previously I was
dubious about embarking on pilgrimages, thinking this would be a condensed Alpha
course. It is definitely not even comparable. The two-day programme was about
education, nurture, worship, and glorious hymn singing. The procession in the
evening of Our Lady was really beautiful and something I shall treasure for
ever. What struck me was that all the pilgrims were in Walsingham because they
wanted to be there, and for the same purpose. It was lovely to mix with our
fellow pilgrims in the North Cheltenham Team. Only two of us in the Team were
new to Walsingham, and we both found it very emotional.
Photographs by Margaret Holman
On Becoming a Canon
I would like to say again how grateful I am for the many
messages of congratulations that I have received on being appointed as a Canon
of Gloucester Cathedral. Also to thank all those who were able to attend the
service of ‘Collation and Installation’ on 2nd May. It was quite an occasion,
with four people being installed and so everyone had to sit in the nave which
meant that it was nice and full. The drawback to this was that very few people
actually saw the installation itself! This was the part of the service when I
was taken by the hand and led by the Dean to be ‘placed’ in my stall (number 24
if you are looking for it!). However there was a ‘photo opportunity’ after the
service and the photograph below shows me duly ‘installed’!
I have been asked by quite a number of people to explain
exactly what being a Canon is all about. Originally ‘canon’ was a title given to
all clergy who were on the official staff of a diocese. Gradually the title was
limited to those clergy belonging to a cathedral or collegiate church and the
canons would share in the revenues of the church and were bound to sharing a
common life. Today cathedrals have ‘residentiary canons’ who live in the
cathedral close or nearby and undertake regular duties in the cathedral. They
are members of the Cathedral Chapter which is effectively the cathedral’s
‘Honorary canons’ do not have the same legal role in the
cathedral and are not required to undertake regular duties in the cathedral. Our
cathedral has a College of Canons which consists of the Dean, the Suffragan
Bishop (the Bishop of Tewkesbury), the Archdeacons, the Canon Theologian,
eighteen ordained Honorary Canons and six lay Honorary Canons. The College of
Canons meets three times a year and, according to the Cathedral Constitution, is
‘required to receive and consider the annual reports and audited accounts of the
Cathedral and to discuss such matters concerning the Cathedral as may be raised
by any of its members’. The College of Canons also meets to elect a new bishop
(although it is actually presented with one name only).
During the service of installation, the Bishop said to the
‘Canons are called to live a holy life, to pray for God’s
blessing upon the mission of the Church in the world, and especially in this
Diocese of Gloucester, and to enter gladly into the succession of those in
each generation who have served God through the worship offered in this holy
place. They are called to be faithful, discreet and loyal, a friend to the
Cathedral and a counsellor of the Bishop. They are to be diligent in reading
Holy Scripture and in all studies which uphold the truth of the gospel against
error. They are to be hospitable, to welcome strangers and the poor, and to be
an example of the generous love and humility that mark a disciple of Christ.’
Quite a lot to live up to! However it is an honour for which
I am very grateful and I look forward to being a member of the College and
meeting with my fellow Canons as part of the life of our Cathedral. As I have
said before, I also feel that this honour recognises the significance of our
North Cheltenham Team within our Diocese and so, in a sense, I think that it is
something which we all share in.
Canon XXIV: Michael Graeme Cozens
photograph by Brian Wood
Love For The Future Revisited
This year the Education and Nurture group ventured into
unknown territory by buying into a Lent Course produced by another Diocese. The
material didn’t become available until the end of January and we planned to
begin using it during the third week of February. We took a risk!
Love For The Future surpassed most of our expectations.
It was a series of short films on DVD produced by the Diocese of Bath and Wells
and made use of group discussion materials, bible study notes and pointers to
other resources. It claimed to be ‘not just another course about climate
change’. And it wasn’t!
Six groups met throughout Lent, at least two of which were
sufficiently inspired by the experience to say that they would like to meet
again in the Autumn. The evaluation of one group leader reflected the feelings
of many who took part: ‘We really enjoyed it and thought it was one of the
best Lent courses we’d done.’
Here is just some of the feedback we received:
- It all hung together well, with the theme running through all the weeks.
- It had many practical messages. We could see how we could relate it to
everyday life and many of us kept thinking about it through the week.
- Generally the structure of the sessions worked well.
- Some of the material was really challenging – but it was good to be
- The photographs of the countryside on the DVD supported the main message
but they also reminded us that the inherent goodness of creation had not been
- We identified links between our respect for beauty of creation and the way
in which we treat others.
- Lots of different ‘real’ people were interviewed on the DVD. Some of their
comments were really powerful.
- The modern hymns and poetry of the Celtic tradition really spoke to us.
- Helpful prayers were included in all the individual session sheets, making
the course a meaningful and spiritual experience.
- We liked getting together with people from other parishes.
- We liked working together as a group.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing:
- Most groups felt that the choice of location (a busy road) for the
narration was distracting and confusing for the ear. It was accepted that a
point was being made, but we felt that many people, not just the hard of
hearing, would find their concentration slipping due to the confusion of the
- There were some technical hiccups. DVD technology proved less versatile
than the older video players and posed challenges for households with older
Despite this, Love for the Future is probably the
first course to have raised serious questions about our own attitudes and
- Bearing in mind the environmental messages that came from the DVD, it now
needs someone (or a group) to take responsibility for recycling and
sustainable living across the whole Team, preferably someone with a real
interest or expertise in the subject.
- We all thought that it was easy to talk about the environment but more
difficult to put our thoughts into practice.
- We felt that the church should be setting an example.
Postscript: This year, we were delighted to welcome three
‘first-time’ Lent Group leaders. I took on the role of itinerant visitor and, in
the space of six weeks, managed to visit every group. I was impressed and
humbled by the expertise and versatility of the leaders and by the commitment
and contributions of all the group members. Thank you once again to all who took
Can you identify this? The photograph was taken in St Mary’s
church one Sunday morning. Five minutes earlier it didn’t look like this, and
five minutes later it was gone. Send your answers to the Editor.
… that Christ
may dwell in our hearts
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his
whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his
glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your
inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray
that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with
all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of
Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)
Sometimes I find it is hard work reading the Bible; do you? A
friend recently told me about a helpful way to study the Bible – the Swedish
Method. It is most often used in groups but can also be used for private Bible
reading. It is a method with a number of steps. To start with, pray for God to
be with you by his Spirit and help you to understand His Word. Then read the
passage (usually 10 – 15 verses). Someone in the group can read it aloud. Then
spend some minutes (as few or many as you want) reflecting on the passage,
particularly thinking of three things:
has struck you most in what you have read?
question do you have for God or the author of the passage?
personal application comes from the verses?
A simple way of remembering these questions is to think of
them as these three symbols:
- A light
In a group you can share your thoughts with each other.
Encourage one another as you share what shines out from the passage, help each
other to find answers to the questions that come up. Try to look for
answers in the Bible passage you have read, or what comes before or after it;
let the Bible speak for itself. The study can be ended with prayer.
As I re-read this passage from Ephesians using this
technique, I was overwhelmed by how awesome God’s love is. My ‘light bulb’ was
in reading that Jesus dwells in my heart (v17a). How amazing that ‘God
with us’ (Matthew 1:23), the ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:5) can settle down, not
just lodge, in my heart by his Holy Spirit.
My ‘question mark’ is why do we as Christians struggle to
grasp the extent of God’s love? Perhaps this is a question that
doesn’t have an answer. I will continue to ponder this though.
My personal application is to pray, as Paul did for the
Ephesians, that you, my Christian brothers and sisters, and I would know more of
God’s love and that His love would continue to transform us more and more into
the likeness of Christ.
As you read this passage from Ephesians (perhaps reading on
to verse 21) what are your responses in the three areas? How do you get on
using this method as you read other passages in the Bible? What about
sharing with family and friends any ‘light bulbs’ or ‘question marks’. I
have been refreshed by using this technique. I hope you find it helpful as
you start or continue to read the Bible.
There will be a Sung Eucharist for the Feast
of Corpus Christi on Thursday 3rd June at 7.30pm. This is a combined
service for members of St Nicolas’ and St Mary’s and will be held in St
Mary’s church. On this day we give thanks for God’s gift of the Eucharist
and conclude the service with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
We are going to be spending time in June and
July celebrating an event in the life of the Church called ‘Giving for Life’.
Through a series of Sundays (6th June, 13th June, 11th July) there will
be opportunities to learn, share and understand how God gives to us and what we
need to do to fulfil our vision as part of St Mary’s.
St Mary’s Bakestall
In May we raised £40 which will be shared
between Practical Action and Children in Distress. Information about these
charities can be found on the porch notice board.
It will be the turn of the A-F team to
bake for the next stall on Sunday 20th June.
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Our garden meeting is on Tuesday 22nd June at 3pm
at Glenfall House, Harp Hill. We can stroll in the lovely gardens and are
invited for afternoon tea, followed by Compline in their Chapel. Husbands are
invited. We will have our usual Bring and Buy stall for MU projects overseas. If
any Mothers’ Union member needs a lift or directions please mention it to me.
Sylvia McKenzie (Branch Leader)
Elmstone Pig Roast
Advance notice of the Pig Roast in Elmstone
Hardwicke on Saturday 3rd July at 6pm. All are welcome to this very popular
event. Offers of help to serve food or ‘man’ a stall for a period of time would
be very gratefully received. Contact the Team Office (244373) or email
Wine Tasting – change of date
The Friends of St Mary’s ‘Wine Tasting Evening’ has been
rearranged for 22nd July. Do put this date in your diary! Full details will
appear in next month’s magazine.
A visit to Cheltenham Synagogue has been arranged for members
of the North Cheltenham Team Ministry.
The visit will take place on Tuesday 27th July at 7.00pm.
Everyone is welcome to join the group but please telephone or email me by
Thursday 22nd July to let me know that you intend to come. This will enable me
to give the synagogue some idea of numbers. If there are too many takers I will
arrange a second visit!
A minimum donation of £2.00 will be requested from all
adults, so that we can make an appropriate donation to the synagogue which has
recently had to spend a lot of money on roof repairs.
The Synagogue is in St James’ Square and there is good
Evening of Entertainment – postponed
The Entertainment Evening due to take place at St Nicolas’
Church this month has been postponed. We hope to rearrange the date sometime in
the autumn. More information will be given in the pew sheets nearer the time.
A date for your diary
Saturday 11th September: Parish Fete on the Scout Field, The Burgage, Prestbury
Christian Aid Week –
9th to 15th May
A big ‘Thank you’ to all those who contributed
in different ways to Christian Aid week… to those who responded to envelopes, to
the collectors who each year give so much of their time, to those who advertised
locally and to the people who counted the money. The following amounts of money
St Nicolas’ £1,436.40
St Mary’s £4,887.12
The grand total for the parish is therefore
£6,323.52. This includes £124.50 collected at the ecumenical service at the
URC on 9th May.
Roger Hodges & Anne Nicholson
BIG THANKS from the Macaulys!
Andy, Sharon and Ben are really enjoying Grace
being part of family life. Grace continues to grow and adores her big brother!
We would like to say a huge thank you for all the good wishes, interest, cards
and gifts we have been shown and given over the weeks by so many. Grace looks so
pretty in many of the outfits people have given her! Thank you again for your
support, love and care.
Andy, Sharon, Ben and Grace