I cross St Mary's churchyard, go into the porch and lift the latch. Down two steps, and I am in a special
place, far away from the noise and rush of the world outside. It is darker than outside, cooler. It speaks to
me of centuries of prayer, tradition, a place of refuge and reassurance. A holy space, where it is easier to
bring my concerns into the light of God's presence.
I walk across the car park into St Nicolas'. Through the swing doors, into a place of stillness. Daylight
floods across the floor. Only thin wood and clear glass separate me from the world outside, traffic, houses
and people, the view of Cleeve Hill. A fragile holy space, where God's presence welcomes me in the middle of
the everyday world.
In a few months' time, we shall move back into a transformed St Nicolas' church, with a new ceiling, new
windows and new flooring. It will feel very different, and though we have seen plans and models the reality is
sure to take us by surprise. The building will have grown another layer of history. But above all it will
remain a holy space, made for the worship of God and the nourishment of his people.
* * * * *
The holiday season will find many of us worshipping in unfamiliar buildings. Cathedrals or simple village
churches, ancient, modern or 'just Victorian', smelling of incense, flowers, or damp. Each of them is there
for us, each of them speaks of God with its own voice. Pay attention to the messages of your senses, and give
thanks for that particular sacred space. As visitors, we miss the traditions of home, the warm support that
comes from worshipping among friends. But it is good to have a break from regular responsibilities, from other
peoples' expectations of us. We might even learn something new. Enjoy your holiday.
Ministry Leadership Team
We are very pleased to be able to announce that Canon Paul Iles will join us as House-for-Duty priest
within the projected Prestbury and All Saints' Team Ministry.
Fr Paul is currently Precentor and Vice-Dean of Hereford Cathedral. He was previously a parish priest in
Bristol and Oxford. With a strong musical background, he has written several books on liturgy and prayer
including 'Approaching Light', 'Walking with Praise', 'Touching the Far Corners' and 'The Pleasure of God's
He will live in Willowherb Close, Prestbury, in a house which the Diocesan Board of Finance has purchased
to replace Oak Cottage. Discussions have been taking place with Fr Paul for some time; he was unavailable at
first but we felt he was worth waiting for! His arrival is a significant step forward in the formation of the
Fr Paul will be fully involved in all aspects of parish ministry, including visiting and pastoral work. He
will be fully involved in the Sunday duties at all three churches. In addition his pastoral duties will cover
not less than two and a half days and not more than three days per week.
A Letter from Canon Paul Iles
You will probably know by now that Fr Stephen has kindly offered me a House-for-Duty post in the Team
Ministry which is being established at Prestbury and All Saints' and I am very happy indeed to accept the
offer. After a fulfilling and varied time in full-time Ministry (over forty years now) the age of 65 has crept
up on me! Although I have decided to retire from my present appointment, I feel I would prefer not to retire
completely but to look for a suitable post which provides an opportunity to continue working in ministry.
Very fortunately for me, Fr Stephen and Fr Michael are including me in future developments at Prestbury and
All Saints'. I have met the clergy several times and also, informally, the Churchwardens. I can only say how
grateful I am to have been given such a warm and generous welcome by them all. I am really looking forward to
moving into this new sphere of ministry and working with them in your new Team Ministry.
Actually arranging to leave Hereford is proving rather more complicated than I had thought it would be,
primarily because, unexpectedly, the Cathedral staff is undergoing a complete change at the moment. Our new
Dean only arrived last month - my colleague, Canon John Tiller, has been appointed Archdeacon of Hereford -
and the newly appointed Canon Pastor is not being installed until October. Therefore, although I had hoped to
move sooner, it is taking longer than anticipated to dovetail these moves, especially so that others can fit
in their annual holidays. But at last I am able to say I will be available to join the Team after 1st October
and then to start work in Cheltenham.
I am sure the clergy will explain to you what exactly is entailed in this new appointment. It will be
unusual for me because I shall be living on a pension and not expected to work full-time (!) but I do want to
make as full a contribution to the life of the Team as I can and I am certainly looking forward to meeting you
and getting to know everyone at Prestbury and All Saints'.
Meanwhile, I should like you to know that I shall be praying for my new friends and colleagues and for
God's blessing on the life of your churches, and I do hope you will include me in your prayers as well.
With my thanks and good wishes,
|Everyone's away in August, and nothing happens.
But if you are not away for the whole month, consider an evening or two taking a leisurely look at
some well-known figures from the Old and New Testaments. Short Bible readings tend to concentrate on
high spots (or low spots) in the career of patriarch or saint, at the expense of the bigger picture.
This summer we can take time to look more closely at some very human stories. What would we think of
such people today as neighbours or public figures? Why are they remembered, and honoured? Can we find
points of contact in our own situation?
Come to one evening, or more: Tuesdays August 6th, 13th and 20th at 7.30-9.00pm, in St Nicolas'
church room. If there is a heat wave we'll provide cold drinks!
The illustration shows a window dedicated to St Paul in the Perambulatory at St Nicolas'
A successful initial meeting was held on May 21st to discuss the launching of the above scheme.
Twenty-three people have expressed a willingness to take part and by now should have received copies of the
minutes of the meeting together with an information sheet on Code of Conduct and Safe Practice and a
questionnaire for database information. A training evening led by Accord will take place on Tuesday 10th
September at 7.30pm in St Nicolas' Church Room (to be preceded by coffee at 7.15pm). In order for this
scheme to be a success we ask everyone to be our eyes and ears and to bring to our attention anybody who is
hospitalised and who may require a visit. Please contact either the clergy, John Elliott (St Nicolas'
contact), Di Petchey (St Mary's contact) or Margaret Holman (Coordinator).
Following the Parish visit to Llandaff Cathedral last year to see the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, I
wanted to make the pilgrimage myself.
On Friday we had a very pleasant cross-country journey, driven by Gill, and arrived late afternoon. We
received a warm welcome from the Staff and were shown to our rooms in the new wing of Richeldis House.
A very full and varied programme had been arranged for Saturday and Sunday, but there was time to explore
the Grounds and Buildings, and between services the Shrine and its Holy House and Well within the main Church.
By contrast the Guild of All Souls Chapel in the Grounds is a simple building with a peaceful atmosphere.
Each morning after breakfast we had a meeting with Father Stephen to discuss the programme for the day,
some services were just for ourselves when we all joined in with Readings and Prayers. The main services with
the rest of the community were both impressive and moving. Sunday Mass was at the Parish Church of Saint Mary
and All Saints, a church with a long history, sadly burnt in 1961 but beautifully restored.
On Saturday afternoon we had the traditional walk along the beach and back through the pinewoods, with time
for an ice cream. During the weekend Julie and I found time to walk round the village with its cobbled paths
and ancient buildings.
We all travelled home on Monday, a little tired but spiritually refreshed; we met people from other parts
of the country and got to know our fellow parishioners a little better and agreed that a return visit is a
I can't believe that it is almost 4 years now that I left Cheltenham to begin work as a community
development worker based at Woodley Baptist Church near Reading. For those of you who don't know me, I grew up
in Cheltenham and attended Cambray Baptist Church from a young age. I worked for about a year as part time
youth worker at St Mary's and St Nicolas's in 1997-8.
So what does a full time community development worker do? In the past few years, we have begun to focus
primarily on family/relationship support and support for isolated/elderly people (Isaiah 61 being a key
Based on a model being developed in Totnes known as Community Family Trusts, we are working together with
other local Christian groups to offer a comprehensive package of support for people in their relationships at
key stages. This focuses on the following:-
- Mentoring young people in need of guidance at key stages in their lives
- Marriage Preparation - In liaison with the Registrar we aim to offer marriage preparation to all local
- Couple Support Groups - These are being run on a regular basis and are designed to develop and encourage
communication skills within relationships
- Parenting Programmes - We are working with local health visitors to offer support to all 'first time
parents' through a workshop, and also a full parenting programme next year. At present there are around 120
parents on a waiting list for parenting programmes throughout the district!
We are about to launch a project called the Family Link Scheme in which volunteers from local churches will
befriend and support parents/families under pressure for varying reasons. Referrals will be taken from
agencies in the area and there is a considerable demand for such a role to be taken on.
Also, once a month we run a special event called 'Saturday Morning Live for Dads'. This is a focussed group
targeting fathers and offering an opportunity for them to attend an informal gathering with their children and
enjoy some quality time with other Dads as well. This is held in a newly built youth facility at the church,
where the Dads can enjoy pinball, pool tables, computer games, internet café ... and so can the children!!
Support for Isolated/Elderly People
As in most communities, there are a considerable number of very isolated and lonely people in Woodley.
Three years ago we set up a project called 'The Link' Visiting Scheme in which volunteers visit and befriend -
mainly elderly - local residents. Since we began, we have received 75 referrals, and of these we are currently
visiting 27 on a regular basis. Volunteers mainly come from local churches. Through this scheme, we have set
up regular 'Afternoon Teas' at the church for those we visit, and recently begun a series of Summer Day Trips
to encourage them to get out.
I regularly visit a man who has not been outside the end of his road since 1986 and could only be classed
as a recluse. He sits and sleeps in the same chair, and the house is waist high full of rubbish. He still has
a 1986 calendar on his wall. Please pray for wisdom for us as we seek to demonstrate God's love to people such
We will be running a series of Family Fun Days in parks throughout Woodley during the week beginning 22nd
July. These will be aimed at young families and we hope to build relationships with those from outside the
church. We will take a 20' trailer equipped with coffee bar, computer games and music, and provide face
painting, children's games, crafts and other activities.
We are also looking at the possibility of running 'Business Ethics' Workshops for those involved in local
companies. We are discussing this with a representative from the International Christian Chamber of Commerce.
If you would like any further information and/or a regular prayer card, please do contact me on email:-
You are also very welcome to visit at any time.
Bishop David has asked me to write to you to thank you for all the hard work you did in hosting our
visitors from South India. You will be pleased to know that all of them enjoyed themselves on their visit to
the diocese, and all their words of appreciation were surrounded with a deep affection for the people who had
looked after them and made their stay such an enjoyable one.
The development of the link will, in no small measure, be in a large part thanks to your willingness to
participate and by being such enthusiastic hosts for our visitors. THANK YOU.
Social Responsibility Officer, Gloucester Diocese
|June was a busy month for us. We rang three quarter peals in celebration
of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. At 11 o'clock on the morning of Monday June 3rd a band of eight of us
gathered to ring a quarter peal of Plain Bob Triples, which came round successfully in 43 minutes. We
had a celebratory drink of Coca-cola (honest!) together afterwards. At 3 o'clock on the same afternoon
a band of six different people assembled at the tower, where they successfully rang a quarter peal of
Plain Bob Doubles in 44 minutes. Later, at 5 o'clock, the final quarter peal band gathered to ring
Grandsire Doubles. Again, this was successful. In all, fourteen different ringers were involved on the
day. Many of them had also rung quarter peals on other days at other towers to help them celebrate the
Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Dates for your diaries:
Sunday 14th July
St Nicolas' Field, from 12.30pm
Bring your own lunch and then enjoy some afternoon events!
Thursday 15th August
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sung Eucharist, St Mary's, 7.30pm
Followed by refreshments
Saturday 31st August
All Saints' Summer Fair
1.00pm - 3.30pm
In and around All Saints' Church
Saturday 7th September
Prestbury's Jubilee Celebrations
These are being organised by the Parish Council and will take place
on the Pavilion Playing Field. There will be stalls and side shows.
If you have any ideas or suggestions about how our churches can participate,
please speak to John Elliott or Margaret Holman
Sunday 8th September
St Mary's Patronal Festival
on the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
11.00am United Parish Festival Eucharist at St Mary's
Preacher: The Archdeacon of Gloucester
Followed by a 'bring and share' picnic lunch
in the grounds of St Mary's Infant School.
(there will be no 9.30am service today)
Saturday 14th September
Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust
Annual Sponsored Ride and Walk -
The 20th Sponsored Ride/Walk will take place on Saturday 14th September. Churches and chapels
of all denominations will be open across the diocese between 10am and 6pm, so you can plan your route through
the town or across the countryside, visiting as many or as few as you like. If you are unable to participate,
then please consider sponsoring someone else. Half the money raised goes to our own churches, the other half
to the Trust to help any church in the diocese. Further details are available from
Bob Lyle or Nigel Woodcock.
The final total collected in Prestbury is £5074.08. Very many thanks, again, to all who
helped in any way.
Gill Ashman & Paddy Spurgeon
Children's Society Boxes - St Mary's
Box opening time is with us again. If possible, could box holders please bring their boxes
to the 11am service on or after Sunday July 14th for counting? Alternatively, please contact me to make
arrangements for collection. If anyone would like to become a box holder please contact me.
St Mary's Sunday Morning Refreshments
Thank you for all who continue to support this aspect of fellowship. A cheque for £100, the
profit for this quarter, has been donated to St Mary's Church Heating Fund. The rota for June 30th to
September 15th is now on the notice boards in the kitchen and porch. Thank you to everyone who gives a helping
hand, both on the rota and as extras. If anybody else is willing to join this band of helpers, please don't
hesitate to contact me.
St Mary's Church Cleaning
A big 'Thank You' to the willing hard-working band of helpers who managed to free the church
of cobwebs and the resulting dust. Suggestions as to the best time of year and day on which to carry out this
activity next year would be welcomed. Thank you.
Term ends on July 11th with a garden party from 2-4pm. (If wet, we shall have Rockers in
church as usual.)
Some of us will continue to meet informally on Thursday afternoons through most of the
summer. Usual time, usual place: 2pm in St Mary's. If you would like more details of these summer meetings,
please contact Andrea Jackson or Frances Murton. Or just turn up.
Next term will start formally on Thursday 12th September.
From July we shall revert to the format of a single session per fortnight. The day will
alternate from a Wednesday to a Thursday at 8pm to allow people with other regular commitments the opportunity
to come along when they are able. The next few dates as we continue our travels through Acts are:
Wednesday 3rd July
Thursday 18th July
Wednesday 31st July
Thursday 15th August
Wednesday 28th August
Please speak to Sue Read if you have any questions about this.
Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's (MMMSM)
This month we shall hear an organ recital performed by Malcolm McKelvey. The concert
will be in St Mary's on Wednesday 24th July. Coffee is served at 10.30am and the music starts at 11
o'clock. The retiring collection is in aid of church funds. There will be no concert in August.
Please note that the initial training session being run by ACCORD will now take place on
Tuesday 10 September at 7.15 for 7.30pm in St Nicolas' Church Room and not on 17 September as given in the