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Prestbury Parish Magazine

December 2002 / January 2003

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 Luke 2:14


December 2002 / January 2003


Our Sure and Certain Hope

Engaging Together About Things That Matter

Fr Stewart Kasembe

Hospital Visiting Scheme

In the New Year .....

A Report from the Diocesan Conference

Belfast Bears and Fall Figures

Last Months Magazine

A Song in Season

Special Services for Christmas time

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

St Nicolas' Renewal - Progress Report

The Calendar and Diary for December and January

Services for Christmas

Our Sure and Certain Hope

Elizabeth Jennings, who died just over a year ago, captures in a lovely phrase in her poem Advent the mood of the Christian Year as it turns from one year to the next:

Blossom about us."

She reminds us that Advent and Christmas (and the secular New Year when it arrives) are full of fresh things, new opportunities and possibilities, providing a chance to become part of the world God is bringing into being. Hers is another way of putting the preacher's message that the theme of all the festivals Christians celebrate at this time of the year is HOPE. Advent and Christmas are centred on the hope God offers the whole human race. More - it is a sure and certain hope because God delivers his promises himself by coming into the world to share it with us. If you like, these wonderful festivals, which we all relish and enjoy, provide the grounds for Christian hope, the hard evidence for what we believe.

Around us there is indeed darkness, deep darkness which includes our growing anxiety about so much casual and irrational violence; about the threat of war; about increasing lawlessness and disregard for the civilising values which we value but have probably taken too much for granted. Nevertheless Christians are not negative. We do not predict collapse. Instead we point to an alternative: a better way. There are other possibilities which are creative and strangely powerful when we come to God. He enables them to blossom and bring fulfilment, joy and hope into a bleak world. On Christmas night Christians do indeed sing:

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light:
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness
on them has light shined."

Precisely because most people find it difficult to come to God through self-motivation God seizes the initiative and comes to us. That Coming of God into the midst of all creation is the source of all the happiness, excitement and fun of the days ahead.

So (to use another poem by Elizabeth Jennings):

"Put memory away and watch a world
Grown almost still because a baby can
Convince us he is born as God and Man."
                                                  Carol for 2000

May each of us know and share together all the blessings Christmas brings.

Fr Paul


Engaging Together About Things That Matter

Some Reflections on Youth Work


One of the important aspects of our work with Twilight Zone and The Space youth clubs is encouraging co-operation among very diverse groups of young people. It has been exciting to have had the opportunity to take a group of 14-year-olds from Twilight Zone on an activity weekend to Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean, featuring climbing, canoeing, a night hike and low ropes course. The Space also had their first of two chances to climb at Pates' Grammar School. These activities provided new challenges for all of us and were a real lesson in trusting and supporting each other.


A focus of our work with Synergy and Elevate has been to encourage honest and relevant worship for young people. The 'Celebration of Youth Work Service' in Gloucester Cathedral on 3 November was evidence of the diversity of worship across the Diocese, from choirs to worship groups, DJ decks to chocolate and inflatable cubes. There was even an opportunity to start the process of mandating Youth Workers - including Andy Macauly. The Phatfish concert a week later provided worship with real passion - a call to intimacy with a God who changes lives and gave everything for us - summed up for one young person in their spine tingling song 'The Cross'.

One area of learning has been the difference between worship and performance. In the light of this, young people are in the process of planning the first Youth Service, which will take place on Sunday 1 December at 6.30pm in St Nicolas' Hall. The theme will be 'Belonging' and the hope is that many, young people and adults will find it a time to 'belong' in God's presence.

Stepping Out in Faith:

Finally it was a privilege to attend, with a number of young people and youth leaders, the confirmation of Jon Lyle in Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 9 November. A packed Cathedral saw Jon and forty others taking the step to commit to live their lives for God. It was a time to appreciate the journey already travelled with God and anticipate the opportunities and challenges ahead. If anyone is interested in finding out about the fantastic step of confirmation, please talk to Fr Michael or Andy Macauly.


Thank you to all the members of the youth team, young people and countless supporters who have made it possible to 'engage together about things that matter.'

Andy Macauly


Fr Stewart KasembeFr Stewart Kasembe

Margaret and Raymund Waker have recently received a letter from Fr Stewart in Tanzania, whom many of you will remember from when he spent Christmas 1999 in Prestbury while studying at the United College of Ascension in Birmingham with USPG.

You may also remember that Fr Stewart's wife, Dora, became ill while he was here in England and the Parish contributed funds towards the cost of her treatment. Sadly, Dora died in January this year, leaving Fr Stewart with their two sons aged nine and seven years. In August Fr Stewart remarried; his new wife is Monica. 'God of mercy is still taking care of us and blesses us in our new Christian marriage and Ministry.'

Fr Stewart closes his letter by thanking us all again for our hospitality and kindness to him when he was in England.



Hospital Visiting Scheme

The scheme is now up and running and we have had a good half dozen referrals. The visitors will be commissioned on 1 December at St Nicolas' at 9.30am and at St Mary's at 11.00am. There will be a quarterly review meeting on 15 January after the 7.30 pm Eucharist. Please continue to be our eyes and ears, and remember us in your prayers as we visit on your behalf.

Contacts:   Margaret Holman;   John Elliott;   Di Petchey.

Margaret Holman, MLT


In the New Year .....

Sunday School & Sunday Club

will restart after Christmas on Sunday 12 January. Sunday Club meets in St Nicolas' Room during the 9.30am Eucharist; Sunday School meets in the Upper Room at St Mary's during the 11am Eucharist. Do come - bring a friend as well!

Linda Biggs

New Year Bible Studies

Dates for your 2003 diary: locations will appear on the weekly sheet available from church. If you don't like to leave home in the winter evenings, don't despair, give Sue Read a ring and offer your home as a 'one off' venue. The basic requirements are a few chairs to sit on and being willing to boil a kettle. As host you can sit back, relax and enjoy as someone else leads the study.

Thursday 16 January
Wednesday 29 January
Thursday 13 February
Wednesday 26 February

All begin at 8pm.

Sue Read

Parish Events

The Christmas holiday provides an ideal opportunity for you to ask around, discuss and find out what kind of social event members of our parish community would like to see put on for 2003. While tickets for some events have sold out quickly, others have failed to attract support. Is it limited appeal? Is it timing? Is it cost? The Parish Events Committee would really welcome any views, suggestions or criticisms you might have and, of course, if anyone out there is eager to organise an event, we would be delighted to hear from you. Speak to Margaret Holman or Ruth Rudge at St Mary's, Gill Wood or John Elliott at St Nicolas'. We do need your help if the coming year is to include as wide a range as possible of social occasions that are enjoyable, exciting and attractive not only to those in our churches but those on the periphery of our church life.

John Elliott


A Report from the Diocesan Conference

The Diocesan Conference took place from 14 - 17 October in Swanwick in Derbyshire. The Conference's title was 'Passion for God's World', and almost 350 people attended, a mixture of ordained and lay members.

There were three 'key addresses' during the conference. The first was given by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, who spoke very impressively for 45 minutes without notes! Bishop Michael spoke about the Church's presence in our world, about our proclamation of the Good News, about how the change in us as Christians results in how we act, about prophecy and finally about peace-making.

The second address was by Tina Beattie, a Roman Catholic theologian who has written books on Marian theology, liberation theology and ethics. Her address was very full and covered areas including post-September 11, possible war with Iraq and the difference between institutional power and charismatic power! Tina illustrated her address by taking two women from the Bible - Abigail in the 1st Book of Samuel and Mary, the woman who anointed Our Lord's feet.

The third address was quite different and was given by John and Olive Drane. John is a lecturer in practical theology in Aberdeen and he gave some very powerful examples of the telling of people's stories. Olive has a ministry in the creative arts and she illustrated to us how God had called her to work as a clown! She concluded her quite visual contribution in a very thought-provoking way.

We also had three Bible Studies which were led by The Very Revd Gordon Mursell, Dean of Birmingham. His entertaining, at times hilarious, style of delivery gave us some very thought-provoking insights into three biblical passages.

Bishop Gavin Reid, formerly Bishop of Maidstone, concluded the conference by drawing together various strands from the addresses and bible studies.

In addition to all this there were workshops on issues of Conflict and on Children's work, as well as two workshops of our choice. The whole conference was set within the context of worship and also of fellowship with so many other people from our Diocese.

I came away feeling quite challenged about some different areas of our life together as members of God's Church - more of that to come perhaps!! But I also left with an over-riding message which is about keeping the focus. Not attempting to 'do' everything, so that we over-stretch ourselves and end up doing nothing particularly well, but focussing on some of the things we already do and ensuring that we do them to the very best of our abilities and to the glory of God. Food for thought!

Fr Michael


Belfast Bears and Fall Figures

So what's this alliterative enigma all about then? Well, in early October Frances and I flew off on a long-awaited visit to Canada and the U.S. On our previous visit, six years earlier, we had been very struck by Quebec City, together with its Old Quarter, and had promised ourselves that we would return there on our Silver Wedding Anniversary. We had also determined to return to an excellent restaurant, appropriately named 'Aux Anciens Canadiens', which served traditional Canadian fare, including game pate with moose meat, and maple syrup tart. It was also a great pleasure to eat our meal to the accompaniment of restful classical music.

Because of its formative history, Canada has an official policy of being bi-lingual in French and English; in Toronto and westwards, French is rarely heard but Quebec is fiercely proud of its French roots and French is the first language. It can be both odd and amusing to be surrounded by many of the trappings of North America but in Gallicised form ('Poulet Frites Kentucky et deux Cokes, s'il vous plait'), whilst the vocabulary and nasal Quebecois accent are hardly what one is used to in European French.


So where do the Fall Figures and Bears feature? As part of our visit, we drove south from Quebec into the U.S. State of Maine to visit friends near Augusta and, we hoped, see something of the famed Fall colours in that region. The Fall in America is a season which inspires several traditional events, amongst them the making of 'Fall Figures', and Halloween. Fall figures are similar in concept to the British 'guy' for the Guy Fawkes bonfire; they are near life-size, stuffed with straw or other material, and dressed in whatever cast-off clothes come to hand. Witches and ghosts sometimes feature, but many of the figures represent ordinary people doing jobs like raking up the leaves. Fall is also the pumpkin season and you will find all shapes and sizes (often huge) for sale at roadside farm shops, either to be cut out to make Halloween lamps, or to be made into traditional pumpkin pies. When America does something, it usually does it 'big', and Halloween is no exception; dressing up in witch or ghoul costumes (complete with lurid make-up) for elaborately staged parties is commonplace and shops are full of truly appalling plastic toys such as spooky trees with flashing red eyes and emitting appropriately ghostly noises. But everyone participates and enters into the spirit (!) of things.

Wildlife Bear

And the concept of participation is what leads us onto the Belfast Bears. Belfast is a pretty coastal port in Maine where, several years ago, someone had an idea for raising money for charity. Large model bears, in three poses - sitting, standing or on all fours - are constructed from either fibreglass or papier mache, placed around the streets of Belfast and decorated by people with a bent for art or crafts. Some are painted with decorative pictures or patterns (above is Wildlife Bear), others depict characters such as pirates; in one case Telephone Bear can be found halfway up a telegraph pole! Just before the onset of winter, the bears are auctioned publicly and the proceeds given to charity. Local businesses also sponsor the bears while they are on display during the late Spring and Summer, thus adding to the money collected.

So, in years to come, when we think back to particular memories of our visit, high on the list will surely be the Belfast Bears and Fall Figures.

Stephen Murton


Last Month's Magazine

I should like to say a big 'THANK YOU!' to Caroline Sexton for editing the November magazine while I was away on holiday. Did you spot the differences?

And my thanks too to the rest of the team who support me month by month: one of the Clergy reads through the draft, Ken or Cyril prints the 350 copies on the parish photocopier; Shirley deals with subscriptions, distribution and advertisers; and Brian runs the parish website. And of course thank you all of you who send me your contributions.

Frances Murton, Editor


A Song in Season

Exploring the Psalms in Advent

Come and join any or all of our Advent discussions
on Thursdays 5, 12 and 19 December.

Morning sessions in St Nicolas' Room, 10.30am - 12 noon;
Evenings in the John Wood Room, All Saints' Church, 7.45-9.15pm.
Both venues have good parking.

Please sign up on the lists on the notice boards.

If you need a lift please speak to Beryl Elliott at St Nicolas' or  Marion Beagley at St Mary's.


Preparation groups will need to begin in the New Year in order to be ready for a Confirmation service in the Cathedral in June 2003. It is not too late for you to sign up! Please speak to Fr Michael.

St Nicolas' Patronal Festival

Everyone had been hoping that we would be back in the church by the time of the Patronal Festival on 6th December, so that we could enjoy a big celebration - even the Bishop of Gloucester was intending to join us! Clearly that is not to be! In the light of the ongoing building work, we have sadly decided that it will not be possible to hold a service of any kind on Friday 6th December. However, as a 'mini-celebration' of the Patronal Festival, wine, soft drinks and snacks will be served at St.Nicolas' after the 9.30am Eucharist on Sunday 8 December.

Please join us then!

Fr Michael


Special Services for Christmas time

Christingle at St Mary's

The first of our two Christingle Services in aid of the Children's Society will be held on Sunday 15 December at St Mary's church starting at 4pm.

In a simple, moving service with great appeal to children, young people and their families, Christingle oranges are presented to everyone bringing a gift of money towards helping the Society brighten the lives of children for whom Christmas would otherwise be a rather bleak time.

If you would like a collecting box and/or further information and please contact Wendy Thomas or Dorothy Smith.

Christingle at St Nicolas'

Our second Christingle Service will be at 4pm on Sunday 22 December in St Nicolas' Hall. With building work still in progress at the Church, some people who normally come to Christingle may assume that we're out of action - so please let your neighbours and friends know that the service is going ahead as usual.

Christingle, which highlights the work of the Children's Society, is a wonderful occasion for local children and their families, and we are also proud to welcome the Brownies and Guides along. Each child takes home a traditional orange and candle which represents the Lord as the light of our world.

If anyone would like to take a break from last-minute Christmas preparations on Saturday 21 December to help make up the oranges and candles, please contact Caroline Sexton, or come along to St Nicolas' Church Room at 2.30pm.

Lessons & Carols with the Brass Ensemble

The Brass Ensemble will play at 5.45 pm on Sunday 22 December before the service of Lessons & Carols in St Mary's. We will be without a Tuba in the group because Bill, our regular player, is still recovering from a heart operation. I am hoping to fill the spot with a bass trombone. We will play also during the service as we did last year with an extra trumpet.

Edgar Davison

Crib Service

As usual the Crib Service will be on Christmas Eve at 4pm in St Mary's church. Children who would like to take part in it are asked to come to the church on Friday 20 December at 4.30 for a casting rehearsal. The main rehearsal is on Monday 23 December at 10.30am in St Mary's. The dress rehearsal is at 2pm on Tuesday 24 December (Christmas Eve), followed by a drink and biscuit and then the service will start at 4pm.

Linda Biggs

Carol Singing - 18 December

Wrap up warmly - it's almost time for the annual parish carol singing evening! We'll be carolling on Wednesday 18 December in Paddocks Lane, Cleevelands Avenue and Cleevelands Drive. Absolutely everyone is invited to join in, and we are hoping to create a really festive atmosphere with favourite carols and hanging lanterns as we deliver Christmas wishes on behalf of our churches.

There won't be a great deal of walking, and we should only be out for about an hour - and there will be mince pies and hot drinks afterwards! So do come if you can - we'll be meeting at 7pm at St Nicolas' Church Room. Please put the date in your diary now, and we'll see you there!

Caroline Sexton

Carols in the Prom

Churches Together in Cheltenham 'Carols in the Prom' will be on Thursday 19 December on the Promenade outside Cavendish House starting at 7pm.

Carol Singing for Christian Aid

Come and sing your favourite Christmas carols with us on Saturday 21 December. Start at Tesco's 10am to 11am with St Nicolas' Choir, have a quick coffee and then join St Mary's Choir at Sainsbury's 12noon to 1pm.

Paddy Spurgeon & Gill Ashman


Some Thank You's

Dear Friends,

October and November have proved to be a bigger whirlwind for me than I expected - and it's not quite over yet! The packing cases arrived yesterday (6 November) and are waiting to be unpacked and sorted. But I do want to say to everyone how grateful I am for the warm welcome I have received from so many people and from all three churches and for the parties I've already enjoyed. I feel very settled and at home now with the worshipping community. Thank you too for your patience while I learn new ways of doing things and thanks to the servers who have skilfully (and with complete discretion) guided me along the way! Impossible to believe, I know, but it's almost time to send Christmas greetings to you all but before that I look forward to Advent, a wonderful season of preparation.

With good wishes,

Fr Paul

Sunday Morning Refreshments at St Mary's

The new coffee rota is now in the kitchen and the church porch. If anybody would like to join this willing band of helpers, please let me know. This quarter, we will be contributing 100 to the 'Cheltenham Open Door at Christmas' appeal from the proceeds. Thank you for all your help and support.

Margaret Holman, MLT


Following our two social events in October we are pleased that the Coffee Morning (including Raffle and Cake Stall) raised 87.97 for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and that the Traidcraft sale raised 40.87 for the Prestbury Memorial Trust.

We should like to thank everyone who supported these occasions.

Sue Adlard



Prestbury Parish Magazine - December 2002 / January 2003

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