For nearly four years we have been fellow travellers on life’s road, and on
the afternoon of Easter Day at St Nicolas’ we shall have the opportunity to bid
each other farewell. Instead of dwelling on our leave-taking with sadness or
regret, let us take this transition as an opportunity to reflect on our journey
together, and to think about what might lie ahead for me, for you, and for us
‘Let no one despise you for your youth... devote yourself to the public
reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.’ (1 Timothy 4:12-13)
Well, you have provided me with opportunities to preach and lead worship, and
together with positive critical feedback, I have become more accomplished at
both than I was when I arrived. Thank you. I take with me to Richmond the
responsibility to continue to develop my skills as a preacher, better able to
help congregations engage with and explore Biblical texts and God’s will for our
Jesus said ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes
from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4)
Shortly after I arrived, a few people said that they would like a Bible study
group accessible by foot from Prestbury village, and which would meet in
daylight. That group of sometimes just two or three individuals has continued to
meet almost every week for the last two years, and has nine members. They have
grown in confidence and ability, to the extent that they no longer need weekly
input from a ‘professional’ minister. As I come to leave, we have a request from
a recent arrival for another Bible Study group that meets on a day other than
Wednesday; who will step up to this request?
‘If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire,
and it shall be done for you.’ (John 15:7)
One part of the Vision we have developed together has been in reference to
our local communities. We have been asking questions about who make up our
communities, what their needs and desires are, and how we can connect with them.
A major focus of this work has so far been identified as prayer. Sarah and I
thank you for your prayers and support over the last few years; they have been
As one of the spiritual tools available to us wherever we go, prayer is
possibly the one we are least confident in using, yet also potentially one of
the most effective, especially when taken in light of the words of Jesus quoted
above, and reaffirmed in these words from St Paul:
‘Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish
abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the
church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.’
Fr David’s last Sunday here will be 8th April, which is Easter Sunday.
There will be a ‘Farewell Tea Party’ in St Nicolas’ Hall from 3.30pm. This will
be an opportunity for everyone from across the North Cheltenham Team Ministry to
say ‘thank you’ and ‘farewell’ to Fr David and Sarah. During the afternoon, in
addition to tea, there will be a time for presentations and (brief!) speeches.
The afternoon will conclude with a short service of farewell and blessing. This
will be the only evening service in Prestbury on that day but there will be
time, if people wish, to attend Choral Evensong for Easter Day in either All
Saints’ or St Lawrence at 6.30pm. Please put this important date in your
Fr David will be licensed as Team Vicar in the Richmond Team Ministry on
Monday 30th April at 7.30pm. Arrangements are being made for a coach to take
people to the service and details of this will be published through the weekly
As a Team Ministry we mourn the recent violent death of the Revd John
Suddards, which reminds us of the vulnerable nature of ministry in our
communities today. Our prayers go out to the people of Thornbury, including his
curate, the Revd Bruce Goodwin, who was on placement in North Cheltenham a few
Bishop John writes: ‘I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear the news of
John’s death in tragic circumstances. I had been due to meet him for a review of
his ministry over these first few months here…. As a diocese it is our concern
to be close to both the church community and the wider community of Thornbury as
they seek to come to terms with this tragedy. Our hearts go out to John’s family
and friends as they come to terms with this personal loss.’
John came to us from the Diocese of Chelmsford six months ago where he had a
significant ministry as an Area Dean and parish priest. He was a person who
cared deeply for people and there was a sense of excitement about this next
phase in the life of their Team Ministry. It may be some weeks or months before
a funeral can take place so Bishop Michael visited on the evening of Friday 17th
February for a special service and continues to support local people during this
incredibly difficult time.
The Annual Parochial Church Meeting, which follows the Annual Meeting of
Parishioners, will take place on Sunday 22nd April at St Mary’s Church at
6.30pm. This is a chance to come to hear a review and reports of what has taken
place during the last year, together with plans for the future and an
opportunity to ask questions.
At the meeting elections to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) take place.
Nominations for PCC members will be displayed on the notice boards of both
churches for at least the two Sundays prior to the meeting. Candidates must be
proposed and seconded by a person who is on the Electoral Roll of the parish and
they should also be asked if they are willing to stand! Please may I ask all
those people who provide reports for the meeting to let me have them by
Sunday 25th March, or before if possible? Many thanks.
The Annual Meeting of Parishioners, which begins at 6.30pm, is a short
meeting to elect Churchwardens: two for St Mary’s and two for St Nicolas’.
Candidates must be nominated and seconded before the meeting begins and
nomination lists will also be displayed on the notice boards of both churches.
Anyone who lives within the parish or who is on the church electoral roll may
attend and vote at this meeting.
Forbes, PCC Secretary
The Parochial Church Council acts like the trustees of a charity,
making important decisions about the running of the church throughout the year.
For more information speak to Fr Daniel or any of the clergy.
The Parish Electoral Roll has nothing to do with political elections. The
Church of England is run democratically and therefore each parish has its own
Electoral Roll. Joining it does not oblige you in any way, but it does give you
the opportunity to be more involved in the running of the church.
To be on the Electoral Roll you have to be:
- baptised (christened)
- a member of the Church of England
- living in the parish or regularly attending worship in the parish for at
least six months
- at least 16 years old
If you have any questions about this please speak to one of the clergy or
churchwardens or Brian Wood.
Application forms to be admitted to the Prestbury Parish Electoral Roll are
available in church and on this parish website.
To be entitled to attend the next Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) and
to take part in its proceedings, you need to have returned your application form
to Brian Wood by Sunday 1st April 2012. A few weeks before this date I
will post in church the names of those already on the roll. Please check you are
listed and your address is correct.
Wood, Electoral Roll officer
Burns Night came early in Uckington Village Hall when the North Cheltenham
Team Ministry put on an event on 21st January. Two team members Lynda Hodges
(Prestbury) and Sarah Jones (Elmstone Hardwicke) came together to organise a
fantastic traditional Burns Night Supper.
It had all the customary Bill o’ Fare of Cock-A-Leekie Soup, Haggis with
Tatties and Neeps followed by Tipsy Laird Dessert, washed down with whisky or
wine. We were treated to the sound of bagpipes played by Piper Sandy Walker (who
gained fame by playing in the film Four
and a Funeral), as he led the Haggis carried by Roger Hodges around all the
tables before the toast to the Haggis given by Mr Tom Kerr. Tom Kerr gave the
assembled guests a full rendition, in full highland brogue, of Tam o’ Shanter,
hardly pausing to draw breath. A tribute to Robert Burns was given by Father
David Gardiner, looking resplendent in full Highland dress and all that goes
with it. A toast to the Lassies was given by David Williams using a poem written
by Father David’s grampa – considered to be ‘unfit for genteel company’.
The evening was still young and we were treated to more piping and graceful
dancing by the Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society – Cheltenham Branch with
their demonstration team. The dinner guests were invited to take the floor and
join in with more dancing with Mrs Walker acting as caller. Of course the
evening concluded with the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
Canon Michael Cozens led the vote of thanks, especially to Lynda, who had
worked tirelessly in the kitchen, and to Sarah for getting the entertainment
together and also for all their helpers. The evening raised £320 for the
Christian Aid Zimbabwe Appeal.
The Evolution of the North Cheltenham Burns Supper
from Christian Aid often give ideas for fund raising and last autumn a Burns
Supper was on the list. I mentioned this to Lynda who thought, made some
enquiries and said ‘yes, it will work’. Through her work in the team she has
contacts in the different churches and knew that Sarah Jones in Elmstone
Hardwick is a keen Scottish Country Dancer. Sarah arranged for her friends to
help and I am sure that we could not have done the evening without them. Not
only did they provide the demonstration dances but they then dragged us on to
the floor so that as the evening progressed the floor was always full. Thanks to
her and the team and particularly to Tom who expertly addressed the haggis and
Sandy whose pipes heralded its entrance. Thank you all very much from all of us.
Thanks also to the various participants who undertook the required speeches.
biggest thanks must be to Lynda and the band of helpers in preparing food and
also assisting on the night. We managed to sell just over fifty tickets, which
for that hall was comfortable, though we had planned for eighty. Even so I was
still able to bank £320 into the Cheltenham Christian Aid account, which will be
used in a new project as the advertised Zimbabwe appeal had reached its target
and was closed. I will let you know if I receive any news.
Roger Hodges and Fr David
Photographs by Brian Wood
Bishop Michael is again asking us to ensure that our church buildings are
prayed in every day during Lent. Our normal pattern of Morning and Evening
Prayer and the Eucharist means that we only have to add one extra service, in St
Mary’s on a Tuesday. This year we are again using the service of Compline at 9pm
on Tuesdays. Compline, meaning ‘completion’, is a short service which draws the
day to a close. Simple chants will be used with prayers and short readings.
Why not decide to add an extra service to your pattern during Lent? ‘Taking
something on’ is a good way of drawing closer to God during this holy season.
Most of the morning was spent discussing ‘The Anglican Covenant’. The Revd
Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, Canon Theologian, explained the salient points of
the Covenant which followed from the Windsor Report of 2004 which was produced
in response to the tensions within the Anglican Communion which came to a head
following the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Jersey in the USA.
Canon Methuen explained that the Covenant had set out to address the challenges
within the Anglican Communion of living together, of mutual accountability and
of how different cultures might listen to each other in a process of shared
The Covenant is in four sections. The first three sections set out the
beliefs which we share as Anglicans with regard to the Holy Bible, the Gospel of
Jesus Christ, our commitment to Him and His teaching, the marks of Mission and
our mutual love and respect for each other as fellow Anglicans. The fourth
section is the most controversial and sets out a framework for the resolution of
disputes. It is proposed that a standing committee should be established by the
existing controlling bodies of the Anglican Communion, that is the Archbishop of
Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the
Primates Meeting. This Standing Committee would listen to problems, seek
guidance, opinions and advice and take this back to the disagreeing parties. It
is not a disciplinary body, but an arbitrator whose advice can be accepted or
rejected. Should a Province decide to opt out of the Covenant it is completely
free to do so and this would not exclude it from the Anglican Communion as a
whole. It is acknowledged that this will not answer all problems but it was felt
by the authors of the document that it would go a long way to improve the
current situation and avoid acrimony in future.
The Diocesan Synod debated the Covenant at some length with speakers in
favour pointing out the underlying intention to create an Anglican framework for
belonging whilst speakers against the Covenant expressed concerns about a move
away from self-governance and too great an emphasis on resolving disputes. The
Synod had to vote in its three Houses (Laity, Clergy and Bishops) on the motion
to approve the draft act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant, but
the motion was lost, rejected in the House of Laity and the House of Clergy. The
Covenant is being debated by all the Dioceses of the Church of England and
across the whole of the Anglican Communion and at this stage it is not clear
what process will be taken if it is rejected.
The rest of the Diocesan Synod agenda consisted of a presentation from
members of the Children and Young People’s Department about including children
and young people in our church life. A brief presentation included this quote
from a young person: ‘we are disciples now, not just disciples in waiting’.
Synod members briefly discussed the changes happening in their parishes to
ensure that young people were ‘ministers in training’ and how their local
churches were making a greater contribution to the lives of young people:
challenging questions for us to ask here in Prestbury. The Synod then affirmed
the work of those engaged in youth development across the diocese and encouraged
parishes to identify opportunities for working with young people.
Hodges, Diocesan Synod member
On the evening of Thursday 19th January a select group of about twenty five
people listened to the MACS chairman explain the aims and work in Malawi. After
the talk we were able to discuss with Richard various aspects of the charity
over wine and nibbles, my thanks again to Lynda for preparing this. Also thanks
to Richard for driving here from Canterbury. He had a busy weekend giving
another talk to Year 8 pupils at Beaudesert School, Minchinhampton, on Friday,
attending the Burns supper and giving two addresses at the two main services in
Tewkesbury Abbey on Sunday.
The evening raised £134 in the retiring collection which will be added to the
fund for items requested by Nkope Health Centre.
Spectacles for Malawi
Thank you for your continued donations of old glasses which over the year has
built up to equal last year’s quantity. I am in the process of checking them and
they will be loaded in this year’s container in Birmingham on 23rd March. Please
keep them coming; there is a box in St Nicolas’ and the one at St Mary’s seems
to have come to rest in front of the choir vestry.
PPY, the charity which runs the youth work in the North Cheltenham Team
Ministry, is looking for someone who can take on the role of fundraiser. The
role will involve planning, preparing and making application for funds to
grant-making trusts and other similar bodies. The work can be done from home
(with a computer and internet access) and PPY can pay for up to 5 hours per
week. This role is really crucial to the future of our youth work and so if you
are able to help us, or know someone who can, please contact
The 1st Prestbury Scout Group are continuing with their fundraising
activities to refurbish the Scout hut and field. The group will be actively
supporting the Prestbury Jubilee Fete in the village on the 4th June 2012. The
Group have been asked to provide the food/refreshments at the event. The Scout
Group is excited about being involved and currently looking for volunteers to be
part of a team to plan and prepare for occasion. All willing volunteers who
would like to work with us will be appreciated!
We are keen for the Jubilee event to be a success and as a consequence the
Exec committee (Parents and Leaders) of the Scout Group have decided to put the
Annual Scout Jumble Sale on hold to enable our energy and resources to be
channelled into making the Jubilee Event a successful and memorable one.
Any textile items (clothing, towels, bedding, shoes, bags or soft toys) can
still be donated to the Group and will be recycled and money received will
continue to boost our funds. Please bag your donations and drop off at the Scout
Please contact Linda Jackson by email on
1stprestbury(at)gmail.com if you are able to help support us with
our ‘Fun and Fundraising’!
Linda Jackson, Group Scout Leader
Spring is nearly here and our programme of minibus and coach outings will
soon be underway. Our spring coach outing is scheduled for Wednesday 28th
March. We start with a mystery trip around the county and finish with a
special afternoon tea provided by the ladies of Avening WI.
Just a reminder that the Trust runs, door to door, weekly minibus grocery
shopping trips on Tuesdays. Sainsbury in the morning and Tesco in the afternoon.
We are planning a series of table top sales and car boot sales to boost our
funds. Any donations of suitable sale items would be very welcome. We will come
and collect if need be. Also tables/stalls are available for £5.00. Our first
sale will be held in the Prestbury Hall, Bouncers Lane, from 1pm to 3pm on
Saturday 17th March. Hot drinks and refreshments will be available. Look out
for our posters.
The Trust is very dependent on volunteers. If you have some spare time please
come and join us. We need volunteer car and minibus drivers and people to help
out with our various groups.
Did you know that the Warden’s Bungalow at 10 Deep Street is a
Richard Mason and Carol Allan
Last month I announced my
intention to undertake Alfred Wainwright’s 200-mile Coast-to-Coast walk from St
Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea coast. The walk,
which will be in aid of both Prestbury and Pittville Youth and the Friends of St
Mary’s, will take me through three national parks: the Lake District, the
Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
I shall be travelling to St Bees on 14th May to begin the walk on the
following day, and aim to finish in just under two weeks.
I should be hugely grateful if you would feel able to sponsor me in this
undertaking, so keep an eye out for me – or someone from
FoSMP – waving a sponsorship form over the coming months.
Many thanks in anticipation of your support.
The Dunn family had the pleasure of welcoming Vicky back to Gloucestershire
in February when she was transferred from Frenchay to a specialist care home in
Tewkesbury called Theoc House. This will be Vicky’s home temporarily whilst the
house that the Dunn family have been allocated is extended to suit Vicky’s
Planning permission has now been granted for the extension and it is hoped
that the family will be reunited under one roof in the late spring.
In the meantime, ‘Simply Vicky’, the group formed to raise money for Vicky’s
non-funded needs, such as communication aids, have been busy. Local live band
Bootique headlined another successful evening at Prestbury Hall in December
and the next event will also be held at Prestbury Hall on Saturday 28th April.
This time it will be a Curry Buffet followed by a disco. Tickets on sale soon so
save the date!
Hi! Just browsing through the internet and decided to look up St Mary’s
Prestbury as I was a parishioner there many years ago before I migrated to
Australia with my parents in 1957. It has been lovely to catch up again with a
look at the past. Although we are well settled in Australia I am still English
at heart; as I say to people: Nobody can take my birth right away from me.
Several of my sisters were baptised at St Mary’s and my eldest sister and
brother were confirmed there as I was also. My husband and I attend St Matthew’s
in Panton Hill Victoria and have done for over 36 years. It has been lovely to
catch up with the old church and is nice to see it growing.
Yours, Barbara Smith (nee Barnes)
Gold Cup Week, 13th – 16th March
St Nicolas’ Church will be serving refreshments to the
race-goers every morning during the Festival – from 9.00am to approx 12.30pm.
Offers of help with this fund-raising event are needed; please
contact Sue Bolton or Margaret Compton .
Day School for Flower Arrangers – Saturday 17th March
This is scheduled for 10am at St Nicolas’ Hall and will be led
by Beryl Griffiths, a well-known teacher and demonstrator.
The event is aimed at church flower arrangers across the
parishes, and offers a rare opportunity for individual help and inspiration, but
should there be enough spaces, others are welcome too.
The cost, to include tuition, coffee and lunch, will be £10
per person, and we are asked to bring our own flowers and foliage, details of
which will be circulated nearer the time.
To reserve a place, please contact me .
Mothering Sunday at St Mary’s – 18th March
As part of our Mothering Sunday celebrations this year, we
would like to ask for your continued valued support in donating posies for our
Sunday services. All posies can be delivered to St Mary’s on the morning of
Saturday 17th March, where there will be buckets of water located by the
font for you to place them in. For further information, please contact Becky
Marks. We very much appreciate all your kindness in helping others to
share the joy of Mothering Sunday.
St Mary’s Bakestall
The date of the next bakestall is Sunday 18th March,
provided by the A-F team. The proceeds will be sent to Care
Margaret Waker and Linda Matthews
Prestbury Mothers’ Union
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 20th March at St
Nicolas’ Church at 7.30pm. Our speaker this month will be Fr Paul Iles who will
share with us ‘Reflections for Lent’. Everyone most welcome.
McKenzie, Branch Leader
St Mary’s Spring Clean …
Mary’s annual spring clean is taking place on the weekend
of 23rd/24th March. We will start as usual on Friday afternoon at
2pm and resume on Saturday morning at 10.15am when the church will be
made to look at its best ready for Easter.
… and Churchyard Tidy
churchyard tidy up will also be taking place on Saturday 24th March
starting at 10.15am, when help will be needed with mowing, edging, weeding etc.
Refreshments will be provided for all helpers on Saturday
morning. Any time that you can spare to help either inside or outside the church
will be greatly appreciated.
Events at St Nicolas’
At St Nicolas’ we will be holding a series of coffee mornings
and afternoon teas in order to raise funds for our Jubilee Celebrations.
Definite dates will appear in the pew sheets.
On Saturday 24th March in St Nicolas’ Church Hall at
6pm there will be a Beetle Drive to which all ages will be welcome. If you
haven’t tried this before then give it a try, it should be fun! Details from
There is still time to offer your talents for the Evening of
Entertainment to be held in St Nicolas’ Church on Saturday 14th April, starting
at 7pm. A wide range of entertainment is already promised so make a note in your
diary to come along and enjoy the show. Prices: Adults £5, Children £1, to
include a drink and nibbles. Details from Janet Ford or Gill Wood
Prestbury & Pittville Youth
invites you to be part of:
‘reach’ – creative
Sunday 25 March – 6pm
St Nicolas’ Church, Swindon Lane
A chance to connect with God,
be inspired by the art work of young people,
and have a go yourself
‘reach’ has a youth flavour, but is
open to all ages
Youth work dates
Last youth work session before Easter holidays is Thursday
Prestbury Flower Arranging Club
Our next meeting will be held at Prestbury Hall, Bouncers Lane
on Monday 26th March when Yvonne Mort will be presenting ‘Pressed Flower
Craft’. Also this month there will be our two friendly and informal competitions
for flower arrangements and craft, the title for the floral arrangement is ‘An
L-shaped Arrangement’. The demonstration begins at 7.30pm with doors open at
7pm. Visitors are most welcome, there is a £5 charge and refreshments are
available. More information can be found on our website
www.prestburyflowerarrangingclub.com which has full details of our programme
of events together with a photo gallery, or you can contact our chairman Lindsey
or our secretary Fenella.
Fr Paul’s 50th Celebration
Paul reaches the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on Sunday
17th June. He has asked to celebrate the occasion with a Sung Eucharist at
St Nicolas’ and this will be followed by a lunch. This will also be our
opportunity to thank Fr Paul for his ministry amongst us over more than ten
years as he will be retiring from his post as House for Duty priest in the North
Cheltenham Team Ministry. Please put this important date in your diaries
and watch out for more details of the arrangements nearer the time.
‘Eastward in Eden; … every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for
food; and a river to water the garden…’
Genesis 2:8-10 (KJV) abridged
This was, as Francis Bacon reminded us, where ‘God almighty first planted a
garden – and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures.’ (Essays, Of
We should qualify Bacon’s appraisal. Alexander Cruden commented that the pure
pleasure will come at a cost. ‘A garden stands always in need of weeding and
dressing,’ and drew a parallel so very meaningful to any gardener, ‘so in the
hearts of Christians, Christ has always somewhat to do; they would else soon be
overgrown and turn wild.’ (Cruden, Concordance, Canticles 5.1 1737)
Most references to gardens in the Bible itself are to events in them, rather
than analogies or descriptions of their character and purpose. The most graphic
include the disaster in Eden itself, the treachery in Gethsemane and locations
of idolatry and other ungodly activities. Our own attitude to them was expressed
most famously by Dorothy Frances Gurney, ‘One is nearer to God’s heart in a
garden, than anywhere else on Earth.’ (God’s Garden, 1913).
It may not even be our own garden. Perhaps we look down at it from a
neighbouring window or walk past it. Or we may share one, or help in one. We can
visit and enjoy a garden like an open air theatre or we can go on stage
ourselves and join in the production. ‘Plots’ in these theatres will demand
imagination, optimism, patience, dedication, determination, expertise,
knowledge, preparation, hard work, a modicum of fitness and perhaps above all, a
love of nature. If one is fortunate enough to work as a team in a garden, as in
an ensemble in the theatre, the desirable qualities may be shared among the
group. Then, enjoyment is enhanced by working with kindred spirits towards a
common goal. Additional qualities of tolerance, cooperation and compromise are
fostered and enjoyed. Under such circumstances, Mrs Gurney’s aphorism is well
Even then, performances are likely to be flawed and the reasons are
chastening. There will be human mistakes in preparation, planning, planting,
pruning and care. But there will also be rain, wind, frost, drought, and
unpredicted weather patterns to add to frustration and impatience. To the
agnostic, these are simply elements upon which the garden depends for its
existence. For the Christian, the elemental source is God. The trials and
tribulations of the gardener are not exactly Job-like, nor is failure likely to
result in death or destruction. But they are, or should be, a constant reminder
that in the last resort, the gardener is only a manager: an actor in a play
whose plot is held in trust.
Such a realisation should temper the gardener’s pride in achievement with the
humility and acknowledgement of dependence. Sadly, more common is a highly
acclaimed study of ‘A year in the Garden’ which in 390 pages attributes all
success and failure to the gardener. As we enjoy our gardens, wherever they may
be, let us indeed be grateful to the gardeners but with Francis Bacon, give
thanks to ‘God almighty’.
Tony Mason, St Nicolas’