As the Northern hemisphere turns towards late summer, the leaves begin to
fall and holidays become happy memories, it is important not to let it be a
melancholy time. The schools and universities are starting back, which means a
new start for many people, and in the church as well as other organizations new
plans and projects will be getting underway. In Prestbury, the autumn will see
the first moves towards implementation of the Team Vision1, a
programme that will guide us in our prayers and action for several years.
Those who attend church regularly are always looking outwards, aware that
worship encompasses much more than one event in the week, whether it is at the
start (Sunday) or a weekday. Worship, as St Paul teaches, is the act of offering
ourselves, our souls and bodies to God2. It is something that we can
do all the time, although it is not necessary always to be thinking holy
thoughts3. What we embody is the belief we share that Jesus – God the
Son – became a human being and brought God’s love, his invitation and welcome,
into the heart of the community.
So don’t be too surprised if you find yourself being invited to one of our
church services in the next few weeks, whether it is the St Mary’s Patronal
Festival (11th September), at which we will be remembering not only the birth of
the Virgin Mary, but also the terrible attacks in New York ten years ago; or
Harvest (2nd October), when we will be celebrating God’s generosity and justice
and how we live it out, sharing what we have with others; or some other special
Only a few weeks ago this country was shaken by riots in London and other
cities, described by police as the worst they have ever seen4. At its
most profound this is a sign of the ‘disconnection’ that seems to exist for so
many young people, something God is longing to reach out and heal. Perhaps now
more than ever is the time to overcome our reserve, our nervousness in reaching
out to others, to cross the street to say hello, to put that welcome note
through a new neighbour’s door, or even to say to someone ‘I’m going to
church on Sunday. Would you like to come with me?’ The more we do that the
easier it gets. It is just one of the many ways in which we grow inwardly,
becoming the change we want to see5, living icons6 of
God’s invitation and welcome.
1 Working with the reflections drawn together over
the past year, the aim will be to translate into action our aspiration to be a
worshipping, serving and growing community, sharing the good news of Jesus
From Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome, chapter 12
2 'It is not necessary, or even possible, to think
about God all the time’ – ascribed to Meister Eckhart (source unknown)
3 BBC News, 9 August 2011
4 Ascribed to Mahatma Gandhi (source unknown)
5 Br Roger of Taizé, Peace of Heart in All Things
Thank you to all those who made my ordination on 3rd July such a moving and
memorable occasion. To all who sent cards, came to the cathedral and to Glenfall
House, it meant so much. Thank you too for the very generous cheque from all in
the North Cheltenham Team. I will use the money to buy a white stole and my
preaching scarf. I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all as I
serve amongst you. Many thanks!
On Sunday 17th July Liz Greenhow was elected as Churchwarden for the Parish
of Prestbury with responsibility for St Nicolas’. This means that, after a few
months delay, we have our full complement of four Churchwardens. We are grateful
to Liz for volunteering to take on this role which she will hold until the next
Annual Meeting along with Margaret Compton at St Nicolas’ and Margaret Holman
and Mary Turner at St Mary’s. We again send our very grateful thanks to Sue
Bolton who has served for six consecutive years and had carried on in the role
until Liz was appointed.
On 15th August Andy took up the position of Head of Education at The Rock in
Cheltenham. The Rock is the charity based at St Peter’s church on Tewkesbury
Road which works with young people from across the town. This is a part-time
post and Andy will continue to be employed by PPY (the youth charity which
operates across the North Cheltenham Team Ministry) but on a part-time basis.
This new appointment builds on the excellent work that PPY has been doing in
partnership with The Rock. That work will now be taken on solely by The Rock.
Andy and the tremendous team of volunteers who deliver our youth work will now
focus on the weekly youth groups and working with local schools, particularly
those young people who are in their final year at Prestbury St Mary’s Junior
School, Swindon Village Primary School and Gardner’s Lane Primary School.
We send our congratulations and prayers to Andy as he begins his new
appointment and we also keep the work of PPY in our prayers as it enters this
new phase. It is regrettable that we are currently unable to fund a full-time
youth worker but we must look positively to the future and express our deep
appreciation of all that Andy and the many volunteer leaders will continue to
As many of you know, the North Cheltenham Team Ministry has become
acknowledged as a group of parishes that can offer students for reader or
ordination training valuable experience as placement parishes. As our reputation
spreads the most recent request has come from St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and we
shall be pleased to welcome Andrew Swift for a period of four weeks beginning at
the end of August. It is intended that Andrew will be offered the full range of
experience that is available from our varied parishes and I am sure that you
will all make him welcome when he is present in your local church and, I hope,
at other times too. Of himself Andrew writes:
‘I am 24; Sarah-Claire, my wife, has just turned 25. Originally I am from a
village in Staffordshire a few miles north of Lichfield and Sarah-Claire comes
from Sussex. Before I was at College I spent a year working as a Pastoral
Assistant in a church in Twickenham and prior to that I was at King’s College,
London, reading for a degree in Law. Sarah-Claire’s interests lie in
International Development and until half way through our first year at St
Stephen’s she worked for Comic Relief in London and had done for several
years; she now works for a charity called Family Links which runs parenting
group leader training which equips parent group leaders with something called
the Nurturing Programme which helps people to deal with particularly difficult
children; they also work with staff at a number of primary schools across the
‘We were married in September 2009 so we are approaching our second wedding
anniversary; we don’t have any children but we do have two cats who seem to
take up as much time and cause as much trouble!’
Andrew and Sarah-Claire have just returned from a long-deferred honeymoon,
such are the demands of theological training.
Sunday 24th July was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for the Friends of St
Mary’s lunchtime barbecue held in the garden of the Plough and attended by
ninety members and guests. Roger, the chef at the Plough, did a magnificent job
cooking chicken, sausages and burgers for everyone. A selection of salads was
also available to accompany the barbecued meats.
Many thanks must go to Dan and Cathy at the Plough for their support and for
helping to make it such an enjoyable lunchtime for all. Some photographs taken
at the event are displayed in the Welcome Area in St Mary’s church and can be
seen on the Friends of St Mary’s website at www.fosmp.co.uk.
I hope you will have seen the notice about the PCC’s application for a
Faculty for the conservation of seven listed tombs in the churchyard. The need
for this work was identified in our quinquennial (five-yearly) inspection and
relates to tombs that are considered to be of some significance but, because of
their age, do not have any living relatives to maintain them. You will see more
details of the tombs which require work on the notice board inside the church
door. We are very grateful to Phil Dodd who has been pursuing funding for this
work. So far, the following funds have been promised:
|PCC Churchyard funds
|Friends of St Mary’s
|Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
|Church of England Church Buildings Council
You will also have noticed the new blue carpet which has been laid in the
chancel area. This replaces the gold coloured carpet which was wearing
dangerously and also had shrunk over the years! The cost of the new carpet was
met from a chancel fund which the PCC has held for many years. We are also very
concerned about the condition of the floor under the blue carpet at the top of
the nave aisle. If you lift that carpet you will see that it hides some very
poor wooden flooring which definitely needs investigation. We are currently
seeking advice about the flooring in that area of St Mary’s.
We have sufficient funds to replace the windows in the coffee room which are
currently single glazed and in metal frames. The full length window (which is
actually a door that is permanently sealed) is going to be replaced with a
window to match the other two and the lower part will be bricked up. The new
windows will be white μPVC and the replacements are
part of our on-going programme of improving insulation and energy efficiency.
At St Nicolas’ there has recently been some discussion about the Hall and its
use. This has been prompted by concerns about the windows and the ceiling in the
hall. We have also been in discussion with representatives from the Diocese
about the installation of photo-voltaic panels on the roof of the hall. This
would link us into a scheme in which the Diocese would loan us the full cost of
the installation and we would then pay back the loan by ‘selling’ the excess
electricity which the panels will generate. This scheme is still under
discussion and, although planning permission has been granted, the PCC have not
yet decided whether to proceed.
It seems that my resignation as editor caused quite a stir in the PCC! As a
result they feel it would be more realistic to recruit a team of people to take
on the job. There are several stages in the production of each magazine, which I
shall describe in reverse order.
The finished magazine is a single computer document sent by email to the
parish office, where it is printed on the photocopier. My job as editor is to
produce that document. This requires a certain amount of skill with a computer,
but it need not be onerous.
In the document all the material, both text and pictures, has to be
positioned on the pages. This is layout editing, and there are many
different computer programs which can be used. All the editors I have met across
the country seem to choose different programs, but the end results are similar.
The attractiveness of each page depends on how artistic an eye you have, as well
as on choice of fonts and styles.
All the incoming text is checked for spelling and grammar errors
(‘emending’), and sometimes articles are shortened or reworded. This is copy
editing. All you require is a large dictionary and a good grasp of English
grammar. You do not need a computer.
Copy editing and layout editing can easily be done by two different people.
Who writes the articles and other notices? Not the editor! It is helpful for
the editor to know what is going on in the parish so as to prompt others to
contribute; but that can be done just as well by several different people spread
around the congregations and organisations within the parish.
To summarise: the PCC are looking for:
- someone to request and gather articles
- someone to check the articles
- someone to put everything together on a computer
- an overall ‘leader’ to coordinate
Maybe you would like to do all of that, or maybe you feel able to take on
only one of those roles. If you are interested, please get in touch with any of
the clergy, or contact me
What is a parish ‘magazine’?
Above are the PCC proposals for a new editor. If more people are involved,
then the amount of time any one person spends on the job will be reduced.
In my thirteen years as editor I have enjoyed the creativity of producing an
ever-developing magazine. Think how different this magazine is, in both
appearance and content, from even the 1960s, let alone the first issue in 1885!
I have also enjoyed sharing something of my personal interests: my music,
languages and grandchildren for example. Your new editors will bring you
The PCC’s main concern at the moment is obviously to recruit someone to carry
on what I am currently doing. But there is so much more! Some of you do not have
access to a computer, but I guess that many of you are choosing to read this
paper magazine rather than our website version.
However, there is a whole generation out there (my children, for example) who
communicate with each other via their laptops and smartphones, Facebook and
Twitter, in preference to anything on paper. How are we to reach them with our
parish news and views?
If what we in the church want to say to these people is so important, and
surely the gospel of Christ is important, then we also need to use electronic
media. Don’t worry, the paper magazine will never go away, but we should
complement it, supplement it, in any way we can.
It was 7.20am and we were all lined up at the door like the queue for the
Sales. The door opened promptly at half-past. Patients were welcomed and offered
seats; superfluous relatives were dismissed. (There were not enough chairs to go
Within little more than an hour, most of us had already been seen by an
anaesthetist, a consultant and a nurse, and had settled down to wait our turn.
For some it would be a very long wait, and with strict instructions to have
nothing to eat or drink, a wait unrelieved by offers of tea or coffee.
I was third on the list, so surprised to be called in at 9.15am and even more
surprised to find myself awake in bed before midday and eating lunch an hour
later. Tea and supper followed at the appropriate times and I was allowed to go
home later in the day.
This was one of the best hospital experiences I have ever had and I stayed
for barely twelve hours, but even so, by 7pm I was getting bored and fed up and
feeling rather lonely. My day as a patient had made me realise the importance of
the Department of Spiritual Care in supporting patients during their time in
Cheltenham General has over twenty wards, which is far more than Katie
McClure, the Hospital Chaplain, can hope to cover easily on her own. As a
Chaplaincy Volunteer, I am one of about thirty people, lay and ordained, who
give some time each week to support Katie’s ministry. I go wherever I am sent,
visiting people of all faiths and none; to chat, to listen, to say a prayer, or
perhaps just to give a quick wave or a passing ‘hello’. Some are in hospital for
several weeks or even months, with few or no visitors.
I am part of the weekday team, because my Sundays are already rather busy,
but other volunteers are part of Katie’s Sunday team, gathering at 8.30am for a
service of Holy Communion in the hospital chapel before going out onto the wards
to take the Sacrament to any patient who wishes to receive.
New volunteers are always needed and each year the Department of Spiritual
Care offers training sessions for anyone who might be interested in becoming
part of the Chaplaincy volunteer team, because new recruits are never simply
sent out ‘cold’ without any training or introduction.
This year’s course begins on 21st September at the Redwood Education
Centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and is for anyone interested in
becoming a Chaplaincy Volunteer at Gloucestershire Royal or Cheltenham General
Hospital. The closing date for bookings is 5th September and booking
forms are available on request: telephone 08454 224286.
I have been part of this ministry for almost four years now and I am not the
only Chaplaincy Volunteer who has been recruited from within the North
If you think that God might be calling you to be part of this, I would be
happy to tell you more about it.
Just ten words started it: ‘Shall we do the fête at St Nic’s this year?’ Oh
dear, once the words had escaped I couldn’t get them back, but hey, how
difficult can it be to organise a fête?
Despite the current
economic problems many of our regular donors supported us with items to be
included in The Grand Draw. We much appreciate their generosity. The
newly-opened Ellenborough Park offered Afternoon Tea as a prize and when we
called to collect the voucher we were treated to coffee and a tour of the
It seemed such a simple matter to ask for help running the various stalls at
the fête: just put a note in the pew sheet! The trouble is that everyone reads
it… and that’s as far as it goes! It’s amazing how much more successful the
personal approach proved to be, and before long we had a full list of
stall-holders. Father John Lewis and Hazel readily agreed to take on the Bottle
Stall, even finding their own tombola, while Daphne and Allan once more agreed
to stage the ever-popular Doggy
Gymkhana. This proved yet again a real crowd-puller. We must have some very
decorated dogs in the Parish, going by the number of rosettes awarded!
Although we had a
complete list of willing stall holders, the worry then was that we wouldn’t have
enough goods to sell. I need not have worried, as everyone responded
marvellously. Requests after the Sunday services produced a deluge of goods –
there were even reports of a herd of White Elephants approaching St Nic’s and
filling the lobby!
Weather forecasts were not promising but we went for the outdoor option. If
Synchronised Tent Erection were an Olympic sport then I feel David and his team
would certainly be medal prospects as would Michael Brick with his
Table-Collecting marathon. Many thanks to all involved with the hard work of the
This year we had volunteers from all ages within the Brownies, Guides, Cubs
and Scouting organisations. It was good to see them so involved with their
various stalls and all happy to give their time on a Saturday afternoon. Many
thanks to them and their leaders.
The dance group
from Swindon Village Primary School performed an opening display, and once we
had overcome problems with the sound system we were treated to a stunning
routine, much appreciated by their audience. Outside we were treated to music by
a select duo from the Blue Diamonds. Unfortunately the weather did not encourage
many people to sit around to listen but it was certainly appreciated by those
A second career running a little bookshop obviously beckons for Ruth and
Geoff, ably assisted by Marcus and Liz. Also Lindsey and Diane appear destined
for Flog It fame judging by their persuasive skills involved in reducing the
size of the White Elephant herd.
No visit to any fête would be complete without taking Afternoon Tea. Marle
Hill WI again rose to the occasion with a mouth-watering variety of cakes on
offer. We really appreciate their help at these events.
Obviously we cannot individually thank everyone who helped with the Fête. My
main impression was of so many people who cheerfully and willingly took on the
shared responsibility of ensuring we had a successful day. We raised £2,009!
Photographs by Brian Wood
Books! We started the fête by unloading nearly thirty banana boxes on to tables
at one end of St Nicolas’ hall. Fiction, sorted alphabetically, non-fiction by
subject. A steady stream of people relieved us of a vast quantity and the
residue almost fitted into the boot of one (large) car as we were left with a
pile of empty boxes.
In brief forays on the field we saw enthusiastic owners urging their dogs to
great feats of obedience (or otherwise) and enjoyed flutters (unsuccessful) on
the tombola and purchases (successful) on the plant stall. The event was good
outreach and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
& Geoff Shaw
At the annual service in the cathedral for Gloucestershire children leaving
their church primary school for secondary education, we at Prestbury St Mary’s
Junior School have for some years felt a little sad: we did not have a banner to
join the traditional procession at the service. This year, being the celebration
of two hundred years of church school education, seemed an ultimately
appropriate time to try to do better.
After a few whispers in the wings, Janet White stepped forward, offering to
help. She brought examples of her patchwork in to school and we knew right then
that we would have a banner to be proud of.
The children first saw their banner at their morning worship on 14th June.
They made comments such as: ‘It looks happy’; ‘It shows that we are
all together’; ‘You can see we’re linked to the church.’; ‘We can
see the hills just like that from our playground’. Fr David blessed the
banner. It was ready for use.
On 28th June we were delighted to have Janet with us in the cathedral, and we
felt proud as two of our children walking the length of the nave carried our
banner past us.
Janet, it is thanks to you that we fulfilled our ambition to celebrate two
hundred years of Christian education and to celebrate what our school stands
for. Never did we think that it would be quite so beautiful and thoroughly
expressive of the character of the school. Thank you from all of us at Prestbury
St Mary’s Juniors. The banner will become part of our school tradition and will
be making numerous outings. Look out for us carrying it through the village on
the way to church. Weather permitting!
Making the Banner
In summer 2010 I heard that the school would like to have a banner to take to
the Annual Leavers’ Service in the Cathedral. The idea of making this appealed
to me and I offered my services. I had done a couple of pieces previously that
showed ideas and skills I had, and the school were keen to proceed. We had
several meetings and the design evolved. So, over last winter, I began by dyeing
all the fabrics, using an Egyptian cotton. I needed red, yellow, blue and green,
which are the four house colours. I also dyed fabric for the various other
colours in the design.
With the fabrics ready I began sewing: thoroughly enjoyable, watching the
design come together. Once the background was pieced the other elements were all
appliquéd. I pieced the backing from leftover fabrics and then the three layers
were sandwiched together with wadding in the middle. A binding made of the four
house colours finished it off. It gave me enormous pleasure to make and I am
glad the pupils like it. It was lovely to show it to them at their Assembly and
then to be with them as it was carried in the Cathedral.
‘Variety is the spice of life…’ so the saying goes and we at CHADS think
so too. CHADS is our Churches Amateur Dramatic Society and we are drawn up of
church members from St Mary’s, St Nicolas’ and All Saints’ Churches. Every year
we put on a variety show to raise money for good causes. In the past three years
we have raised nearly £3,000 for Let the Children Live! and for our own
This Autumn, on 14th and 15th October, we will put on another varied
performance, this time to raise money for STEPS, a charity helping
children born with hip and walking-related problems. We have decided to support
them this year as one of our church members has a delightful baby granddaughter
who was born with a hip condition and because of this most of her life has been
in plaster from her trunk right down to her feet. She is the sweetest-natured
baby imaginable, and yet has undergone a lot of invasive surgery to try to help
the situation. The STEPS charity, as well as helping with the purchase of
special equipment such as car seats, walking aids etc, also offers enormous
support to parents of children with lower limb problems, and we feel it
important to help a local child who is one of our own church family.
Please come and support us in this event – you will have a lovely evening of
good honest entertainment followed by cheese and wine, all for only £6 per
ticket. These will be available soon at all three churches. By supporting our
show you will know that all of your ticket money will go to the charity as we
have again been fortunate to obtain sponsorship to cover our costs.
So put these dates in your diary now to avoid disappointment as tickets tend
to sell out fairly quickly and you wouldn’t want to miss out now, would you?
McKenzie on behalf of all the members of CHADS
In July a small group led by Deacon Jennifer paid an evening visit to the
Evangelical Church in Whaddon Road. Warmly welcomed by the Preaching Elder,
Jonathan Hunt, we were told of the Church’s foundation and history. Built in
1877 for the Revd James Walker, son of a former Rector of Cheltenham, it was at
first known as the Church of Scotland or the Scotch Church, though never
formally linked with that body. After the founder’s death in 1911 it became
known as the Walker Memorial Church. Over the years the Church has both expanded
and contracted. It has had some distinguished leaders and members including a
Great War hero, Brig-General Frost, and Fred Easton, later a missionary in China
and author of ‘A bit of old China’.
The original iron church was demolished in 1987 and replaced by the present
building situated behind the Claremont flats.
James Walker’s life was dedicated to preaching the Word of God and this
remains the raison d’être of the Church he founded.
R K Beacham
More information can be found on the website
Last autumn I was asked by my daughter-in-law Annie’s father, Richard Barton,
whether I would like to take the last place in a party of eleven visiting Malawi
to see and learn about the work of the Malawi Association for Christian Support
(MACS) of which he is chairman and would be leading the visit. It was an offer I
could not refuse and e-mail instructions and advice soon followed. Word reached
St Luke’s Hospital in Malosa of my past and a wish list of medical items was
sent so that the spring of this year was used to collect medical kit and also
optical items including your old spectacles which were sent on ahead last March.
Now that I have returned I wish to share my experiences over the next couple of
months and then in January Richard is coming to Tewkesbury Abbey to talk about
the work of MACS, and we hope he will be able come to Prestbury too.
Malawi is a very poor country set in the southern end of the Great Rift
Valley bounded on both sides by mountains for most of its length and with Lake
Malawi occupying a large part of the country. When in the 19th century the
Europeans were dividing up Africa Nyasaland, as it was then, was left as there
were no minerals or oil and today it relies on tea, tobacco and sugar for
exports. Wages are very low by our standards, a labourer getting £48/month, a
secondary school head teacher £1,444 and a doctor £500 so there is a big need
for help both practical and financial.
Our party was very mixed: Richard a retired Headmaster, Annie a music
teacher, Molly a retired nurse, Steph a nursing auxiliary, Chris a lay reader
and Jenny his wife, Evie, Amy, Alexandra and Alexander all in their teens and
me. We met at Heathrow on 8th July for the overnight flight to Nairobi where we
were to connect with a two-hour flight to Lilongwe, the Malawi capital, only to
find on arrival in Kenya that it had been cancelled and after much slow
negotiation Richard managed to get us on a 21.30 flight that evening. In the
meantime we were taken to a hotel where we enjoyed the facilities until we were
collected at 19.00. The flight to Lilongwe was late and on arrival we waited at
the luggage carousel only to find that our 22 bags were still in Kenya. After
more negotiations we departed to our hotel for a short night’s sleep before
returning to the airport for the morning flight, which did not land until 1pm.
This time our bags did arrive and after clearing customs we departed an hour
Our Sunday programme was disrupted by the baggage delay; we should have had
lunch at the home of the local Archdeacon in Ntchisi district north of the
capital. We visited his church, which MACS are helping to build by providing the
roof. The local community usually provide the bricks and mortar for the walls
and then MACS provides the roof.
We were welcomed by the Archdeacon and members of the parish, and we
experienced our first greeting by the Mothers’ Union, who sang and danced for us
as they all filed past as we shook hands. This became a daily event wherever we
were welcomed. The MU are distinctive in their blue and white uniforms.
In order to catch up on time we raced through a wild life park before dusk,
which we just managed to do, and arrived at our first stop for the night at
KuNgoni centre near Nkhotakota. Here we slept in twin bedded chalets named after
Hogwarts houses; I was in Gryffindor with Grafiud, MACS’ full time Malawian
Monday’s programme took us to St Anne’s Hospital in Nkhotakota where we were
shown round and had our first taste of the state of medicine in Malawi. The
Christian Hospitals Association provides about 40% of health care, mainly in the
rural areas, and this is one of the three that we saw. They all have smaller
local health centres/hospitals in the villages which refer into them as needed.
Just outside the hospital is a tree under which David Livingstone negotiated
with the local chiefs to stop the slave trade. Nkhotakota was during the 1800s a
main port for the slave trade with thousands of slaves being transported across
the lake into Mozambique and then on to the east coast ports. We also visited a
Lay training centre where MACS has funded classroom blocks and is currently
building a science laboratory. After lunch we drove south for three hours to
KuNgoni Cultural Centre at Mua Mission set up in hills where we were to spend
On the Tuesday morning we toured the cultural centre and learned about tribal
history and customs including that of the Yao and Chewa, who are the main
southern peoples, although there were many more tribes. The centre was set up by
White Fathers in 1902 and one of their main activities now is woodcarving. There
was a gallery of their carvings some done in the most minute detail. Under a
shelter men were carving a commission for a church using a paper template. After
an interesting morning we then drove to Kaphiridzinja Cottage on the lakeside,
which was to be our home for the next six days.
To be continued.
‘Let anyone who is
thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.’
St John 7:37,38 (NRSV)
At some time during the day, readers of this Parish Magazine will have turned
on a water tap, perhaps to drink, wash, cook, clean, or refresh the garden. An
everyday occurrence, taken for granted, perhaps occasionally accompanied by
thoughts of conservation or concern for the vegetable patch.
Far away, in the early morning shadow, the cliffs on the east bank of the
Jordan lie dark, barren and still, except for a rare green swathe, where a
spring dribbles over the rocks down to the river. There, the imagery of water
has an impact unfamiliar in our ‘green and pleasant land’. To the great crowd in
Judea, listening to Jesus on the eighth day of the Feast of the Tabernacles,
access to water meant the difference between life and death. Christ’s dramatic
invitation to slake their thirst carried the message of spiritual life in
imagery very similar to that used throughout the scriptures. Unsurprisingly, the
people wondered whether a prophet had indeed come out of Galilee.
The children of Israel were continuously reminded that water was the gift of
God: for example by Isaiah, ‘I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in
the desert, to give drink to my people, the chosen’ (Isaiah 43:20). In an
age of popular travel, the concept of ‘wilderness’, as experienced by the Jews
in the exodus from Egypt, can more readily be understood by those who, for
example, may have travelled across the arid expanses of Sinai to reach St
The word of God was regularly compared to the life-giving properties of
water. ‘May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew,
like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth’ (Deuteronomy 2:2).
Jeremiah contrasts ‘God the fountain of living waters’ with the
worthlessness of a broken cistern (Jeremiah 2.13), while Isaiah extols ‘water
from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). To a Christian, the acquisition
of ‘new life in the water of baptism’ is the ultimate symbol of
For Jesus’ audience, water was not just a gift of God, it was also His
instrument. It could be benign, or destructive. The Psalmist portrays both the
peaceful image of still waters and the despair of being helpless in the deep.
The Old Testament records the devastation of the Flood and the engulfing of an
Egyptian army in the Red Sea. In our age, the devastation of a Tsunami or the
merciless impact of drought in Africa can raise difficult questions about God’s
In St John’s record however, Jesus does not simply invite us to slake our
spiritual thirst. He extends the metaphor a stage further; vividly stating the
implications for those who accept his offer. ‘Out of the believer’s heart
will flow rivers of living water’ (St John 7:38). The believers will
themselves become conduits, spreading spiritual life to the wilderness of the
world. Here, in the most powerful of allegories, are His expectations from those
who believe in Him.
When we turn on the tap we should give thanks for our regional good fortune.
As we look at the flow we might reflect on Christ’s universal exhortation, and
consider how we can spread His living water in the Parish and beyond.
National Heritage Open Days
On 9th, 10th and 11th September historic sites and
buildings throughout England will open to the public with free admission. In
Prestbury the Plough Inn and St Mary’s Parish Church, opposite one another in
Mill Street, will have special displays. At the Plough the emphasis will be on
the history of the pub and its many proprietors. In St Mary’s there will be a
big display of photographs and other material, illustrating ‘Local People and
Families’ exhibiting many pictures, some more than a hundred years old, many of
them never seen by the public before. This display is organized by the recently
established Prestbury Local History Society and the Friends of St Mary’s.
Michael Cole, Chairman, PLHS
A Day to
make a Difference for our Churches!
Ride and Stride for the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
on 10th September 2011
(Registered Charity No 1120266)
An annual sponsored walk, bike or horse ride. Walkers and
riders turn out to follow their chosen route between churches which open for the
day. Many of them serve refreshments as well as checking you in and providing a
friendly welcome, directions and moral support.
You will have the satisfaction of raising money and the chance
to see inside some historic gems which cannot always be open for visits. Half
the money you raise goes to the church of your choice, the other half to the
Even if you are unable to ride or stride, you can ask people
to sponsor you to be there in your church during the day to welcome the riders
and striders, or to carry out other specific tasks while you are there.
Further information, together with sponsorship forms, is
available from Local Organisers on the contact details below. For information
about the Trust’s work and how to support it, please look at the website:
The Local Organisers for our churches are:
St Mary’s: Phil Dodd
St Nicolas’: Nigel Woodcock
A Talk by Sir John Herbecq
‘Near the Heart of Government: the indiscretions of a former mandarin’
Sir John Herbecq, who now lives in Prestbury, had a
distinguished career at the top of the Civil Service. From his vantage point in
the Treasury he had an unrivalled insight into the workings of successive
governments. Sir John disarmingly admits that all this was thirty years ago. But
there is an enduring fascination in having the lid lifted on ‘the great and the
good’ who govern us.
This event is organised by the Friends of St Mary’s and will
take place in St Mary’s Church on Saturday 17th September at 7.30pm.
Tickets costing £6 (to include light refreshments) are available from Jim Mackie
and Phil Dodd.
St Mary’s Bakestall
This month’s stall after the 11 o’clock service is on
Sunday 18th September 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
Being Prayed For!
Our Diocesan Calendar of Prayer includes prayers for every
benefice in the Diocese spread throughout the year. The North Cheltenham Team
Ministry will be prayed for on Sunday 18th September. On that day, a
representative from our Team Ministry has been invited to read the second lesson
during the service of Evensong in Gloucester Cathedral. Anyone is welcome to
attend the service which begins at 3pm and the regular cathedral congregation
will be very pleased to see representatives from North Cheltenham. Evensong on
18th September will be sung by the Cathedral Choir.
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 27th September at
7.30pm, at St Nicolas’ Church. Our speaker will be Liz Curtis and her topic is
‘A Time for Everything: my poems and how God inspired me’. All very
welcome – it is always good to see visitors – come for a chat and refreshments.
McKenzie, Branch Leader
Choral Concert – 2nd October
At St Mary’s on Sunday 2nd October, instead of the 6.30pm
service, we will be welcoming Gloucester Cathedral Choir, who will give a short
concert commencing at 6pm. We will publish more details when we know their
programme, but this date will certainly be worth keeping as it is only on very
rare occasions that the choir sings in parish churches.
Harvest Festival week in our parish is always special. Sunday
2nd October is the date for our usual celebratory services in the morning (9.30
at St Nicolas’, 8.00, 9.30 and 11.00 at St Mary’s), and then instead of the
usual evening service there will be a concert by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir
in St Mary’s at the earlier time of 6pm.
The following Tuesday, 4th October, at 6pm we shall gather in
St Mary’s Church to sing harvest hymns, have an informal ploughman-style buffet
supper and then auction the fruit and vegetables that have decorated the church.
Any profit made during the evening will be donated to the appeal for Famine
Relief in East Africa. Families and children are very welcome.
On Saturday 8th October St Nicolas’ are holding a Ploughman’s
Supper and Barn Dance. Details of that are below. And St Nicolas’ Hall is just
made for a good dance!
A Harvest Celebration
Tuesday 4th October 6pm
St Mary’s Church, Mill Street
- Favourite Harvest Hymns
- Ploughman’s Supper
- Sale of Fresh Produce
Proceeds in aid of Famine Relief in East Africa
Please come along to St Nicolas’ Church Hall on Saturday 8th
October at 7.30pm for the Harvest Barn Dance. We will have the Bandy Coots
playing and John Boucher as caller. Tickets are £8 to include a Ploughman’s
Supper, with a bar available. Why not bring your friends with you? Tickets are
on sale from early September.
He spoke to them in Parables
An Education and Nurture Quiet Afternoon on Saturday 22nd
October. More details next month.
Bible Study Groups
‘Study at Six’ on Tuesday evenings meets twice a month; please
contact Deacon Jennifer for details. The Wednesday morning group in Prestbury
meets weekly; contact Fr David for more information. If you would like to meet
for bible study and fellowship on a different day, please let one of us know and
we may be able to start another group.
Musica Vera Concert
The concert at St Nicolas’ in July raised £172.93 towards hall
refurbishment funds, plus a very generous donation of £1,000 from The Helen Gill
School of Ballet, whose students provided a very attractive interlude during the
evening. Many thanks to all concerned.
Great North Run
Twelve months ago I was on sick leave suffering from
depression after a very stressful year at work, when I watched on television, as
I did every year, the Great North Run. This time, however, I got very emotional
– not about the elite athletes at the front but about the overweight middle-aged
people at the back who looked like me but, unlike me, they were actually
participating and raising money for charity.
I couldn’t run at all but I started by walking and jogging as
a way of raising my mood and then I entered the ballot for a place in the Great
North Run and the rest is history! Work-wise the worst has happened and I have
been made redundant, but I can cope and I know that it is a blessing that at my
age I can achieve a slow plod around the miles. I am raising money for the
Depression Alliance, whose resources I used when I was ill, and GARAS
(The Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers), whose patron
is the Bishop of Gloucester. I chose these charities because they are not
popular causes. If anyone feels able to sponsor me or to give me some words of
encouragement they can approach me directly or I have a web page:
You never know, somebody might spot, puffing and panting
around the 13.1 miles, and be inspired to go out and achieve something they
never dreamed of either!
Shirley Brown is taking part in a Swimathon to raise money for
The Ethiopia Link (Registered Charity No.1086141), which maintains an
orphanage in Ethiopia. See the website
www.ethiopialink.org.uk for more details.
Shirley plans to swim 2.5km (100 lengths of a 25m pool). If
you would like to sponsor her, please speak to her in church one Sunday