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Prestbury Parish Magazine

April 2010

Photograph: The St George window in St Nicolas' Church

by Brian Wood

See pictures of the other windows



Keeping a time of festival

New Baby!

Christian Aid Week is coming…

Snippets from the Tower

Friends of St Mary’s, Prestbury

Sabbatical Time

From small seeds great trees grow!

Alpha News

‘And you do that every week!’


Flower Arrangers’ AGM 2010

South American Odyssey

A Woman’s Faith

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

Reports of North Cheltenham Churches football games

The Registers

The Calendar for this month

The Diary for this month


Keeping a time of festival

Most people know that Prince Charles has said openly he would prefer to be called Defender of Faith (or Faiths) rather than use the traditional title of the British monarch Defender of the Faith. That is going to raise interesting discussions when the next coronation service is agreed. But however we understand Faith or faiths, what is our understanding of the word Defender? What is the right way for anyone to defend Christian faith and how might it be better defended?

In the past Christians have attempted a number of different ways – some very unsuccessful and repugnant. For instance, once Christians tried to defend their faith using the horrible methods of crusading. Let us hope we never see such things again. Then, a little later, Christians tried various methods of heresy hunting. That too was a bad mistake. Yet today some Christians still think they ought to seek out and denounce heresy. A third, and perhaps, more positive way has been to set down an apologia (or ‘apology’) to defend the faith, but often that too can be misdirected effort.

By contrast the diocesan initiative Experiencing Easter is proving attractive and very valuable. It points to one of the best ways of defending faith. If we want to present Christianity to others it has to be from inside out, as it were; from what we ourselves have experienced; it has be a testimony to what is happening within us.

So if we want to defend the faith, here are some simple suggestions. First we should enjoy Easter to the full and be eager and ready to share Easter joy with others; with those who are themselves already caught up in discipleship; with those who are seeking to know more about God; and with those who are able to open themselves up sufficiently to hear its new message.

Then we should seek out places in our world where an Easter faith can already be seen at work. Many signs of the reality of the Christian Faith in life renewed and restored are all around us (often going unnoticed). For instance, do we notice often enough the strength of folk who rebuild their lives after devastation – illustrating real resurrection as they do so? Do we notice how often people show deep concern and generous support for the victims of world disasters, bringing new life and hope into the darkest places? Then, do we notice people who find the strength to put forgiveness into practice – who open up their lives into the future instead of closing them down and living in the past? Do we notice those who bring comfort when others are carrying a burden of grief? Do we ever remind others of how such transformations happen? Do we rejoice that they defend faith powerfully and God uses them as signs of his presence?

Once we begin to notice what God is actually doing among us, then each moment becomes an opportunity for quiet and effective evangelism. If we find the right way to speak of our faith and truly say to others Christ is Risen, God himself enables them to reply. Some will be quick to speak, some may be hesitant, but many will join the great company of those who respond from their own hearts, He is risen indeed – Alleluia!

Fr Paul


New Baby!

Sharon, Andy and Ben are very glad to announce the birth of Grace Emily, born at 1.25am on Wednesday 10th March weighing 6lbs 5oz.
We are very thankful to God for such a precious gift.


Christian Aid Week is coming…
don’t miss out!

Christian Aid Week’s house to house collection takes place in May. This is Christian Aid’s main fundraising event. It is both the largest house to house collection and the largest single act of Christian witness in the UK with as many as 300,000 collectors raising £10 million. Could you join these collectors if you have not already helped in the past? It need take no more than three hours of your time to collect from about 30 to 40 houses. Collectors must be over 16. If you can help, please get in touch with one of us.

Roger Hodges, St Mary's

Anne Nicholson, St Nicolas’


Snippets from the Tower

We were pleased to welcome Fr David as Chairman at our recent Tower AGM. Tower officers remain unchanged. The meeting was held after a shortened Tuesday practice as is our custom.

We rang all eight bells half muffled for the funeral of Bob Dowdeswell on March 9th. Several of our own ringers were joined by some who had known Bob when he was Tower Captain at St Mary’s in the 1950s, most of whom had been taught to ring by him. Some of them had not seen each other for years! One surprise visitor was Canon Gordon Ruming, who had travelled from Plymouth to be at the funeral. He was curate at St Marys in Bob’s time, and told us that he had in fact left Prestbury almost exactly fifty years ago. We rang both before the service and after it. We had been asked by Bob’s family to ring for the funeral only a few weeks before of Bob’s daughter Liz. On this similarly sad occasion we had rung the bells half muffled prior to the service.

We shall be doing our usual spring clean of the ringing room, the clock chamber and the bell chamber during Holy Week.

Jenni Scruton


Friends of St Mary’s, Prestbury

Our first musical soirée is to be held on Saturday 10th April in St Mary’s Church, commencing at 6.45pm. It will be an evening of excellent music and elegant food.

Frances Mason, violin, and Michael Freyhan, piano, Annie and Paul Barton Hodges, soprano and baritone, have all agreed to waive their performance fees to give us a very unusual evening.

It will be a musical journey from Bach to Vaughan Williams, a mixture of music and song composed by seven different composers covering four centuries. Short pieces not heard in concert programmes very often. Both Frances and Michael have long-established solo and chamber music careers, performing and teaching world wide. Annie and Paul Barton Hodges met as choral scholars at St Martin-in-the- Fields, London, and having graduated from their respective Music Colleges went on to develop busy careers as soloists and members of professional choirs. Paul is a long serving lay-clerk at Canterbury Cathedral.

The doors will open at 6.30pm, supper will be served at 6.45p.m, and the performance will start at 7.30pm. Desserts will be served in the interval at 8.15pm and coffee and mints after the performance with a chance to chat with the musicians about the programme.

Tickets are £17.50 (£15 members of FoSMP) and are available from Jim Mackie and Lynda Hodges at St Mary’s, or from Gill Wood at St Nicolas’.

Jim Mackie & Lynda Hodges, Friends of St Mary’s


Sabbatical Time

Having completed ten years as Youth Development Worker with the Parish of Prestbury and then Prestbury & Pittville Youth, time has come for a sabbatical. I will be on sabbatical from 23rd April to 23rd July.

The sabbatical will include a retreat at Lee Abbey, research and visits to Boiler Rooms (youth prayer communities with a focus on social action) and some outdoor education training. It has been a great bonus that the sabbatical time will also give the Macauly family time to find their feet again and find new rhythms.

Please pray that it will be a fruitful time, as Jesus says ‘fruit that will last’. Of course we won’t totally disappear and will see folk around and about and enjoy catching up. With employed ministry with a family in a local community there are lots of ‘fuzzy areas’. One of those ‘fuzzy areas’ is worship with the local church. We are not exactly sure how this will pan out, but do not feel rejected if you don’t see much of us at church services. In drawing away for a while, we hope to be able to continue to contribute to God’s mission in North Cheltenham with increased passion and effectiveness.

Many thanks go to the Executive Committee of PPY who have been very encouraging in ensuring that this important time is taken. Also thanks to Fr David and the wider youth work team who will be taking on the burden for the leisure time groups and for Ryan Martin who will be overseeing our inclusion work.

Andy Macauly


The Church Electoral Roll

The Annual Parish Meeting will be held on Sunday 25th April 2010 at 6.30pm in St Mary’s Church.

For you to have a voice at the meeting or to be eligible to be elected to an office you need to be on the church’s Electoral Roll (not to be confused with the Parliamentary Electoral Roll). Each year the Electoral Roll needs to be revised ahead of the meeting and this will take place beginning 7th April 2010 and will take effect from 10th April 2010. After this date no further names may be added to the Roll until after the annual meeting.

The current Electoral Roll is displayed in both our churches. If you are not on the roll and would like to be, complete an enrolment form and hand it by 7th April 2010 to one of:

  • the Electoral Roll Officer (Brian Wood)
  • the church wardens
  • the team office

You qualify to be on the Electoral Roll of the Parish of Prestbury if you are:

  • aged 16 years or over on the date of the meeting
  • baptised
  • a lay member of the Church of England
  • either resident in the parish or habitually attend public worship in the parish

The enrolment form is simple and can be found in church or you can download a copy . There you will also find an interactive map of the parish so you can tell if you live in the parish.

Brian Wood



From small seeds great trees grow!

Open the Book, a national charity, provides materials to enable members of local churches to go into schools and share the story of the Bible with the children, through a ten minute act of collective worship/assembly.

Open the Book is all about storytelling and the importance of sharing Bible stories with the next generation. So here’s an update on our Open the Book story.

Four years ago a group of Christians from Trinity, St Mary’s, St Nicolas’ and Prestbury URC started Open the Book at St Mary’s Infant School. Everything was going well when one Wednesday morning the team felt God was calling them to take Open the Book to Lynworth Community School. Marion approached the head teacher of Lynworth to see if they would like to have an Open the Book team. With some reservation she agreed to have Open the Book once a fortnight on a term’s trial.

Within a short while she asked for Open the Book every week! Just before she retired she invited the new head teacher of what would become the combined Lynworth and Whaddon schools to see Open the Book. ‘Can we have it in both schools?’ he asked. So with support from Father Michael, St Michael’s Church was approached to see if they would be interested together with Highbury Congregational Church to form another team!

In September 2009 a new head teacher was appointed to Swindon Village primary school. Once again Open the Book was on the agenda when at his interview he said Open the Book had come into his previous school and could they have it at Swindon Village.

Now that Whaddon and Lynworth are combining on to one site as Oakwood Primary school, a couple of Open the Book storytellers are going to join two people from St Lawrence’s, Swindon Village, to start Open the Book in Swindon Village primary school.

Throughout our churches we know that members of our congregations belong to Open the Book teams in their locality: Glenfall primary in Charlton Kings and Warden Hill primary school to name a couple.

An ideal team is made up of seven people; at the moment the new Swindon Village team is four.

If you are interested in finding out more or joining an Open the Book team local to you, then please speak to Marion Beagley, Nigel Woodcock, Anne Nicholson or Julie Jefferies (URC).

Please pray for Oakwood Primary School as the old Lynworth and Whaddon schools merge together after Easter. And for Open the Book and the new team going into Swindon Village Primary and St Mary’s Infant and Junior Schools.

Julie Jefferies


Alpha News

We have been taking a break from Alpha since February’s ‘Celebration Supper’. For those who were involved this is a chance to rest or to devote some time to other projects and to offer all we have done back to God. It is important to remember that each Alpha course is a discrete entity: involvement this year will not commit you to doing it ever after! This is one of its many strengths, enabling people to explore the possibility that God is calling them into this kind of mission activity and allowing them to leave it if it is not for them1, or to move into other things if the time is right. However, the biggest strength of Alpha is that it is really easy. The golden rule is be yourself, trusting that the presence of Christ in you will communicate to those who are coming to know him2. So it is not just for expert Christians (as if such a thing really exists anyway!) but for all of us, whatever stage of faith we are at.

If you would like to be involved with planning Alpha for this coming September, the first opportunity will be on Tuesday 18th May, 7.30pm at The Vicarage, Tatchley Lane, Prestbury GL52 3DQ.

1. Scripture shows us that every human being experiences seasons in their life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Sometimes they are to be involved in the sowing; at other times they will be called to join the harvesters (John 4:34-38). Neither role is superior to the other. What counts is the gifting that God bestows on each one at the proper time (Ephesians 4:4-13).

2. The Apostle Paul speaks eloquently of the way in which Christians are called to reveal a mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages, but which is finally unveiled with the coming of Christ: his presence not only with us but actually in us (Colossians 1:26-27).

Fr Daniel


‘And you do that every week?!’

This was the reaction from another member of the clergy chapter when we were talking about our family services recently. They simply could not believe that every Sunday, between two other services at St Mary’s, we set up an informal, infant-friendly service of the word and clear it all away again in time for a sung Eucharist. Most other Churches do this on a monthly basis and even then find it quite a lot of work. So this month I would like to pay tribute to our team at Celebrate! and also ask the question: are you being called to join us?

There is no question that Celebrate! is a success. Every Sunday we see significant numbers, with new faces appearing on an almost weekly basis. However, even more important than that is the connections we are making with one another, the lasting friendships that are being formed, resulting in a Christian environment in which our children grow towards adulthood. This is the vision that drives us on those Sundays when we are tempted to hit the snooze button one more time. The rewards are in the people we are getting to know, the sense of working together for God’s kingdom and the knowledge that God delights in everything we offer to him.

So please keep praying for Celebrate!, thank him for those who give their time, their creative energy and their love to it, and ask him to prompt more people to catch the vision and join the team1… and keep an ear open for what he says to you. It may be that your gifts are exactly what we need.

1. Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Look! The fields are ready to harvest… pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers into his field.’ (John 4:35 and Luke 10:2)

Fr Daniel



Five adults from churches across our Team Ministry are currently being prepared for confirmation. Please pray for: Richard Angove, Rachel Cruickshank, Emma Hammond, Elizabeth Heathcott and Julie Latcham, who are being confirmed, and for Anita Claydon, who is participating in the preparation and will be received into the Church of England.

The confirmation service will be in Tewkesbury Abbey on Saturday 8th May at 4.30pm. Anyone is very welcome to attend and support the candidates.


Flower Arrangers’ AGM 2010

Eighteen members were present at Sheila Beer’s house for the annual meeting of the Flower Arrangers in March.

After an opening prayer Margaret Waker gave her Treasurer’s Report. Both she and Noel Brick, who audited the accounts, were thanked. General donations have increased and we would like to extend our thanks to members of the congregation who have contributed to this. Lindsey McGowan reported, however, that the donations from weddings were down considerably. This might have been because of fewer weddings and some brides not wanting flowers or hiring a florist. It was suggested that a collection of photographs of wedding flowers in St Mary’s might be taken and shown to couples who attend the Marriage Preparation Day which is held each year. Lindsey was thanked for all her hard work entailed with the Festivals and weddings.

Thanks have been given to young Kathryn Thomas who has come off the rota due to pressure of schoolwork Dear Mary Eddington has also retired completely. We thank her for her many years of commitment to St Mary’s Flower Arrangers. A suggestion was made to approach Celebrate! to see if anyone there would ‘take on’ a windowsill arrangement at Festivals. Celebrate! was also approached for help with the Mothering Sunday Posies. Thank you, everyone, who gave their time to make the very pretty posies. A special thank you must be given to Lotte Rule, who so kindly organises the team of ladies to make them. It was stressed to the windowsill arrangers, again, the importance of maintaining and watering their arrangements, and the need to remove them after two Sundays.

All in all it was lively meeting, finishing with tea and biscuits.

Sheila Beer



South American Odyssey
Impressions of Religion

Part One

In January/February my husband and I fulfilled a long-held desire to visit South America. We were there for over three weeks, and although our prime reason for travelling there was to view the scenery, architecture, and way of life of the local people, it quickly became apparent that religion holds a key position in some of the countries we visited, and it was striking to note the way in which Roman Catholicism intertwines with traditional customs and attitudes from 500 years ago.


We started off in Argentina where the Roman Catholic tradition is quite strong, as 92% of the population are Catholics; however regular church attendance stands at around 20%. In case anyone was in any doubt, there was a graffiti message sprayed across a wall on the widest road in the world (Avenida 9 de julio) in Buenos Aires ‘Argentina es católica’.


While in Buenos Aires we took a brief trip over the River Plate to Uruguay to visit Montevideo, which felt like stepping back in time to the 1950s. Uruguay is a secular state with no official religion, although religious freedom is guaranteed, a healthy number of people attend church, and most have their children baptized. The state does not recognise Christian festivals... Christmas is ‘Family Day’, and Holy Week is ‘Tourism Week’ which includes a lengthy and elaborate carnival.


However, it was in Peru where the religious aspects started to get interesting due to the inter-connection between Catholicism and traditional beliefs. This first struck us in Cuzco, where we were shown a painting in the cathedral entitled ‘The Last Supper’. This was not the picture we are all familiar with – the disciples had features akin to the Amerindians, and the food on the table was represented by one of Peru’s national dishes (an animal we do not eat in the UK!) and local cheese. Carvings of grapes and other fruit surround most holy pictures in churches to give recognition to Mother Earth. There are many statues and images of the Virgin Mary, but many have ‘triangular’ skirts with wide hems representing sacred mountains, again to pay respects to Mother Earth – so Mary has been ‘blended in’ to the old beliefs.

When the local (Quechua) population were forced to construct churches for the Conquistadors, they would tweak the building or the decorations so the local people would recognise these small measures of rebellion, eg the cross is stepped so it can be divided into three – this three representing the spirit world, the underworld and the present-day world of the Inca religion. The Christian religion was ‘layered’ onto the Inca religion.

One of our guides went so far as to call the Conquistadors barbarians to overthrow the Inca empire and replace it with Catholicism. This was physically done by attempting to knock down all the Inca temples and replace them with churches on the same site. However, the Inca buildings were so well constructed, and on such firm foundations, that this proved an uphill task. So frequently in Peru we saw Inca walls supporting a colonial church.

The Conquistadors built lop-sided churches with one tower; these were for the Indians to worship in.

The attempt from 1532 onwards to wipe out Inca beliefs and traditions did not however really succeed. Even today, the Peruvians give great importance to ‘Pachamama’ (earth mother). The vast majority of weddings take place during August to bring the couple good luck, as the 1st August is Pachamama’s day.

On 2nd February we visited a village called Oropesa and found, to our delight, that they were celebrating Candlemass. This involved the whole village turning out in their national dress and dancing in front of the church (see photo above). Inside the little church the float of the Virgin was being prepared for an outing which involved wiping her face with tissues. Later on we saw the procession which included brass bands, the ‘tuna’ musicians, and subsequently all the locals sitting by the roadside eating and chatting. So that could be said to be a purely religious event, except the Virgin’s face looked quite South American!

Stella Caney

To be continued next month


A Woman’s Faith

At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"

"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’"

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:30-34 (NIV)

Jesus was on His way to visit the sick twelve year old daughter of Jairus, a synagogue ruler, when the woman with the haemorrhage approached Him.

The woman had been ill for twelve years and we are told that she had spent everything she had in trying to find a cure but the illness had deteriorated. In the society in which she lived, she would have been shunned, probably spending a lot of time in isolation. This could have led to low self-esteem. Although her illness was physical, I wonder if the isolated state she found herself in caused her to be both mentally and spiritually sick. Maybe there had been times when she had resigned herself to having to live with the illness and everything that went with it.

We do not know whether she had just heard about the miracles that Jesus performed or if she had witnessed them for herself. Was it the miracles that had drawn her to Him or the fact that she noticed He was a good listener who had the ability to listen to each person He met in a way that was helpful to them, a man who respected and valued women? Could she have been watching Jesus from afar wondering whether she could trust Him? Did she recognize a uniqueness and love in Him that finally caused her to push forward through the crowd and touch His hem believing that He could heal her and turn her world around?

Her faith was rewarded. The text tells us that she was healed and that ‘she felt in her body she was freed from her suffering’. After being healed, she might have preferred to have slipped away without being noticed but to her horror, Jesus turned around and asked ‘Who touched my clothes?’.

The woman falls at Jesus’ feet, trembling with fear, aware that everyone is looking at her. In reading this passage previously, I have felt great empathy for the woman in the predicament she finds herself in and annoyance with Jesus for exposing her. Couldn’t He have found a quiet place to talk with her? We are not told about the dialogue that went on between them but could it be that Jesus cared so much for her that He wanted to know about her whole story, the good things and the not-so-good so that she wasn’t just physically healed but restored to complete wholeness as a person? Jesus’ final words to her are ones of affirmation as He tells her to ‘go in peace and be freed from your suffering’.

There is great encouragement in knowing that Jesus who listened to the woman also wants to listen to us. He cares so much for us that He is able to hold everything we give to Him in prayer, bringing about restoration and healing.

Anne Nicholson



Parish of Prestbury

Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM)

Sunday 25th April 2010

St Mary’s Church, Mill Street

This is the key meeting of the year, the equivalent of an AGM for charities. It is the time when we elect members of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) who make decisions about how the Church is run through the year. We also elect Church Wardens, who are key players in the day-to-day running of the Church. We very much hope you will be able to join us and play your part in the life of our community.

Please come!


St Mary’s Churchyard Spring Tidy-up

Saturday 10th April from 10am. Please come along and help, bringing necessary equipment if possible. It will be great to see you there. Refreshments at elevenses! See Doreen Morris if you have any queries.




Mothers’ Union

The Wave of Prayer service will take place on Monday 12th April from 11.00am to 12 noon at St Nicolas’ Church.

Our April meeting will take place on Tuesday 27th April at 7.30pm at St Nicolas’ Church. The speaker will be Mrs Gillian Sunderland – her subject will be ‘The life of Mary Sumner’. Visitors are always welcome.

Sylvia McKenzie (Branch Leader)



St Mary’s Bakestall

In March we raised another £39.20 for Care International, hoping that the European Union match-funding scheme will again quadruple this. It will be the turn of the G-M team to bake for the next stall on Sunday 18th April.

Margaret Waker & Linda Matthews



Fr Michael’s Installation as Canon

Anyone who wishes to attend the service in Gloucester Cathedral on Sunday 2nd May at 3pm will be very welcome. We hope to provide a coach; details will be given in the notice sheets nearer the time.



Mothers’ Union Trip to Lichfield Cathedral

Our outing this year takes place on Tuesday 27th July. We shall leave St Nicolas’ Church, by Marchant’s coach, at 9.30am, and leave Lichfield at 4.30pm. A guided tour of the Cathedral will start at 2pm. The cost, inclusive of the tour, will be £13 per person. Forms for reserving a place are available from Marion Beagley. Husbands and friends are also welcome.

Sylvia McKenzie (Branch Leader)



St Mary’s Welcome Area

It is still possible for you to make any comments about the Welcome Area becoming permanent. These will be considered before the PCC applies for a Faculty, which is the legal permission we require from the Chancellor of the Diocese. Please can you make your comments to either of the Churchwardens or to Fr Daniel or Fr Michael. A brief note in writing or by email would be helpful.



Sunday Club at St Mary’s

‘All our research shows that, if they don’t attend when they are young, people are not likely to start coming to church when they are older’ 1

Sunday Club at St Mary’s (11.00 am) is for children of all ages. The aim is to enable them to worship and understand the Bible readings for the day. We meet in the Upper Room just before the service begins and rejoin the congregation at the Peace. At the moment we meet on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month in term time but, with more leaders, would be able to make this a weekly feature. If you have a vision for children to know Jesus, please talk to Fr Daniel (contact details inside front cover).

1. Benita Hewitt, Director of Christian Research (an independent statistics company funded by the Bible Society), Church Times, 29 January 2010



Gold Cup parking

THANK YOU to everyone who helped with the Gold Cup parking and refreshments at St Nicolas’, particularly to Geoff Shaw and Gillian Jackson for organising and coordinating. The parking raised £2,595 and the refreshments £218, a grand total of £2,813 for church funds. Well done!

Gill Wood



Drivers Wanted

Prestbury Memorial Trust, which most of our readers will have knowledge of, are looking for additional voluntary drivers. The work is not onerous because normally we call on our volunteers approximately once or twice per month. A typical trip involves picking up one, two or three passengers from round the village and transporting them up to Cleeve Hill Golf Club for a lunch and then returning them to their homes afterwards.

If you consider you can offer some help or would like further information then please contact the Warden, Richard Mason, or Nigel Woodcock.



Prestbury Parish Magazine - April 2010

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