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Prestbury Parish Magazine

April 2001

And when the centurion heard his cry and saw how he died,
he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"

Mark 15:39.

April 2001


Being and Belonging

Pastures New

A Future Pattern of Ministry for Prestbury

Holy Week

And then there were two!

Bible Study

¡Vivan Los Niños!

MLT Study Day - A Personal View

Youth Work

A Right Royal Reception

Spring Harvest 2001

St Nicolas' Senior Club

The Cheltenham Passion Play - The Video


Celebration of Marriage

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

Church Architecture -  Preaching

Being and Belonging

I was fortunate to enjoy recently a few days retreat for the sake of spiritual refreshment and during this time away from the parish I began to reflect on what it is to be a part of a community, for it is in the very nature of a retreat that we leave behind the communities of which we are a part in order to be alone with God and to hear more clearly what he has to say to us, to leave our minds free to explore both where we have been and where we are going, apart from the distractions of everyday life.

Specifically, I thought about three communities to which I belong, namely, my family, the parish of Prestbury, and the Church, and I wondered what are the responsibilities that I have towards these groups which allow me to share in the benefits of being a member.

To my family, whose membership and company I enjoy, I owe it to be present not just when it suits me, but also when I am needed, to play with my children not only when I have the time, but also when they need me, to be at home in the evenings whenever possible, whether or not it fits in with my plans.

To the parish and the village of Prestbury, where I live and work, I owe it to spend time in the place and enjoy what it has to offer before I look elsewhere - shops, pubs, library, 'buses, bank, post office, and other local businesses - to be a real part of the parish.

To the Church, however, from whom I am never really apart wherever I am in the world, I have a duty to be as much a part of the Christian story as I can be, since the Church, like all families, like all communities, is not just about what I can derive from it in terms of my own spiritual satisfaction and development, but also what I can contribute to its life.

Most importantly, as when Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake with him on the eve of his arrest, we are called to follow the story of his arrival in Jerusalem, his arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection, and it is our duty as far as is possible to be present throughout the services of Holy Week, despite our other worldly commitments, not to pick and choose which ones we shall 'enjoy' the most or fit into busy schedules, but to offer our whole selves as a contribution to the community where we belong, so that we can share together, live together, join together as a family to celebrate the great festival of Easter and the opportunity for new life in Christ.

Fr Paul


Pastures New

Even though it often feels as though I have only been in Prestbury for five minutes, it has come as a shock to discover that in June I shall have been here for three years, and that it will soon be time for me to leave the parish for pastures new. Those pastures are to be in Kent, in the village of Sutton Valence, where I am to be chaplain to the school of the same name and to its junior school, Underhill.

But don't think you've got rid of me just yet - I don't start until September, and we shall not be leaving until August. Our last official Sunday in Prestbury will be July 29th, and I hope to see as many of you as possible before then, both formally and informally.

Fr Paul


A Future Pattern of Ministry for Prestbury?

Twenty one months ago at the request of the Bishop, I became priest-in-charge of the parish of All Saints. The plan was that I should appoint and then 'supervise' a 'house-for-duty' priest to look after All Saints. It probably would have been a retired priest on a half-time basis on a five-year contract. The PCCs of both parishes agreed to this. It soon became obvious to me that All Saints needed full time pastoral ministry, with strategic planning for the future. All Saints PCC agreed, and we put this view forward. The Diocese replied that within current clergy numbers this was not possible, and put forward alternative suggestions.

The basic suggestion is to merge the two parishes, with the clergy of Prestbury looking after All Saints on a full time basis and the addition of a 'house-for-duty' priest. It would be possible to create one of the following:

  • a United Parish, with an Incumbent, Senior Curate, a house-for-duty priest, one PCC and one Annual Church Meeting; or
  • a United Benefice, having the same staffing but each parish retaining its own PCC and possibly more of its own identity; or
  • a Team Ministry: one parish with one PCC, with District Councils for the former parishes, the incumbent becomes Team Rector and the assistant priest becomes Team Vicar.

Fr Paul will be leaving us in the summer, and there will be time for proper thanks and farewells. Already we are being asked if he will be replaced. We hope so, but today training posts do not automatically go with a parish. Our pattern of three is not sacrosanct. And ordinands seeking first curacies are not easy to find.

Finding priests for second curacies is even more difficult. We have been so very blessed in Fr Michael agreeing to stay to help develop our 'GP pattern' of ministry (he has written about this elsewhere in this magazine). Many are ordained later in life, serve 4-year first curacies and are then offered incumbent status posts. In future it might be easier to find a Team Vicar than someone seeking a second curacy.

Prestbury has a Ministry Leadership Team in training. In future these teams will play an essential part in ministry in most parishes. Including our Reader, Linda, Prestbury Team has 8 lay members, with one member, Peter Brown, studying towards ordination in 2003 for non-stipendiary ministry in this parish. All Saints also has a Reader, and a Ministry Leadership Team is already mooted.

We are currently asking God to guide us in our response to the Bishop.

Fr Stephen


Holy Week

Draw close to Jesus by accompanying him through the events of Holy Week to their joyful climax at Easter! As has been said before, the Liturgy of Holy Week is a four act drama which, although we may feel we know the story, needs to be experienced in its entirety if it is to have its full effect.

Palm SundayOur Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem

Take part in the procession of witness through the Parish from St Nicolas' to St Mary's, as we remember Our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

Maundy Thursday

Jesus' command 'love one another' is powerfully bread and winesymbolised in the washing of feet. The simple Eucharistic celebration draws us to the Upper Room where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples. As the church is stripped bare, the vigil of prayer begins in both churches as we respond to Jesus' words: 'Could you not watch with me one hour?'. This year members of Synergy will be keeping an all-night vigil in St Nicolas'.

Good FridayThe Cross

In great solemnity we celebrate Christ's victory over death. Again we hear the account of the Passion, we revere the cross as the throne of victory and we share simply in Christ's gift of his body.

Holy Saturday

A lighted candleThe ceremonies of the new fire and Easter candle unite us with the earliest Christians, waiting for Christ to break forth from the tomb. We hear the history of our salvation from the Old Testament, renew our own baptismal commitment and share in the new life of Easter by receiving the sacrament of Our Lord's risen body and blood.


Holy Week is the most important week of the Christian year - do try to attend these four services. Please ask a member of the clergy or one of the Ministry Leadership Team if you will need a lift!


And then there were two!

The news of Fr Paul's imminent departure has come at the same time as the PCC has to consider proposals for the future of our parish and the parish of All Saints - both of these are mentioned elsewhere in this edition of the Magazine. Quite naturally people are asking what the effects will be for Fr Stephen and myself when we are again the only stipendiary clergy working in two parishes. The most obvious things are that we will have to share baptisms, weddings and funerals between two of us instead of three. We will also, of course, have to share the taking of weekday and Sunday services, and we'll definitely miss Fr Paul's contribution to the sermon rota!

Fr Stephen and I will continue to have our own areas of responsibility across the Parish. He is responsible for Finance, Fabric and Administration. I am responsible for the areas of Pastoral Care & Common-life and Education & Nurture. We both share responsibility for Worship. That leaves Mission & Outreach, which has been Fr Paul's area - we still have to decide who will take that on! Of course, much of the work in these areas is done by members of the various committees which serve them, but we have endeavoured to be as involved as possible.

We are both greatly encouraged by the opportunity to share in ministry with others, and have very much valued the growing sense of teamwork within the Ministry Leadership Team. We have enjoyed participating in the Team's training, which is ongoing, and we look forward to the members of the Team taking a more active role in ministry to our Parish.

We both feel that an important aspect of our Christian ministry is our involvement in the community. Fr Stephen continues in his role as Chair of the Governing Body of St Mary's Junior School and I continue to be Chair of the Governing Body of the Infant School as well as serving on the Governing Body of Pittville School. Again, we are delighted to share this area of ministry with other members of our congregations.

As you may know, clergy are also invited to take on things within the Diocese and so, in addition to his role as Rural Dean, Fr Stephen serves as Vice Chairman of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). I have recently been elected to serve on the Diocesan Synod, although so far have avoided being dragged onto any of its committees!

As you realise, Fr Stephen does all of the above in addition to being Priest-in-Charge of All Saints, with all the responsibilities which that brings. Until the future relationship between All Saints and Prestbury has been decided, I will continue to do whatever I can to deputise for Fr Stephen in Prestbury, so that he can fulfil his role at All Saints. You can appreciate that the days when the Vicar does everything and is involved in everything have now passed - that is no longer humanly possible - and we are very grateful that you have come to understand this. I personally am very grateful that you accept my visits and my ministry (and those of Fr Paul), without then wondering 'when will the Vicar call?'! This is a very significant development in understanding how we exercise pastoral care in the Parish.

You may have heard Fr Stephen refer to the 'GP model', where he is the senior partner. This reflects our pattern of ministry across the parish. Just as you will tend to see the same GP for a course of treatment, so we try to ensure that you see the same priest. If, for example, you let us know that you are going into hospital for an operation, one of us will try to visit you beforehand, perhaps to pray with you, maybe to give you communion and to anoint you. Where possible, the same priest (along with other members of the congregation, of course) will try to visit you in hospital and also 'follow you up' when you come home. During our staff meetings, we let one another know whom we are visiting and give an up-date on their progress, whilst maintaining any priestly confidentialities.

It is said that the demands and expectations of ministry in today's Church are very different from those of 20 or 30 years ago. Certainly, the ordained clergy have to be able to adapt to the changing situations in which they find themselves. We are both particularly aware of what all this means for our families and are very grateful for their understanding and support, as well as for the support and encouragement which we receive from you. We will continue to serve you faithfully and to the best of our abilities.

Fr Michael


Bible Study?

There's no getting away from it - invite most people to attend a Bible Study and you've uttered two negatives in as many words. The Bible seems like hard work, and Study conjures up thoughts of the mind-numbing slog needed to pass exams.

So when I discovered that Sue Read was inviting folk to come to her house for an evening tackling St Paul's weighty Letter to the Romans - the great theological text that had taxed the brains of Martin Luther and many other great thinkers - I was a little apprehensive. But I trusted Sue. I knew her to be a sincere seeker after the Lord. And there was the added reassurance of the timetable. Start at 8 o'clock, finish at 9.30 - that's a promise. So I thought, 'why not give it a go?'

The promise was kept. We began at 8 and finished at 9.30. In between a chapter from Romans came under the spotlight. We read it, and talked it through. Anyone can chip in and say whatever they like, pose a question, or say what the passage suggests to them. Sue had done some background reading, so she was the person who could interject or move things along if it proved necessary. Most of the time it wasn't. There were four of us, not exactly a full house. At the end we prayed for about seven or eight minutes. All the time the coloured lights on Sue's Christmas tree flashed, blinked and twirled backwards and forwards, like demented majorettes.

That was January. Since then we've met in Prestbury village and on Wyman's Brook. Each time we took a further chapter of Romans, until it was all done. Usually there are six or so people in the room - not the same ones every time. Some rotation is inevitable because anyone can be unwell or have another commitment, but with six each time the group is certainly viable. But a 'group' is not what it is meant to be. There's no firm commitment. It's open house. You come, you sample, if you like it you come back.

So what do we get out of it? Why go to 'Bible study' at all? The answer, for me at least, is that it is an ongoing opportunity for believers to get together informally. It's a chance to share with one another what little knowledge and faith we have. I guess we each consider that worth doing. The Lord did not give me faith so that I could lock it up and keep it hidden from view. On the contrary He means us to support one another. If we share our faith it grows. And ongoing fellowship is there for mutual support. In the process we each get stronger.

Evenings are getting lighter now, so there's really nothing to prevent anyone going if they want to. During April, May and June the programme includes a chunk from the Acts of the Apostles. The venue rotates, and the evening can be either a Wednesday or a Thursday - the details should appear on the weekly notice sheet given to you on a Sunday morning. But in case you want to make a note in your diary now here is the list:

Thursday 26 April
Wednesday 9 May
Wednesday 23 May
Thursday 7 June
Thursday 21 June

Michael Cole


¡Vivan Los Niños!

During the sermon at St Mary's and at St Nicolas' Fr Peter Walters brought us up to date on his work with street children in Medellín in Colombia. His words shocked, the more so for being delivered in a matter-of-fact, 'this is normal' voice devoid of any emotive overtones. The most common cause of death over there among men aged 15 to 55 is not heart attack or cancer but murder. The parish priest can expect to bury a murder victim every other day.

The good news is that in the midst of this the charity "Let the Children Live!" now owns a large house instead of renting a small one and consequently is able to help three times as many children as previously.

To hear more we went along that evening to the United Ecumenical Service, hosted by our Roman Catholic friends in the Holy Name Hall, where Fr Peter gave another talk, this time enhanced by slides.

If you are interested in finding out more about Fr Peter's work pick up a newsletter in church or visit the website at

Frances Murton


MLT Study Day - A Personal View

I was recently asked how our MLT training was going and was able to say that the Team had recently attended a Study Day at St Peter's Grange at Prinknash on Pastoral Care. 'But isn't there already a Committee dealing with Pastoral Care?' and 'Was it useful?' was the not entirely unexpected response. To the former I gave the rather lame reply that we hoped to gain more expertise and to tap into other people's experience in this vital field. But the actual value of the Day! Was it really worth our spending a day there?

It was then four weeks since the event and its contents were already proving difficult to recall. There were some obvious benefits for the Team. We really appreciated having the opportunity to meet members of the other Teams there (from Fairford, Severnside and Tidenham) and were heartened to learn that their parishes had problems very much like ours and as Teams they too were wrestling with doubts about their parish identity and role. The peace and quiet of the venue, too, provided a welcome opportunity to spend some time just being ourselves with ourselves and with God (and it wasn't as cold in the rooms as we had been led to expect!).

But what about the seminars, the discussions, the main purpose of our being there? A quick glance at my notes reassured me that the Day had provided much that was potentially useful. Using the shape of the Liturgy as a model for Pastoral Care was an illuminating and exciting prospect and could become a valid tool (as long as it does not remain an interesting intellectual exercise but is used to enhance the way we support those in our community who need our care). Of course in a day like this much depends on the individual receptiveness to what is on offer, the group to which one is allocated and the leader selected to lead a particular discussion. For me, for example, starting with an Individual Reflection Session instead of Group Work failed to make the proper impact. Again, in the afternoon time was spent seeing how the Psalms could be used as aids to Pastoral Care. For the group I was in this proved to be an exciting new concept; others failed to derive much benefit from the exercise.

So, yes, my response to the enquirer would be that, for me, the Day had some real value but then perhaps my personal reaction is not as important as how far are we as a Team profiting from what now still seems a long training period, from our Monday evenings, our Weekend and Days away, how far are we being enabled to grow in our Christian journey and what use we can be to our Church and our community.

John Elliott




"It’s the little things that build friendships: giving something new a go, making the effort to talk to someone different or just carrying on your chat from last week."


Exploring Faith and Life

(Y7+ welcome)
Sunday evenings 7.00-9.00pm
St Nicolas' Room & Hall
(No sessions on 1st, 8th or 15th, social to be arranged)
Restart after Easter on Sun 22nd April
Highlight: Maundy Thursday Vigil (Thursday 12th April)

Youth Club for Y7+

Thursday evenings 7.30-9.00pm
St Nicolas' Room & Hall
Sessions on 5th and 26th April
(No sessions 12th or 19th)

Youth Club for Y9+

Friday evenings 8.00-10.00pm
St Nicolas' Room & Hall
(No sessions on 13th or 20th April)
Restart after Easter on Friday 27th April
Highlight: Ice Skating Trip (Friday 6th April)


A fantastic mix of Christian music and arts, with a heart for social justice.
If you are interested in camping for the weekend or want more info, contact Andy. Prices low until the end of April!

 Alleluia! 2001

18-20 MAY

A weekend for 15+: meet other Christians from around the country, discover Celtic worship, explore Oxford, disco and BBQ to your heart's content. Forms from Andy.

For more info on any of the youth activities please contact Andy Macauly: 575649



A Right Royal Reception

(With apologies to A A Milne)

They were changing guard at Buckingham Palace
As we passed by to St James's terrace.
The United Nations had chosen this year
'2001 for the Volunteer'
        that's classic.

But where would you guess volunteers could abound?
In Abbeyfield fifteen thousand are found
And as Abbeyfield has the Prince as its Patron
It is they who were guests at a Royal Reception
        in town.

Six hundred societies selected their choices
And a lottery drew out just three hundred voices
Who were bidden for fifteen minutes past twelve
On February the sixth to the galleried hall
        of St James's.

We took off our coats and straightened our dresses,
Collected our name tags and volunteer badges,
Were greeted by Michael, ascended the stairs
Moving slowly and gently, completely aware
        what impresses.

Great circles of pistols and old armoury,
The State Rooms as grand as State Rooms should be,
Gilded and crystalled and plush in rich red
With mirrors and portraits of statesmen long dead -
        much finery.

We feasted on pheasant and sausage and mash
From smiling young waiters and waitresses smart
And meanwhile the Prince quietly mingled around
Meeting many old faces and new from the crowd
        till we parted.

He presented awards and spoke well of the Movement,
Of Abbeyfield helpers and all that is well meant.,
The care and the skills freely given by all
In supporting our houses and residents, who
        live contented.

Now our thanks go to you, Sir, our Patron and Prince,
For the joys of that day, Sir, we'll remember well, since
Like you, Sir, we're pleased to hold Abbeyfield high
And commend it to others to give of their time
        and experience.

Barbara Lyle

Abbeyfield - Where older people find care in housing - visit their website


For those who don't know, Abbeyfield was conceived
For some post war old people alone and in need,
It was Richard Carr-Gomm found a caring housekeeper
And a Bermondsey house where they moved altogether

They each had a room in his house which they knew.
They were still near old neighbours and things they could do.
But the housekeeper took over shopping and stress
Of running their own homes, the heating and mess.
        Ah! Phew!

For forty-five years now the concept has flourished
So that here there are now more than nine hundred houses
And the idea has spread overseas far and wide
With more volunteers becoming inspired.
        It's contagious.

Just look in the telephone book under 'A'
And you will find one near you. You might help there or stay.
Ring them up, pop around. I'm sure you will find
A welcome that's warm and friendly and kind.
        Just try it,
        You'll love it!

Barbara Lyle


Prestbury's Abbeyfield House is on Prestbury Road. If you are interested to know more about it, please contact Sue Adlard, Chairman of the Home Committee.  You may visit and read of the Royal visit.


Spring Harvest 2001

Have you ever wondered what Spring Harvest is and whether you would like it? Well basically, Spring Harvest is the largest Christian conference in Europe. For three weeks each year at two different sites (Butlins in Minehead and Skegness) thousands of Christians engage in worship, bible study, seminars, music and fun. Day tickets are also available. We have often attended and would be quite happy to tell you what goes on, so if you are interested in finding out more please ask one of us, or visit the website at

Andy and Kathy Beacham


St Nicolas' Senior Club

We meet in St Nicolas' Hall, usually twice every month, on the second Tuesday afternoon and the third Wednesday morning. Meetings are social events, with tea and biscuits available for 50p. We frequently have a speaker and there is always a small bring and buy stall to raise money for our occasional outings.

Do come along and meet us. If you would like to become a member the subscription is £2 per person per year. For further information please contact Betty or Charles Smith.

Prayer Group

Due to lack of support the regular members of the prayer group have agreed to discontinue the monthly meeting. We would commend the prayer diary initiative to the whole church.

Beryl Fowler

The Cheltenham Passion Play - The Video

Jesus - Today, Tomorrow, Forever?

Following last year's very successful staging of the Passion Play through the streets of Cheltenham on Good Friday a video is being prepared by the Producer of Songs of Praise (you may have seen excerpts on the programme).

The video, presented by Pam Rhodes and using footage of the Passion Play, interviews with cast and audience, plus re-recording of part of the play not previously filmed will be in three parts: 45 minutes aimed at adult groups; 30 minutes aimed at Year 7/8 school children; 15 minutes as 5 prayer meditations based on the five acts of the play.

The recording is now finished and the final product is being previewed at St Matthew's on Wednesday 11th April at 7:30pm. You can collect your copy at St Matthew's or have it posted, the cost is £10 (+£1 per video for postage and packing if desired) with proceeds going to local projects supported by Churches Together in Cheltenham.

Details and application forms are available in both of our churches.

In addition the URC in Cheltenham are producing a special edition set of Easter greeting cards for Churches Together in Cheltenham, featuring six photographs from Passion Play 2000, each card will cost 50p, details from Glyn Jenkins.

Geoff Shaw


Parish Sports

This month’s sport player is Phil.


My sport is ju-jitsu.  It is a form of martial arts.  It is a mixture of karate, which is just punching and kicking, and judo, which is just throwing.  I do it at the Recreation centre.

I have been doing ju-jitsu for six years and I reached junior black on the 9th December 2000.  This is the highest belt I can get for my age at the moment.  While I have been doing ju-jitsu I have had to compete in competitions and seminars.  I have been to five competitions and got Gold in one, and I have been to 7 seminars.  Three of these seminars have been with the Grand Master, Soke F Tanaka.  He comes over from Japan every couple of years to do a seminar.

I have done ju-jitsu for so long because it is fun and keeps you fit.  You also meet new friends.

By Phil Mann, aged 14


You are invited to
a Service in

Celebration of Marriage

on Saturday 5th May 2001

at 3.30 pm

in St Mary's Church, Prestbury

During the service there will be an opportunity for all
who wish to do so to renew their Marriage Vows

Refreshments will be served after the Service

 All are welcome to attend!


A Celebration of Marriage

5th - 7th May

St Mary's and St Nicolas'

open for viewing 11am - 6pm
 (except during St Mary's services: Sat 5th 3.30 & Sun 6th 11.00)

Flowers; display of wedding dresses, christening robes and church vestments;
 craft displays and demonstrations;
 morning coffees, lunches and teas;

Marion Godden


Synergy's Talent Show raised £325, to be divided equally between
    St Nicolas' Renewal Appeal
    Let the Children Live!
    Winston's Wish,  and
    National Autistic Society.

The Mad March Draw raised £581 for the Appeal.

Thank you everyone who supported these two events.



Prestbury Parish Magazine - April 2001

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