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Prestbury Parish Magazine

May 2005


Easter all year round!

Ian Higginson

Corpus Christi

Frank Merrett R.I.P. 1924 - 2005

Bible Reading Fellowship

St Marys Flower Arrangers Annual Meeting 2005

The Passion Play

CHIKS Skittles Evening

Christian Aid Week -

Ecumenical Service

Prestbury Open Gardens

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 2005


Easter all year round!

Archbishop Ramsey once said, 'We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song!' But as we come towards the close of the great fifty days of Easter and our thoughts turn to Pentecost and beyond, is that really the way we live as Christians? Do we carry Easter constantly in our hearts? For Easter is not just one day, nor even a season but an attitude of heart and mind.

The journey through the triduum - the holy three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday - teaches us three main things: the Last Supper about community, love; the Cross about the reality and purposefulness of suffering; the Resurrection about hope and the astonishing triumph of God. So there should be three dimensions to our living as an Easter people, whether it is in May, June or December.

Walking with Jesus from the Upper Room to Golgotha and the Empty Tomb both places us more truly in history and yet at the same time, paradoxically, sets us free from it. We are more in touch with the world God created, with its pain, its groaning for justice, mercy and peace, and yet placed beyond it, set free to see time and history, even death, from the perspective of eternity. It is both daunting and liberating and at its heart is an astonishing hope - that feeling of being 'surprised by joy' that C S Lewis describes so well. To be Easter people is to enter more deeply into the everyday world and to transform it, to be ever bringing joy from tears.

As so often, it was brought home for me by the words of a child. After watching the Passion Play, my daughter told me - in that very assured way that only three-year-olds have - that she only had the Baby Jesus in her heart, Jesus on the Cross was too big and wouldn't fit. And then came the question (as all parents expect... and dread!), 'Daddy, you're big. Do you have big Jesus in your heart?' And that is the question - do I have the big Jesus in my heart? Am I an Easter person? Is my heart constantly being stretched by God to live out the great realities of love, sympathetic suffering and above all astonishing joy and hope in everything I do? Or am I only too happy to keep Easter in its season, to settle for the little Jesus, one that does not make too many demands? Which Jesus do you have in your hearts?

Let us call for the big Jesus! Let us truly be an Easter people all year round, alleluia!

Fr Grant


Ian Higginson

Many of you will know that on Sunday 24th April we said 'farewell' to Ian and Janine Higginson. Ian joined us in October 2002 as Director of Music at St Nicolas' and then, on the retirement of Malcolm McKelvey, was appointed Director of Music for the whole Parish. Ian has played the organ for services in both our churches and has led both church choirs. Ian is a highly respected and extremely able musician and has brought a great depth of musical ability and experience to his role. We are very grateful to him for the time he has spent with us and also to Janine, who has generously contributed her own musical gifts. We wish Ian and Janine well for the future and send them our thanks and prayers.

Fr Michael


Corpus Christi

The Thursday following Trinity Sunday is traditionally kept as the Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) or, in our Common Worship lectionary, 'Thanksgiving for Holy Communion'. This year, on Thursday 26th May, the Feast will be celebrated with a United Sung Eucharist in All Saints' Church at 7.30pm. This Team-wide service will be followed by the opportunity to enjoy one another's company over some wine and cheese!

In this Feast we give thanks for the most precious gift of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; the Eucharist; the Lord's Supper; the Mass - that which has been at the very centre of the Church's life from the earliest days after She was born at Pentecost. We take the opportunity to pause for a few moments and to reflect on just how wonderful and precious a gift we have been given by our loving God. A gift that we should never treat lightly, something that we should never cease to be thankful for. In the Eucharist ordinary things - bread and wine - are taken, blessed, broken and shared. These ordinary things, we believe, are brought to the altar and they are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and become, for us, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the conclusion of the service, we accompany the Blessed Sacrament as it is processed out through the west doors and carried around the outside of the church. A visible reminder that our God cannot be confined to one place - to one building. God is, we believe, amongst us and is also out there in the world amongst the community in which we live and work. We will carry God, present for us in this most holy sacrament, triumphantly around the outside of one of our church buildings, visibly reminding us that God encompasses us. He surrounds us and is truly present with us in all that we say and do.

We then return inside the church and, believing that God is truly with us, we fall to our knees before Him in thanksgiving and in adoration. Then we will receive his 'benediction' - his special blessing. And as the sacrament is held up in blessing over us, we take that opportunity to know the love and the mercy and the peace of God which is given to us. His unique and most precious gift to us as his children. And as we adore Him, so we give thanks.

Fr Michael

Ascension and Pentecost

And don't forget two other great festivals this month - we celebrate Ascension Day on Thursday 5th May with a Joint Sung Eucharist at 7.30pm at St Nicolas', while Pentecost (Whitsun) ten days later on Sunday 15th May will have normal Sunday morning services (8.00 Eucharist, 9.30 Eucharist, 9.30 Celebrate! and 11.00 Eucharist) followed by United Choral Evensong at All Saints' at 6.30pm.


Frank Merrett R.I.P. 1924 - 2005

On 22nd March in St Nicolas' Church we gave thanks for the life of Frank Merrett, Reader Emeritus in the Parish of Prestbury. Frank died at home on 11th March, suddenly but peacefully, listening to a piece of choral music.

The funeral service was a very fitting tribute to a man who had lived such a full and varied life. All three of Frank's and Grace's children contributed to the service itself. Christopher and Penny both spoke about their father and Jonathan, a priest, conducted much of the service himself as well as playing a piece of music on his flute as a tribute to Frank's considerable musical interests and abilities.

In his address Fr Stephen related how Frank first came to Cheltenham in 1943 to train as a teacher at St Paul's College. On completing the teacher training course, Frank was then called up to serve in the Royal Navy, becoming a Sub-Lieutenant. We were also told how Frank was involved in the Normandy Landings on Sword Beach in 1944.

After being demobbed in 1946, Frank began his teaching career, as well as studying for his first degree and meeting and marrying Grace. In 1957 Frank was appointed to the staff of St Paul's College, lecturing in Geography. The family moved into Prestbury and became involved in the life of the church here, and Frank trained, and was licensed, as a Lay Reader in the Diocese of Gloucester.

In 1962 Frank's next appointment was to be Vice-Principal of the Bahamas Teachers' College, and the family moved to Nassau. They attended the Cathedral, where Frank sang in the choir. Frank became Principal of the College until 1969 when he returned to Prestbury. In 1971 Frank completed an MA, and was appointed a lecturer in the Wolverhampton Technical College, which eventually was absorbed into Birmingham University. Teaching within the University Education Department he completed a doctorate in Education in 1980.

Undoubtedly it was in the University Education Department that Frank did his most significant work. He researched and wrote papers and books on educational psychology and behavioural modification. He was appointed Research Fellow in 1982, and continued in this post until 1990, when he then became a part-time lecturer, working until 2003. In 1997 Frank was honoured for his work by being awarded a D.Litt. - a worthy tribute to his significant contribution to Education.

Frank's interests were varied - he trained as an Indexer, enjoying especially the challenge of indexing scientific books, and he was treasurer to the Society of Indexers. Frank carried on playing tennis, and his love for music and music-making developed - the flute especially amongst other instruments, and choral music - being a member of Cleeve Chorale. He worked for the Children's Society as a local speaker, and he wrote letters for Amnesty International.

Frank enjoyed travel, especially if it had a strong purpose, visiting South Africa, Zimbabwe and Rumania in order to see members of the family. He also visited Australia and New Zealand to lecture, and he made at least three visits to Nigeria with UNESCO.

Frank's church membership was fundamental to him: a Reader for many years within this Diocese, he was finally made Reader Emeritus and was also the Covenant Secretary at St Nicolas'. A member of the choir for many years, he was also a competent woodworker who made the cross above the altar in St Nicolas', which is a focus for our worship. Fr Stephen concluded his address by saying, 'it is with this empty cross, the sign of and focus of the resurrection, which is perhaps an appropriate point to end this tribute to Frank's life'.

We send our love and prayers to Grace and the family as we commend Frank to the love and care of God, his maker and redeemer. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Fr Michael


Bible Reading Fellowship

The booklets New Daylight and Guidelines are available from Michael Cole (St Mary's) or Paddy Spurgeon (St Nicolas'). For only 9.75 a year, or if you would just like to give it a trial 3.25 for four months, you have a well thought out, helpful introduction to a short passage from the Bible each day. New Daylight has the advantage of printing the passage for you, on the page, so you don't have to have your Bible to hand or fuss over trying to find the right place. Printed straight after it is a thought for the day arising from it, and a short prayer. If you can set aside a ten-minute slot each day to follow the scheme it is amazing what a benefit it can be.

Guidelines is a little more advanced, and is to be used in conjunction with your own Bible. Michael or Paddy would be pleased to hear from you.

Michael Cole


St Mary's Flower Arrangers Annual Meeting 2005

Twenty-one members of St Mary's Flower Arrangers met at Sheila Beer's house for their Annual Meeting on Thursday 31st March. Prayers were said with a special mention to Sue and Lawson Bennett and the sad loss of Di Petchey during the year. Lotte Rule was unable to be present but she had been thanked for organising the Mothering Sunday Posies, a task Di had lovingly and diligently done for many years. Lotte has agreed to continue to do this, for which we are grateful, especially as she is new to the Flower Arrangers.

Thanks were given to all the Flower Arrangers for the beautiful flowers which graced St Mary's church throughout the year. A special 'thank you' was given to the ladies who do the many arrangements for weddings and festivals. There are twenty forthcoming weddings to date, with three on one Saturday in August!

The Treasurer, Margaret Waker, gave her report, which had been audited by Noel Brick and was adopted. Money received from weddings boosted the accounts, which remain quite healthy.

Lindsey McGowan, who is in charge of weddings, had received several phone calls and 'thank you' cards from grateful brides.

The Open Gardens weekend of 25th and 26th June was discussed and several ladies readily agreed to do a small pedestal, table arrangements and windowsills that would grace St Mary's when visitors came to the church for 'Afternoon Tea'. Garden flowers were thought to be appropriate.

Coffee and biscuits were served as the members freely exchanged ideas.

We still do need extra help on our Rota and we will warmly welcome anybody who feels they would like to join us. Please do not be afraid to come forward.

Sheila Beer


The Passion Play Experience

For months before Good Friday many people were rehearsing confidently, all trying to do their part to glorify the Lord and spread His message. I was allocated the part of a young, inexperienced Roman soldier, who would be on duty at the crucifixion. Being at the start of the play and the end, rehearsals for the soldiers were very enjoyable as for much of it we were forced to drink coffee and socialize! The hardest part for me was learning the cues, as my lines were fairly simple.

As it got closer to the performance the soldiers were given their costumes. Thank goodness we had good weather! The tunic came down to our knees and the swirling cape, which looked very impressive, was not made to keep out the cold. When it came to the dress rehearsal the costumes really helped the atmosphere.

This was my second passion play and this time I think I was able to appreciate it more because I was older. As well as meeting new people and drinking coffee I could see that it was what we are called to do as Christians, to spread Jesus' love. I think it was very successful and I was proud to be a part of it.

Andrew W (aged 15)

An Honour

When I was first asked to be in the Passion Play, I will admit I was a little apprehensive, but after thinking about it I realised what an honour it was to take part in the world's greatest story. I found that attending the rehearsals each week really focused my mind on what Easter is all about. I found that chocolate and sweets are not that important, and that Easter Sunday should not be about eating as much chocolate as possible, it should be about Jesus' death and his resurrection.

Throughout the rehearsals we were reminded of the days leading up to Jesus' death, and his knowledge that one of his close friends was to betray him; it felt strange to know that what we were doing had actually happened and Jesus had died for us. The moment in the play which really struck me was the Crucifixion; it felt as though everything and everyone had stopped as they realised the whole meaning of Easter and how Jesus had died to save us.

I am really grateful for the experience I gained taking part in the Passion Play. I met so many new people and everyone who took part did a brilliant job!

Lucy M (aged 17)

Moved to Tears

It was a really powerful experience. Most memorable was the conviction of the acting and the way in which the drama involved the audience - for example in the last supper when the bread was passed round to everybody. Moving from one scene to another we felt as if we were part of the crowds in Jerusalem. I felt myself wanting to shout for Barabbas - such was the strength of feeling - then felt the shame of it minutes later as Jesus hung on the cross.

Hearing the reasoning of the chief priests, and the discussions with Peter around the fire before the cock crowed, I was startled by the similarity of the logic with that used by people today when they try to get their own way or try to look for the evil in others rather than themselves. The stark contrast of this with the strong and high-minded Jesus made this a striking commentary on today's issues.

My children, aged eight and six, were completely gripped by the story from beginning to end. I was moved to tears - and was clearly not the only one.

Rachel Cole

The Passion Play

My Daddy played the part of Jesus. My brother David, Mummy and I were in the crowd. We wore costumes like they wore in Jesus' time and sandals on our feet. We went with Daddy to some of the rehearsals on the scout field in Prestbury.

The crowd followed Jesus waving palm leaves and shouting Hosanna. After Daddy broke the bread Emma and I gave it to the crowd. We shouted for Daddy but Barabbas was freed.

I didn't like seeing Daddy on the cross but we knew it was only pretend.

When I looked at the crowd I was really happy to see Nanna, Grandad, Grandma and Grandpa and friends from school.

At 'Celebrate' on Easter Sunday it was like a party and we hunted for Easter eggs.

by Rachel J (aged 6 years)

Well Done!

Could I just offer my thanks and congratulations to all the people who took part in the Passion Play: for various reasons, this was the first time I had attended and I didn't really know what to expect. I came away having lived the story of Holy Week in an intensity which surprised and delighted me. Well done to all concerned!

Tony Comer

Passion Play re-visited

The Editor asked me to write a little about this year's production of the Prestbury Passion Play as I was inevitably very involved in the first and subsequent three productions. I was very impressed with how it has evolved and yet retained its original impact and pathos as the story unfolded ... and seeing the costumes brought back a host of memories from dyed sheets to plaited girdles! The purpose of doing the play (as some of you will remember) was to 'tell the story in the market place in the medieval tradition', and this witness reaches far more people than would ever be in church on Good Friday.

I liked the innovations of the live pigeons and sharing the bread at the Last Supper and I was particularly taken with the new Epilogue - bringing us all back to the 'here and now', but would it have been even more effective if Fr Stephen had worn his 21st century costume?

You certainly had 'the weather you deserved' as Ian always prayed - so well done everyone!

Helen Hazlewood

Prestbury Passion Play - Good Friday

Congratulations and Thank You to all who contributed in many different ways to this moving presentation.

The retiring collections raised 1,600 for Christian Aid.

There will be a Reunion with photos and videos on Wednesday 4th May at 7.30pm at St Nicolas' Church. Forget your lines, but please bring a small contribution towards the bring-and-share refreshments!

Bob Lyle


CHIKS Skittles Evening

Our skittles evening held on 1 April at the Royal Oak in aid of Children's Homes in Kerala State was a great success. We raised just over 310 - a tremendous result, I feel. My thanks go to all who contributed in any way, whether by participating, donating prizes, buying raffle tickets or helping on the night. Especial thanks are due to Simon, the landlord, who generously loaned us the alley free of charge for the event.

As far as I know, everyone who joined us on the night enjoyed themselves and many had the opportunity to meet and speak to Robin Radley, who helped set up the children's homes with Sister Mary. He spent a few minutes explaining the background to the project and described some of the difficulties presented by suspicious and blinkered villagers. It is not easy for us to understand how so many of the local people can be so hostile in the face of what to us is an unambiguous demonstration of divine and human love, but we can understand Sister Mary's instinctive reaction to want to pray with the children about everything. When George and I were there in February, she shared with us some of her extraordinary experiences and answers to prayer. One neighbour, for example, refused to do anything about his teak trees which were posing severe problems for Sister Mary and the home, so she gathered the children together and prayed about the situation. Not long afterwards an angry storm blew up in the night and when they got up the next morning they found that the trees in question had been uprooted! These stories were a very real reminder to us that our God is very practical, if we but give Him the opportunity.

Sylvia Walpole-Brown


Christian Aid Week -

15-21 May 2005

We hope that everyone will support the house-to-house collection. It would be wonderful if some more parishioners (over the age of 16) could spare 2 or 3 hours to help our loyal team of collectors, to make this a record total. Please contact one of us if you can help.

Gill Ashman (St Mary's) and Paddy Spurgeon (St Nicolas')


Ecumenical Service

On Sunday 8th May at 6.30pm we join with our brothers and sisters from the United Reformed and Roman Catholic Churches for a service at Holy Name Hall in Pennine Road. This will celebrate the work of Christian Aid in preparation for Christian Aid Week. Do come and join us.


St Mary's Bakestall

The next bakestall will be on Sunday 15th May, when we shall be pleased to receive contributions from members with surnames beginning N-Z. We need new members in this team, which is sadly depleted. So if your surname begins with any letter from N to Z please consider joining.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews

Prestbury Mothers' Union

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 24th May at Prestbury United Reformed Church, Deep Street, starting at 7.30pm. Liz Curtis will give a talk entitled Fields of Gold (Fair Trade). All are welcome.

Marion Beagley


Prestbury Open Gardens

Around ten gardens will be open from 2-5pm on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June. Tickets will be on sale soon, which will include a map showing all the gardens in the scheme. Teas will be available in St Mary's Church and ice creams will be on sale at one garden off the High Street.

Please tell all your 'gardening' friends and encourage as many people as possible to support this week-end.

For any further information contact Marion Beagley.



Prestbury Parish Magazine - May 2005

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