By the time you read this we will be well into the Easter season. Remember
the powerful foot-washing on Maundy Thursday; the emptiness following the Friday
celebration of the Lord’s Passion; the exuberance of the great Easter Eucharist?
We certainly know how to celebrate our Lord’s great act of redemption. Yet we
are reticent at sharing our exuberance with those who don’t share our joy of
worshipping our Lord. Why?
There is every indication that people want something extra in their lives.
Most clearly believe in God even if they are not prepared to say so or maybe
call Him by another name. This has been illustrated to me by a couple of things
recently. First, one of the chaplains who accompanied the troops to the
Falklands during the 1982 war recounted his experiences on Radio 4 including the
necessary task of the proper burial of the dead out there. His description
included the rather sad coincidence that the guardsman used in a training
session in England, illustrating potential for having to bury comrades out
there, actually became the first to be buried for real. He ended by saying that
you don’t find many atheists in the trenches. When the chips are down, they are
realising their need for God.
Second is the reaction to the collapse and near death of Patrice Muamba
during the FA Cup Tie between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers a few weeks
back. There was no other player close to him at the time. He had had a heart
attack. The immediate reaction of the players was to pray for him and to urge
everybody else to do the same. Those prayers didn’t end with the immediate
reaction of the players. Friends and other players kept appearing on television
urging all of us to pray for Patrice. A minute’s silence was held at many
grounds throughout the country the following Saturday - a massive silent prayer.
The game itself was abandoned and has subsequently been replayed with Patrice
able to watch the game on television. Prayers answered.
The power of silence as a form of prayer was also used in the recent death of
the Welsh football manager Gary Speed. Again, minute’s silences were held at
many football grounds. I feel we don’t use silence enough in our worship and I
was pleased to experience it during the Palm Sunday service while we waited for
the procession from St Nicolas to arrive. I hope you feel the same way too.
Back to our reticence. I believe people really do want something extra in
their lives. There are many daily events we all experience from time to time
that illustrate this. It’s not just high profile events to which this applies.
Every day there are people experiencing desolation due to a bereavement of some
kind. And bereavement isn’t exclusively the loss of a loved one. Losing a job or
watching someone in pain and feeling helpless are both types of bereavement. And
there are many more. Let’s see if we can be part of fulfilling the need of the
bereaved, whatever that bereavement.
What next? During Lent, we put extra effort into praying, reflecting, reading
and worshipping. Perhaps some of these things proved themselves to be of
particular value and their absence has now left a gap waiting to be filled. So
with Lent packed away in its box until next year, this is probably a good time
to ask, “What next?”
There are already three Bible Study groups meeting regularly and a fourth
group is considering whether it might be possible to start a prayer or study
group. It has also been suggested that there might be a demand for a group
meeting less frequently, perhaps monthly, to reflect on material that members
have been looking at individually, such as a ‘Book of the Month’ or a short
course of study material.
The Education and Nurture Group will be thinking about this at their next
meeting. Please contact Deacon Jennifer if you have any requests or suggestions.
One of this Easter's highlights for me was going into St Mary's for the
11 o'clock Eucharist and just catching the end of the Celebrate! service. The
Church was absolutely full of families and friends, very peaceful as Fr Daniel
was giving the Peace. I also thought the Celebrate! Good Friday morning
service was well attended and congratulations to all who contributed to these
services, especially the singers, musicians and helpers. Well done.
Of course another highlight for me was the Chrism Eucharist at the Cathedral -
that really did make my heart sing!!
For many years now we have led 30 minutes of worship every Sunday afternoon
at 5.00pm in Bay Tree Court. Once a month it is a communion service lead by me.
On the other three weeks it is a Service of the Word with a set order of service
with four hymns and prayers. There is a resident of Bay Tree Court, who is a
Reader, and is always willing to help in some way. Our numbers are being
depleted both in leaders and people able to play the piano for the hymns. It
would be very sad if we had to reduce to a lower level of service. So we are
looking for volunteers to lead or play the piano once a month at this service.
Please contact any of the clergy if you feel you are called to help in this most
important ministry. In any event, please pray that we shall be able to continue
with a weekly service.
This Easter Prestbury URC again hosted the Parish Cross. Floodlit at night to
make even more of an impact, the Cross is a reminder to the village that there
is more to Easter than Easter Eggs. This year, the floral wreath was kindly made
by Dee Graham.
At the other end of the parish, similarly adorned, there was also a cross
placed outside the north window at St Nicolas’ Church.
Fr Michael, Fr David and Sarah Gardiner
On Easter Sunday we bade farewell to Fr David and Sarah Gardiner. They had
been with us since Petertide 2008 when Fr David was ordained deacon. A year
later he was ordained priest. In the last year Fr David has had full
responsibility for the congregation at St Nicolas’. Now he is to become a team
vicar in Richmond.
In customary style in Prestbury we had to have a party. There were tea and
cakes galore! Fr Michael described how he first met Fr David and recalled
several experiences. He thanked Fr David for all he had brought to us. Then came
a marathon session of offering gifts, the writer lost count how many. Sarah and
Fr David each gave a speech in return.
The afternoon ended with a Service of Farewell when we prayed for God’s
blessing on David and Sarah as they start the next part of their career.
Fr David and Sarah wonder how to open a present
After the tea there was a Service of Farewell
From one of our younger parishioners:
Father David leaving Prestbury will definitely leave a hole in the community,
for he has been a part of so many people’s lives, and has played a vital role in
the youth clubs across PPY.
Personally, he has helped me to grow in faith and in so many more ways during
his time here, and has put up with a lot of things, including being labelled
with the nickname ‘Bertie’! I know that he will continue to help others
throughout his life and will brighten up the community in Richmond greatly. I
will never forget all that he has taught us and always have the hilarious and
wonderful memories of his time with us.
Fr David with some of the young people from PPY
Photographs by John White and
How very different from a cold wet windy November morning! It was on a warm
and sunny afternoon in April that we gathered round Prestbury War Memorial for
its rededication. Following damage by vandals last autumn the restoration has
been carried out by Meister Masonry as a gift to the community of Prestbury; we
thank them for their generosity.
The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Right Reverend John Went, led the service,
assisted by clergy from St Mary’s, the United Reformed Church and Holy Name
Hall. Bishop John talked of war and the continuing need for peace in many places
in the world today, but said there are also times when we must fight: against
evil, against injustice. He prayed too that the memorial, raised again from
broken pieces, would stand as a reminder to us of Christ’s resurrection.
The names of those who are commemorated on the memorial were read out, and a
piper played the lament ‘Flowers of the Forest’. Representatives of the Royal
British Legion laid wreaths and presented colours. The Mayor of Cheltenham and
local dignitaries were also present. The service concluded with the National
Anthem and a blessing.
Picture by Stephen Murton
At the Annual Meeting of Parishioners held in St Mary’s Church on Sunday 22nd
April Janet Ford was elected to serve as churchwarden at St Nicolas’, filling
the vacancy left by Liz Greenhow. Margaret Compton was re-elected to serve for
Margaret Holman and Mary Turner were re-elected to serve at St Mary’s.
St Nicolas’ Church is normally almost full to capacity but that is on a
Sunday. This was Saturday evening on the occasion of our ‘Evening of
The event more than lived up to its name inasmuch as the audience was treated
to a variety of local talent in all respects. It is always surprising how much
of the above mentioned talent is possessed by those of us residing within our
parish and the immediate area .
It is not appropriate to single out individual performances because each act
in its own way was well executed.
Entertainment ranged from: piano duets, a violin solo piece, an Ivor Novello
song for soprano, Nicolympics performed in black and white by members of the
SNADS players plus extras, recitals of verse and much more.
Thanks go (or is that goo) to the organising committee for arranging this
event and may we look forward to the next one.
Janet Ford, our compere
An Evening of Entertainment
What a lovely ‘fun’ evening at St Nics on 14th April - we were entertained
with a variety of acts - you people have hidden talents!!!
The take on ‘The Artist’ - was brilliant and so amusing - the sketches were
amusing and the readings were good - particularly the Forest of Dean ‘Paradise
Lost’. All culminated in a rousing rendition of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ à
la Last Night of the Proms!!!! Please, can we have more of these
evenings? It was well supported and received by a good audience - some
churchgoers, some not. Thank you.
'At the Bus Stop' and ‘Nobody Loves
a Fairy When She’s Forty’
Photographs by Brian Wood
There is still time to sponsor Stephen Murton on his coast-to-coast walk in
aid of Prestbury and Pittville Youth, and the Friends of St Mary's. Please see
him at the various church services or Parish events, or alternatively you can
contact him by email with your name/address/postcode, amount and Gift Aid
Many thanks for your support.
From the Webmaster:
I hope to have photographs and progress reports, as well as maps available, on
this website during Stephen’s walk if he can get a signal or internet
connection. - www.prestbury.net
Most people who visit the
Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham do so to attend one of the big festival events,
or to make a pilgrimage that follows a time-hallowed sequence of worship and
devotion at the Shrine.
For a different experience, why not try Walsingham Bible Week? Five days of
biblical teaching and spiritual renewal in the company of other Christians.
This year’s topic is ‘The Profound Mystery – Christ and his Church’,
exploring the letter to the Ephesians.
Bible Week will take place during the October half-term, between Monday 29th
October and Friday 2nd November, and includes a programme for children and young
people. The cost covers four nights’ accommodation and full-board, from Monday
evening meal to Friday breakfast (£198 for adults; children under 16 and
Deacon Jennifer has attended previously and will be happy to provide further
information. Enquiries about Bible Week can also be made directly to the Shrine
- telephone 01328 824204. To book contact the Hospitality Department,
The Milner Wing, Common Place, Walsingham NR22 6BP; email: email@example.com;
tel: 01328 820239.
Members and friends of Prestbury Flower Arranging Club enjoyed a really
interesting talk by Yvonne Mort on Pressed Flower Craft back in March. Yvonne
has been making cards with pressed flowers for many years and selling them very
successfully to raise large amounts of money for charity. She treated us to a
most amusing evening and was glad to receive a cheque for £50 towards her
Friday 4th May is National Flower Arranging Day and we hope to place an
arrangement in the window of the Prestbury Village Stores, so do look out for it
and perhaps think about joining us for our Social Evening at Prestbury Hall on
Bouncers Lane on 21st May. The hall is open from 7pm with our meeting starting
at 7:30pm. It will be an opportunity for us to do some hands on arranging when
we attempt to arrange a floral ‘cake’ to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Visitors are welcome to join us and join in at a cost of £5 or just come along
for a chat, a slice of cake and a cuppa.
On Saturday 26th May at 2pm Mrs. Joan Britton is hosting a fund-raising
afternoon tea at her home, Cornerways, Bushcombe Lane, Woodmancote, to which
members and friends are cordially invited. Joan has a really lovely garden
which is well worth a visit and there will also be a bring-and-buy stall. If you
would like any more information on up and coming events do have a look on our
website www.prestburyflowerarrangingclub.com or contact Lindsey McGowan or
The Quiet Garden Trust
The Quiet Garden Trust was started in 1992 in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire,
and has since extended all over the British Isles, and to other parts of the
The movement consists of people who want to share their gardens or space with
others, for the purpose of being quiet and reflecting on the things of God such
as His creation. They can spend this time in prayer, Bible reading, drawing or
painting, or just relaxing, they can also bring someone else with them to share
If you are interested and want to know more and perhaps book a time, please
visit www.quietgarden.co.uk or
This article refers to the printed magazine and our previous editor of
over 13 years, Frances Murton. She usually had a page of her own entitled
It is not until someone leaves that we fully appreciate all that has been
done for us as we notice the void. Fr Michael and the rest of the clergy already
feel the absence of Fr David as they try to juggle their rotas to cover all he
used to do.
I am already noticing the void left by Frances as I get to grips with
preparing this magazine. Many documents and templates were handed over in the
past few months and as I look through them I can see much to be admired in the
way Frances organised herself and the magazine material. I also wish to add my
‘Thank you, Frances’. For this edition Kate Giles has helped me. We have broadly
followed the familiar style Frances set.
Frances had a way of nudging people to submit those time-sensitive articles
in the right month. I’m missing that. Perhaps you are the person to take on that
role in your congregation. It is not too late to push yourself forward to join
the new magazine team. There is plenty to do.
There will be changes in the way the magazine appears. Some you will readily
take to; some will grow on you and some you may find hard to accept. Change it
must. The new team will have to have the confidence to develop the magazine in
its own way. We are still uncertain who will make up this team. In the meanwhile
please continue to follow the instructions at the foot of this page. As the
webmaster I can easily change who is on the receiving end of our email address.
Please do not be surprised if an unfamiliar name replies to you!
Whatever you think, why don’t you write in to the Editor to make some
comments or suggestions of what you might like to read about in your magazine?
The flowers arranged by Lindsey McGowan at the War Memorial looked so lovely
I thought you would like to see them twice.
Often, in her corner, Frances used to share a thought with you. Here’s mine.
Recently I needed to collect a key from someone who was soon to be going out. He
told me he would hide it in his garden and told me where. When I got to the
right bush it took me a long while to find the key even though I knew it must be
there. Anyone not having been told would have had no idea there was a key.
Afterwards I thought, is this not like the way only some of us find God?
The Friendship Group has just had its first coach trip of the year which was
a great success. We went to Avening on the most beautiful afternoon in March,
and had a superb tea there.
I am pleased to announce that the next outing will be on July 4th to
Westbury-on-Severn, and for those who really like to ‘plan ahead’, on September
26th we will be going to Naunton. All our trips include a scenic coach ride to
the venue, followed by a scrumptious tea provided by the local WI. A stall is
usually set up to tempt us all with their home-made produce.
Apart from the coach trips, the Friendship Group also visits the over 80s on
their birthday with a small gift and card.
Gloria Druce-Gmys Chairman/Secretary Friendship Group
It is not very often that I miss a church football game. However, on the 24th
March I did, to go to a meeting at the Birmingham Hilton. This meeting was about
Noonan Syndrome from which I suffer. I had not been to one of these meetings
since I was about six years old. I was diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome at the age
of four. Not many people know about Noonan Syndrome although the number of
people in the UK with it is comparable to the number with Down’s syndrome.
Noonan Syndrome is a genetic disorder which can cause many different type of
problems, which include heart abnormalities, restricted growth, muscle and bone
problems, such as scoliosis, and sometimes learning difficulties. Most people
with this syndrome have a similar facial appearance, especially when they are
young. The Noonan Syndrome Association aims to help people with Noonan and their
carers, as well as supporting medical research and improving awareness of this
I found the meeting very interesting and talked to other people with the same
condition from many parts of the UK, including our south west region. I am
looking forward to meetings in the future.
The GHCT helps some of Gloucestershire’s churches by giving money to help
with repairs and upkeep. In 2011 grants of £100,000 were awarded. Annually the
trust holds a ‘Ride and Stride’ event to raise money. Last year some 296
participants from 101 churches raised £38,638. The amounts raised by the
churches were from modest levels to nearly £2,000. This may sound impressive but
does not go far when considering the sizes of grants needed. In fact, this is
the lowest total for some years.
This year the Sponsored Ride and Stride takes place on Saturday 8th September
2012. You can help in many ways:
- Ride or Stride to as many churches as you can and be sponsored as you go;
- Be sponsored in other ways, such as all-day singing, bell ringing, grass
cutting, sweeping paths, riding an exercise bike in church and so on;
- Be in church to welcome visiting riders and offer them refreshments;
- Generously sponsor the riders and striders.
The money you raise is shared equally between the Trust and any church of
your choice. So there is a double incentive!
See Nigel Woodcock in St Nicolas’ and Phil Dodd in St Mary’s for further
O LORD, I have
heard of your renown, and I stand in awe, O LORD, of your work. In our own
time revive it; in our own time make it known.
Habakkuk 3:2 (NRSV)
Habakkuk is one of the ‘minor’ prophets, one of the sequence of very short
books tucked in at the end of the Old Testament. It is only the books’ length,
or lack of it, that makes them ‘minor’; in life, each of these prophets was a
force to be reckoned with, as he delivered to his people the word of God for his
own time. Yet here we have such an unconvincing beginning to a piece of
prophecy! ‘Lord, I have heard of your renown ...’. No more than that? Who will
listen to a prophet who can only say he has heard about God?
Habakkuk’s was a smaller world than ours, but just as troubled. The mighty
Assyrian empire, so long the dominating force in the region, was crumbling
before the rising power of Babylon. The whole region was threatened by the
ruthless onward march of the Babylonian army, and the little state of Judah lay
in its path. The Babylonians ‘all come for violence ... they transgress and
become guilty; their own might is their god!’ (Habakkuk 1:9, 11). Closer
to home, there was little comfort: injustice was the rule, and things were a
long way from the righteous and compassionate society which the Law demanded.
Habakkuk dares to ask God, ‘Why? Why does God allow this?’ He knew so well
the stories of his nation’s conquest of Canaan, of David’s victories over all
Israel’s enemies. Then, God had been active to bring his people victory. Now,
‘when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they’ (1:13) why does
he not act again? Yet in spite of all, Habakkuk never doubts that God is still
righteous, that he still cares for his people, and that he willingly hears the
passionate complaint of his prophet.
Did Habakkuk finally get his answer? Not the one he wanted, or thought he
wanted. There was no comforting assurance that Judah would be saved from the
Babylonian war-machine. But as he persists in his struggle to understand world
events under the gaze of God, something fundamental changes for him; he is able
to give expression to his faith in a psalm of total confidence: ‘Though the fig
tree does not blossom and no fruit is on the vines ... yet I will rejoice in the
Lord, I will exult in the God of my salvation.’ (3:17-18).
In his courageous honesty, even (especially?) in his prayers, Habakkuk can be
a role model for us. Today’s world gives us plenty of reasons for asking
questions: so many natural disasters, so much injustice, so much suffering. When
we pray, it can be tempting to avoid asking the hardest questions, for fear of
angering God, even perhaps of finding that God has no answer. But God is ‘always
more ready to hear than we to pray’ and we should not back away from asking
questions. Like Habakkuk, we may need to wait for an answer, but we should not