Recently we were sent a book detailing the very many orthodox churches
which have been destroyed in Kosovo. It is a sorry state of affairs. Many
beautiful, historic churches have been destroyed. Many modern ones, built
with much love and prayer, have suffered a similar fate. Another side of a
tragic war. It made me stop to think about our own churches, and what value
we place upon them.
I wonder to what extent we value our Christian heritage? How much do we
take our church buildings for granted? How faithful might we be if we had
no church in which to focus our prayer and worship?
At St Mary's, immediately, we need to tackle the questions of repairing the
church floor and a new heating system. More long term, we need to decide to
tackle the questions of lack of Sunday school and meeting rooms, office
space, and what we should do about a Church hall which is a fair way from
the church and which needs an enormous programme of improvements.
At St Nicolas' we hope to have some accurate figures from the architect
with regard to the replacement of the ceiling, large windows, ventilation
scheme, and lighting. Only then will we know the sort of sum to raise.
But these are only material things. In Kosovo, it has certainly made the
Church think out priorities. God is still being worshipped, despite the
enormous bereavement which the people have felt with regard to their
I wonder how we would feel, and how we would fare, if the churches which we
love were to suffer a similar fate?
We pray for all who have had the churches which they loved destroyed, that
they might remain steadfast.
In Spiritual terms, I hope that you will bear our Ministry Leadership Team
in your prayers. Recently they had a training weekend at Glenfall House,
along with teams in training from Thornbury and Coney Hill. On Sunday 5th
March the Bishop of Tewkesbury will be present at 9.30am at St Nicolas' and
11.00am at St Mary's to commission our parish for Local Ministry.
The members of our team have such varied gifts and talents between them -
they are going to be a great asset in the leadership of our parish.
In the Parish:-
Ash Wednesday (Wednesday 8th
Begin Lent well by attending a Eucharist and receiving the
Imposition of Ashes:-
||Said Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes
||Said Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes
||Sung Parish Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes
Sunday evenings in Lent
On the first four Sundays of Lent beginning at 6.30pm in
St.Mary's Church, we shall run a Lent Course. The format will be to have
some input, followed by discussion and ending with Compline.
Weekdays in Lent
The Ecumenical Lent Course this year is called, 'All
Together Now'. It explores the journey of faith in words and music and,
with its accompanying CD, looks like a very different type of course.
Details of dates and venues have still to be finalised.
Weekday study group(s) in the Parish. The focus will be the
Sunday readings during Lent, using material from Christian Aid. This will
be a good way of preparing ourselves for each Sunday, we hope allowing us
time to consider the readings in some depth.
Mothering Sunday (Sunday 2nd
On the day when we celebrate Motherhood - our own Mothers,
Mother Church and Mary, the Mother of God - we will be inviting those who
have been baptised in our churches recently to join us for our celebratory
Eucharists at 9.30am and 11.00am.
The wider scene:-
Lent Course 2000 at Gloucester
Thursday evenings in Lent, 7.30pm in the Chapter House. Six
different 'prophetic voices' speak to the Christian Church at the beginning
of the Third Christian Millennium. The title of the course is, 'What can
we do for Christ's sake?'. The proposal is to serve a simple supper of
bread, cheese and fruit in the Deanery at 6.30pm before each talk begins
with any proceeds being given to Christian Aid. The Cathedral would need to
know in advance if you wished to have supper.
The Chaplaincy Lecture, Cheltenham
& Gloucester College of Higher Education
'The Environmental Crisis & the Bible',
Professor Gordon Wenham. Thursday 6th April, 7.45pm in Lecture Room TC014,
of the Elwes Building on The Park Campus. All are welcome!
Many of us have members of our family
who are no longer living at home - we are especially thinking of young
people who have gone away to college. How do we keep them in touch with the
Church in Prestbury? One way would be to make sure that they have details
of the Parish Website. All students have access to the Internet, so
encourage those you know to visit the Website:
(new address since October 2002)
If you have any other suggestions
about keeping those away from home in touch with us, please speak to Fr.
Michael or to one of the members of the Pastoral Care & Common-Life
Committee. They are: Beryl Elliott, John Elliott, Liz Greenhow, Margaret
Holman, Eileen Jones, Kay Porter.
There are quite a few of us at St
Nicolas who have fond memories of Infant Church, where we spent many a
happy afternoon with our children before doing the school run down to
Swindon Village. At our recent Mission and Outreach Committee meeting we
explored the possibility of trying to run this again in order to reach out
to the community on Wymans Brook. However, before we progress we need to
explore whether there is any mileage in getting this off the ground and
would love to hear from anybody who would be interested in this project.
Please get in touch with Sue Watkins.
At Pentecost we plan to make a
special gesture for the Millennium, in partnership with the other churches
in Prestbury, by delivering a Gospel to every house in the parish. If you
would like to play a part in organising this important ecumenical outreach,
please get in touch with Fr Paul.
We are always delighted to receive
ideas - please don't hesitate to get in touch with any of us. And we'd love
to have some new faces on the committee - do let us know if you're
Hannah Edwards, Fr Paul Kish,
Daphne Philpot, Jerry Porter, Sue Watkins, Karen Whiten.
Having decided to change the name of the Youth Club from
the 'Twilight Zone', the leaders met at Pizza Express
towards the end of last year to
suggest various acronyms, but we completely failed to come up with anything
that we all liked or that we thought would get past the vicar. We had a lot
of fun trying, though, and the food was good, but it was rather expensive
and the portions were a little on the small side, which doubtless served to
hinder our creativity. So no change there.
With a bigger and cheaper night out on the horizon, we hope
to put Parish Youthwork to rights one evening soon, when we shall doubtless
have to discuss the latest predicament to be faced, namely the limitations
of the St. Nicolas' site and the numbers of volunteers than can be
guaranteed on any one evening.
It is true to say that we have been fortunate of late in
securing the occasional services of a few more helpers, but this has been
more than matched by an increase in the number of children who want to join
us on Friday evenings. I counted how many different children we had had
through the doors in the last 18 months and was surprised to discover that
it was over 80. Since we can only really cope with about 30 on any one
evening, with a minimum of 5 leaders, it is easy to see that we are
struggling to maintain our commitment to the community.
Sadly, we shall have to re-introduce and restrict our
membership from half-term as the demand for something for young people to
do on a Friday far outstrips our facilities, but even this will itself be
limited and determined by how many volunteers can be depended upon to give
of their time to help make a difference in the lives of those children with
whom we are privileged to work. Frequency is not so important as commitment
over a period of time, thus providing a level of consistency which lends
stability to the environment where we work and play on Friday night.
The availability of a couple of minibuses from Northlands
Youth centre and from the Prestbury Memorial Trust (thank you Rita) ought
greatly to increase our
flexibility with regard to numbers and the taking of a relatively small
group off site for more adventurous activities. Perhaps even another trip
to Alton Towers might be in the pipeline soon, or more regular excursions
to as far away as Oxford, Bristol, or Swindon, where it's really at, or so
I hear. Still, minibuses need to be driven, and the county demands certain
standards ... are you up to it?
Youthwork in Cheltenham is slowly starting to exist at an
effective œcumenical level with the continuing growth and efficacy of the
Cheltenham Christian Youth Leaders' Forum (CCYLF). We are pleased to count
ourselves amongst their membership and continue to make a valuable and
informed contribution as one of the larger clubs in the area. The great
project on the horizon is the establishment of a drop-in centre in town to
ease the pressure on the satellite clubs such as our own and to cater for
those who have outgrown the usual church hall set-up, all with a specific
Christian influence and foundation. Such a centre will require a great deal
of planning and forethought (and volunteers in the long run), not to
mention prayer and goodwill from all the Christian organisations involved,
but could be a significant force for good in the life of our wider
community if we take proper advice from those who know, and listen to the
concerns and opinions of those who care.
Please keep in your prayers our young people and the future
of youthwork in our parish, deanery, and diocese. Ask God for his blessing
on all that we try to do, and ask Fr. Paul how you can help.
February found all twelve members of the Ministry
Leadership Team tackling our first residential training weekend at Glenfall.
As well as unleashing our creativity to make a poster celebrating the
achievements of our parish in the past year, we took a welcome break out of
doors to scour the garden for material to make a seasonal decoration to
enhance the Sunday worship. These tasks were part of a very full programme
designed to give us practical experience of working together effectively as
a team. And we also spent time on our knees - in an impromptu version of
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to illustrate to the other teams what we
had learned about good teamwork. After an inspiring final act of worship,
we returned from Glenfall full of enthusiasm and better equipped for the
We recognise the importance of regular communication - in
both directions - between the Team and our church family, and we'll be
looking for some effective and creative ways of making sure this happens.
Meanwhile if there's anything you'd like to tell us or ask us, please get
in touch with any of us. As a reminder, we are (in alphabetical order):
Linda Biggs, Peter Brown, Margaret Compton, Fr Michael Cozens, Beryl
Elliott, John Elliott, Fr Stephen Gregory, Margaret Holman, Fr Paul Kish,
Sylvia McKenzie, Jerry Porter, Sue Read.
For many years Peter Brown, with his
team of helpers, has looked after St. Mary's churchyard. It is 'many years'
since I believe he took over from Cyril Smith; fifteen years is possibly a
conservative estimate! It has not been easy for Peter since, unlike some of
us, he still has a very demanding full-time job, yet he is often there in
the churchyard throughout the summer months. Now, however, as many will
know, Peter is taking on a more central role in the mission of our church,
firstly as a lay member of the new Local Ministry Team and before too long
we hope as an ordained member. It is quite understandable therefore that
Peter has asked to be relieved of his churchyard duties and it only remains
to thank him and to hope that there will be someone else willing to take
The Aims and Objects of the Mothers' Union can best be summed up in one
sentence, 'Christian Concern for Families Worldwide'. The MU was
founded in 1876 by Mary Sumner, wife of the Rev. George Sumner, Archdeacon
of Winchester. The organisation grew rapidly and the first overseas links
were formed when women who had been members of a branch at Aldershot
Barracks moved with the regiment to India. The initial foundation was based
on prayer and that aspect is still the most important one, although we have
adapted and still are adapting to meet modern demands.
Although at the moment there is not an MU branch in Prestbury, the
society is still very much part of life within the Diocese as hopefully the
brief outlines of some of our work will indicate.
AFIA - This stands for 'Away from it All' and provides holidays
for needy families or carers, usually referred by their Clergy or through
the Money Advice Service. (19 children, 13 adults and 1 dog benefited last
THE HAVEN - This is a Day Centre in Gloucester for families in
bed and breakfast accommodation and through AFIA we provide days out for
the mums and children. Bristol Zoo is a favourite venue, as is Clearwell
Caves to see Santa just before Christmas. Branches also help by providing
non- perishable goods for the centre.
PRISON HELP - Members in the south of the diocese regularly help
run the crèche at Leyhill Prison, a service much appreciated by the inmates
and their visitors.
MONEY ADVICE SERVICE (MAS) - This was set up in 1992 in
thanksgiving for 100 years of MU in Gloucestershire. The service,
financed ny the MU and provided by trained counsellors, is free to people
who find themselves in severe financial difficulties. Incidentally,
especially in these days of early retirement, if there is anybody with the
relevant social or banking knowledge who would consider becoming a
counsellor, please contact me. Such is the demand on the service that
we desperately need more helpers.
WORLDWIDE - Every diocese in the country is linked with several
areas overseas; many of you will remember Debbie from Papua New Guinea in
1998. We have helped in endless ways by providing items needed by our
less fortunate members. The present 'Specs Project' is an example.
Over the past 2 years, nearly 3000 pairs have been sent to the Third World,
far better than having them gathering dust in a drawer.
Throughout the diocese there are over 2000 members. The greater
number by far are members of a local branch; a number, especially where
branches have closed, are Diocesan members. Incidentally, despite the
title, anyone may join, provided that they uphold the Aims and Objects of
the society. We've bishops, priests and husbands. What about
MU Trustee Gloucester Diocese
For more details visit the website of The Mothers' Union
Twelve people took part in this excellent 4-week course
which finished at the beginning of February. It was run by Ann Parrack and
Lucy Smith from Accord, which is part of the Diocese of Gloucester's
Ministry & Mission resources. The course really did make us look again at
how we relate to our children and encouraged us to consider using some
different skills to help us find our way (less stressfully) through the
We laughed together, commiserated with one another and
found that much of what we were advised to do really does seem to work! If
there is enough interest, we hope to run the course again. We also intend
to invite Accord back to run 'Coping with Teenagers', so if this applies to
you, look out for further details.
These courses are run by Christians, on Church property,
but are very appropriate for any parent - Christian or non-Christian. These
are the sort of courses we should be bringing our non-church friends to as
part of our Christian witness. Parenting is a serious and vital issue for
our modern society and the Church should be giving the lead in supporting
The Daily Eucharist
From Mr Anthony Lawrence
I thought it was about time I put pen to paper, since it is now a year
since I moved away from St Mary's to the still island! I am very
grateful for the parish mag as I do like to know what is going on back
"home". However, I feel I must put over a word about the daily
Eucharist. When I attended mass at St Mary's almost every day in the
morning, I was always upset to find very little attendance. In fact I
was nearly always one of three, and now I read Fr Leslie Irving has died so
sadly the numbers now are probably less. However, my point is, when I
moved to the I-o-W I found most, if not all, churches only have a Eucharist
once every four Sundays and the priests are so thin on the ground most
churches are not even open from one month to the next, so I have now to
travel into Ryde from Newport (5-6 miles one way) to Quark Abbey, a large
but very tranquil place (ask Fr Stephen) which holds mass every day, mostly
in Latin chants (which is out of this world). I have become a
"regular" now and I am getting to know the Brothers well, including having
coffee after mass and staying for lunch. I am now in the process of
learning Latin!! But back to my point!! I never realised until
the daily mass was not there how much I missed it and needed it. I
feel for the St Mary clergy, when they arrive at church to celebrate in our
Lord's gift to us, and there is no-one there to give it to. Please
don't let St Mary's turn into an I-of-W church and only open once a month.
God is giving us a daily gift of his Son, turn up and take it!
I keep you all in my prayers daily when at mass.
Great news on the website, I can hook up at my local library and keep up
with the news.
Take care, stay safe.
The Editor reserves the right to select and
edit the letters for publication.
Organised by Churches Together in Cheltenham, this Passion
Play will take place on Good Friday, April 21st. In addition to large
numbers of crowd, the following specific help is still required:
14 women, each with one thing to say
5 men to play non-speaking disciples
20 guards and soldiers, who will also be stewards
2 soldiers with very small speaking parts
people to help with props and the technical side
people to join the technical team, and musicians
people to help make banners (Saturdays 10-12, in March, at Highbury
people to help with costumes
people from Prestbury churches to do the crucifixion scene
prayer support for all those involved
There is a Passion Play Prayer Diary:
||the person playing the part of Christ and the core cast
||good publicity in the run up to the Play
||those making banners
||those behind the scenes
Rehearsals in Prestbury are in St. Mary's Church Hall on
Please contact Bob Lyle if you want to know more.
Please encourage any young people now at secondary school to come along,
especially those who have been confirmed recently. Synergy is a strategic
part of our Parish Education & Nurture programme. It is seen as the 'next
step' after Confirmation; a way of helping our young people to continue to
explore what it means to be a Christian and to grow in their faith. We
continue with our Spring Programme:-
Was all the ‘hype’ worth it?
What should we really feel about the ‘M-word’?
What about the future?
Millennium Madness #5
It’ll only take a minute; my, is that the time?
Jesus’ time sheet; time of my life
The Feast of the Annunciation
Good News for Mary - Good News for us?
Mary’s part in it all
End of term ‘bash’
Our pre-Easter celebrations
All Meetings are on Saturdays at The Barn.
They begin at 7.30pm and end at 9.00pm. Cans of soft drinks, crisps & other
goodies are always on sale!
For more information contact:-
Fr. Michael, Fr. Paul, Liz Bennett
The Millennium Resolution
Let there be:
respect for the earth;
peace for its people;
love in our lives;
delight in the good;
forgiveness for past wrongs;
and from now on a new start.
This month's musician is Adam.
I play a military flute in the CCF band at Pate's Grammar
School. It is like a small and high-pitched wooden flute, about 30cm long.
In primary school I used to play a recorder which helped me to learn the
military flute as the fingering is quite similar on both instruments. I
enjoy playing it in the band, but when it is played on its own, it sounds
very shrill and high-pitched. The music can sometimes be difficult to read
as the higher notes are written on ledger lines.
By Adam Vellender, aged 12
Social Events for your diary
Saturday 4th March 7.30pm
Quiz Night at St. Mary's Church Hall
with Bar & Ploughman's Supper
Saturday 25th March 11.00am
The Feast of the Annunciation
Sung Eucharist at St. Mary's Church
followed by fish & chip lunch - tickets from
members of the Walsingham Cell
Saturday 6th May 7.30pm
60's Night at St. Nicolas' Church Hall
re-live the 'swinging sixties'!!
Live band, bar & fish & chip supper
is being opened to the public during this Millennium year and we hope to
organise a coach trip to London on a Saturday in October. We intend to
combine a tour of the Palace with time in London and possibly a service in
a London church (or even an Abbey or Cathedral!) Watch out for booking
This month we meet on Wednesday 1st March
(not Tuesday). Do join us from 10am till 11am to pray for some of the needs
of our parish and world. If you need directions, or would like more
details, ring Beryl Fowler.
Annual Day of Prayer
Saturday 8th April 2000, Gloucester
Cathedral, 10.00am - 3.30pm.
This will be a day led by Angela Ashwin
(author of 'Heaven in Ordinary'), exploring links between our private
prayer and worship in church.
The cost is £5 per head. For more
information, see the posters on the notice boards or speak to Fr. Michael.