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Prestbury Parish Magazine

September 2004


"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered.
"May it be to me as you have said."
Luke 1:38



The pictures on the front cover of the Parish Magazine this year were drawn in November 2003 by children of the Prestbury After School Club at St Mary's Junior School. The picture of Mary this month was drawn by Jessica, who was aged ten years.

September 2004


Prestbury - A Trendy Parish?

New Service at St Mary's

Eucharist with a Difference

Questioning Priorities and the Importance of a Relationship with God

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

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month

The Parish Registers

Prestbury - A Trendy Parish?

Now if I had asked you to sit down and think of the first word that popped into your head to describe our church life in Prestbury, 'trendy' may not have been top of your list. However, one of the latest ideas to come from both the scholars and those on the front line of mission in Britain is that of the 'mixed economy' church.

It may sound a bit more familiar from Geography lessons than RE but one of the key insights into the shape of people's faith lives in 21st century Britain is that Christianity is unfamiliar to most people - they have never been to Sunday School, their vague memories of RE at school blur Jesus with Buddha and the trip to the local crematorium for their grandfather's funeral seemed rather wordy and sort of washed over them. It is not that they do not want God - there is a lively interest in spirituality - but 'Church' seems a bit irrelevant. The people we meet every day are at such different stages in their faith journeys that we can no longer invite everyone to the same service and expect it to touch them all equally.

The Eucharist is rightly the centre of our faith, the supreme means of grace, but to someone who has barely heard the name Jesus, let alone who he is and what he has done for us, communion can seem boring, impenetrable, irrelevant and, worst of all, exclusive. Instead of being a sign of God's generosity, it may seem to keep newcomers out, second-class citizens. To be a missionary church in 21st century Prestbury the experts tell us we need to offer a variety of ways to be Christian, a variety of services.

As Bishop Michael put it in his first sermon to the diocese, we need to be a 'both/and' church not an 'either/or' one. And indeed that is precisely what we are trying to do. Through our long consultation process, through much listening to each other and to God, we have come to the 'trendy' conclusion. We have decided to be a 'both/and' church. Instead of forcing everyone to adapt to one uniform sort of worship, we are trying to expand the options.

We have been doing it for years anyway - St Nicolas' is very different from St Mary's, the 8 o'clock has an atmosphere of its own, the Eucharists with a Difference, the Youth Services and the regular worship at Elevate and Synergy have all shown different ways that we can worship our one God. We do not have to be identikit Christians, Church can be 'both/and' - our God loves all our worship, as long as it is from the heart, an authentic response to his love for us.

So now we are preparing for another option - a family service at St Mary's at 9.30 every Sunday, starting in October. Something entirely different. It will not be just a stepping stone to coming along to the later service but a whole new congregation offering their own worship to God in different ways, with drama, different styles of music, lots of activity and all in a way perhaps more easy for those just starting their journey of faith to make sense of.

It will take time and effort and prayer to build the new service up and, if we are serious about being a 'both/and' church not an 'either/or' one, then it will take commitment and possibly sacrifice from all our members, not just those who want to go to the new service. It will not work if, as a church family, we say 'That does not affect me! I go to another service'. We need to be one body committed to being Christians together in both traditional and new ways, equally valid, equally worthwhile. We need an enthusiasm from all of us to encourage one another, to share the good news of Jesus as we have experienced it in our lives and to declare unashamedly that there are many different routes to Jesus, many different ways to God. And when you put it like that it does not sound too 'trendy' after all, just good old-fashioned common sense!

Fr Grant


New Service at St Mary's

Encouraged by the very positive response to the special Palm Sunday event and the Summer picnic for children and their parents/carers, we have taken the significant decision to launch a weekly service aimed mainly at families. This will take place at St Mary's church every Sunday at 9.30am, lasting about forty minutes. It will be a time to welcome family members of all ages for non-eucharistic worship with songs and activities which should appeal to adults as well as children. The first service will be on 10th October. Please keep this important new venture in your prayers.

If you would like more information or are interested in helping to run this new service in any way, please talk to Daphne Philpot, Fr Michael, Andy Macauly or Jerry Porter.

Daphne Philpot, Mission & Outreach Committee


Eucharist with a Difference

From time to time at St Nicolas' a Eucharist with a Difference is held at the 9.30 Sunday service. The central core of the Eucharist is always kept but other parts of the service are altered in a number of thought provoking ways.

The service sometimes requires a greater degree of participation on the part of the congregation than normal. Drama may play a part. Service booklets may be replaced by projected words and images. A talk may be given not by a member of our clergy team.

It is not possible to bring all of these elements to you by way of the magazine but here, below, is the talk Clare Wood gave in July. I trust you will find it as much a source of blessing as those of us who were fortunate enough to be there at the time.

Sue Read, MLT

Questioning Priorities and the Importance of a Relationship with God

Isn't it lovely when you get handed the title of what you have to talk about? I've been asked to talk about 'Questioning Priorities and the Importance of a Relationship with God'. But surely talking to you about having God as one of your priorities is unnecessary. You're here on a Sunday morning; you're not washing the car, watching TV or eating breakfast in bed. Surely your priorities are right and God will of course be duly pleased.

But is that all God wants? Full seats on a Sunday morning? I fear that the answer is 'no'. What is the true measure of our priorities and character? Unfortunately for us, it is not by our behaviour on a Sunday morning that we will be judged. It's a bit like the saying 'A puppy is for life, not Christmas'. The same can be applied to our relationship with God; you can't acknowledge him for an hour every Sunday morning and then switch him off for the rest of the week. He should have his rightful place in our minds all the time!

It is important to ask yourself 'What priorities do I value?' and consider all the things you deem of importance. Then step back and compare the list you come up with to the priorities that God values. How do they differ? For most of us, if we are being honest with ourselves and with God, the two lists are far from identical. (At this point it might be a good idea to remind ourselves that God does not demand perfection, even if he deserves it!) In order for you to compare your list against God's we need to first determine what God's priorities actually are. Don't worry, I won't throw that question out for you to answer, however tempting!

He wants us to love him and to love each other; this is pretty self-explanatory and we all know the meaning of it, but how many of us can claim that we wholeheartedly follow this, Christ's most important commandment? We all need reminding.

He wants us to live the life that he has planned for us; to do that we need to obey him. In Romans 6 Paul announces:

'Thanks be to God, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.'

Paul stresses that obeying God's will doesn't mean that we are being manipulated or put under any formal laws and rules - it is quite the opposite - we are being liberated! Liberated from the captivity of sin and certain death. Liberated from the memories of sin and its effects. Liberated to be the people we were created to be. Following his will is a blessing, not a restriction.

We must trust the plans he has for us; think back for a minute to Moses:

'But Moses said to the Lord, "Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?"'

When we are called by God to evangelise, don't hide behind excuses! God will be there with us guiding us in what to say and do. He turned the stammering Moses into the greatest leader of his time. Surely we should give God the chance to use the gifts, abilities and experience, he has given us, for his service.

He wants us to be thankful; there's a charming story of a boy in primary school who was thankful for his glasses, in his own words he said 'they stop the boys from hitting me, and the girls from kissing me'. Whether the blessings we have are great or small it's important to reflect on them, even if counting your blessings is the hardest arithmetic to master.

Perhaps what God longs for most for each of us is to have a relationship with him; God wants to be in a relationship with every single one of us, where we come to know him every day in prayer to get to know him more, because it is through prayer that we discover God's will. Every one of us here has some kind of relationship with God and it is part of our call as Christians to develop this relationship. For some this task may seem impossible, how can you develop a relationship with someone you can't see or hear? The answer, I believe, is that you can see God; in the same way we see the wind, we can see the effects of God, on individuals, communities and nations. He is actively at work through us and we can see those changes, if we look. I also believe we can hear God; the gift of the bible enables us to hear the word of God and we can find daily inspiration from it.

The most important moments of the day are when you open your heart to the Lord, seeking what he has to say to you and speaking honestly with him. We sometimes think of God as too distant to confide in him about our dilemmas. But when we go through troubled times God is there to help us through, he can help us handle anything! At moments of difficulty the answer is not to put God on the shelf gathering dust until the storm has blown over, the problems we tell God about need not be the simple and sanitized ones, he wants us in his presence even when our hearts are full of conflict and pain. Let us be honest with him, God is not another person whom we have to pretend to be fine to, our relationship with him can go no further if it is based on denial and lies.

So let our aim be to journey through life with God. Jesus said:

'Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only few find it.'

Jesus reminds us that we must lead the life he wants us to; grace does not dismiss discipleship and mercy does not release us from our need to genuinely repent.

So to summarize briefly I set to you three tasks:

  • The first is to honestly ask yourself what your priorities are;
  • The second is to compare your priorities with God's priorities for you;
  • And the third is to set aside a quiet time each day to develop your relationship with God through finding inspiration in the bible and praying. For, it says in Matthew 6, 'when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.'

Clare Wood




Sunday Club/School

Our new term will start on Sunday 5th September at the usual times: 11 o'clock at St Mary's and 9.20 at St Nicolas' and we look forward to seeing you there. If you feel that you would like to assist in any way please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Linda Biggs

Wednesday 8th September The Birthday of the BVM St Mary's Patronal Festival

A Sung Festival Eucharist for the whole Team Ministry 7.30pm St Mary's Followed by a celebratory glass of wine! Join us for this very significant occasion in our Church year!

Sunday 12th September

First visit to Prestbury by The Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester who will Preside and Preach at both Sung Eucharists 9.15am St Nicolas' and 11.00am St Mary's

Please note earlier start time at St Nicolas'. This is to allow Bishop Michael time to greet members of the congregation before leaving for St Mary's

Rockers' Half-Hour

We start our new term on Thursday 16th September at 2pm in St Mary's church. If you and your small child/grandchild (0-5 years) would like to join us for this short informal service do come. In addition to action songs and a bible story there are toys for the babies and a cup of tea for the adults.

Frances Murton

Prestbury Mothers' Union

The next meeting of the MU will be on Tuesday 21st September in St Mary's Church. Mrs Theresa Vearncombe will talk about the International Year of the Family. The meeting starts at 7.30 pm and all are welcome.

Marion Beagley

St Mary's Bakestall

Over the past three years our successful stall has managed to send 1,200 to various Charities! All credit to the faithful band of supporters!

This year we seem to be in difficulties and really need some new contributors to make up the numbers in our three teams so that no one is asked to provide more often than once every three months. If you feel you can help please do have a word with Linda or Margaret.

Our next Bakestall will be held on Sunday 26th September for contributions from those with surnames N-Z.

Linda Matthews & Margaret Waker

Feast of St Michael and All Angels Wednesday 29th September

We normally celebrate this Feast with a Sung Eucharist; however this year our new Bishop is visiting the Cheltenham Deanery from 27th to 29th September. On Wednesday 29th Bishop Michael has asked clergy, readers, members of Local Ministry Teams, Churchwardens and PCC members to join him for a Deanery Eucharist at St Philip & St James, Leckhampton, followed by a meeting with Bishop Michael at the University Lecture Theatre at the Park Campus. I am sure anyone would be welcome to attend the Eucharist. We will still have our normal Said Eucharist at 7.30pm in St Mary's that evening.

Fr Michael

Churchyard Cleanup

We hope to have a churchyard cleanup in October so that it will be neat and tidy for the winter. There is also a huge heap of grass cuttings to dispose of and probably some pruning to do. As many people as possible will be needed, so keep watch for the date in the weekly notices and in next month's magazine.

Ken Bradbury

Harvest Celebrations

We start our Harvest Celebrations this year on Saturday October 2nd in St Mary's Church Hall, Bouncers Lane (full details next month) and continue with Harvest Services on Sunday October 3rd at St Nicolas' and St Mary's at the usual times

Ruth Rudge

Mid-Morning Music at St Mary's

There will be a mid-morning concert at St Mary's on Wednesday 13th October starting with coffee at 10.30am. It will be given by Music Scholars from Dean Close School. Please come!

Christine McKelvey

St Mary's Sunday Refreshment

The proceeds from Sunday morning refreshment, 150, have been sent to World Vision for the Sudan crisis.

Margaret Holman

Ringing course at St Mary's

I would like to say a public Thank You to Mary and David Lynch who ran an 'introduction to change ringing' course over a six-week period in July and August. During the course about half a dozen people climbed the stone steps and then the wooden ladder into the ringing chamber of the tower at St Mary's and learned about the theory of ringing and experienced the joys and problems of the hands-on practicalities of bell handling. We enjoyed having the chance to do this.

Sue Read

Thank You!

I would like to thank everyone for their kind congratulations upon my receiving the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

It is indeed a great honour but it has been a privilege to have been able to serve such a caring community as Prestbury over so many years and in a variety of ways. I have been conscious of the help and support I have been given by so many people in the medical practice, churches, schools and charities to name a few.

Young people have also helped, particularly in the Scout Movement locally and throughout the county. There are so many grand young people and their leaders who work voluntarily with enthusiasm and dedication who have shown great support and friendship.

Of course little could have been achieved without the wholehearted support and encouragement of Barbara; the great thing is that we have enjoyed it all and hope to continue to serve in several ways for years to come.

Also my sincere thanks for all the kind thoughts, prayer and cards for my heart bypass operation in Bristol Royal Infirmary on 23rd July. An eventful two months from which I am recovering steadily thanks to much TLC.

Bob Lyle

PS Travellers along Tatchley Lane may not have been aware that, for the past few months, they have been in jeopardy of falling masonry from our chimney! However, having now suffered a week of disruption through the necessity of scaffolding to make the repair, all is safe again and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Barbara Lyle



Prestbury Parish Magazine - September 2004

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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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