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Prestbury Parish Magazine

June 1999

.. the keys of the kingdom of heaven
You are Peter… I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 16:18-19.



Pilgrimage to my in-laws ...

All Saints, Cheltenham

Rockers’ Half-Hour

Servant and Shepherd

St. Nicolas’ Vestry

News from Pastoral Care & Common-Life

Outreach & Mission Group - Magazine Questionnaire.

The Parish Pilgrimage to Walsingham

Parish Pet Profile

News from Education & Nurture

Finding our way round the Bible - Part 3

The Christian Aid Sponsored Walk

Japan …

Alleluia! 99 Faith for the Future

Poetry Corner


Pilgrimage to my in-laws ...

In the old days, before I took God's shilling, I used to be a long distance lorry driver, an occupation which consists in many journeys and much thinking. It is a life which has many drawbacks, but amongst its privileges is the regular opportunity for contemplation, both of oneself and of the world. This is one of the things that I miss most, now that I have traded my eighteen wheels for two, for few are able to enjoy such a life of reflection.

Instead, we make pilgrimages. Last month saw two pilgrimages to the shrine at Walsingham, a quiet parish pilgrimage, and a packed national adventure. Some will be making the pilgrimage to Glastonbury in July, others yet to the Holy Land, or to Oberammergau next year. Santiago, Medugorje, Canterbury, the choice of destinations for the potential pilgrim is great, but though many choose to make their goal a recognised and established 'holy place' we must not lose sight of the essence of pilgrimage, in that it is a journey, often hard and costly, away from the familiar, into the unknown. Only by such an exercise can we open ourselves to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by letting go of what we think we know and allowing ourselves to become informed.

Pilgrimage is therefore a metaphor for our journey through life, and like life, it is often enlightening but testing, with not a little frustration and hard work along the way. Jesus' disciples continued their lives as apostles when they were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, right at the moment when they were least certain of what the future held for them. They were 'inspired'. To be true pilgrims, we must let go and leave behind the conventional, and make our whole lives into a journey of discovery, a journey of faith. (Romans 12:2)

I enjoyed my recent break, especially the trip to visit my in-laws. It was good to be on the road again ...

Fr. Paul.


All Saints, Cheltenham

Over the past six months, discussions have been taking place between the Archdeacon of Cheltenham on behalf of the Diocese and with parish representatives delegated by the Parochial Church Councils of the parishes of All Saints, Cheltenham and of Prestbury.

After a great deal of discussion and much prayer, and with the agreement and necessary support of both the PCCs, I have agreed to the Bishop’s suggestion that I should become the Priest-in-Charge of All Saints’ Church, Cheltenham in addition to my duties as Vicar of the parish of Prestbury.

The intention is for us straightaway to seek a priest who is looking for a limited ministry, and who would come as a curate in charge of All Saints, with the parsonage house in exchange for duty. This would suit an active priest in early retirement or, possibly, a priest who might want to pursue a job or role outside the parish for some of the week, but who would live in the All Saints’ Vicarage free of charge in return for ministry on Sundays and part of the week. My role, ultimately, will be to have oversight of this situation.

My Institution as Vicar of All Saints will take place on Thursday June 24th at 7.30 pm. I do hope that many from Prestbury will be free to come, and I would ask your support - both on the day and in your prayers.

We are indebted to all who have taken part in these delicate negotiations. The situation will be reviewed annually, and members will have their opportunity to comment prior to the review.

All Saints is at a cross-roads. They are very well served and supported by the retired clergy within the locality, but certainly they need the care of a full-time pastor in the near future.

Fr. Stephen.


Rockers’ Half-Hour

Our aim at Rockers is to introduce young children to the atmosphere of the Church and to provide a happy environment in which they can make new friends, sing, play and hear Bible stories.

Anyone with responsibility for a young child aged from birth to school-age, be they the child’s parent, grandparent, other relation, friend or child-minder, is welcome to come to Rockers.

Toys are available for the babies and toddlers during the break.

Rockers in Winter

Sharing Reg’s Biscuits During the Break.

Rockers’ Half - Hour started in June 1975 with a small group of mothers and young children around the piano in St. Mary’s church.

For Mothers
with their under-5s

Action Songs Bible Stories

Tea and Toys

On Thursday afternoons during term-time
2.00 - 2.45 pm in St. Mary’s Church

For further information
please contact:

Frances Murton
Susan Banks

Our weekly meeting takes the form of an informal service, with the children taking part if they wish. There is a short break part way through for the older children (aged 3 & 4 years) to listen to a Bible story and do some relevant creative work.

There is a cup of tea for the adults during the break, and an opportunity to chat with one another.

There is usually a member of the clergy present at Rockers, should you have any queries.

Rockers in Summer

A Sunny Garden Party at the Vicarage.

Photographs by Rose Davison.

Rockers’ Half-Hour.

This month Rockers celebrates its 24th birthday. If any former Rockers (parents, ‘children’, helpers etc.) would be interested in a Silver Jubilee Reunion in June or July 2000, please contact me as soon as possible, and preferably by the end of August, so that I can start organising it.  I suggest a social gathering of some sort, with food, and a short service in St. Mary’s church.  I should also like to start compiling a ‘Where are they now?’ list.

Frances Murton.


Servant and Shepherd

One of the great delights and surprises at ordination is the tremendous number of letters and cards that arrive, most promising the sender’s prayers and many offering a few words of encouragement, hope and advice.

I have treasured the letter from my first training Vicar. His advice was, ‘never handle holy things lightly’. He explained that he meant not only the Word of God and the life and Sacraments of the Church, but also all people – holy by their very creation.

I don’t think that I could better this advice as Fr. Paul comes to the moment of his being made a priest. The Church, the Body of Christ, like any living organism, continues to change and reform, as it always has done, but the essential requirement of the priest is unchanging: to be a faithful and loving pastor.

On Saturday July 3rd at 6.30 pm Bishop David of Gloucester will come to St. Mary’s to ordain Fr. Paul priest.

We shall welcome Fr. Richard Hoyal as preacher. This is doubly appropriate as Fr. Richard is vicar of St. Margaret’s, Ilkley, Fr. Paul’s home parish. Fr. Richard is also Diocesan Director of Ordinands in Bradford Diocese, and therefore has played a large part in Fr. Paul’s selection and approval for training as an ordinand.

To the best of our knowledge, this will be only the third time since the Reformation that there has been an ordination in St. Mary’s.

Fr. Stephen.

Fr. Paul’s First Eucharist

In order to celebrate the occasion when Fr. Paul will preside at the Eucharist for the first time, our arrangements for Sunday July 4th will be slightly different.

We shall have one joint service, uniting the parish, at St. Mary’s at 10.30 am, followed by a special celebration lunch at St. Nicolas’, using hall, church room and church.

Tickets will be required – not to restrict numbers but to ensure adequate catering.

We do hope that you will come to support Fr. Paul with your presence and prayers.

Ordination of Paul Kish, Saturday 3rd July 1999

As is the custom of the Parish a presentation from the congregation for Fr. Paul’s future ministry will be made. Anybody wishing to make a contribution should contact a Churchwarden or Warden, by 20th June at the latest.

Bob Lyle.


St. Nicolas’ Vestry

During the course of last year, St. Nicolas’ vestry has been completely refitted. This has involved new fitted cupboards, sink unit, bookshelves and wardrobes. A new carpet has been laid, and members have kindly helped redecorate, fix coat hooks, etc. All this was made possible by a gift in memory of Diana Pratt, a loved member of our parish, who sang in St. Nicolas’ choir.

In addition, a splendid oak vestment chest has been given in memory of Fred East, a wise member and Reader at St. Nicolas’.

On Sunday 6th June during the 9.30 am Family Eucharist the Ven. Hedley Ringrose, Archdeacon of Cheltenham, will preach and dedicate these memorial gifts. Archdeacon Hedley will also preach at St. Mary’s at 11.00 am.

Fr. Neil Heavisides,

Residentiary Canon and Precentor of Gloucester Cathedral, will be our preacher on Sunday June 20th at 9.30 am at St. Nicolas’ and 11.00 am at St. Mary’s.


News from Pastoral Care & Common-Life

Coffee at St. Mary’s

By the time you read this, coffee will again be being served after the 11.00 am Eucharist at St. Mary’s. We have decided that this should happen on a weekly basis and hope that many of you will be able to stay, if only briefly, to continue the fellowship that has been enjoyed during the Eucharist. Lots of you stay and chat outside the Church, so why not do so over a cup of coffee? We also feel that we should take the opportunity to invite visitors and newcomers to stay for coffee. This will give them a chance to meet other members of the congregation, rather than just snatching a very hasty conversation with the clergy in the ‘handshaking line’!

Please support this, so that it can become part of our normal Sunday pattern. A rota of volunteers has been prepared, but there is still the opportunity for you sign up - the more there are, the better. Please speak to Margaret Holman, who is co-ordinating the rota.

Care for one another

Three Sunday congregations, (8.00 am, 9.30 am and 11.00 am) and also those who attend on Sunday evening and during the week, all add up to a large number of people to care for within our church family. The Pastoral Care & Common-Life sub-committee, and also the clergy, have recently been discussing how best we can be aware of all our members, and how we can effectively extend pastoral care to any of them, as and when they need it. This is a delicate task which needs to be handled sensitively, but is very important if no-one is to feel they are un-noticed or un-cared for.

One of the things we are considering is setting up a series of ‘link people’ in each congregation. They will in turn be linked to a small group made up of individuals, couples and families. This linking would be very informal. The whole group would not need to meet at all, although it would be wonderful if they wanted to. The advantage would be in having the link person as a kind of channel, particularly between the group and the clergy, and vice versa.

This is very much in the early stages of consideration and would probably be introduced for an experimental period of perhaps a year. Of course, you will all be kept informed and will be consulted before anything is begun. Please think and pray about this and do pass any thoughts to a member of the committee or to the clergy.

Fr. Michael.


Bryan Ashmore.

It is with sadness that we note the death of Mr. Bryan Ashmore on 1st May. Bryan joined the Congregational (now United Reformed) Church in Deep Street when he moved to Prestbury in 1966, and has been a loyal member ever since. He became an elder and was also church secretary for many years.

Many of us at St. Mary’s and St. Nicolas’ met Bryan through the various ecumenical services, both in church and at the war memorial, and Lent study groups, some of which he hosted at his home.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Bryan’s family and many friends in the village.

Frances Murton.


Outreach & Mission Group - Magazine Questionnaire.

As part of our work, members of the Outreach & Mission Group are looking at how we in the Parish communicate with one another. We agreed to look at the Parish Magazine and to find out what the readers really want. We are working with Frances Murton, our editor, who has already worked hard on the content and presentation. It may be that readers are quite happy with the status quo, but we need to look towards attracting a wider readership. Will you help us in our examination of the content and format of the magazine by filling in the enclosed questionnaire?

There are (and have been for a couple of weeks now) some copies of alternative magazines in the two churches for your perusal. They may help you in filling in the questionnaire.

You will not be approached by a cold call or junk mail as a result of helping us! Thank you for your help.

Daphne Philpot.

[Editor’s note: as an experiment, Brian Wood has put some parts of the May magazine on to a website,  and hopes to do the same with the June magazine.  Please let me know what you think about this.]


The Parish Pilgrimage to Walsingham

My first experience of a pilgrimage weekend at Walsingham was one of peace and serenity despite the fact we were accompanied by 120 children taking part in their own lively and interesting Stepping Stones programme. It was lovely to join with them for a service on the Saturday evening when they displayed the work they had done during their afternoon activities, before the torchlight procession around the beautiful grounds and Benediction. After all they are the Church of the future.

Leisure time on the Saturday afternoon found us taking a long stroll through the woods followed by an invigorating walk along the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea.

Sunday leisure time involved a pleasant drive through the Norfolk countryside to visits friends of Fr. Stephen and Vicky and for a lovely afternoon tea.

All weekend there was a feeling of friendship and belonging - in the village and at the beautiful parish church on Sunday. Even standing in the long queue for our meals brought its rewards as it gave us the opportunity to meet and chat to people from many different places and walks of life.

Barney and I look forward to our next visit.

Margaret Bell.

It was into the unknown for me, for a first-timer Walsingham bound, with Gill, David and Jean. We arrived late and were guided to our "cells", very comfortable basic rooms with all requirements near at hand. Sortied to "The Bull" for a drink, then Good Night!

The relaxing atmosphere of the gardens and buildings were quickly felt and the following breakfast (and all subsequent meals) was very adequate and sustaining.

Our own little Communion service in the little Holy House within the Shrine Church wrapped all of us into a cocoon of mutual togetherness.

The five mile trek at Wells-next-the-Sea led by Father Stephen through fine woods and on the sands gave us the physical effort to balance the spiritual uplift we were getting at Walsingham.

The candle procession after the Saturday evening service was particularly memorable and the joyful voices of the seventeen pilgrims from Prestbury could be heard loud and clear.

Roger Ashman.

Strange, how each pilgrimage to Walsingham is a unique experience (admittedly we have only been three times). They are all, of course, based on the Shrine and its constant, re-assuring round of worship, Mass, prayers, sprinkling, Benediction, Exposition, Stations of the Cross. When you talk to fellow pilgrims you realise that the effect is always the same enfolding sense of well-being.

Free time? As much or as little as you need, to think or read, to sit or wander, to be alone or enjoy company. (We enjoyed the Oxford Stores!) The choice is yours! With Fr. Stephen as guide you can see many of Norfolk’s churches and beaches in a couple of afternoons.

Slight misgivings over Stepping Stones (130 children on their own pilgrimage which coincided with ours) were soon dispelled and it turned out to be a bonus, adding another dimension to our long weekend.

Raymund & Margaret Waker.

O Happy Band of Pilgrims!

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is known as ‘England’s Nazareth.’ It all started in the 11th century when Lady Richeldis saw a vision of Mary, Jesus and their Holy House. She built a replica of the Holy House at Walsingham but it was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It has now been rebuilt and has become a place of pilgrimage. Some pilgrims came from Prestbury for the weekend.

As well as lots of services and visits to the Shrine, we also had some free time. Picture this: a sandy beach in East Anglia. A group of people with a small black dog. Another group of people coming in the opposite direction. A small girl running from the second group waving madly. Yes, these were the Prestbury Pilgrims (some in wellies, some bare-foot)! The Porters hadn’t set off at the same time as the rest so they all met up on the beach. And everyone was glad to see everyone else. At the end of the walk, ice cream was consumed by most two-legged members of the party!

One of the services at the Shrine we went to was the Sprinkling from the Holy Well. This consisted of some prayers, a short sermon and then some Holy Water to drink, on your hands and on your forehead (in the sign of a cross). The Last Visit to the Holy House was on Monday morning. We went into the Shrine and said some prayers. Then everyone said good-bye and left to come home to Prestbury. I thought it was very enjoyable to be with everyone else, and I would like to go again.

Kathryn Porter, age 10.

Photographs by Margaret Holman.


Parish Pet Profile

This month’s pet belongs to Mark.

My Hamster

My hamster is called Beatrice. (Beety!) She’s a she! I think she’s one and a bit years old. She’s a golden type of breed because her fur is gold.

I have to clean her out every week just in case she does anything messy! In her cage there is her potty, her house, her wheel, her water bottle, her food bowl and her salt wheel to give her more energy.

A while ago I had to give Beatrice to Kathryn because I had gone to France. She enjoyed her stay with Kathryn!

When I take her out of her cage I let her roll in her ball, walk on the floor or climb down my back.

Our cat is not too keen on the hamster. She spends a lot of her time watching..... BEETY!

By Mark F, aged 10.


News from Education & Nurture

Confirmation Preparation

Two groups are now either underway or about to start. A small group for young people is meeting on Wednesdays, 5.00 - 6.00pm in the Church Room at St. Nicolas’. A small group of adults will begin meeting this month, initially on Thursday evenings, although the evening and venue might vary. It is still possible to join either of these groups; please speak to Fr. Michael.

The candidates will be asked to find themselves a Sponsor. Sponsors should be members of the congregation; someone who will support the candidates during their preparation with prayer and also perhaps by joining some of the preparation sessions. The Sponsor might also be someone the candidate can speak to about their faith; someone who can give important support both during the time of preparation and after confirmation, as their Christian life continues to develop. Please respond positively if you are asked!

House groups

Two groups have now started; a Wednesday morning group led by Sue Read and a Thursday evening group led by Peter Brown. They are both using material on the theme of ‘The Fruits of the Spirit’ (very appropriate at this Pentecost season!). The sessions include some input from the leaders, some Bible Study, lots of discussion and also some prayer time. (Tea and coffee are also included!) It is not too late to join in - each week’s material will work in isolation. Once you come along, hopefully you’ll be hooked and then the groups will be able to continue with other subjects. If you have any suggestions about topics or material, or would like to take part, speak to one of the leaders or to Fr. Michael.


Twilight Zone Update

Another term of Parish Youthwork is now well under way as the Twilight Zone continues to thrive by the grace of God alone, without a youth worker or sufficient volunteers to be certain to keep it running every week. (Offers of help ring Fr. Paul.)

The New Year began with the rediscovery of the facilities locked away in the cupboards and buried beneath piles of junk as we sought to amuse ourselves on those long cold Winter evenings. There’s nothing like being stuck indoors to rekindle the delights of board games and running around in the hall chasing an egg shaped football or playing basketball with a flat ball that doesn’t bounce and no hoop to aim for anyway. Snooker can be quite difficult with no chalk or tips on the cues, and table tennis similarly difficult if all the balls are dented and the bats stripped to bare wood.

Clearly it was time to do some shopping for bits and pieces, and the arrival of multicoloured ping-pong equipment and snooker chalk, as well as some new balls and a valve to inflate them, made a significant difference to our club nights in the hall. The restoration of the basketball hoop was high on the agenda and this was achieved with the promise to use sponge balls for football so as not to damage the lights or break the ceiling tiles. It would seem that there is only one man in Gloucestershire who knows how high such a hoop should be from the ground, and it took several ’phone calls to sports shops and gymnasia to find him!

Our prowess at sports and games ever developing, it was time to stretch our minds a little with a quiz, before stretching our pockets and our patience with a trip to Swindon to go ice-skating. Having made a brief tour of Swindon’s industrial estates by moonlight in a double-decker ’bus, we were really in the mood to get our skates on and play the game of "see who can make Fr. Paul fall over on the ice", but despite the relative simplicity of the task, success was elusive.

A party complete with cake and children’s games was the highlight of the new half term, something that was always likely once one of our members had ‘let slip’ that his birthday fell on a Friday in 1999. Musical chairs is an interesting game to play with teenagers once they have remembered the rules (rules?!). Such furious activity could only lead to more of the same, and we played our part in Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day by holding a sponsored row on a machine in the hall. Nearly everyone chanced their arms (and their backs and legs) and we managed to raise about seventy pounds. Thanks to all who involved themselves in this venture.

Physical activity now seemed to be the order of the day, so we went to the artificial ski slope in Gloucester to learn a new skill and try out this exhilarating sport just a few miles from home. Nearly forty people came along and though most were beginners under the careful and experienced instruction of the staff there, others were able to demonstrate what a few weeks in the Alps have done for their downhill coordination.

We finished last term with a Karaoke and disco night at the church hall. Unfortunately, some people thought it might be good fun to volunteer certain of the leaders to sing to them the favourites of yesteryear while they looked on. Apparently, if you’re over twenty-one, it must mean that you are completely familiar with the music of the fifties and sixties. ‘Day jobs’ are unlikely to be given up.

Now we have begun our Summer term in earnest, and look forward to all the wide game opportunities that long Summer evenings will bring. In the meantime, we have held a snooker tournament to coincide with the other one at the Crucible Theatre, and experienced the thrills of pyrography, burning designs on to pieces of wood with special ‘hot-tipped’ pens. We continue to run ourselves ragged on Friday nights at St. Nicolas’ and consume vast quantities of tuck, and look forward to playing rounders in the park if the weather is good and bowling again at the Cotswold Bowl. Rumour has it that the new half term will involve some ‘keep fit’ activities, a wide game on Nottingham Hill, a barbecue, and another Karaoke/Disco to wind up the year, as well as all the usual bat, ball, and basket fun on offer, but these may well depend on whether anyone reading this would like to volunteer to come and help supervise now and again before they feel a certain curate’s hand on their shoulder ...

Twilight Zone is for 11-15 year olds and usually takes place at St. Nicolas’ Church Hall on Fridays in term-time from 7.45 pm ’til 9.15 pm.

Enquiries, ideas and suggestions ever appreciated. See you in ... the Twilight Zone.

Fr. Paul.


Finding our way round the Bible - Part 3

The Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books.

The word 'apocrypha' comes from the Greek apokryptein meaning 'to hide away'. Apocrypha are outside the accepted canon of scripture, not considered divinely inspired but regarded as worthy of study by the faithful. Deuterocanonical works are those that are accepted in one canon but not in all. (Deuterocanonical can also mean 'added later'; some of the books in the New Testament come in this category.)

At the time when Greek was the common spoken language in the Mediterranean region, the Old Testament - the Hebrew Bible - was incomprehensible to most of the population. For this reason, Jewish scholars produced the Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament books from various Hebrew texts, along with fragments in Aramaic, into Greek. That version incorporated a number of works that were later identified as being outside the authentic Hebrew canon.

The Christian Church received its Bible from Greek-speaking Jews and found the majority of its early converts in the Hellenistic world. The Greek Bible of Alexandria thus became the official Bible of the Christian community, and the overwhelming number of quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament are derived from it.

From that day to this, Christians do not agree about the exact canonical status of certain parts, known as the Apocryphal books. Throughout the Middle Ages, these books were generally regarded as Holy Scripture in the Roman and Greek churches, whereas Protestants denied canonical status to all books not in the Hebrew Bible.

The history of the Old Testament canon in the English Church has generally reflected a more restrictive viewpoint. Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles of religion of the Church of England (1562) explicitly denied the value of the Apocrypha for the establishment of doctrine, although it admitted that they should be read for their didactic worth. The first Bible in English to exclude the Apocrypha was the Geneva Bible of 1599. The King James Version of 1611 placed them between the Old and New Testaments. In 1615 Bibles without the Apocrypha were not allowed to be issued; but in 1644 the public reading of these books was forbidden. And so it goes on. © 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica (abridged).

Anyway, here they are in case you are interested:

  • Tobit; Esther (Greek version); Wisdom of Solomon; Sirach (Ecclesiasticus); Baruch; Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men; Susanna;

    Bel and the Dragon; 1 & 2 Maccabees; 1 & 2 Esdras; Prayer of Manasseh.

No, you don't have to learn them!



Thank you

to all who collected for

Christian Aid.

£3710.10 to date.

Paddy Spurgeon & Gill Ashman.

Christian Aid

Many thanks to all who joined our teams at both ends of the parish to collect from house to house during Christian Aid week. The parish grand total (so far) amounts to £3710.10, raised as follows:-


St Mary's


St Nicolas'





Cake Stall




Sunday School/Club




Coffee evening








May Day Walk (combined total)  



Thank you for all donations received, and to all who helped count the total money.

Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon.

The Christian Aid Sponsored Walk

On Bank Holiday Monday (3rd May) mummy and I did the Christian Aid Sponsored Walk. This was the third one I had done. Just before we left my friend Natasha called to see if I could play. I told her what I was doing and she decided to come too.

We met the others at Highbury Church, then drove to Sandy Lane, which was the start. We set off at 11 o’clock. The weather was lovely - nice and warm but not too hot. There were a lot of us walking, from lots of different Churches in Cheltenham.

The first bit was really hard, up a steep hill. Mummy had to stop three times to get her breath back! Once we got to the top it quite flat. We saw lots of butterflies, flowers and sheep. We even saw a dead adder!

When we got to some ruins we sat down and had something to eat. There were lots of lambs in the field next to us. We caught the others up at the Devil’s Chimney, this is a big pile of rocks on the top of each other sticking out of the hill. We sat down and looked at the view. We could see nearly all of Cheltenham - even G.C.H.Q.!

The last bit was quite frightening as it was very steep going down and there were lots of loose stones. Natasha fell over but she was all right. At last we got to the bottom of the hill and once we crossed a field of buttercups we were back at the start again. The whole walk had taken over 3 hours.

Now, mummy and I have to collect all our sponsor money. We will have £60 between us, thanks to lots of people from St. Nicolas’ who sponsored us both.

Hannah Smith, age 7.


Japan …

We arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun after an exhilarating 13 hour flight and witnessing both a spectacular sunset and sunrise to meet our beautiful 12-week-old granddaughter Édèle for the first time.

We were in Tokyo during the cherry blossom season which is regarded by the Japanese as probably the most celebrated moment of the year. Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties are the order of the day and it was amazing to see thousands of city dwellers revelling in the parks on blue plastic sheets (with their shoes neatly arranged on the grass) - eating, drinking, singing and dancing. It was quite cold, particularly in the evenings, but this did not appear to deter the party-goers, and it was a rare chance to see the Japanese at their most uninhibited.

On Easter Day it took us almost 2 hours to reach St Albans Church, which has the only English-speaking congregation among the 33 churches and 9 chapels in the Diocese of Tokyo of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Holy Catholic Church of Japan, i.e. the Anglican Church in Japan). The church itself - all wooden with a brick trim and designed by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright - had the feel of the countryside rather than the central Tokyo location on which it stood. Even the service books were covered with colourful traditional washi paper. The Holy Eucharist at 10 o’clock was not too dissimilar from the service at Prestbury - with servers and incense. On Low Sunday the Primate and Bishop of Tokyo (who was normally at the Cathedral of St Andrew next door) was at St Albans for Confirmation. On both Sundays we were made most welcome and invited for coffee and cake both before and after the service!

Christianity is very much a minority religion in Japan - the indigenous religion being Shinto which all Japanese people belong to by default. However, Shinto tolerates its worshippers following other religions. It is said that Shinto functions less as a religion and more as a custom with visits to a shrine used to mark important days in the Japanese calendar, such as at New Year.

On the afternoon of Easter Day we had our first experience of Shintoism when we visited the Meiji shrine, the largest in Tokyo. Whilst there, we came across two wedding parties in procession and also a mother visiting to mark the birth of a baby. These rites of passage, just as here in England, had their own traditional pomp with participants in traditional dress.

However, for shrines and temples Kyoto is the place to visit - it has more than 1600 Buddhist temples and hundreds of Shinto shrines. We travelled to Kyoto on the shinkansen (bullet train) at high speed for 3 hours. The journey was very smooth and comfortable and Édèle took it all in her stride - she is undoubtedly the most travelled baby in Japan if only because Japanese babies are not usually taken out until they are 6 months old. We only had time to see a handful of the more important temples including the beautiful Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji and the superb Zen gardens of Ryoanji. In the early evening we visited the Gion area of the city which was perhaps the most famous of its vibrant pleasure quarters and where even today lovely wooden buildings with lanterns glowing outside function as exclusive tea houses. We managed to catch glimpses of geisha and trainee maiko san on their way to engagements.

Another highlight of our time in Kyoto was staying at a ryokan, a traditional inn. On arrival we left our shoes at the entrance steps and donned a pair of slippers which we removed before entering our tatami-floored room. We had traditional green tea sitting on cushions around a low table before the futons were rolled out for us to sleep on. We had our dinner in a separate dining room - miso soup, hors d’oeuvres, grilled fish, raw fish, and bowls of rice, dips and sauces. In general we enjoyed the Japanese food - and the different cooking styles - but (having been warned by Catherine) we didn’t opt for a traditional breakfast at the ryokan: we felt that we could not stomach the dried seaweed and raw egg! Taking a bath in a ryokan (or family home) is also an experince - for everyone uses the same water and the bath tub is only for soaking. It is therefore essential to wash, then rinse the soap off thoroughly - showers and bowls are provided for this - before stepping into the bath. In a ryokan (and even in Cathy and John’s flat) the bath is filled just once each evening.

An hour from Kyoto by local train is Nara, the second of Japan’s great cultural centres. Again, we only had time (and energy) to view a few of Nara’s delights - in particular Todai-ji, the great temple which houses Japan’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha. The temple took more than 15 years to complete and is the world’s largest wooden building.

Although we spent most of our time in Tokyo we did have another excursion to the country, to the lakeland and mountain area of Hakone. There we stayed in the oldest western-style hotel in Japan (established 1878) but which has lots of Japanese touches like the traditional gardens and hot springs. We took various forms of public transport to traverse the area - switch-back railway, funicular railway, cable car and bus.  We should also have gone on a boat and seen Mt Fuji but the weather didn’t cooperate for us to do this. We did, however, go to the constantly bubbling and steaming valley of Owakudani formed by a volcanic eruption 3000 years ago and where eggs are boiled in the bubbling sulphurous pools until they are black. We saw several Japanese tourists eating these eggs, but we weren’t tempted.

And so back to Tokyo where life was as frenetic as ever. Trains going in every direction, every few minutes, both on the underground and overground networks, stopping trains, express trains and limited-express trains; people (the majority in smart suits) travelling in their thousands to/from work between 6am and 10pm with of course the greatest concentration during the rush hours. But despite all this frenzied activity there was a certain order and discipline. For example, people queued in ranks for the trains at designated points along the platform - the points where the train doors were expected to, and did, open. The trains were scrupulously punctual and all the officials had smart uniforms with hats and white gloves. Everywhere was very clean and we saw hardly any graffiti - in one suburb we saw a shopkeeper scraping up some chewing gum from the middle of the street outside her shop.

Although, apart from Catherine, we were not able to communicate readily with the Japanese, we found them to be very courteous and friendly. Of course everybody loves to see a baby and for the vast majority of the people we encountered it was their first opportunity to see a western baby. One lady got off a train to return a bootie which Édèle had dropped - and had to wait for another train to resume her journey.

We returned to England after our scintillating two weeks whistle stop tour of Tokyo and its environs to rely on telephone calls, photographs and the odd videotape to keep up to date with Édèle’s progress until our next meeting.

Colin & Margaret Holman.


Alleluia! 99 Faith for the Future

Alleluia 99 was held at St. Stephen’s House in Oxford. It was run by Stuart Lee and Andy Perry.

On the Friday night we all got to know the others who were attending the weekend, Pizza and a Quiz.

On Saturday we got into groups which we already picked before arriving. We could choose Drama, Art, Choir or Music. In the Drama group we did three separate tableaux on different issues: Homelessness, Aids and Pressure. We worked on them on the Saturday morning and on Sunday before the Eucharist and we showed it to everyone during the service.

On Saturday afternoon we had a tour on an open top bus of Oxford and then we had a tour of Christ Church college.

In the evening we had a service of Reflection, which involved sitting on the floor for about half an hour thinking of your successes and failures, your hopes and fears and to reflect on those aspects of your life which you wish to offer to God.

On the Sunday we had the Eucharist and at 2.00 Sunday afternoon we had a Video Viewing of everything that had happened over the weekend. Then at 3.30 we said goodbye to everyone and went home.

It was a very enjoyable weekend and I would love to go on it again.

Christine Chamberlain.

On Friday the 23rd of April five of us from St. Mary’s and St. Nicolas’ went for a weekend in Oxford entitled ‘Alleluia 99 Faith for the Future!’

The weekend took place at St. Stephen’s house (where Fr. Paul did his training!). We all arrived (after getting lost around Oxford) at 7:30 Friday evening just in time for coffee and a chat with the training Priests there. When everyone had arrived we had some opening Prayers and the reading of the rules. The people leading the course were called Andy and Stuart and there were many other priests helping out. There were about 40 young people who attended ranging from 14 to 18 and they were from all over the country including Wales, Up Holland, and Wimbledon. The evening continued with pizza and team games which included wandering about making animal noises and doing a jigsaw puzzle blindfolded!!! Shortly after this was bed time!!

Breakfast was at 8:30 but the Prestbury gang all managed to get up at 7:30 to get in the (very few) showers before everyone else was even awake!!!!!

At 9:15 we started the workshops we had chosen - music, drama, or art. Jenny and I did music, Hannah, Anna, and Christine did drama. The workshops were in preparation for the Sunday Eucharist. Susie was leading our music workshop. She played bass guitar along with her son who played drums and several other musicians from the house. We played a range of music including Boyzone’s recent hit single ‘No matter what’!!!!!!!

At 12:00 we had a short Eucharist then lunch. After lunch Andy and Stuart had planned a trip into Oxford for us and it turned out to be an open top bus tour!!!!!!

When we got back to St. Stephen’s house we returned to our group leaders (one of which was William Hazelwood) and did group work. This was very good fun because it gave you the chance to meet other people and hear their views on things. We talked about things, such as, how we thought the Church we attended could be made better (of course I didn’t have a bad word to say about St. Mary’s!!).

After this was probably the part that we all agree was the best part of the weekend. It was a service of reflection. It was different from the other services we had attended, it was very quiet and simple but very moving. All it involved was the Priest saying some prayers then a cross was set on the floor by the altar and if you felt you wanted to you could write your thoughts or anything you wanted to say to God on a piece of paper and nail it on the cross. There was incense burning - it was very poignant. After the service the cross was burnt. We all came out crying!!!!!

After this there was a disco and BBQ. It was nice in contrast to the Service as the disco had loud music and lots of chatting and laughing. We all went to bed tired and happy at about 1:00 in the morning.

Again us Prestbury lot got up at 7:30 to run to the showers even after being so tired the night before!!!!!!! At 9:15 we had a short rehearsal in our workshop groups before the Sunday Eucharist. At 10:30 we all assembled in our groups down at the church for the start of the service. This was a very fun service and included some great songs and hymns!!! The drama group performed their play, the art group had their pictures all around the Church and the music group performed, everyone enjoyed it!! We all came out of the service very happy only to find it was time to pack up!!!

After this it was lunch - then the thing I’d been dreading most since I stepped into St. Stephen’s house - video viewing!!!! They had been videoing all of us for the whole time we had been at the house and now we had to sit there and watch it!! It included some very funny shots of Anna and Jenny who decided to smear their mouths with ice-cream (they didn’t find it so funny when we told them they had been videoed)!! The weekend came to an end with feedback and closing prayers.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, we made new friends, learnt a lot more about God and felt our faith was revitalised!! We will definitely be going back next year!!!

All five of us would like to say thank you to Fr. Paul for suggesting the weekend to us and everyone at St. Stephen’s house especially Andy Perry and Stuart Lee for organising it so well.

Charlotte Banks.


Poetry Corner


?     ?

? Speculation ?

?      ?


Are we just intrusions

In time and space?

A temporary phenomenon,

A mass of illusions,

A one-off special case?

Something God invented

To pass the time away?

Oh no!

Our lives are precious, eternal,

A reflection of God’s image.

Joyfully He created us,

Knowing that in the fullness of time

We should return,

Cleansed by experience.

Bernard J Boston

Prestbury Writers’ Workshop


Book Review

(Penguin Books £2.50)

Most of us have heard of Vanity Fair, the Slough of Despond, the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Doubting Castle, Giant Despair. And yet the book from which they come (written in prison in 1678 by the son of a tinker imprisoned for his beliefs) is now largely unread although at one time it rivalled the Bible in popularity. It is still worth reading. It presents in vigorous language the story of man’s search for salvation in the guise of a tinker wandering through a recognisable English countryside not with an anvil on his back but for this traveller, Christian, the burden of sin. The temptations he faces, the trials he endures, the depressions and the joys are as relevant to us today and as recognisable are the characters he meets on the way. Who has not known the self-assured confidence of Mr. Worldly Wiseman or the glib hypocrisy of Mr. Talkative or the loyal support of Mr. Faithful? There are more. They are worth finding for yourself.

John Elliott.



Thank you
to all who collected for
Christian Aid.

£3710.10 to date.

Paddy Spurgeon & Gill Ashman.


Dates for your diaries:-

Sunday 4th July Parish lunch to celebrate Fr. Paul’s Ordination & First Celebration of the Eucharist. (See elsewhere in this magazine.) More details to follow, but pleased be prepared to help out if asked!

Sunday 18th July Parish picnic following Sunday School/Club prize-giving. A bring-your-own picnic and join in some games! More details to follow, but we hope to hold this at a venue in Mill Street - watch this space!

Saturday 2nd October Harvest Barn Dance in St. Nicolas’ Hall.

Prestbury Village Millennium Dance

This event will take place on Friday 31st December 1999 in St. Mary’s Hall, Bouncers Lane, 8pm till 1am. There will be live music by Dave Day & Friends. Please bring your own drink and food. Tickets are £25 each.

This is a locally run event for Prestbury residents and their friends. For further details and ticket reservations ring Dave Hawkins.


"Let the Children Live!"

To date £50 has been raised for the above charity from the coffee/biscuits introduced after the Thursday morning Eucharist. Why not join us for this short service at 10.30 am, followed by coffee? Take a break from your busy life during the week. See you there!

Doreen Morris.

Rockers’ Half-Hour.

This month Rockers celebrates its 24th birthday. If any former Rockers (parents, ‘children’, helpers etc.) would be interested in a Silver Jubilee Reunion in June or July 2000, please contact me as soon as possible, and preferably by the end of August, so that I can start organising it. I suggest a social gathering of some sort, with food, and a short service in St. Mary’s church. I should also like to start compiling a ‘Where are they now?’ list.

Frances Murton.


Old Parish Magazines

I have been given some Prestbury Parish magazines dating from 1954 to 1972. Some years have a complete set and others only a partial set. Should anyone require the total or partial set would you contact me on Cheltenham 241214.

J. E. Sims.


Father Joseph John

and his wife Urfana will be in the Parish from Friday 2nd to Monday 5th July. It is hoped that an event can be organised so that parishioners, particularly those who have given him hospitality, can meet them.

Bob Lyle.



the group for young Christians of secondary school age, meets in Tatchley Barn on Saturdays from 7.30 to 9.00 pm. We are continuing our series on ‘Moral Issues’ with discussions on Abortion on June 5th and Violence & Bullying on June 19th. Do come and join us.

Fr. Michael.


Many thanks to all who supported the
Wine-Tasting Evening.
£260 was raised for church funds.

Lydia Fleming.



Prestbury Parish Magazine - June 1999

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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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