If at first you don’t succeed …
you remember the very first time you ever rode a bicycle by yourself, if
ever you did? Do you remember that feeling of excitement mixed with an
equal sense of foreboding as you pedalled that first, short, wobbly distance?
The excitement was in doing something you had never done before; the foreboding
was in the almost certain knowledge that sooner rather than later your sense of
balance would desert you and you would fall off your bike. The next
frightening moment was when you learned to signal which meant having to take one
hand off the handlebars with the further wobbles and the tumbles that that may
have involved. But as your technique improved every time you rode your
bike you could think back to the bruised and bloodied knees of those early days
and know that it had been worth it.
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his rising from the dead, they
were overjoyed to see him and yet they could not help but notice that he still
carried the wounds he suffered at his crucifixion. They saw the marks of
the nails and spear in his hands and side and most of them would have remembered
how they had abandoned him at the time when he needed them most. But he
did not blame or scold them, he wished them peace. What was done was done
and he wanted them to have peace of mind and concentrate on the future.
His wounds would remain an eternal sign of the cost of love and they would learn
that in good measure.
From the moment we were born, life has been a constant learning process.
Over the years we have all had opportunities to learn new skills. When we
attempt something that is unfamiliar or complicated we have to make allowances
for the mistakes we shall make in the process. If we are seriously
committed to what we have begun, we may have to allow ourselves some extra time
and patience until, gradually, we are able to move forwards from ‘beginner’ to
‘proficient’ and maybe even to ‘expert’ status.
The strange thing is that we do not always make allowances for ourselves or
for others as we learn the biggest and most important lesson that will ever
challenge us: how to live as a fallible human being in a world that is itself
far from perfect. We have a lifelong path of discovery to take if we are
to be rewarded with a quality of goodness at the heart of us. Everybody
stumbles and falls on the way, so it is important that we should not feel
discouraged and give up the effort.
God knows that we are learners in life. He sees the ‘L’ plates which
are invisible to us and to others. He makes excuses for us when we fall
far short of perfection and asks just one thing of us: that we ‘try, try and try
again’. At Pentecost Jesus again tells us to be at peace, however battered
and bruised we may feel. We are still learning to be like him and God
makes allowances for that by sending us the Spirit of love and encouragement to
help us make a fresh start at all those times when that is just what we need.
Parish Giving Scheme
This new giving scheme has now been introduced in all the churches in our
Team Ministry. Although for many of us giving through the bank by direct
debit rather than putting an envelope in the collection plate is a new idea, on
behalf of the Churchwardens and PCC, I wish to commend this scheme to you and to
endorse it wholeheartedly. I can not emphasise enough how important it is
that we all make time to prayerfully consider our giving to God and switching to
this new giving scheme. If you have not received an information pack,
please ask; there are supplies in both churches. Also, please do feel able
to ask to discuss this scheme with someone: the PCC treasurer, Churchwardens or
clergy would be happy to do so.
May I take this opportunity to thank those who have already signed up to the
new scheme and also to express thanks to all of you who support God’s work in
this part of His kingdom through your financial gifts.
Over the next nine months or so I will be taking part in the Anglican
Communion’s ‘Indaba’ Project. The idea is that a group of eight people
from each of three Dioceses (including a bishop, clergy and lay people) will
meet all together in each Diocese for about a week each time. During that
time we will pray, worship, study the bible, experience the church’s mission in
that context and discuss key issues. The four issues which have been
identified for our discussions are: deepening the unity of the church; creating
a multi-generational church proclaiming the gospel within our contemporary
culture; resourcing and sustaining mission and exploring how to combat poverty.
We will be meeting in the Diocese of Western Tanganyika, Tanzania (June 2011)
and then El Camino Real, California (November 2011) with the return leg in
Gloucester Diocese in February 2012.
‘Indaba’ is a word taken from Zulu culture: it is a community gathering
together to listen to each other’s points of view. Facing big
disagreements within the Anglican communion over issues such as sexuality and
female priests and bishops and, underlying these, the different approaches to
relating to the Bible and culture, it was recognised that the old approach of
‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ debating was not going to help unity and direction.
I hope it will not be about putting on a show for each other – although
hospitality will be an important part. The emphasis is on honestly
exploring the context and response to that in which the church engages in God’s
mission. It is certainly not about giving each other the answers – but
developing trust and broadening our awareness of God’s world and how he is using
others in His mission. When we met together as a group from Gloucester
Diocese there was a real mixture of excitement and nervousness. We all
felt that it would also be a transformative experience for us – but very aware
that it would probably be in unexpected ways as we serve a God of surprises.
Please pray for Bishop Michael, Robert Springett,
Jacqueline Rodwell, Debbie Forman, Paul Williams, Anne Davies, Rosie Woodall and
myself as we prepare for and travel out to Tanzania.
Ordination of Liz Palin
Liz Palin will be ordained deacon in Gloucester Cathedral on Sunday 3rd July
at 10.15am. If you would like to attend the service, please give your name
to one of the Churchwardens. Liz will be ordained to serve in the North
Cheltenham Team Ministry but will also be continuing in her full-time role as
Director of Glenfall House, the Diocesan Retreat and Conference Centre in
Charlton Kings. Many of you know Liz already as she and her husband Simon
have been worshipping in Prestbury, mainly at St Mary’s.
To celebrate Liz’s ordination we are all invited to an ‘open house’ at
Glenfall from 3pm on Sunday 3rd July (but
please put your
name on one of the sign-up sheets in church before 5th June).
This will be a good opportunity to meet Liz and her family and to formally
welcome her to our Team Ministry and to sharing in God’s work with us here.
Tea will be provided at Glenfall House and transport is also available; please
ask one of the Churchwardens. Please do put your name on one of the
sign-up sheets to indicate that you will be attending.
The Revd Julia Hook will be ordained priest during a service in Gloucester
Cathedral on Saturday 2nd July at 4.30pm. Anyone is very welcome to attend
and we send Julia our love and prayers as she comes to this new stage in her
Placement at St Mary’s
Sunday 12th June will be my first visit to St Mary’s as I am starting a
placement with you until Christmas to help me as I explore the possibility of
ordination. I am currently a member of St Michael’s where I am part of the
Local Ministry Team and my husband Deryk is a Churchwarden. We have lived
in Cheltenham all our married life and have two adult sons. I am looking
forward to coming to Prestbury and sharing in the life of your church for a few
Palm Sunday Procession
From St Nicolas' to St Mary's via Capel Court
St Mary’s Flower Arrangers
Seventeen Members attended the Annual meeting on the 15th April with ten
Our Treasurer Margaret Waker gave her report and stated that our finances at
the end of 2010 are in the same position as 2009. Generally the donations
to flowers are down but weddings donations are up. In the May Parish
Magazine Wendy Price brought readers’ attention to the problem of funding and
whether donations might be considered for the flowers at all festival times.
A demonstration in the church in January, by Ron Middleton, of a pedestal and
a windowsill arrangement was very successful. This was organised by Sue
Fairclough and both she and Ron were thanked for this. This demonstration
was to encourage ladies to be less fearful of volunteering to arrange a pedestal
at weddings and festivals. It was well attended.
Four ladies will be retiring in 2011 for various reasons and have been
thanked for their contribution over the past years. Nobody has come
forward at the moment to replace them. Is there anybody who would like to
join us in this very rewarding task?
May I take this opportunity to thank everybody who so kindly gave donations
in memory of loved ones towards the purchase of Easter lilies? The church and
porch, as always, looked magnificent at Easter and I wish to thank all those who
helped to make it so, especially Lindsey McGowan who worships at St Nicolas’.
She always oversees the lilies and is leader of the team. The Easter Story
displayed in the flowers under the Altar table is quite beautiful and is
maintained diligently until Pentecost. Thank you Helen Mann for this.
Thank you to all the St Mary’s flower arrangers who gave their time and
talent on Holy Saturday to provide our wonderful Easter flower display.
This adds another dimension to glorifying God in our Easter worship.
The next Special Occasion will be the festival of Pentecost on 12th June, and
we will again be collecting money towards the cost of the flowers. Please
do give generously.
We would be very pleased to hear from anyone who would like to comment on the
flowers, or to volunteer to help, either regularly as part of the group or on an
occasional basis. Please contact Sheila Beer, Lindsey McGowan or Margaret
Waker for more information.
15th - 21st May
At St Nicolas’
we celebrated the ongoing work of Christian Aid and the launch of its special
week for 2011 at our Eucharist With A Difference on Sunday 15th May, at which we
were joined by members of the St Nicolas’ Brownies
We focussed on the film, Out Of Poverty, which illustrates how
Christian Aid transforms communities. We saw how, with support from
Christian Aid, coffee-farming communities from Nicaragua are working their way
out of poverty, running successful co-operatives and providing educational
opportunities for the young.
In the context of this film and the Gospel reading of the day, the Shepherd
and His sheep, we moved amongst five prayer stations (photographs below).
These invited us to relate to the lives of those in poverty, to reflect and to
see a way in which we can promote justice and to work towards a fairer world.
Collectors (photograph right) were commissioned to
set about their
task in the following week and to contribute to the work of Christian Aid, whose
aim is to ‘help people in poverty out of poverty’.
Photographs by Brian Wood
Aid Week 2011
This is the highlight of Christian Aid’s fund raising year. The week’s
activity produces a large proportion of Christian Aid funds for the year, so we
in this parish aim to provide collectors for as much of the parish as possible.
Thank you to our regular collectors who have, over the years, given of their
time and determination, and also to those who have volunteered this year for the
first time. We covered all but two roads, a larger area than last year.
We started the year without an organizer for the St Nicolas’ area of the
Parish but at almost the last minute Allan Philpot came forward and volunteered.
Thank you also to the teams of counters who
regularly turn out at the end of the week to produce a total in a time better
than any that can be produced at a parliamentary election. Totals to date
are as follows:
St Mary’s: £3,888.23
St Nicolas’: £1,547.52 (including
£210 from coffee morning)
Total for 2011: £5,435.75
We noted that more than a quarter of the donations were Gift Aided, which
means that Christian Aid will be able to claim another £300-£400 on top of the
amount we actually collected. Many thanks to all involved in collecting,
counting and donating.
It has been a great privilege to be part of two great events when young
people came together from different churches across Cheltenham.
The first was a Prayer Vigil on Maundy Thursday. We met at The Rock, St
Peter’s Church, on Tewksbury Road. It was a great night of worship, sport,
activities and sharing food. The focus was spending time in the prayer
room which had been creatively prepared to help explore aspects of the Easter
message. It was great to see young people from different groups building
links with each other and really connecting with God in prayer and worship.
(Most of us even stayed awake…)
Within a month many of us were meeting together again as we shared a BBQ and
sports afternoon at the Pavilion on Hatherley Lane – the base of Christian City
Church (C3) Cheltenham. The early rain passed and Ultimate Frisbee,
Rounders and Volleyball followed as well as a real feast of food. A
highlight had to be PPY beating ‘the rest’ at Ultimate Frisbee (all that
practice paid off…). More exciting, though, were those links building
between young people and leaders from across town.
There is a strong sense of youth workers and young people growing in their
commitment to each other and to the work God is doing and longing to do across
Cheltenham. Please do pray that we would all have the courage to step out
of our comfort zones to be genuine bringers of God’s hope across the town.
invites you to be part
‘reach’ on the journey
including a chance to
thank and celebrate the
ministries of young people about to move on
Sunday 3 July 2011
St Nicolas’ Church, Swindon Lane
Andy Macauly: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘reach’ has a youth
flavour, but is open to all ages
Travels on the Amazon
River: Pink Dolphins
In early March we flew to Manaus, which is the capital of the state of
Amazonia in Brazil. It used to be a very busy city about a hundred
years ago, when the rubber trade was at its height. As a result of
this it has many imposing buildings which include the Opera House, which has
cast iron seats imported from Scotland and beautiful French drapes! The Central
market is made in the same style as the Eiffel tower, but that is where the
similarities end, as the market overflows with stalls of every description and
is packed with people selling things, people buying stuff, tourists, beggars and
dogs. Most of the people from the outlying areas go there to sell their
produce (various fruits, vegetables, manioc flour and jewellery made from seeds
or wood) which is their livelihood.
There is also a busy port area with many boats and people coming and going
all day. There are river buses, river taxis as well as floating
‘supermarkets’ and petrol stations, all so colourful and smelly!!
We joined a very small cruise type boat with only sixteen passenger cabins
and travelled on it for a week. It was an amazing trip and quite
energetic, as we were woken at 5.30 most mornings and taken out in large canoes
to see the birds as they awoke, before coming back for breakfast and then
progressing through each day with several other outings, usually to go fishing,
visit native villages or, on one occasion, for a walk through the jungle (in the
One of the unforgettable early morning adventures was to go and feed the
dolphins. Yes, there are dolphins in the Amazon River, we had got glimpses
of them from the canoes each day, but this was different!
One family of river dwellers had been given permission by the authorities to
feed the dolphins, because their numbers had been reducing as river traffic
increased. The money we paid for the privilege of watching them being fed
paid for the dolphins’ food. Some people have doubts about the ecological
rights and wrongs of this, but it was still an incredible experience.
It was another early start and we went prepared to swim in the dark murky
waters (a bit scary!!). There was a step out onto an underwater platform
(so you didn’t step in the mud) and then we waited as the boys (holding fishes)
slapped the water. The next moment we sensed rather than saw dolphins
approaching. As the boys held the fish up out of the water, the dolphins
raised themselves out of the water amongst us! So close that we all had a chance
to touch, to stroke and generally marvel at the sight, colour and size of these
large mammals with skin that was soft and smooth, a bit like velvet. There
were several, including one female with a baby and another that was pregnant.
Most of them were pink in colour!
Eventually when it became obvious that there was no more food to be had, they
swam away, leaving us standing in the water wanting to see the ‘show’ all over
again! Truly spectacular!
Cup Parking Refreshments
A huge thank you to Gillian Jackson, who has retired from being coordinator
of refreshments for ‘Gold Cup Parking’ at St Nicolas’ after many years.
Gillian has now handed it over to the able hands of Sue Bolton.
Everyone loves a good story, especially children, and many of the best
stories are to be found in the Bible. Each week a couple of dozen of us
from various local churches take turns to visit St Mary’s Infant School, Oakwood
School and Swindon Village School and read aloud a story as part of the school
assembly. For many of the children this will be the first time they have
heard some of these stories and we think this is invaluable ministry.
Our stories are found in The Lion Storyteller Bible, written by Bob Hartman
in a simple language suitable for reading aloud to young children. About
four or five of us will visit and we each take on the part of one of the
characters in the story of the week. We try to engage the children
whenever possible and invite some of them to join in the acting. To add
impact we may dress in ‘biblical’ costumes and use simple props, relying heavily
on the children’s imagination.
We have a lot of fun. The children and their teachers always look
forward to our visits; it is something different for them, and it is not unusual
for some to approach us in the street or the shops, ‘You’re from Open the Book!’
If you think you could spare a couple of hours once a month or so, we would
love to hear from you. We are looking for about three extra people to take
a turn now and again. If standing in front of young children is not for
you, how about turning some old sheets or curtains into costumes for adults and
children to wear? Please have a word with Jean Axton, Sheila Beer, Diane French,
Avril Keen, Sylvia McKenzie, Jenny Newman, Nigel Woodcock or me.
Send workers to the harvest…
Jesus went through all the
towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of
the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the
crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The
harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the
harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’
If we approach this passage using Lectio Divina, as we did in the Lent
groups, I wonder which words might strike us as particularly meaningful.
Read the passage slowly – it is only four verses – and then think about it for a
couple of minutes.
I like ‘compassion’ and ‘harvest is plentiful’. Or perhaps I might
choose ‘teaching’, ‘preaching’, healing’. ‘Disease and sickness’ may be
relevant for another person, or ‘harassed and helpless’. ‘Sheep’,
‘workers’, ‘good news’.
Read the passage carefully again, and pause again. Why did I choose
these words? Sometimes I do feel harassed, particularly when I have too little
time left for all the things I need to do. And I feel helpless because I
can’t seem to sort it out. Jesus had compassion on people like that.
Sickness: we all fall ill sometimes; some recover quickly, while for others
things are not so good. Healing: natural, miraculous, with expert help of
doctors. Jesus healed.
Plentiful: a lovely word, especially if we like what there is plenty of!
Harvest: fields, food, ripeness, maturity.
Gradually our meditating on this passage evolves into discussion. Did
Jesus really heal every imaginable disease or sickness? Does he still heal
today? Where was he teaching? In the churches of his day. What was he
preaching? The good news of the kingdom – whose kingdom? Is this what we are
preaching and teaching in our churches today?
What about the image of sheep without a shepherd? We don’t see many
shepherds, but I am sure we have all come across sheep somewhere, running first
in one direction, then another, or just freezing on the spot. Walking
along a hilly coast path recently I noticed a few sheep between me and the edge
of the cliff with its sheer drop into the sea. Rather than continue at the
same pace and risk frightening them into running in the wrong direction, I
slowed to give them time to move ahead of me and eventually cross in front of me
away from the sea. Jesus saw the people as leaderless, like those sheep,
and he ‘had compassion’ on them. The phrase ‘sheep without a shepherd’
would have been familiar to his hearers from their reading of Scripture (cf
Numbers 27:17; Ezekiel 34:5).
The last image in this passage is that of a plentiful harvest, ready to be
gathered in. What harvest is Jesus talking about? Is it the people around
him ready to hear God’s word? Waiting to find a reason to change their lives?
People who heard about God years earlier, maybe as schoolchildren, and now as
adults are trying to make sense of it? And who are the workers? Jesus says to
ask God to send more workers into his fields. Does he mean you and me?
In Romans chapter 10 St Paul quotes the prophet Joel, saying that ‘all who
call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’, but then asks (v14): ‘How can
they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the
one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching
Ascension Day – Thursday 2nd June 7.30pm
A Sung Eucharist for the whole North Cheltenham Team Ministry to celebrate
the Feast of the Ascension. The Bishop of Gloucester will preside and
preach in St Mary’s at 7.30pm and the service will be followed by ‘wine and
nibbles’. Do come and welcome Bishop Michael and join with friends from
across our Team Ministry.
Prestbury Open Gardens
Saturday 4th &
Sunday 5th June 2011
2 – 5 pm
Tickets £5 (accompanied children free)
available on the day at St Mary’s church
and from gardens with
‘Prestbury Open Garden’ sign
All proceeds to Church funds
Cream teas on sale in St Mary’s Church 3 – 5 pm
‘Roots’ (Encouraging one another in faith) is holding a Picnic Lunch on
Sunday 5th June at 12.30pm in Pittville Park (we’ll meet opposite the play
area). All welcome.
Planning for Trinity Sunday at St Mary’s
Trinity Sunday is one of the services in the year when we try to make things
a little more accessible for children and newcomers and is a great opportunity
to invite people to come to church. If you would like to be involved in
the service, do come to the planning meeting on Thursday 9th June at
7.30pm at Prestbury Vicarage, Tatchley Lane.
Back to Church Sunday preparation
Back to Church Sunday nationally clashes with our Team Weekend Away at the
end of September, so the call this year is to invite people to one of the
Harvest services in the Team: 2nd October for All Saints’, Prestbury and Swindon
Village; 9th October for Elmstone Hardwicke. The Revd Andrew Braddock,
Diocesan Missioner, has organised seminars to inspire us and help us maximise
Monday 13th June 7.30pm - 9.30pm at St Andrew’s, Churchdown
Tuesday 14th June 10.00am - 12.00noon at St Barnabas’, Gloucester
Tuesday 14th June 2.00pm - 4.00pm at St Barnabas’, Gloucester
Please come to one of these excellent sessions so we can offer the best
possible invitation and welcome to everyone.
Prestbury Parish Fête
Saturday 18th June at 2pm
St Nicolas’ Church and field, Swindon Lane
All the usual
traditional stalls plus Skittles
Dance Display by
pupils of Swindon Village Primary School
provided by Marle Hill WI
For more information contact:
Janet Ford & Gill Wood
St Mary’s Bakestall
Thank you to all who supported last month’s stall, both baking and buying.
We were able to send £40 to Christian Aid. Well done everybody!
This month’s stall is on Sunday 19th June and we invite the A-F
team to supply the cakes. If you would like to join our baking teams,
please have a word with one of us.
Margaret Waker and Linda Matthews
Corpus Christi – Thursday 23rd June at 7.30pm
On the day when we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, we will join
with friends from across the North Cheltenham Team Ministry at All Saints’
Church for a Sung Eucharist and procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
On Saturday 25th June there is an African Fun Day in Gloucester
Cathedral from 10am to 3pm. This is a family fun day with activities,
stalls, food, and displays that will explain about Mothers’ Union workers in
Africa, also artefacts, etc, and also the opportunity to learn about the MU in
this country. Worship will be a Celebration with African flavour.
Cheltenham Deanery is responsible for the Bathroom Stall, and there are boxes
in St Mary’s and St Nicolas’ churches to receive bathroom items and toiletries
that will be most gratefully received.
The Prestbury Mothers’ Union next meets on Tuesday 28th June at St
Nicolas’ Church at 7.30pm, when our speaker will be Julie Jefferies. She
is coming to explain ‘Open the Book’, a marvellous service provided by a good
number from our congregations who go into various local schools and tell and act
Bible stories for the children. Everyone most welcome.
McKenzie, Branch Leader
Education and Nurture Going Out and About
When the Education group last met, we felt that it would be good to find out
more about our ecumenical neighbours.
A visit to Cheltenham’s Free Evangelical Church on Whaddon Road has been
arranged for Tuesday 12th July at 7.00pm, when Jonathan Hunt, the preaching
elder, will be happy to welcome us.
We can take up to 30 people, but if this date is not convenient for some
people, or a large number want to attend, it will be possible to arrange a
contact Deacon Jennifer if you would like to go.
The Churches Amateur Dramatic Society (CHADS) has started meeting again on
Fridays at St Nicolas’ Church Room at 7pm. Newcomers are most welcome;
fresh ideas are always a must. We are looking to do our next production on
14th and 15th October.
Team Pilgrimage to Walsingham, May 2012
A North Cheltenham Team Pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham is
being planned for the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend 2012, from Friday 4th May
until Monday 7th May. To secure one of the 20 places booked, please send
me a deposit of £10 (non-returnable) as soon as possible. (A further
deposit of £20 per person will be required 12 weeks in advance of our
pilgrimage.) If anyone 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 later in the year.