The roots of what we do in Lent are ancient, going way back even to Old
Testament times. King David asked God's forgiveness with three symbols of
penitence: putting ashes on his head, fasting and wearing sackcloth.
Christians try to make the six weeks of Lent a special season by three
similar activities. They are powerful symbols.
- Recognising our total dependence on God - starting Lent by being
marked with the sign of the Cross;
- Self-denial - giving something up during Lent, to remember that Jesus
give up everything for us;
- Simplification of living - recognising that we are too dependent on
Our Services on Ash Wednesday contain this very old Christian custom.
Churchgoers are marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes as a sign of
penitence and mortality. The ashes are made by burning palm crosses from
last year's Palm Sunday. The ash is sometimes mixed with anointing oil.
At the Service, this prayer is said:
God our Father, you create us from the dust of the earth.
Grant that these ashes may be for us a sign of our penitence,
and a symbol of our mortality.
Based on God's sentence on Adam in Genesis ch.3 v.19, the minister marks
each worshipper on the forehead, and says,
Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return
and may add,
Turn away from sin and believe the gospel.
As we stand before the altar, the Cross is traced on the forehead
exactly where we were marked at Baptism. It is a reminder of all those
occasions when we have failed to live up to our baptism and confirmation
The use of anointing oil reminds us of the anointing in the Holy Spirit
that took place at our baptism, and that only the power of the Spirit can
transform our human frailty.
The cross of ashes symbolises the way Jesus' sacrifice on the cross
replaces the Old Testament tradition of making burnt offerings to atone for
sin. The cross on the believer's forehead symbolises that through Christ's
death and resurrection, all Christians can be free from sin.
The ashes also remind us that God made the first human being by
breathing life into dust, and without God, we human beings are nothing more
than dust and ashes. It is a timely reminder that death comes to everyone.
Some worshippers leave church with the mark still on their forehead so
that they carry the sign of the cross out into the world. Others leave with
the ashes washed off as a sign that they have been cleansed of their sin.
Please take the opportunity that Lent offers to look at your own life
and your response to the freely given love of Jesus. Start as you mean to
go on - join us at one of our Ash Wednesday Services, and be renewed under
the sign of the Cross.
Ash Wednesday 9th February
The Imposition of Ashes will take place during a Said Eucharist at
10.30am at both St Mary's and St Nicolas' and during a Sung Eucharist at St
Nicolas' at 7.30pm. Please join us to worship on one of the most important
days in the worship cycle of the Christian Year.
Bishop Michael has asked that prayers be said in every church of the
diocese on every day of Lent. The Worship Committee are aware that within
the Parish, it is only on a Tuesday that prayers are not said in St Mary's.
It is proposed that prayers will be said in St Mary's at 12 noon on each
Tuesday in Lent and that these prayers will be led by a member of the
laity. With this in mind a list will be displayed in the porch at St Mary's
requesting people of the parish to sign up to lead prayers on one of these
Tuesdays. An outline of a suitable format will be available from Father
Please sign the bright blue notice to ensure we fulfil Bishop Michael's
John Moles, Worship Committee
Parish Lent Course
A five-session course with booklet and audio-tape/CD
- Family Relationship
- Relating to Strangers
- Church Relationships
- Broken Relationships
- Our relationship with God
This year's Lent Course begins in the week of 13th February. 'Better
Together?' is a York Course in five sessions, looking at the way in
which we deal with relationships. Please look at the posters displayed in
church and sign up on the lists to indicate which day and time would be
most convenient for you to take part. This is a Team-wide venture, so we
hope to offer a number of venues to allow everyone to attend a group of
their choice. More information is available from Colin Holman (St Mary's),
Margaret Compton (St Nicolas') or Jennifer Swinbank (All Saints').
This 'Act of Worship for Families and Children' will take place at
9.30am on Good Friday in All Saints' church. All are welcome. It will
finish in good time to get back to Prestbury for the Passion Play
performances at 11am and 3pm.
Prestbury Passion Play
Good Friday 25th March
Scouts' Field, The Burgage
Performances 11am & 3pm
taken during the rehearsals
Easter planning meeting
Thursday 3rd February 7.45pm at St Nicolas'. An opportunity to plan and
implement our Easter celebrations in the Parish. If you usually organise an
event, have any new ideas or suggestions, or would like to be involved in
Easter planning in some way this year, please come along to this open
meeting. Many thanks!
The Mission & Outreach Team
The new heating is now running in its final form. The boiler house is
transformed, with a shiny white boiler, a blue computer control panel and
lots of glittering silver pipework. Guided tours by appointment!
Every Sunday the clock timer is set individually for each day of the
week to cover just each regular service and each 'one-off' occasion. To
begin with it was set to come on two hours before an event, but we are
experimenting to see how long is actually necessary. Also to begin with the
church 'room thermostat' was set quite high, leading to comments about
tropical conditions - something never before encountered at St Mary's!
Again we are now inching down the setting to judge what is reasonable.
We have not yet had a really cold spell, so it has not been necessary to
switch the fan convectors to 'Fast' before a service starts for maximum
warm-up. There have been comments that even on 'Slow' speed the noise is
noticeable. It might be that they can be arranged to go off completely at
times, but the convectors are a necessary part of the system.
For the first hour or two of a heating period, the gas cost is about
£4.50 an hour, dropping a little as the church warms up. It is not
practicable to heat just one area, say the Upper Room, so there could still
be a use for a small electric heater!
The white radiators will be painted by us and a small group are choosing
some possible colours.
On 16th November Bob was invested as a Member of the British Empire by
the Queen at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his 'Services to Young
People and to the Community of Prestbury'. Below are a few facets of this
service, in which he has been upheld and supported by Barbara in every way.
Bob served Prestbury as a family doctor for 37 years, retiring after a
heart attack. For most of those years the surgery was in his own home. He
is a Serving Brother of the Order of St John. He was Group Scout Leader of
Prestbury Scouts, District Commissioner for Cheltenham, and County
Commissioner of the Gloucestershire Scout Association. He is now District
President and a County Vice President. He was closely involved with the
Cheltenham Young Homeless project from its founding, and has acted as an
'Appropriate Adult' since his retirement, spending hours at police stations
to support young people.
For 46 years Bob was Churchwarden of this parish. His contribution to
church life has been significant. He was a governor of both St Mary's
Infant and Junior Schools, chairman of Capel Court Management Committee and
chairman of the Prestbury United Charities, which administers alms-houses
and supports less well-off parishioners. He has been involved in every
Prestbury Passion Play so far, and is now helping to plan the 2005
production. With his hobby of wood-turning he has made the staff for the
Processional Cross at St Mary's, staves for the St Nicolas' Wardens and the
ciborium for the Reserved Sacrament.
Despite his heart condition, Bob has cycled annually on behalf of the
British Heart Foundation and the Gloucestershire Historic Churches
Preservation Trust, usually covering over 20 miles.
Congratulations Bob! We give thanks for all your service done in God's
Name for his people.
of Bob and Barbara taken on the day of the investiture on their
grandson's web pages
Progress with 'The Lounge' Youth Group
Recently I had the pleasure of relaxing in front of a lovely roaring
open fire at my Dad's house. It is a fantastic feeling, but the initial
process of ignition requires much patience, with false starts and flickers
of flame which need to be gently encouraged. It is much the same with
developing any relationship and particularly with youth work.
For many weeks Emma Bradley and I would sit in the lounge at St Nicolas'
chatting over a coffee with, if we were lucky, a couple of young people
dropping in to suss out the new youth venue idea. There is now a regular
group of young people attending 'The Lounge' with a co-operative atmosphere
which we are confident will continue to develop.
The group is made up of young people in Year 9 and above (aged 13+),
with a total of 13 young people attending so far. The majority are local
young people with whom we have built relationships through The Space and
Twilight Zone (a blast from the past!). The emphasis is very much on
providing a relaxed environment for conversation and mutual support, with
growing opportunities for planning activities. Areas such as coping with
school and starting out in employment have been significant areas for
As leaders, Emma and I have been particularly encouraged by the
increasing maturity and openness of the young people. There is a real
lesson about the way in which relationships are built up over time, it
highlights the value of all those who have been committed to volunteering
with our youth groups. I would particularly like to thank Emma for her
commitment to the group, and the Guides for their flexibility in working
alongside us. Please continue to pray for the group as we continue to build
mutual trust and respect.
Parish Youth Development Worker, Prestbury & Pittville Youth
Many of you know that in December we said a very big 'thank you' to
Frances Murton who retired from leading Rockers' Half-Hour at St Mary's.
Frances took over the leadership of Rockers from Jean Williams in September
1984 and so had led it for just over twenty years. Frances estimates that
over 400 children (with their parents or carers) have attended Rockers
during this time, so this has been a tremendous ministry to them as well as
a very significant outreach into our parish. The current Rockers presented
Frances with flowers, book tokens and a card as an expression of their
thanks and best wishes. We all join in thanking Frances for her enormous
contribution over these twenty years and we send her our very best wishes
for the future - part of which (thankfully) is still as Magazine Editor!!
was brought forward a couple of days to Saturday 4 December 2004.
In the Eucharist sermon slot we heard some of the stories of a wealthy
young man who gave money to the needy and became the Bishop of Myra. Some
younger members of the congregation helped to enact the story of a poor man
with three daughters and no money for dowries. It was likely they would
have to be sold into slavery. An unknown person on three occasions threw
bags of gold into their home to provide the dowries. It turned out the
mystery benefactor was our Bishop Nicolas.
After the Eucharist we found set out at tables around the Hall a simple
tea of sandwiches and cakes and cups of tea. Our catering committee do not
do things by halves. There were so many types of sandwiches and cakes it
was hard to choose which to go for first. Having had our fill the tables
were rearranged and the fun began. We had a Beetle Drive. It was very
frustrating if you couldn't throw a two. The winners of each game had to
move to the next table and if everyone followed the rules properly we
should have met everyone else in the room by the end of the game! Being a
birthday party we had another cake, which was cut by Fr Michael.
Thank you for your prayers while this initiative has become a weekly
reality. We have much to give thanks to God for - an average attendance of
about fifty, a good range of ages, an emerging pattern of worship and the
support of differently gifted people.
What has been happening? We have met for worship since October at 9.30
on Sunday mornings at St Mary's church, with a short spell in the church
hall during work on the church heating. Music is provided by keyboard,
drums, flute and guitar with appropriate vocals.
Part of the music group in action on Christmas Day.
Words and images are projected for all to see. Each week is themed round
a topic or bible passage with activities intended to allow people of all
ages and stages to worship God in a way that is meaningful for them. This
has included flag waving, prayer writing, music making and weaving
What happens next? We shall be exploring some of Jesus' miracles in
February. Please continue to pray for this work and worship.
The Advent Trail was the brainchild of the Mission & Outreach committee
to bring the Christmas message to the heart of Prestbury village in an
innovative and fun way. It aimed to emphasise that Advent is a time of
Christian countup rather than commercial countdown to Christmas.
Mary Turner and I worked on the project, with many thanks also to Kate
Bestwick and Caroline Sexton for all their administrative support. We
contacted a number of local groups including Sunday Club, Bushbabies, the
Infant and Junior after-school clubs as well as individuals. (Ages ranged
from 3 to 17.) The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and within days
we had our pictures for the trail.
Our next task was to bring in local support to locate hosts for the
pictures. Margaret Waker came to the rescue and with a blend of persuasive
charm and dogged determination she engaged the cooperation of shopkeepers,
householders, publicans, schools, surgery, churches and library to display
As the days of Advent unfolded the pictures appeared inside or outside
buildings. It was a nervous time with me walking around to see if the
pictures had been put up. O me of little faith! Everyone turned up trumps.
Families and children started to follow the trail, clutching their
orange quiz sheets, and even the most exposed pictures weathered wind and
rain. I have had reports of people meeting and greeting one another on the
trail. I certainly did when I followed the circuit with my grandchildren.
All the children who completed the Advent Trail have been awarded a small
prize and a certificate for taking part.
At Epiphany the pictures were put on display in St Mary's. In a sense they
Something to repeat? Let me know when you see me. We certainly felt it
was a welcome addition to our Christmas activities.
Daphne Philpot, Mission & Outreach
The evening started well with a lovely Epiphany service at 6.30 in St
Mary's Church, Prestbury; Thursday 6th January, the twelfth day of
Christmas. The church was packed full of eager people, church leaders, lay
people and congregation. The church was candlelit in readiness and trestle
tables had been arranged in the wings; tablecloths, table centres, the
have such a lovely time! A suite of ladies had prepared a super supper of
chicken and broccoli bake, goulash and a very special vegetarian option:
everyone was catered for. There was wine and soft drinks for all and
entertainment with Vital Spark later on.
We queued and dined and chatted with friends and the evening was
punctuated with popping corks and laughter. Servers came round with more
wine and second helpings; I don't think there was a dirty plate or anything
but clean bowls and empty casserole dishes by the end of the evening!
The music was seasonal and historical from a group of eleven local
musicians and singers whose repertoire was varied and fun, from Thomas
Hardye's Stinsford and Puddletown Church choir offerings to Northern Soul
(well, spiritual songs from the outskirts of Sheffield!!). With violins, a
Serpent, clarinets and concertinas, and upbeat Psalms rewritten to meter,
and rendered in Do Ray Me fashion - there were Shepherds watching their
flocks by night, and verses from Luke and Matthew, and they wished Us A
Very Merry Christmas in rounds to orchestrated cries of encore!!!
A special thanks was given by Father Michael at the end, who let on that
all contributors had donated their time and efforts for free for the
Tsunami fund and that so far that evening had raised also over £200 to the
appeal. And the inevitable raffle brought cries of 'we've been trying not
to win that box of chocs for the last three raffles - we keep putting it
back in!' - well they grow on you, Gill! Well done all.
pictures taken on the evening
We had a very enjoyable evening. After the Eucharist we had a candle-lit
supper of goulash and trifle and were once again entertained by Vital Spark
- what a treat!
Thank you to everyone who prepared food, moved furniture and helped on
the night. Vital Spark kindly donated their travelling expenses, which
meant we raised around £440 for the tsunami fund - thank you.
Grandmother's Recipe for Goulash
For several years when at Medical School my husband shared digs with a
Hungarian Medic friend. Although George left Hungary at a tender age his
family still used his Grandmother's recipe for goulash Budapest style, he
would stew large fiery pots of it for parties. The Goulash we ate at the
Epiphany supper was a more gentle version. If you would like a copy of the
recipe, please contact me.
Spirit of Christmas
On Friday 10 December 2004 the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, in
partnership with the Stagecoach Theatre Arts, presented a Candlelit
celebration in Gloucester Cathedral entitled 'The Spirit of Christmas' -
'both a celebration of Christmas and an affirmation of hope'.
Sophie, who is a member of our Junior Church and of the local Stagecoach
Theatre Arts School, took part in this presentation along with 101 other
students from the Cheltenham and Gloucester Stagecoach groups, ages ranging
from 6 to 18. All those who took part were invited to write a poem entitled
'When Children Rule the World' - the winner having the honour of reading
their poem out during the performance.
Sophie won the competition and consequently read her poem to a packed
Cathedral on the evening of the performance. She also read it again at our
Christingle Service at St Mary's Church on Sunday 12 December.
When Children Rule the World
When children rule the world
There will be no more war
There will be food for everyone
Including the poor
When children rule the world
Everyone will eat healthily
And all families
Will live wealthily
When children rule the world
There will be no more fear
And close to everyone
Love will be near
When children rule the world
The air will be filled with laughter
And everyone will live
Happily ever after
Sophie B (aged 8)
towards anything and everything;
|this was Miss Hawkins.
as a class, as a family,
||with Miss Hawkins.
by everyone as she respected us;
||this was Miss Hawkins.
with our problems;
||this was Miss Hawkins.
and enthusiastic in all our lessons;
||this was Miss Hawkins
interested and friendly to other people;
||this was Miss Hawkins.
for other people in their time of need;
||this was Miss Hawkins.
to help when you were finding things hard;
||this was Miss Hawkins.
pleased when good things happened to you;
||this was Miss Hawkins.
terrific teacher; brilliant at the job she did;
||OUR TEACHER, Miss Hawkins.
Anna C (age 12) & Kathryn T
Anne Hawkins was Deputy Headteacher at St Mary's Infant School for
nineteen years until her death on 1st November 2004. Anna and Kathryn read
their poem at Anne's memorial service at All Saints' church in December.
War Graves, Prestbury (St Mary) Churchyard
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission would like to erect standard
pattern war headstones on two graves in St Mary's churchyard. If you have
any information about the next of kin of either A. V. HOLMAN or A. MCG.
INGLIS please contact the Parish Office, The Rectory, Tatchley Lane,
Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL52 3DQ
These meetings will take place on Sunday 13 March. There will be
notices in the churches giving details of vacancies and nomination
St Mary's Bakestall 2005
Back to the usual arrangements of a Bakestall on the
third Sunday of the month. Contributions for February 20th will be most
welcome from the N-Z team.
In 2004 we raised a total of £360. We responded to a
number of Urgent Appeals from Christian Aid, Care International, Unicef and
World Vision to help victims in Iran (earthquake), Sudan and Dafur.
Donations were sent to Let the Children Live, the Medical Foundation which
cares for victims of torture, to Hope Africa, an initiative of the Anglican
Diocese of Cape Town responding to the plight of the poor, and to ITDG
which applies technology to this problem worldwide.
Thank you to everyone who has baked and bought. Can we do
as well this year?
Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews
Carol singing at Cheltenham supermarkets on Saturday
December 18th was good fun and well supported. Many thanks to all
singers! St Nicolas' raised £126.90 at Tesco and St Mary's raised £140.54
The Bethlehem Christmas Appeal: £175 was raised
for this from St Nicolas' congregation. Thank you to all who contributed.
Asia Tsunami Disaster Appeal:
To date £970 has been sent to this from the bucket
collections, via Christian Aid, from St Mary's and St Nicolas', much of it
gift-aided, thereby raising an extra 30%. As well as the very pleasing
£1100 raised by the coffee morning and sale held at All Saints' church on
Saturday 15th January, through the efforts of all three of our
congregations, the Appeal continues, and Christian Aid encourages us, if we
pay Income Tax, to fill in the Gift Aid declaration on the envelopes, so
that tax can be reclaimed by the charity from Inland Revenue.
Thank you to every contributor.
Gill Ashman and Paddy Spurgeon
Not only a flock of sheep for Christmas...!
The World Vision Alternative Christmas Card at St Mary's
raised £223.87 which is sufficient to provide not just a flock of sheep for
a family in Senegal but also a Tube Well for a community in countries like
Ethiopia and Cambodia, a sewing machine to help start a family business in
Bangladesh and, with the help of Gift Aid, a child's desk with educational
supplies and a vegetable garden starter kit.
The Parish Christmas collections of £1504.46 have also
been sent to World Vision, so together this makes a grand total of
Margaret Holman & Margaret Waker.
Christingle Service 2004
It was wonderful to see the church full for the
Christingle Service. Father Stephen told the story explaining the relevance
of all the parts of the orange, which the children all enjoyed (the adults
A total of £304 was raised for the Children's Society.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this sum.
A BIG thank you to Waitrose, Jane's Hairdressers and
Prestbury P.O. who kindly donated the oranges. Also thank you to all those
who helped put the Christingles together.
Children's Society Boxes at St Mary's
Money collected in boxes last year came to a total of
£249. Thank you to all box holders. I will be collecting and opening the
boxes again in the summer. The Children's Society reaches out to help over
50,000 children every year. Many are runaways who have been abused. Anybody
who would like a box or could help me to collect or count the money will be
The Children's Society at St Nicolas'
Very many thanks to all the box holders who have helped
to collect a total of £377.80 during 2004. Thanks also to Enid Cowley who
patiently helped me to count all those pennies.