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Prestbury Parish Magazine

December 2012 / January 2013

Cover photograph:
by  Guy Packer


Changed by Love

Editorial Team Corner

Pray the Streets Anniversary

PPY groups get off to a great start in 2012

Spot the message

A change for the better

Memorable Jubilee Raffle Prize

Mike at the Mike

David Smith

Celebrate! In musical fashion…

The Road to Rome

New band leads worship at St Marys

The Ministry of Spiritual Direction

A Country Walk

Prestbury Flower Arranging Club

Caption Competition

Aiming high to END POLIO NOW

Bible Reading Fellowship


Looking Behind the Text

Some articles from this month's magazine have been included elsewhere in the web site:

The Registers

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month


Changed by Love

This year the Christmas card which will be delivered to (I hope) all the homes in the parishes of North Cheltenham carries the image of the Christ child – baby Jesus – in the arms of his mother, Mary. It is what would probably be described as a ‘sanitized’ image of a fair-haired baby smiling contentedly, wrapped in a pristine white shawl. I am sure this is very far from the reality of the stable or out-building where Jesus was born and I think it would be unlikely that the baby had fair hair or that he was wrapped in a clean new shawl! However, what matters is the central truth, portrayed in this image and in a huge variety of different ways, that in the Christ child, God became one of us. Was born of a woman, like us. Lived his earthly life like us; experiencing joy and laughter, pain and sadness. With his birth the whole course of human history was changed and our lives are changed as well.

Perusing through the stock of a religious bookshop, amongst all the variety of Christmas material, I came across a simple book of poems entitled ‘Surrender at the Crib’. It was designed and printed at St Mary’s Abbey, West Malling in Kent. One poem, called ‘The Onlooker’, includes these lines:

All a surrender had to make,
all a gift to receive and bring,
all met the Christ Child
and were changed.

The poem speaks about all the different people and animals who made the journey to the Crib, who met God there in the little baby they saw lying in the manger, and whose lives were never the same again. At Christmas, the invitation is a very simple one; for each one of us to gather at the Crib. To bring ourselves as a gift and to meet the Christ Child and prepare to be changed. The poem continues;

Pause, then, by the crib,
reflect if here lies a message
for your life.
Is there a star you need to follow?
A situation to be let go?
A gift waiting to be given?
A new perspective to be discovered?

There are challenges for us all as we worship again the new-born king. What difference has his birth made to our lives? Is there a message there for us; something Jesus wants to say to us personally; wants us to know? Has his birth made a difference to our lives? Dare we hope that we will in some way be changed by our encounter with the God who shows his love to us in the little baby whose birth we celebrate? ‘Emmanuel’ – ‘God with us’.

Fr Michael



Editorial Team Corner

Welcome to our Christmas / New Year Parish Magazine.

“Please can we have some fun, and more light articles”?

This request comes from one of our loyal readers and contributors just days after the November Magazine went on sale.

“Yes, we can. The fun starts NOW with a Caption Competition”. The centre page article focussing on music and J.C.Supersound ‘fits the bill’ in our eyes for a lighter read.

We have also received feedback relating to specifics and layout of ads in our new look/new feel magazine. This is timely feedback, as we are on the brink of looking at our Marketing Strategy and your issues will be ‘on the table’ at our next planning meeting.

I am writing to you in early November and all around us nature is changing. Many of us prefer to live where there is a change of the seasons. British people are accustomed to seasonal variation and it is what we expect and what we are comfortable with. Deacon Jennifer explores the subject of ‘Change’ in some depth in her article. It is thought provoking, personal and interesting.

You will not be surprised to learn that our readers hugely enjoyed (and in some cases loved) the two personal accounts of ‘Remembering’ from Elizabeth and Barbara. Louise’s story was a resounding success with readers, and her photo ‘Said it all’. The most frequently heard feedback is: ‘The magazine is changing’. For many of us, the shift of change is exciting and something to look forward to, for others, it represents anxiety and can result in resistance.

Change is this month’s theme. Change is inevitable and has varying degrees. It has always been a constant in our lives. It is the rapid rate of change in our population and circumstances that has caused us all to question it more openly. No-one can deny that the Anglican Church and wider Anglican Community are experiencing profound change. The heart of the Church of England is in the Parishes and this is where we need to put our vision and effort. You will find examples on (Community Corner, and  CCP)

Long before the Editorial Team formed in June, there was an established magazine production team in place, working in the interests of the Parish. Comprising: Father Daniel, responsible for reading the draft, Kay and Simon in the Team Office, Cyril, Ken and Nigel overseeing printing and collating, Sue proofreading, Shirley in charge of distribution and money collection from our army of deliverers. Finally, and most importantly Brian, our webmaster and Man Friday, without whom we would have neither an electronic nor hard copy magazine! There are many reasons why this long serving team diligently carry out these vital tasks.

The changeover from Editor to Editorial Team has realised the following changes:

  • John and Beryl co-ordinate the Bible Page
  • Michael manages adverts and advertisers
  • Suzy is our roving reporter
  • Stella and Kate arrange the layout of the magazine
  • Father Mike and Diane provide photos and ideas for monthly themes
  • Jean hunts and gathers

In the New Year there will be the following changes:

  • Children’s Page
  • Contributions from Elevate and Synergy
  • New Deadline
  • Marketing Strategy

So as to deliver these changes we are actively looking for a Children’s Page co-ordinator and a third computer-minded person to assist with compiling the magazine. Please get in touch if you would like to be part of the ongoing development of our Parish Magazine. As usual we always welcome feedback.

Changed web-site

Our theme for February is Staying the Course, and for March, New Beginnings.

On behalf of the Editorial team I would like to sincerely thank our contributors and entire production team for their loyalty and unstinting service. We wish you and all our readers a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a joyous and healthy New Year.

Jean Johnson



Pray the Streets Anniversary

This time last year the Local Ministry Team suggested that the Parish make a New Year resolution to pray for every street in the Parish every month and thus the ‘Pray the Streets’ scheme was launched. The prayers are included in our church services, and many people also use the scheme at home. Thank you for continuing to take an active part in this prayer ministry. During the year we were joined by members of the United Reformed Church and other Christians living in Prestbury, and the scheme also had a mention in the Gloucestershire Echo

In the coming year we want to continue the scheme. More prayer cards are available in the churches if you need one, and there are now some bookmarks too – handy to slip into your Bible.

Perhaps you might like to offer a card or bookmark to a friend or neighbour, someone who maybe goes to a different church but lives in Prestbury and would like to join in praying for their area.

If you know of someone who has a specific prayer request, invite them to write it on a slip of paper and pin it to the prayer board in St Mary’s church. It will then be offered to God on their behalf at services during the week.

We could also invite people to come to church with us, either on a Sunday or midweek. Maybe they would like to come on the day of the month on which their street is prayed for. Check the weekly notice sheet or the parish magazine for details of service times at the two churches.

Frances Murton & Clare Wyatt, Local Ministry Team



PPY groups get off to a great start in 2012

For those of you who are curious we have four main groups as part of the charity.

  • Synergy, for those aged 14 and above, who wish to explore their faith more
  • Elevate, for those aged 11-14, who also wish to explore their faith.
  • The Chill, which is a drop in youth club for anyone aged 11 or over
  • Community Challenge, which takes a group of 14 year olds from Pittville School who are struggling in main stream education and offers them an alternative programme of activities to build their confidence etc.

So far over the past term we have seen all the groups partake in different activities.

Synergy was offered the opportunity to partake in a large worship event at Wembley Stadium, known as the national day of prayer and worship. A small group of us went along. The event itself was four hours of worship and prayer. There were approximately 40,000 other people in the stadium and it made an uplifting experience, if a little awe inspiring, to be in amongst so many other Christians all worshipping God together. We also stopped off for a McDonalds on the way home to replenish ourselves, and a special mention should go to Joe, our student worker, who managed a whopping 25 chicken nuggets, although I was fairly thirsty and also looked slightly odd ordering three drinks all for myself! Thank you to Richard for driving the bus for us.

Elevate too have had some fun with a social to laser tag in Gloucester. Needless to say being an adult at these events is definitely a disadvantage. I ended up on minus points as everyone kept shooting me. In other events Elevate joined with Synergy to have a bonfire night party with sparklers and a fire. Both Elevate and Synergy have also been following a programme of events that is helping aid their spiritual growth, and some young people have expressed an interest in becoming confirmed at the next confirmation which will be in the Easter period.

The Chill group also enjoyed a bonfire party and have been working on their teamwork skills through several of the activities we have been doing. Over the coming weeks, some of the young people that attend the Chill are sharing their skills with the group and teaching us things which they are good at, such as dance. At the Chill we have also enjoyed a bit of baking and creativity.

We have recently had our first session with the Community Challenge group, and they too have been working on team building skills with an aim to working together well enough to enable us to go out into the community and help others by doing activities such as clearing the churchyard at St Mary’s. If we succeed we will end up with a reward trip to Viney Hill for a day of outdoor activities.

This is what we have been doing so far this term, however we have an Upcoming event for which we would value everyone’s support. In December there is a youth service which is being planned and run by both the Synergy and Elevate groups. It will be on the 2nd December in the evening (timings to be confirmed). All will be welcome. Thank you to all the volunteers who help at the groups and to those who support in prayer; it has been much appreciated.

Hannah Bennett



Spot the message

There’s always a danger with modern and postmodern art to come at it with questions and comments that contain a lot of assumptions. “It is very attractive, but what does it mean?” or “I could have done that!” are two of the more common ones. Often these reactions say a lot more about us than about the art in question, and sometimes that is precisely why an artist has created it.

Damien Hirst’s famous spot painting series, spanning a quarter century (1986 – 2011) is a case in point. Speaking about them in 2001, Hirst said1: “I suddenly got what I wanted...a way of pinning down the joy of colour”.

You may have heard it said that the word “enthusiasm” originally stems from the idea of God within, literally en-theos-iasm. So to speak of the “joy of colour” brings us an awareness again of the created world and God’s desire that we should live in harmony with it, rejoicing as he does in all that he has made. It is a real pleasure to be able to display work inspired by Hirst’s spot paintings, produced by children at St Mary’s CofE Junior School, during December and January. I hope you will enjoy looking at these creations and through them have a renewed appreciation of our colourful world, into which Christ chose to be born.

1. Damien Hirst, cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’, Faber and Faber, 2001, p.119

Fr Daniel



A change for the better

Last September, I came to the end of my time as a Curate. My training with Father Michael was complete and Bishop Michael issued me with a new licence. I’d shown that I was able to do everything required in my new role as Team Deacon.

Yet although I’d reached the end of my training, it didn’t mean that I could stop learning. I’ve been taught to carry out specific tasks for specific purposes, but as time goes by, I’m finding that it’s rather like beginning a New Year. Some things remain the same, but there are also new challenges. There may be occasions when I might need to modify the way in which I do things, or even discover a completely different approach, in order to meet the needs of new situations and new people.

Those who have been part of the Church for a long time will have seen many changes during their lifetime. Congregations, which used to have one vicar all to themselves, are now likely to be sharing their Incumbent with a number of other parishes. Sunday Schools have been superseded by Friday clubs or Messy Church. Organ music has been supplemented by worship bands, or even replaced altogether by music on CD; and in almost all churches there are fewer people attending Sunday services than in years past. In some areas, church buildings which were once at the centre of community are facing closure.

Change is exciting, change can surprise us, but it can also be scary and a bit of a challenge. Changes we would have preferred not to make are sometimes forced upon us by circumstance, by the limitations of age or by the demands of family responsibility

Yet looking back, we realise that change has always been part and parcel of our lives and has often been something that we’ve welcomed. We change the car, redecorate the living room or buy a different brand of breakfast cereal. And when we browse our photo albums we have to admit that the young fresh faces smiling back at us from our baby snapshots are somewhat different from the faces we have now.

It really would be rather odd if we didn’t expect there to be changes in the life of our Church, because each one of us is in the process of being changed. God’s Holy Spirit is at work in all our lives, and he transforms us into the likeness of Christ.

John Henry Newman wrote: “In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” May the God of peace make us perfect in every good work to do His will, working in us that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Deacon Jennifer




Memorable Jubilee Raffle Prize at the Ellenborough Park

When visiting the flower festival held during the Jubilee weekend, I bought raffle tickets, and to my great surprise, I was the lucky winner of an afternoon tea for two at Ellenborough Park. I had no idea when I bought my tickets that this fabulous prize was on offer. Unable to go during the summer, we finally settled on 31st October. No tricks, but most certainly a treat!

Tea was served in the Great Hall, impressive with lots of comfy armchairs and settees and a log fire. We were shown to a low table already set out for tea, white linen tablecloth, napkins and with a reserved sign which made us feel special. Sandwiches with assorted fillings, scones plain and fruit, plus jam and cream, also dainty cakes, this was all presented on a silver three tier stand. Tea or coffee was also offered. We sampled everything, just about making room for one of the cakes - a lovely chocolate temptation.

The whole afternoon was an unforgettable experience and most enjoyable.

Maisie & Graham Shambrook



Mike at the Mike

On 28th October I did a thing that I have never done before; I got up in church during the Celebrate! Service and spoke about something important to me.

I suffer from Noonan Syndrome, and the 28th October is the birthday of Dr Jacqueline Noonan, the American paediatric cardiologist who discovered the condition in the 1960s. Noonan Syndrome is almost as common as Down’s Syndrome but not many people have heard of it. That’s why I did the presentation at Celebrate! The Noonan Association has designated 28th October to be Noonan’s Day, in order to raise awareness of this condition.

My presentation was in the form of an interview with Andy Macauly. We also put some information and pictures up on the screen. I was very nervous, scared and worried beforehand but determined to go ahead with it. Having Andy with me was a great help. One of the questions asked was, “What is the most difficult thing for you about having Noonan’s?”

I said it was being so short that people think I am still a child, even though I am now 31.

He also asked what helped me in difficult times.

I mentioned three things:

  • Firstly, being a member of the Noonan’s Association, which runs a helpline, organises get-togethers and raises money for research.
  • Secondly, all the support I and my family have received from people in the church, friends, acquaintances and neighbours.
  • Thirdly, and most importantly, knowing that God does not judge people by how good looking or clever they are.

When I had finished everybody gave me a round of applause and then Andy prayed for me and the work of the Noonan Association. I was very relieved, I felt the presentation had gone well and everyone had enjoyed it.

Later Fr Daniel and Margaret Holman asked me if I would do something similar at the 11 o’clock service and I hope to do that in the near future.

Michael Wyatt



Noonan Syndrome: What is it?

Noonan Syndrome is a complex genetic disorder and people with it tend to have distinctive facial features. Problems caused by the syndrome include; short stature, congenital heart defects, feeding problems in babies and learning difficulties

For more information about Noonan Syndrome contact the Noonan Syndrome Association (Reg. Charity No 1140671) at

Clare Wyatt




David Smith –

A Fond Farewell as our Director of Music Moves On……

As many readers will already be aware, David Smith played his last service for us at St Mary’s on Remembrance Sunday 11th November 2012. David had been our Director of Music since January 2009 when he took on the responsibility for the choir and for playing at services, including weddings and funerals.

But perhaps some might not be aware of David’s long standing relationship with St Mary’s. Aged just seven years, David joined the choir as a boy treble and was soon taking piano lessons with Malcolm McKelvey, the then Director of Music. A big and rather important decision at the time given that he had to choose between the Choir and the Scouts, both of which took place on a Friday evening. In time David also performed with the Cheltenham Youth Orchestra, Cheltenham Youth Brass and Gloucester Youth Brass. But it seems to have been at St Mary’s, and with Malcolm’s encouragement, that David’s abilities and love of Music were fostered. As a Tenor, David went up to Cambridge to read Music as a Choral Scholar at Peterhouse, yet still sang with the St Mary’s Choir during the holidays.

Several current members of the Choir fondly remember David in those early years. ‘He was so quiet’, ‘he was always very well behaved!’, and ‘he clearly had talent’. Perhaps not an obvious appointment, to take up the reins of Director of Music as a relatively new graduate, when several choir members recalled him in his pram! But David’s musicianship, non-critical manner, patience and hard work were to win the day. Not often perhaps that a prophet is recognised in his own land.

Recent comments from choir members include the following;

‘David has nurtured St Mary’s Choir with skill, patience and purpose, showing his huge ability to take on all forms of music and encouraging the choir to aim for high standards. He is a superb organist and teacher, quick to understand and help with problems.’

‘He has been marvellous for the choir, held us all together and brought us all on without favouritism.’

‘One feature of his ‘go-ahead’ mastership of the choir is his youthful passion for learning new works, particularly in his choice of anthems for Sunday morning service. This makes singing under his guidance both challenging and interesting.’

‘I really like the way that David explains the dynamics so that it all makes sense when we are singing. It adds a whole new dimension to the music.’

In a farewell message from Father Daniel, we heard about David saving the day at a wedding when, on receiving a call to say that there was no organist in church, he speedily cycled from his workplace in the High Street to greet the bride with ‘The Entry of the Queen of Sheba’. Such dedication and good spirit.

Whilst at St Mary’s David has also been extending his musical interests through the Cheltenham Bach Choir, the Oriel Singers and Voices2Go, with whom he recently performed extracts from ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and ‘The Impressario’. Certainly we will expect to hear more of such developments as his performing interests continue to develop.

But David is now making a career move to Leamington Spa where he will pursue his interests in digital downloads of classical music. We know he will be back to visit his family and friends, but in the meantime we all wish him all the very best for this new, and hopefully exciting and rewarding chapter of his life. And to mark the occasion the Choir had a rather excellent lunch party in his honour.




Celebrate! In musical fashion…

Singing as part of a congregation brings an extra dimension to worship. Augustine of Hippo is supposed to have said “Whoever sings, prays twice.” Worship is in the meaning of the words, but also in the physical act of singing. 

To continue our themed series of articles about Celebrate!, I recently spoke to the members of the Celebrate! Band, a group of musicians who are central to the worship every week. The main ‘lead’ band consists of adults and young people but a more recent development has been the creation of a Junior band called JC Supersound, including members from the age of 7 upwards. Here, Jerry Porter and Sharon Carley-Macauley tell us about both groups ….

started in October 2004, and the band has been an integral part of it from the very first service.  I've been coordinating the band since the beginning. The founder members who are still with the band include Sharon (on vocals), Nick (keyboard) and me (drums, mainly).  We have had a number of other long-term members since, most of whom moved on to attend university.

The current members are a varied group, not all of whom sing every week. Apart from the instrumentalists Nick and me, we have a flexible pool of vocalists who sing when they can.   Plus, not all of our band singers necessarily sing at the front on Sunday.  Either through personal preference or due to the need to look after children they are often more comfortable supporting the music from within the congregation and this works really well.  Our aim is to help anyone who wants to bring their musical gifts to Celebrate! to do so in whatever way works for them and for Celebrate!


Apart from the run-through immediately before the service each Sunday, we try to meet roughly one evening each month, partly to plan and practise for the next few services, but also to make sure that over time all band members become familiar with the whole Celebrate! song book.  Anyone who feels like a sing is very welcome to come along to these sessions (they're advertised on Facebook and Twitter), with absolutely no obligation to stand up at the front and sing on Sunday.  Anyone who comes to practice sessions also gets to choose some of their favourite songs to sing!

Sources of inspiration

We tend to choose music we know or have come across, which we think will work well for Celebrate! (Sharon is very knowledgeable here).  When it comes to music particularly aimed at children, we're very keen at the moment on the songs written by Stephen Fischbacher of Fischy Music.   Nick and I have also written some music especially for Celebrate!

Enjoyment and worship

I love everything to do with live music, including the technical side of setting up and operating the equipment.  The band is a great team to be part of - we have a lot of fun. And, last but not least, we are not giving a concert to an audience but are playing and singing as part of a worshipping congregation. This brings responsibilities - we must be sufficiently competent that we are not a barrier to, or a distraction from the worship. But it is also liberating, in that we are just bringing the best we can to the worship, with all of our imperfections.

To conclude….

Planning and leading Celebrate! rests with a fairly small team of people (though I'm glad to say more are stepping forward into those roles) and the effort needed to prepare and deliver a service every week is pretty relentless.

This is true of all the elements of the service.  We need to make sure the music helps to set the tone and style of Celebrate!, offering structure and shape to the service whilst complimenting the content, yet offering something to all age groups.

We are building up a useful number of singers, but it would be good to have a few more in the pool, particularly some more instrumentalists.  Guitar and electric bass would be particularly welcome, but we'll have a go at incorporating pretty much any instrument (not too many bagpipers please).  So… if you're interested please have a word with Jerry.  (And that's also true if you play keyboard or drums - it's good to ring the changes sometimes, as we have done recently with Andy Murton doing a great job on keyboard in Nick's absence.) 

Jerry Porter was talking to Suzanne Beadnell

The newest members of the Celebrate! congregation,
attending on the 11th November.



The Road to Rome


Richard presenting his talk

The evening of the 27th October was a special one for several reasons. Three years ago, "The Friends of St. Mary's" came into being. There were hopes and very definite doubts about its future. Some felt that people who were not churchgoers wouldn't be interested, and nobody could be certain of its success but the evening learning about the ancient Pilgrim Way from Canterbury to Rome settled the matter.

Richard Gould, a Prestbury resident who is not a member of any of our congregations, volunteered to give an illustrated talk on his summer spent, quite literally, walking, every step of the way from the Cathedral Close in Canterbury, through France, Switzerland and on down through Italy to St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Not only that, he planned and cooked a delicious menu of regional foods representing the countryside he crossed, accompanied by beer and wines to match. He showed slides to illustrate his travels, gave a charming and very personal account of his journeying, and in the interludes whilst we ate, he serenaded us with appropriate music on his accordion. I doubt if such an evening could be repeated. The only sadness was that for obvious reasons, he felt that he could not cater for more than fifty people.

This limit on tickets led to another special happening. The event was a complete sell-out. Ten people, at least, were unable to get seats -a very definite first for us.

The side pews in church were swung back to the walls to make room for long refectory style tables which were candlelit; candles were also on all the window sills so we needed the minimum of electric lighting. Richard Gould spoke so sincerely of the hardship of the medieval journey the pilgrims made, perhaps as an act of faith or thanksgiving. Sometimes it was a punishment for a crime committed, such as the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket. In some places, Richard trod the original flag stoned pathways and in the soft light, beneath our own ancient pillars and arches, the centuries of walkers seemed very close. He also commented on the relief he felt as he approached Rome which was mixed with a deep sadness that this incredible experience was about to end.

It was a remarkable evening, our congratulations and thanks go to Richard. The sum raised was slightly above £600.

All Friends of St. Mary's events are open to everyone, but there is a members’ website which keeps members up to date with projects we are involved in and early notice of forthcoming events. This autumn, Friends have paid for floor repairs in front of the Chancel, prior to the fitting of new carpet and will also cover the cost of removing dense moss and cleaning of the Upper Room roof, which our church architect very strongly advised in the last quinquennial review. If you would like more information, speak to our Chairman, Jim Mackie.

Lynda Hodges



New band leads worship at St Mary's

Thanks to Sharon Carley-Macauly for providing us with information about the new Celebrate! Junior Worship Band which has a great name  -  JC Supersound . The JC in the logo represents either Jesus Christ, Junior Choir, or Junior Celebrate; the children came up with the name.

Over a dozen children aged 7+ are involved in the new band, some as singers, some as musicians or percussionists and some who are getting involved with the ‘technical’ stuff. It’s all going really well and there’s a great atmosphere, as most of the children know each other and are beginning to form a 'group' with a real identity.

A typical practice session takes the shape of a warm up, learning a song, having a food and drink break, learning a second song and then finishing with a short bible thought or teaching slot. Last time this final slot led into some really enjoyable song-writing inspired by a recent song sung at Celebrate!.

Jerry Porter and Sharon regularly meet to work out what material JC Supersound can use, and Jo Baxter is also stepping up to get involved. The band has recently been approached by Lynda Hodges to perform at THE REAL CHRISTMAS and it is hoped that this will be a success.

JC Supersound is set to become an important contributor to Celebrate! and led the service on two occasions in October and November. They will also be leading worship on the 16th December so do come along at 9.30am if you want to see how they are doing! Please include JC Supersound in your prayers as Jerry and Sharon are really enjoying helping to develop this important work with the 7+ years children. They have had a great start, and we are all keen to watch God grow it.

Suzanne Beadnell




The Ministry of Spiritual Direction

When you read these words, I wonder what they conjure up in your imagination: an aged learned clergyperson giving advice on holy things or something which is available only to those in ordained ministry. What you may not know is that this ministry is available to all, is provided by gifted and trained lay and ordained people, and is something which is potentially life-giving and growth-giving to the whole church.

The ministry of Spiritual Direction has an ancient history and an exciting future. Right back from Christianity’s earliest days people have sought out others whom they perceive as being able to help them in their spiritual journey and their life as a Christian. People travelled far and wide to receive wisdom from the Desert Fathers and Mothers, for instance, and throughout the centuries great writers such as St Benedict, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Gerard Hughes and many more have shared their spiritual journeys with others, both in the books they have written, and in the conversations they had. Today there are still directors willing to accompany others on their Christian journey, and there is also training available for those who feel God may be calling them into this ministry.

But what is it? Spiritual direction is a way of meeting with someone - a spiritual director or guide - to share your thoughts and reflections about your faith. A spiritual director or companion is someone who has specific skills in listening, in helping you to reflect more deeply about your faith journey, and in helping you to reflect on your relationship with God. Spiritual direction – or spiritual guidance - consists of regular, confidential conversations with someone who will accompany you on your spiritual journey. The material for spiritual direction is not only to do with prayer but with the whole of your life experience. Its aim is to make you more discerning of the presence of God, in you and with you, so that you may grow into greater spiritual freedom to choose the way of life Christ is leading you into.

Could God be calling you into this ministry? If so, you may wish to consider joining the next two-year training course which begins in September 2013 or, if you are seeking someone as a director for yourself, please contact me, the Chaplain at Glenfall House – tel: 583654 or

Revd Felicity Bayne


A Country Walk

Saturday 20th October dawned clear and dry which was most fortunate as the preceding days had seen much rainfall. We were pleased to welcome a group of about 14 walkers from across the All Saints’, St Mary's and St Nicolas’ Churches .

We commenced our walk from Childswickham which is situated between Evesham and Broadway and enjoyed a route through a rural scene that included a mix of ploughed up fields, brassica crops and grass pastures, typical one supposes, of the autumn season. Interestingly thus far we followed the route of an ambling brook.

After an hour or so we made our way into the centre of Broadway, where we were able to sit outside a café and enjoy a coffee break. Yes, it was that warm!

Following this we continued our stroll out of the village and aimed in a NW direction which eventually led us back to our lunchtime venue, the Childswickham Brasserie where we hungry souls all enjoyed a country pub lunch provided by our host Kevin. We will be arranging a further country stroll/walk in due course so watch this space.

Nigel Woodcock



Prestbury Flower Arranging Club

Members and friends enjoyed a very different demonstration in October when Sue Dedman, a local florist from "Eden" of Bishops Cleeve came to show us some smaller, more manageable flower arrangements, suitable for decorating the house for Christmas and other occasions.

A very successful year for the club was rounded off at our Christmas demonstration on 26th November, when Barbara Priest came to entertain us with “A Winter's Tale”.

On 8th November, a number of Club Members went off to the “Longhope Experience” and were entertained by Beryl Griffiths and Bob Harris who gave a fun, festive demonstration in the church. Everyone then enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Latchen Room in the village.

We do not have a meeting in December, but hopefully many of our members will join us on Monday 28th January when we hold our AGM. Our meetings start at 7.30 pm and are held in Prestbury Hall on Bouncers Lane. Should you require any further information on future events do have a look at our website,

Lindsey McGowan



Caption Competition

Photo taken in Brockhampton churchyard, Herefordshire

Name a title which should embrace our Dec/Jan theme of CHANGE.

FIRST PRIZE = BOTTLE OF WINE or SIMILAR, donated by Father Mike.

Father Mike and Jean will judge the entries, which should be sent to  by Saturday 5th January 2013.  Entries arriving after 5th January will not qualify.

Winning entry will be announced in the February Magazine.



Aiming high to END POLIO NOW

In 1988, when Rotary International decided to take on a WHO initiative to try to eradicate polio by annually immunising every newborn child in the world, 1,000 people were contracting this killing, or severely paralysing, disease every day of the year. In 2012 there have been fewer than 200 new cases in the world, confined to only 3 countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, where immunising newborn babies has been made difficult through war, inaccessible terrain and tribal traditions.

During the last 25 years, many hundreds of millions of pounds have been raised by Rotary, and Rotarians in endemic countries have helped practically with immunisation days. Rotary is on the brink of achieving its goal but has been challenged to raise a further US$75,000,000 to complete the task of eradicating polio from the world.

Having just retired from 30 years of General Practice in Cheltenham, I felt that I wanted a major challenge to take on, before I became too old and unfit! Hence I shall be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340ft.) in Tanzania during the last week of January 2013. I shall be appealing for sponsorship to raise funds for my Rotary Club (The Rotary Club of Cheltenham) to make a substantial contribution to the END POLIO NOW campaign. I would be extremely grateful for any contributions (see you feel able to offer to assist our efforts to rid the world of one of its major diseases. Sponsorship forms will be circulated in church during December and January. (website: )

David Price



CCP (County Community Projects), with its Head Office at 15 Royal Crescent, Cheltenham, registered charity number 1043143, is one of Gloucestershire’s leading charities working with vulnerable children, young people, families and adults.

CCP was founded in 1989 by local businessman, Michael Ratcliffe, to help young homeless people in Cheltenham. While it has always kept at its core the notion of transforming the lives of young homeless people, over the years its remit has expanded and developed to include improving the lives of children, families and vulnerable adults across Gloucestershire. Never is this more apparent than each year in the run up to Christmas, when CCP staff, volunteers and residents, all pull together to make its Hamper Scamper Christmas Giving Scheme a bigger and better success than the previous year.

Christmas is always seen as a special time of year, but this isn’t always the case for everyone. The expense and expectation can place a real strain on any family, but particularly those with low incomes and difficult family situations. There are also many lonely and vulnerable adults who simply have nobody to be with at this time of year. CCP’s Hamper Scamper Scheme relies entirely on the generosity of donations and volunteers from churches, schools, community groups and corporate groups, to provide hampers and gifts to those who need them.

The mother of one Cirencester family was visibly touched by the generosity of the public who donated the gifts.  She was quite tearful as I handed the hamper over. She said that she had not expected anything like it.” (CCP staff)

My husband lost his job so we could only afford one present each for our four children. The gifts we got from the hamper we were able to put under the tree and tell the children they were from Father Christmas, thank you so much.” (Hamper recipient, Tewkesbury) 

There are a number of ways churches can help. We need donations of gifts for children, and food such as luxury boxes of chocolates and biscuits, food staples such as pasta, cereal, rice, and tinned goods such as tuna, soup, and meat. We also need help with sorting, wrapping and packing and delivering, as well as financial contributions.

To get involved with the Hamper Scamper Scheme, ring 01242 228999, email or visit

Dr Heather Sheridan (Community Fundraising Coordinator)


Bible Reading Fellowship

I have recently taken on the role of BRF church representative from Michael Cole. I have the details of regular subscribers and will distribute the new Bible Reading Notes when they arrive.

If anyone would like to consider subscribing to these helpful notes which encourage regular reading of a short Bible passage and a provided commentary, I would be pleased to let you have some sample copies and can increase our order at any time.

Wendy Price



Looking Behind the Text

During October at Evening Prayer we read the Second book of Chronicles. So much seems an arid, unrewarding catalogue of battles, slaughters, and kings who have deserted the way of the Lord or who have returned to the true path. However, it is worth occasionally pausing to look more closely. Take Chapter 12 verses 3 and 9.

“So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem and the people were without number who came with him from Egypt – Libyans and Ethiopians...... he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord.” (RSV)

Who was Shishak and why did he bring an army of Ethiopians against Judah? A little research reveals that he is now confidently identified with Sheshonq 1 (945 – 924). He was first monarch of the 22nd Dynasty in Egypt and of Libyan/Nubian tribal background and so it is not surprising for him to bring an army of Ethiopians and Libyans to support him in his efforts to subdue kingdoms on his northern border. His inscriptions at Karnak record a major military expedition against Israel and Judah. This confirmation of the Biblical account is reassuring as confirming the truth of the Biblical account. It also provides a glimpse into the power politics of the world at that time. Is it so different now?

Perhaps some readers might like to research the background, religion and identity of the tribes listed in Chronicles and Kings that loom so large in the Israelite conquest of Canaan – the Perizzites, the Amorites and the Hittites, the Hivites and the Jebusites (e.g. 2 Chronicles 8:7). Not only can we learn more about the world that existed in Canaan before the arrival of the Israelites, it might make us think about dispossession, ethnic cleansing and racial integration.

The New Testament text I have chosen is perhaps a surprising choice this time of year. “One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him’. Peter once again denied it; and at once the cock crew. (John 18:27 RSV).”

We read it regularly, not only at Easter, and we have heard the cock crow at performances of our Passion Play. It defines Peter and makes his later strength all the more convincing. But let’s look at the event itself. William Temple, in ‘Readings in St John’s Gospel’ makes the startling suggestion that the cock’s crow was not the cry of a bird but the trumpet sounding the ‘cock-crow’ which marked the transition from the third watch of the night called ‘Cock-Crow’, to the fourth called ‘Early’. This would make the Lord’s prediction in 13:38 more natural; “before cock crow” was a definite indication of time.

Whether we accept Temple’s version or not, close scrutiny of the event reminds us that the child born in a stable in Nazareth came into a real world, a world where news spread quickly (how soon the event of the servant’s ear being cut off had got around and become gossip), a world of ritual and custom where timing mattered, a society making a living under an occupying power. The individuals in the courtyard warming themselves round a brazier are flesh and blood witnesses to the tragedy taking place in rooms not far away. Can we so immerse ourselves in the story unfolding in the Gospels that we become participants – as a shepherd, a traveller, a maidservant or an innkeeper?

John Elliott




Coming up at St Nicolas’

Sunday 2nd December is Advent Sunday and at St Nicolas at 9.30am we will welcome the Archdeacon of Cheltenham, the Ven Robert Springett, who will preside and preach at the Advent Sunday Sung Eucharist.

On Sunday 9th December we will celebrate St Nicolas, one of our patron saints. This is the nearest Sunday to St Nicolas’ day and will be a good opportunity for the worshipping community at St Nicolas’ to celebrate all that they share together as God’s people.





THE REAL CHRISTMAS afternoon is on Saturday 8th December, from two o’clock to five o’clock. We want to think about families this year. Mary and Joseph were obviously thinking about becoming a family, we have our own immediate family, our extended family, and also our church “Family” and the people we try to help in far off places who then become our greater family, whom we think of, and worry about. There will be all our usual activities and Christmas music

Hilary Brick and Lynda Hodges



Prestbury Mothers’ Union

On Tuesday 4th December at 6.30pm, we are invited to The Vicarage by Fr Daniel, Sarah and Joel. We will be enjoying a bring-and-share finger buffet, a glass of wine and each other's company.

Our first meeting of 2013 will be on Tuesday 22nd January, at 7.30pm, at St Nicolas' Church, when we welcome Beryl and John Elliott, who are coming to tell us about 'Prestbury History'. Everyone is invited to this meeting.

Sylvia McKenzie, Branch Leader



The World Vision Alternative Christmas Card Scheme

is to be available once again this Christmas at St Mary’s. Instead of sending individual cards to all your church friends, just bring one card with your greetings to display in church, and make a donation (which may be Gift Aided) to World Vision for the relief of existing widespread poverty and starvation.



St Lawrence’s Church,
Swindon Village
Christmas Tree Festival

“A Sporting Christmas”

Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th December
11.00am to 5.00pm

   + Admission £2 for adults; accompanied children free.
   + Christmas Hamper Raffle Christmas goods for sale
   + Refreshments
   + Vote for your favourite tree

Profits to St. Lawrence’s Church Restoration Fund


Sunday 6th January 2013 at 4pm
St Nicolas' Church, Swindon Lane

We shall celebrate this day with a service of Light and Taize.

There will be a cup of tea afterwards.
Please come and bring a friend.

There will be no Evensong at St Mary's that evening


The Epiphany Supper

Unusually, Epiphany falls on a Sunday and because St Mary's Church will be occupied all morning by our services, and other Churches in the team will have services at later times, it is just impossible to get everything done for a supper in the evening, or straight after the morning services. With much sadness we have decided to miss out this year, but next year we hope to be back to the usual plan and timing.

Lynda Hodges




Please join St Nicolas'

Celebration of Christmas



Christmas Readings


St Nicolas' Church, Swindon Lane

Tuesday 18 December  at  7pm

A warm welcome to all




St Mary’s Bakestall

We were able to send £50 raised by the October bakestall to Save The Children in response to their Syrian Emergency Appeal.

With the help of the G-M team and your support for our stall on 18th November, our total giving for the year will be in excess of £500. Thank you to everyone who has baked and bought to make this possible.

Next Year, our bakestall falls on Sunday 20th January when ALL THREE teams are invited to give a head start to our fundraising.

Margaret and Linda




Community Corner,
Prestbury Village Stores

This project was launched on Tuesday 24th April 2012. It is a ‘Drop in Centre’ for coffee and book exchange. It is also a chance to enjoy a chat. It runs from 10am-11.30 am.

DO come and join us on a Tuesday each week and please bring you friends and neighbours.

Doreen Morris





Prestbury Parish Magazine - December 2012 / January 2013

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The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933

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