A favourite saying that has stayed with me from youth is ‘Sometimes I sits
and thinks – and other times I just sits!’
Sadly, opportunities of just sitting (thinking or not!) seem so far and few
between in these hectic lives we lead these days, a fact brought home to me as I
grabbed a few precious moments in the hotel grounds whilst enjoying the Sidmouth
I suddenly realised that the year was slipping away almost unnoticed and that
November, with its theme of Remembrance, was very close indeed. This thought
transported me back to Norfolk and our holiday earlier in the year.
We had gone to Little Snoring (mainly because of the name) and were delighted
to find that St Andrew’s church possessed the only detached round tower in
Norfolk – it is also a place of great peace and tranquillity.
But it was not always so, for during the Second World War one of the many
East Anglian air bases was here. Inside the church is recorded a list of
missions flown and decorations awarded in those dark times. It was very humbling
to see young lads of eighteen and nineteen earning the Distinguished Flying
Medal and Cross (DFM and DFC) – some of the Squadron Leaders were only
twenty-one or twenty-two. What an amazing debt we owe them!
Outside in the lovely little churchyard could be seen, most appropriately,
red poppies growing, reinforcing the theme of Remembrance. Deliberately planted
or unintentional? It did not matter; they looked just right swaying in a gentle
breeze. Truly a great place to sit and think about those young people – many of
whom did not return – and just say a quiet ‘thank you’ for what they gave.
In 2009 there were three surviving veterans of WWI still with us. By an odd
quirk of fate, the three represented the three branches of the armed forces.
Bill Stone was a Naval man, Harry Patch served in the trenches and Henry
Allingham flew over the carnage as a member of the Royal Flying Corps. By
another bizarre twist, all three died in a short space of time, Henry Allingham
and Harry Patch in consecutive weeks of each other.
Harry Patch’s words in particular still echo over the years. He lost three
close friends when a shell, known as a ‘whiz-bang’, exploded in their fox hole.
Harry’s friends were all killed – he was unmarked. And he always asked why. ‘Why
did my friends die and not me?’ He almost had a sense of guilt at his survival.
These are some of his words.
‘The day I lost my pals, 22nd September 1917 – that is my Remembrance Day.
I’m always very, very quiet on that day and I don’t want anybody talking to me
really. Nearly ninety years after and I always remember it. I shall never forget
the three pals I lost’.
This is why we remember and mourn the dead, and observe their anniversaries,
for we are guardians of their heritage. Each year we go back to this heritage as
to a fountain from which we draw strength and inspiration. We are not so much
reliving their deaths as remembering their lives and the heritage they left us.
All Souls Day – Wednesday 2nd November
There will be a Sung Eucharist in St Mary’s at 7.30pm when the choirs from St
Mary’s and St Nicolas’ will combine to sing Fauré’s Requiem. During the
Eucharist we will remember before God, by name, our own departed loved ones.
Please make sure you have entered any names you would like remembered on the
lists in each church.
Memorial Service – Sunday 6th November
Each year we invite those who have been bereaved during the past year to join
us for a service of hymns and prayers during which we join them in remembering
their loved ones who have died. Anyone is welcome to join us for this service
which is at 3.30pm in St Mary’s. Members of our bereavement support group will
provide tea after the service. (Please note that there is no service at
6.30pm in St Mary’s that day)
Remembrance Sunday – 13th November
As part of the annual season of remembering, there will be the usual acts of
remembrance on Remembrance Sunday. This will be during the 9.30am Sung Eucharist
in St Nicolas’ and at 10.45am at the War Memorial in Prestbury village. At the
time of the Magazine going to press the intention is still to hold the act of
remembrance at the war memorial despite the damage which has been done to it. We
will gather from our local community, joining with friends of other
denominations, to remember those who have given their lives in the service of
their country during a time of war. This is always a poignant and moving
occasion and will no doubt be made more so by the act of vandalism which has
pierced the heart of our community.
One of the goals identified both in The Vision Exercise and in discussion
within the Local Ministry Team was the need to reach out to the community around
us. The first and most important way of doing this is through prayer. To aid
this, the LMT is producing leaflets listing the streets within the parish. Each
street is allocated to a certain date so that day by day, street by street, the
whole parish is prayed for every month.
Leaflets will be available in both churches during November, and we plan to
start using them at our services at the beginning of the Church’s New Year,
Advent. We hope that everyone who prays will join in this project.
Wyatt on behalf of the Local Ministry Team
Advent is the season which marks the beginning of the Church’s New Year. We
move into ‘the year of Mark’, reading through St Mark’s gospel during our main
Sunday services. Traditionally the colour we see in church is purple, reminding
us of the penitential emphasis to this season. Advent prepares us for our
celebrations of Christmas, but also is a time for us to prepare ourselves
spiritually, not only for celebrating Jesus’ birth, but also for the time when
he will come again in all his power and glory. Advent is a good time for
personal reflection on our own lives, perhaps a time for personal reconciliation
with God (the sacrament of confession is always available) and a time to resolve
ourselves to re-focus and renew our relationship with God.
For those who meet together in our churches to say morning and evening
prayer, Advent will mark a change to a new office book. We will be using
‘Common Worship: Daily Prayer’ which is the Church of England’s book of
services for morning and evening prayer. Anyone is welcome to join us for any of
these services – times and places are on the back of the magazine.
It is great to welcome Joe Bird, a youth work student with University of
Gloucestershire with us on placement. The placement forms part of a three-year
course. Joe will be involved across the different groups. We also welcome
Charlotte, Katie and Ben – all new volunteers with the team.
Our stay at Soul Survivor festival was amazing and inspiring. One of the
areas of challenge from that event was that many of us have taken on reading the
Bible in a year. Please pray for perseverance!!
Camping at Soul Survivor
The Community Challenge project is up and running again this year. Students
from Pittville School started by helping to clear the churchyard at St Mary’s in
Prestbury. There has been excellent team work so far!
All our evening groups are up and running. It is always great to have new
members along – please get in touch for further information about our groups and
Andy has started his new role at The Rock as Head of Education – the groups
have made a positive start. This has of course meant that time is even more
stretched than previously. One particular area of need is for help with admin –
if you know of anyone who might be able to help in this please do get in touch!
One of our areas of focus over the next few months will be raising awareness
of the issue of homelessness as part of the Diocesan ‘Insomnia’ initiative. We
will be running an event later in November to learn more and to fundraise.
The Diocese of Gloucester Indaba team will be visiting California (following
on from their visit to Tanzania) in November. Please pray for continued positive
Our next Reach worship service is planned for Sunday 13th November
from 6.30pm at St Nicolas’ church.
‘Near the Heart of Government: the indiscretions of a former mandarin’
Seventy members and
guests attended a talk given by Sir John Herbecq on Saturday 17th September in
St Mary’s church. Sir John, who is now an adopted son of Prestbury, had a
distinguished career at the top of the Civil Service (even though he never wore
a bowler hat).
Sir John gave a very interesting, entertaining and also humorous insight into
the workings of various ministers and governments of different political
persuasions that he worked with over many years. The behaviour, characteristics
and foibles of several senior ministers including Christopher Soames, Harold
Wilson and Margaret Thatcher were revealed during the talk.
Light refreshments were available before and after the talk allowing members
and guests to socialise during an enjoyable evening.
Our Fabric Committee have been busy of late. As part of the drive to better
management of our use of energy, the old draughty windows at St Nicolas’ Room
(see photograph above) have been replaced with modern
double-glazed windows (see below). The old French window
has been partially bricked up and a new window put in its place. Users of the
room will feel warmer and more secure.
At the Barn Dance held recently (one of the many Harvest celebrations),
numbers exceeded expectations and a lively evening was enjoyed by all. John
Boucher, our caller, cajoled everyone onto the dance floor, with music provided
by The Bandycoots.
The Ploughman’s supper enabled us all to have a well-earned breather before
finally stripping our willows in the last dance of the evening. It was good to
welcome so many new faces from the wider community.
Many thanks to all who helped in any way at all – it was much appreciated. We
made an overall profit for church funds of £284.
by John White
On Sunday we were to attend a new church for its consecration and first Mass
by the Bishop of Upper Shire. The service started an hour late due to the late
arrival of the bishop and as you see from the service sheet it was not short. We
arrived in our bus to be greeted by a large choir of MU members and another of
children who sang and danced for the whole hour whilst we waited for the bishop.
Inside the church was its own choir, accompanied on an electric keyboard. Once
the bishop had consecrated the church and knocked three times on the door, we
all entered and we were given chairs at the front with the local dignitaries.
The service was in Chichewa but it was easy to follow the liturgy. Whenever
there was an opportunity the choir sang and could only be stopped by a signal
from the clergy.
The Mothers’ Union welcome committee!
After the service the Bishop and his wife received gifts from most of the
organisations present. First up was a goat carried by four men, then two
chickens followed by various household goods. All of this was accompanied by
singing by the groups in procession, which, when they danced up the aisle three
steps forward and two back plus an occasional reverse move, took a long time.
The speeches were delivered by everyone of importance including our leader,
Richard Barton, who ended by getting us to stand and introduce ourselves. This
had become a standard procedure at any formal gathering but this time we
produced our surprise, singing a trio of songs which my daughter-in-law Annie
had rehearsed with us. Firstly one which we did not know:
I’m going to sing, sing, sing
I’m going to dance, dance, dance
I’m going to sing, I’m going to dance, halelu.
When the gates are open wide
I’ll be standing by your side
I’m going to sing, I’m going to dance, halelu.
We then sang four lines of ‘When the Saints’ and followed that by four
lines of ‘Swing low, Sweet chariot’.
The clever bit was for the basses to continue with ‘Swing Low’, the
middle range with ‘the Saints’ and the top with ‘Sing, sing, sing’.
This was repeated pianissimo for two lines then a crescendo into the last two.
You try it, it works!
After that we were entertained to a well-earned lunch of chicken, rice and
relish, a local vegetable dish made of edible leaves cooked in tomato juice and
thickened with a paste made of ground-up peanuts. Wherever we went this was the
main menu as it is usually reserved for important guests or other special
occasions. Their main supply of calories is Sima which is made of ground maize
cooked into a thick paste and usually eaten by hand as utensils are not readily
To be continued.
In July Roger spent several days in Malawi with the charity MACS.
It wasn’t all eating and drinking, although meals are one of the attractions
of a relaxing team weekend outing to Sidmouth and one we all enjoyed.
Cricket on the lawn
The catering staff did us proud: three-course lunches and evening meals and
cooked breakfasts. This year, to our delight, there was wine on the menu!
Enjoying our lunch
Each day in the music room there was Morning Prayer and Night Prayer, and on
Sunday Fr Daniel presided at the Eucharist and Fr David preached.
We prepare for the Sunday Eucharist in the music
Frs Daniel and David had a full programme for us to participate in and enjoy.
On Saturday morning there were several optional discussion groups for us to
join, some very thought-provoking and others entertaining. Fr David ran sessions
on the veranda on parts of the bible we had not read, not for lack of effort,
more the bits that have been added by imagination and have stuck, such as the
apple in the beginning and a donkey for Mary to ride to Bethlehem.
Fr David ran sessions on the veranda
After lunch many of us wandered to the sea front for a couple of hours or so
where there are many places to take tea or to buy ice cream. The youngsters had
a trip out. If that were not enough, Sidholme has a splendid swimming pool.
In the evening, after dinner, we assembled in the music room for some
impromptu entertainment, full of energy and variety.
‘A baby owl whose name was Blanche…’
‘Nobody loves a fairy when she’s 40’
The Synod met on 15th October. Due to a certain semi-final, the turnout for
this Synod was rather poor, although the Revd Jacqueline Rodwell, vicar of
Emmanuel Leckhampton, looked very dashing in her red Welsh sports shirt: our
Synods are no longer stuffy gatherings! The meeting was chaired jointly by the
heads of the Houses of Laity and Clergy as Bishop Michael was attending the
enthronement of the new Bishop of Salisbury.
We did not start with our usual Eucharist, but with a Lectio Divina
session, our text being from St Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Our
small discussion circles are always a mixture of clergy and laity, and it is an
excellent way both of getting to know other Synod members, and for setting the
whole meeting in a context of prayer.
The agenda was simple: we were given notice that the General Synod requests
us to study the arrangements for consideration of the Anglican Communion
Covenant in the New Year. There will be speakers to explain the covenant and
discussion format in depth. The main business of the morning, however, was a
motion put forward by the North Cotswold Deanery regarding trimming the Diocesan
central costs as a way of dealing with a large and continuing deficit in our
budget. We as parishes must find a way to live within our costs, and this must
also be true of our central administration. Our Diocesan budget challenges us to
increase our giving and income by 6%, enabling parishes that meet their costs to
give in support of other parishes, and enabling those parishes and benefices
like North Cheltenham that do not meet their costs to reduce the amount of
support they receive from the rest of the Diocese. This has not been achieved
over the last two years of the budget’s five-year plan: the overall shortfall is
still growing, albeit more slowly.
Our central administrative team in this Diocese is one of the best in the
country, and the support we receive from them (such as advice on mission,
communications, integration of children and young people, architectural,
employment and legal advice, all of which we in North Cheltenham have received)
would cost far more to buy in privately than what we collectively pay in central
costs. We must ask ourselves, however, whether we can afford such good help
right now. A representative from St Mary’s and St Matthew’s pointed out that
they had been forced to cut their administrative staff due to a lack of money.
We in Prestbury have had to reduce the hours of our highly effective Youth
Worker for the same reason. It was also noted, however, that even if we cut the
whole central administrative team, those cuts would not cover the hole in the
It was an interesting debate, at the end of which the motion was withdrawn,
with the proviso that it would be re-tabled next year if the situation did not
improve as the Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance predicts, and with the
voluntary adoption by the DBF of a modified version of the second point of the
motion, to improve budget transparency while safeguarding the privacy of
individual staff members.
I hope you appreciate and understand the importance of the issues we are
discussing in Diocesan Synod: it is not just a talking shop, and PCCs do have
the power to look after parish interests in such meetings. If you care about our
churches and clergy, please take notice and get involved in things like PCC and
our Vision programmes. If you want your church to be ministering to your
community for generations to come, we must balance our budget. This means
cutting our costs, yes, but that will not do it on its own without reducing our
clergy numbers. We must also increase our income. How we do that is going to be
the great challenge of this new decade.
Hodges and Fr David, Diocesan Synod Representatives
Once again a beautifully decorated St Mary’s has hosted a part of the
Cheltenham Heritage Open Days weekend. The theme was the long standing families
of Prestbury and some related farms. Due to welcome advance publicity, Lynda
Hodges was able to make many useful contacts for the event. The early Church
records were made available from the Gloucestershire Record Office and were a
constant source of interest. One novel idea was to invite comments from visitors
who had local knowledge to add to the presentations. This provided several good
pieces of local information. The event proved so popular that it was kept open
for part of Monday to accommodate people who were unable to come on the
scheduled days. A colourful addition was an invasion by a troupe of Roundheads.
The visit of Roundheads to the Plough and the Church was this time more peaceful
than their previous visit during the Civil War.
The displays were assembled by members of the Prestbury Local History Society
with assistance from the Friends of St Mary’s.
Heritage Open Days
Prestbury’s participation in the nationwide Heritage Open Days this September
featured a wonderful display in St Mary’s of previously unseen photographs and
of family profiles. Jointly promoted by Prestbury Local History Society and
Friends of St Mary’s the intention was to feature long-standing family
connections, but an appeal for pictures and information produced a deluge of
interesting material. In fact there was so much that all the available display
space was readily filled. Consequently Roger Hodges, and his wife Lynda, had to
buy materials to quickly construct new boards so as not to disappoint the many
Such was the public response that visitors thronged the church on all three
days. Many made return visits. And on Monday morning when the team arrived to
take down the exhibition there were yet more visitors happily engrossed in their
reading. Much appreciated among a wealth of interesting displays were the
astonishing photographs supplied by Mary Eyre of Prestbury’s Elizabethan Pageant
of 1931 with wonderfully elaborate costumes all made by local people. Mrs
Banwell from Home Farm provided a ream of notes from the late Jack Chamberlayne
recording his memories of all the farms in Prestbury, who farmed them, and the
breeds of cattle favoured by each.
A huge thank you is owed to Lynda and Roger Hodges for the many hours of work
that they both put in to this event. Nevertheless, Prestbury Local History
Society would still be pleased to hear from anyone who has any unique material,
in texts or photographs.
The Harvest Family Celebration in St Mary’s church on 4th October was enjoyed
by members of all the congregations at St Mary’s and by many friends and
families as well. A time of prayers was led by Father Daniel, harvest hymn
singing was led by St Mary’s organist and choir, and then a delicious feast for
all, of ploughman’s suppers with cider, made for a good community get-together,
to give God our thanks and praise for His abundant provision for our needs.
A generous net profit of £416 was raised from donations for the meal and from
the auction of harvest produce. This has been sent to Christian Aid’s appeal for
Famine Relief in East Africa.
Many thanks to the organiser, Lynda Hodges, who provided all the food and
drink, and to those who helped with and attended this happy event!
"Stop crying and look! The one who is
called both the ‘Lion from the tribe of Judah’ and ‘King David’s Great
Descendant’ has won the victory. He will open the book and its seven seals".
Then I looked, and saw a Lamb.
Revelation 5:5-6 (CEV)
I heard these words quoted once as a favourite text, by no less a person than
an archbishop. It seemed to me then a surprising choice, and remained stuck in
my memory as an unsolved puzzle.
Revelation is not generally a popular part of the Bible now, at least in this
country. The imagery is too outlandish, there is too much violence and
destruction, too much that seems to encourage wild contemporary prophecy. But
not everyone finds Revelation a problem; in places where Christians are
oppressed, it is a powerful resource for learned and simple alike. It is
certainly a strange and complex book; John claims to be recording a divine
message about ‘what must happen soon’ (Rev 1.1), so we must take it seriously as
prophecy, but it also deals with the world situation as it was when John was
writing. It is an apocalypse, literally an ‘uncovering’; it looks beneath the
surface of society and state, and uncovers the real nature of the struggle in
which Christians are suffering. This is where the persecuted churches of our
time find a message that speaks to them. The young churches for whom Revelation
was written had something in common with Christians in the shanty towns of South
America, or those at risk from fundamentalists in Muslim countries.
In the passage leading up to the verses quoted, the narrator struggles
with the limitations of language to convey his vision of the court of heaven.
Colours like precious stones, thunder and lightning, creatures human and
non-human joining in the eternal praise of God. The vision comes to focus on a
divine figure seated on the central throne, and on the sealed scroll in his
hand. Tragically, no one can be found in earth or heaven able to open and read
the scroll. John weeps in despair. Then his heavenly guide speaks, ‘Stop crying
and look!’ ...
So he dares to look, but is not prepared for what he sees: not a terrifying
king in military might, but a lamb. A lamb moreover that ‘looked as if it had
once been killed’. We understand that he is seeing the risen and ascended
Christ. But why does John emphasise the contrast between what he hears and what
he sees? Why the deep emotion expressed here? The problem which these verses
respond to is laid out for me in a book for young people by a vehement atheist.
Philip Pullman is a brilliant story-teller, his characters and societies
convince in their strangeness and familiarity, but his universe is flawed. Its
villain is its tyrannical ruler, inadequate and outdated, who still refuses to
loosen his grip; the villain is God. One of the characters in The Amber
Spyglass puts it like this: ‘The authority, God, the Creator, the Lord,
Yahweh, El Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were all names he
gave himself... the Authority still reigns in the kingdom.’
Many people today would agree with Pullman’s idea of God. Sometimes, we might
slip into that way of thinking ourselves. But if we take courage and look, we
shall find that our God is indeed the God of love: the Christ who is to judge
the world is the Jesus who died for us. Not a lion but a lamb.
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
There is a Mothers’ Union Festival at Gloucester Cathedral on
Saturday 5th November at 11am, and it will have an African spirit.
Our next meeting here is on Tuesday 22nd November at St
Nicolas’ Church at 7.30pm, when we are looking forward to Diane Lyle coming and
bringing her Handbells for a Christmas theme. Everyone welcome.
Our December meeting will be on Tuesday 6th December at the
earlier time of 7pm, when we will have Christmas music led by Frances Pavey and
readings by some of our young family members. We will have seasonal refreshments
and a evening with a difference when we hope Demi and family will be with us.
Everyone is very welcome, especially young people and family members.
McKenzie, Branch Leader
Autumn Churchyard Tidy
The next churchyard tidy up at St Mary’s is taking place on
Saturday 12th November starting at 10am. Help will be needed to gather up
all the fallen leaves, clear gullies, cut back ivy and generally tidy up the
churchyard. Any time anyone can give to these tasks will be greatly appreciated.
As usual refreshments will be served during the morning.
Leading Intercessions in Sunday Worship
A morning workshop run by the Bishop’s Worship, Prayer and
Spirituality Group on Saturday 19th November from 9.30am to 1.00pm. Ideal
for those who would like a ‘refresher’ in leading intercessions and for those
who are just starting out. Please speak to one of the clergy or wardens for more
Bridge Drive – Saturday 19th November
The Friends of St Mary’s will be holding a Bridge Drive on
Saturday 19th November in Prestbury Hall, Bouncers Lane, Prestbury. This is
open to all card players who enjoy a game of bridge.
The plan is for players to arrive at 6pm and have a drink,
then to play a few rounds of ‘Chicago’, to have a break for supper and then
continue with further rounds of ‘Chicago’. To those who might feel slightly
intimidated we should emphasise that this is a social occasion; and we will be
glad to welcome players across the whole spectrum of abilities.
Tickets, to include a drink and supper, are £13.50; these are
available from Jim Mackie and Phil Dodd.
St Mary’s Bakestall
Last month’s bakestall did exceptionally well, enabling us to
send £25 to LEPRA, £25 to SOS Children and £20 to Smile Train:
a grand total of £70. Thank you all very much for your generosity in both baking
This month’s stall after the 11 o’clock service is on
Sunday 20th November and we invite the G-M team to supply the cakes.
This will be the last bakestall this year.
If you would like to join one of our baking teams, please let
us know, or just turn up with a cake!
Margaret Waker and Linda Matthews
Once again the Holy Family figures will journey around the
parish during Advent, visiting different homes. If you would like them to visit
you for a couple of days, please speak to Sylvia McKenzie at St Mary’s or
Jeanette Behenna at St Nicolas’.
The ‘Real Christmas’
The Real Christmas this year will be on Saturday 3rd
December in St Mary’s Church from 2pm until 5pm. There will be seasonal
stalls, entertainment and refreshments. Entry is free and all are invited to
come and spend some time with us.
Christingle Service 2011
‘Let light shine out of darkness’ (2 Corinthians 4:6)
This year’s Christingle service in aid of The Children’s
Society will take place on Sunday 4th December at 4.00pm in St Mary’s Church.
The Christingle Service carries a deep message of God’s love and is a
particularly special way for us all to reach out together to help children and
young people who are in urgent need.
During the service Christingle oranges will be given to
everyone who brings a gift of money for the work of The Children’s Society; this
will help them to continue to take direct action to support disadvantaged
children all over the UK. All are welcome to the service. If you would like a
collecting box, please ask one of the churchwardens.
St Mary’s Christmas Choir
Want to sing your favourite Christmas carols with a friendly
group of singers? Why not join St Mary’s Choir for the Christmas season? Choir
practice is from 7pm to 8pm on Friday evenings, usually followed by a
well-earned visit to the Plough. The ability to read music is not absolutely
necessary; more important is a willingness to give it a go and enjoy singing! If
this sounds appealing, please contact the Director of Music, David Smith, at
New Magazine Editor
I still need someone to take over from me as editor of this
magazine next year. Or rather, you need someone, because it will probably be one
(or more) of you who takes it on when I leave! If you would like to know what
exactly is involved in editing a magazine like this, please contact me at