SEPTEMBER brings us a new term with new beginnings and also the famous
last night of the proms with its hugely popular programme when the audience
loves to join in. I have much enjoyed some of this year’s proms through the
BBC TV broadcasts, often appreciating the concerts more through the warm and
skilful introductions of Charles Hazelwood.
One concert was indeed unforgettable. Conducted by Sir John Eliot
Gardiner, it included a suite of French dance music by Rameau. What was
amazing was not only the stunning orchestral performance by the English
Baroque soloists and the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble but also the
beautifully choreographed dancing by a troupe of young people from Europe
and Africa. They had energy and grace, movement and stillness, colour and
simplicity. The music and dance was truly creative: bringing together vivid
contrasts which too often we keep apart and falsify by turning into
opposites. It celebrated the wonder of our humanity at its best and most
I was given another pointer to the creativity of the human spirit at the
final concert of this year’s Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester – an
amazing performance of Mahler’s colossal 8th Symphony. The opening words
Mahler chose to set to music – Veni Creator Spiritus – underline the
true source of all human creativity. The latin hymn – Come, Creator Spirit –
celebrates the unending variety which is available to every human being
inspired by God the Holy Spirit. Mahler’s music is breathtaking. He
celebrates what some people call The Life-force. Christians prefer to think
deeper and with better definition. The Lord and Giver of Life is God the
Life, colour and energy are to be the themes of this month’s parish
weekend at Sidmouth. During our time away, we shall put to use the interplay
between the many gifts our Christian family has received so richly and
generously. We will draw on skills in art, craft, drama, discussion, music,
reflection, sport, team-building and share them with one another. Each one
is God-given and powerfully creative. We use them with a strange combination
of reticence and exuberance, humility and uninhibited delight. This is the
unique mixture which the Holy Spirit gives to all who are open to receive
his gift of Life.
In one of his recent Thoughts for the Day, Rabbi Lionel Blue said ‘As God
is in you, to know him better you need to know yourself better too.’
That remark hides a demanding and risky challenge. Getting to know ourselves
better is always full of surprises and can often be painful. But taking Time
Out and using it creatively to know one another and ourselves better is also
an opportunity to receive and renew the wonderful gift of Life which is in
Congratulations to William, Bethany and Sarah, Chloe and Dylan, Rhiannon,
Amelia and Caleb, Louis, Jack, David and Nathan, who all made their First
Communions in June or July. We hope to run more preparation classes in the
autumn; please speak to Fr Michael if your children might be interested.
In September we will begin preparation for confirmation at a service to
be held in the Cathedral on 24 November. If you would like to be included in
the preparation, or would like to find out more about what confirmation
means, please speak to Fr Michael.
Fact or fiction? Myth or fable? The Bible Study Group will meet
fortnightly in September and October to try to find an answer. You are
welcome to join us in All Saints’ Church for these four evenings, even if
you have never been before. The first session is on Tuesday 11th September.
We start at 7pm; coffee is available from 6.45pm.
Murton & Jen Swinbank
Second Minister for Cheltenham URC
On Sunday 24th June the Reverend Jon Morgan was inducted as a Minister in
the United Reformed Church of Cheltenham. We welcome him to Prestbury and
All Saints’ and look forward to meeting him at ecumenical services.
WELL, there haven’t been many times over the past four years when I’ve
been lost for words! But I have to confess that I found myself quite choked
up as the thought of leaving Prestbury and All Saints’ finally started to
hit me for real at the wonderful ‘leaving do’ that you’d organised for us.
As Dr Seuss says ‘The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play…’ but there
was no giving in, people moved their picnics inside and joined us in the
school hall for a lovely afternoon. (Who’d have thought we’d all get home to
find there was no water?!) With some great worship led by the Celebrate!
band, kind words from Fr Michael that made me blush from ear to ear, a
procession of presents we thought would never end and so many good friends
to share it all with, it really was a special day for Christine, Bethany,
Sarah and myself.
Thank you so much for the wonderful presents, I don’t know what we’ll do
with the cheque yet – it was very generous indeed of you all – but I already
have the perfect place in mind in our new house for the Rublev icon of the
Trinity and I shall also treasure the lovely card of Pittville Park that so
many of you signed with such kind words. The girls are more excited than
most of you can possibly imagine at the thought of their very own swing in
the garden and, after battling it into the car, Chris is looking forward to
settling her new plant in the conservatory(!) at Grange Road.
Above all though, thank you so much for making us all so welcome over the
past four years. Coming from outside the area, not knowing anyone and
constantly disappearing from church to church, it would have been possible
to feel like perpetual strangers. But thanks to you, that did not happen and
instead we have had the joy of getting to know three very different church
communities along with the schools, youth groups, TEMPO and so much else.
It’s been a real joy working here and I’ve felt particularly blessed in all
the people I’ve worked with but especially Fr Michael, Fr Stephen and Andy
Macauly, from whom I’ve learned an enormous amount. I hope you know how
lucky you are to have had them and that you make the most of the exciting
opportunities ahead as the North Cheltenham Team evolves.
We’re looking forward to life in Cambridge and at St John’s. Chris’ eyes
are already glinting with the thought of all those choirs and the musical
possibilities. But it will be hard to leave, and St Nicolas’, St Mary’s and
All Saints’ will always have a special place in our hearts.
We shall miss you all.
See pictures of the day
With much love and our prayers as ever,
Grant, Christine, Bethany & Sarah
On three Sundays during the year we take the opportunity to join together
for worship with our brothers and sisters from St Mary’s, St Nicolas’ and
All Saints’. We aim to do this on or near to the Patronal Festival of each
of our churches. I would encourage you to make that extra little effort to
attend these services; it is a wonderful experience to worship with a larger
number of people occasionally. It reminds us that we are part of a wider
church family and also makes a statement about our desire for fellowship and
unity within the Body of Christ.
On Sunday 9th September at 11.00am there will be a Team-wide Sung
Eucharist in St Mary’s, to which you are all warmly invited. St Mary’s
celebrate their Patronal Festival on the Feast of the Birthday of the
Blessed Virgin Mary (8th September). On this Sunday there will be an 8am
Eucharist in all three churches but there will not be a service at 9.30am in
St Nicolas’ or at 10.30am in All Saints’. Please speak to one of the Wardens
if you would like transport to St Mary’s.
Do you have pre-school children and would like to meet new friends? Then
come along to Rockers on Thursday afternoons at St Mary’s Church from
2-2.45pm (term time only). Our first meeting this term is on Thursday 13th
Rockers offers children a relaxed atmosphere to introduce them to the
Church, by singing action songs, listening to a short bible story,
encouraging them to take part in a creative activity or play with toys.
There is also an opportunity for the adults to enjoy a cup of tea and a
chat. Fun and friendly, please come along. For information please contact
Vicky Dunn or Lisa Roberts or email
St Mary’s Church will be participating in the national Heritage Open Days
in conjunction with The Civic Trust and English Heritage. The church will be
‘on show’ for visitors from 1pm to 5pm daily from Thursday 6th September to
Sunday 9th September, coinciding with St Mary’s Patronal Festival.
We will be showing a short film entitled Travels Through Time, the story
of Prestbury, using first-hand accounts of life from the 13th to 20th
century. Teas will also be available in church on those afternoons. This is
being advertised on the Heritage Open Days website firstname.lastname@example.org
Malcolm McKelvey was Director of Music in Prestbury parish from 1989 to
2003 and this series of concerts in his memory is to raise money for work on
St Mary’s organ.
On Saturday 22nd September at 7.30pm in St Mary’s church Christine
McKelvey will give a concert of piano music to include works by Bach,
Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn and others. Admission is by ticket,
on sale in advance and at the door. Please see leaflets or pewsheets for
Further concerts will be on Saturday 13th October 7.30pm with The St
Cecilia Singers, to include works by Britten and Parry, and on Wednesday 7th
November at 11am with Peter Greaves, the current organist at St Mary’s.
June, Prestbury and Pittville Youth advertised for a new half-time Youth
Inclusion Worker on www.glosjobs.co.uk. Over 100 people clicked the
advertisement, 10 asked for the application pack, 3 applied, 2 were
interviewed and Sharon Carley-Macauly was appointed to start work on 1
September. She has a wealth of relevant experience and qualifications and
has worked for PPY as a volunteer for several years. The Executive Committee
are delighted to welcome her now as an employee.
She will be working on Wednesdays and Thursdays with ‘Pittville Youth
Action Group’, young people from Pittville School who are not engaging with
the mainstream school curriculum and who are at serious risk of being
permanently excluded from school. Under Sharon’s guidance, they will follow
an alternative curriculum which will ensure that at the end of two years
they have ASDAN qualifications which will open doors for them into jobs,
training or college courses in a similar way to GCSEs.
this isn’t early warning of next year’s event! As we haven’t had a magazine
since the fete on June 30th it was felt that you might like to know how
things went on the day. With hindsight we now realise the weather wasn’t too
bad! Thanks to David’s marquees the games all took place outdoors, with the
coconut-shy and beat-the-goalie attracting crowds despite occasional
downpours, whilst Daphne and Allan whipped up enthusiasm for the Doggy
Indoors, sales of ice-cream were slow, but Marle Hill WI produced a
mouth-watering display of cakes for the much-in-demand tea stall. Visitors
were able to browse and buy at all the traditional stalls and observe the
work of Glevum Scribes, who also provided the certificates for the winning
Many thanks are due in both sides of the parish to people who helped in
planning, collecting, persuading(!), and in tidying everything away at the
end. Thanks to Lindsey for accommodating a herd of white elephants in her
garage until they were passed on to Swindon Village for their fete and to
Tony Mason for delivering all the surplus books to the charity shops.
To summarise – we had fun organising things and we made £1500 profit.
Roll on next year’s event in Prestbury!
See the pictures
Saturday 14th July saw 60+ children and 30 adults converge upon St
Nicolas’ for another activity packed day. The children were introduced to
the aim of the day and quickly put into their groups where they met their
leaders. The groups then participated in a variety of workshops that linked
directly to a Parable, ranging from the ever popular clay to collage and
banner making and creating gardens in seed trays. The day closed with an act
of worship which was supported by many in our congregations.
This was a team wide event and it was good to share in the day with our
friends from the wider North Cheltenham Team.
A huge thank you to all those who helped to make the day so successful.
On Friday 13th July Andy and Sharon Macauly hosted an awards night –
suits and ties for the players, pretty dresses for wives, mothers and
girlfriends. Special thanks were made to Andy Macauly and Grant Bayliss for
all they had contributed to the inauguration of the NCC team, and many other
awards were presented by team captain, Tim Rudge.
The new season kicks off on Saturday 8th September at 10.30am with a
league match against Ecclesiastical FC at King George V playing field. On
September 22nd NCC play Gloucester Community Churches at Plock Court. Do
come and support these matches if you can.
Full details of the 2007-2008
fixtures are on the website www.prestbury.net.
Every five years we are required to ask our architect to carry out an
internal and external inspection of the church. The report we have received
has highlighted work that in the opinion of the architect needs to be
carried out in order to maintain the building in the best condition
We have received quotations from three contractors and completed the
faculty application process. Detailed below is an outline of the work to be
carried out with estimated costings.
|Work to wall, bellcote, roofs and chimney
|Gutters and downpipes, including replacements
|Repairs to tiles, stonework, doors and windows
|Electrical system test
|Redecoration of porch gates and weathervane
|Repairs to graveyard walls
|Bell tower railings
This gives a total estimated bill of over £22,000! The PCC has agreed
that we must go ahead with the work. However, this will drain most of our
financial reserves and so we must address the issue of fundraising so that
those reserves can be replenished.
If you would like to make a donation towards the work, please use a gift
aid envelope and clearly mark it ‘St Mary’s Fabric’.
Michael, July 2007
IT IS 6AM. The telephone rings. ‘The school is flooded,’ says our
vigilant caretaker. Our emergency contact system springs into action:
parents at work make provision for childcare; county services are informed.
Staff are soon on the spot to see the school and playground submerged.
streams from the overflowing culvert, blocked with the debris brought down
from the hill in the torrential rain. It flows through the school and the
overflow continues its way through the backdoor and out the front of the
Parents delivering their children to the Infant School stare in disbelief
at the damage and offer help and support.
action. In the classrooms, staff start to retrieve vulnerable low lying
items. Thankfully much is in deep plastic boxes. They stack furniture, as
they wade through the water (photograph left). The culvert is unblocked,
revealing such items as a man’s jacket, a large tin can, bottles and debris.
The rubbish fills the back of a truck. Slowly the water level subsides, as
we locate manhole covers and unblock drains.
Camaraderie is great. We climb on the council lorry, shovelling sand and
making sandbags ready for another possible attack.
County services work until 10pm pumping out the water; dehumidifiers
arrive; the school is decontaminated. After a week’s closure the school is
reopened. A county official said that ours had been the worst case of
flooding in a school that he had seen.
Sadly we have to replace our recently laid carpets and much of our new
in the school conservation area (photograph right) is submerged. Armed with
pond dipping nets, we begin our quest to rescue countless newts and
Thanks go to those many people who offered practical help, sustained the
staff with cakes and sandwiches and generally helped morale.
Exceptional rainfall now makes us very nervous. We monitor the culvert
like hawks. Please help us in this task and report any blockages further up
the stream. One flooding is enough!
Philpot, Chair of Governors
- Daphne’s account is of the events of Monday June 25th. Less than a
month later, on Friday July 20th, there was far more rain, and although
the school did not flood again, there was widespread flooding in many
areas of Gloucestershire, including Prestbury.
|Prayer from Bishop Michael
Creator God, hear our prayer.
As we look with dismay on the floods across our
we ask you to look with compassion on all who are suffering,
on those whose homes are spoilt, whose livelihood is threatened.
We thank you for acts of courage and of kindness and
pray a blessing on all who rescue and relieve.
And, when the floods have gone, guide us to learn lessons.
Help us to live in harmony with the laws of nature and in
reverence for a creation you have made to be very good.
Creator God, hear our prayer.
TWENTY-FIVE Brownies from 36th Cheltenham (St Nicolas’) and thirteen
Brownies from 22nd Cheltenham (St Peter’s), Simon and 11-day-old Samantha
joined together for yet another fun sleepover …
Our theme was ‘Going Green’ and we started the evening with a photo shoot
by the Echo and then our opening ceremony. We talked about the ten golden
rules of friendship, sang ‘Make new friends’, talked about the 3R’s, sang
the ‘rapping robot song’ and talked about our carbon footprints and how to
Tea arrived (Fish and chips from the Codfather) and so did our guests!!
We had county commissioners past and present, a headteacher, governors and
our ambassador!! Once all fed and watered we started our 3R’s Challenges:
RECYCLE:- To build a robot made out of things that could be
REUSE:- To make a ‘piggy’ money box out of an old milk carton.
REDUCE:- To learn some first aid to reduce accidents and help out
our friends. Father Grant came to visit and ended up on the floor being put
into the recovery position by a Brownie!!
We all then joined together to sew a ‘sleepover bag’ and to colour in a
bookmark or two ready to give out in church. (We had a competition before to
design it.) Out came our beds, and so did the midnight feasts!! (These were
made up of a compost heap – with worms, tooth brushes and teeth!!) Finally
after watching the Horrid Henry DVD the Brownies decided that some sleep
would be good!!
Sunday morning arrived sooner than the Guiders would like but we were all
up packed away and ready for breakfast at 8am. We gathered outside church
and sang as the congregation arrived. We started the service with the tooth
brushing challenge; we were joined by Father Grant, the Sunday club and a
few brave adults!! The service was based around our ‘Going Green’ theme and
the Brownies were given a very active part. All the Brownies enjoyed the
service although a few were spotted with eyes closed!! After the service we
finished with our Thank you’s, certificates, prizes and goodie bags!!!
Brownie Pack Holiday 23-25 March 2007
IT WAS in the Guide Headquarters, Deer Park, Cowley. It was my second
Brownie pack holiday, this time Piglet was leading, she was taking her pack
holiday test. I was very excited. We needed to take clothes, a sleeping bag
or duvet, pillow, potato peeler and T towel.
The theme for the pack holiday was ‘Under the Sea’. We made mermaid
tiaras out of tissue paper and glitter, fish finger puppets (!!), we sewed
felt purses and decorated them with sequins and made a mermaid mobile. We
made biscuits for our party and played pin the tail on the mermaid. At the
party we did a cat walk showing all our crafts that we could wear.
The highlight of my pack holiday was doing archery. My score was 87
points which included bulls eyes! Badger was the chef, my favourite meal of
pack holiday was spaghetti Bolognese. The puddings were yummy especially the
lemon meringue pie.
I had a wonderful weekend – thank you Piglet and guiders! Can’t wait for
the next one!!!!!!
By Rachel J aged 8yrs
[Rachel wrote this article as part of her Writer’s Badge.
‘You, O Lord, are my lamp; you turn our darkness into light.’
THESE OPENING WORDS of Sunday’s Evening Prayer took on a whole new
meaning as I sat reading them on the deck of the ship in bright sunshine –
at a quarter past midnight! For nearly a week we had not seen any darkness:
even before we crossed the Arctic Circle the sun was setting in the north
and rising again in the north shortly afterwards, the sky remaining bright
and light all night.
It was mid-June and our cruise was six days on one of the Norwegian
Coastal Express boats, which delivers goods for supermarkets and is used by
the locals as a passenger and car ferry from one port to the next as well as
being a floating hotel for tourists such as us. We called at over thirty
ports, many of them small villages, some of them during the night, and often
for only twenty minutes or so. Others, such as Trondheim and Tromsø, were
much larger and we stayed longer.
We joined the ship at Bergen on a Tuesday evening, and even there my
comment at midnight was ‘daylight outside; sky is lightest due north.’ Next
day saw us, after a brief stop at Ålesund, dwarfed by the steep sides of the
spectacular Geiranger Fjord. At the far end we were transferred by small
ferry to the waiting coaches for a day in the mountains. Up the Eagle Road –
talk about hairpin bends! But once up there it was a different world:
villages and fertile valleys, strawberry farms and snow – yes, not only was
last winter’s snow still lying, but it actually snowed on us! More hairpin
bends down the Trollstieg, across two more fjords by ferry, and we finally
rejoined the ship at Molde in the evening.
Thursday’s excursion in Trondheim was a complete contrast. First we
visited the great grey Nidaros Cathedral with its green roof and beautiful
pink marble floor. This is an English cathedral built by English stonemasons
– Saint Olav had discovered Christianity in England, loved our cathedrals,
and wanted one! By the way, his symbol is an axe: being a Viking, his method
of evangelism was to behead you if you didn’t convert! After the cathedral
we spent a happy hour or so at the Ringve Museum looking at and hearing many
old musical instruments.
Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim
We crossed the Arctic Circle at precisely 7.11 the next morning. We left
the ship at 8.30 via the hatch in the side of the car deck on to a fast
catamaran which took us to view an arm of a glacier and on to a small
fishing village, where we walked around for a while, after which we fairly
zipped along through narrow straits
between pretty islands and eventually rejoined the ship at 2.30, through
the car deck again, at Bodø. Day and night being indistinguishable, I slept
for a couple of hours that afternoon while we crossed relatively open sea to
the Lofoten Islands. We were able to go ashore briefly at a couple of
places, visiting an ice gallery – many figures all carved out of ice,
including the bar, the seats and the drinks glasses – and then were wide
awake for the Troll Party on deck at midnight, with drinks and soup as the
ship turned round on the spot in the narrow dead-end bowl of the sheer-sided
Saturday was another city excursion, in Tromsø, and included the
Tromsdalen Church, or ‘Arctic Cathedral’. Constructed from great slabs of
concrete in a series of different sized triangles with glass in the gaps
between them, the whole cathedral resembles the tip of an iceberg. Perhaps
that is what all our churches should be – the visible part of a community
immersed in God.
‘Arctic Cathedral’, Tromsø
Sunday saw us out in the wilds again, by coach through the mountains to a
small fishing village and then out to sea on a bird safari – thousands of
birds, including puffins and sea eagles. That night we and many others
stayed up, hoping the sun would come out from behind the clouds. We were
rewarded shortly after midnight and by half past twelve it was brilliant,
just hanging there, neither rising nor setting. At 1am, as we stood watching
pallets of goods being unloaded at a small village, the sun was already
higher and was warm on our faces. This was what we had come for, and was
well worth staying awake for.
Jesus asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that
the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others
Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to
them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the
Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Matthew 16:13-16
What enabled Peter to come out with such a definite statement?
The disciples had been distinguished mainly by their inability to see
beyond external appearances, despite ample evidence of healings, miraculous
feedings, casting out demons. Peter had even been brave enough to step out
of a boat and try to walk on water. Then his steps of faith had faltered and
he had begun to sink. Yet here he speaks out boldly in words that take us
right back to similar words at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, ‘This is
my Son.’ (Matthew 3:17)
Imagine the scene! Seated with his friends, Jesus looks around
expectantly and asks, ‘Who do people say I am?’. No doubt they look from one
to another, each wondering, ‘Should we tell Him?’, ‘What if we say the wrong
thing?’. Then someone dares to speak. Others follow. Finally, it is Simon
Peter who responds to the direct question, ‘Who do you say that I
am?’. For him, as for each of us, the time has come to speak up for what
he believes, no matter what other people might be saying.
Peter is responding to what he has learned from miracles and teaching,
and Jesus is using tactics familiar to many lecturers. If asked a question,
He answers with another. Little by little, He leads the enquirer gently
forward to search more deeply, uncovering the truth bit by bit.
You can picture the realisation dawning on Peter’s face. It is as if
someone has suddenly switched on the light. So it seems peculiar that this
passage ends with ‘Jesus sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone
that he was the Messiah.’ (Matthew 16:20)
At the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, gifts laid at the manger point to
the significance of the infant Jesus. Gold for a King; incense for a God. In
the horrid account of the king’s birthday, with the Baptist’s head on a
plate (Matthew 14:1 12), we can compare Herod’s kingship with the
Kingship revealed in Jesus. At his baptism, and in Peter’s words at Caesarea
Philippi, we see Jesus acknowledged as Son of God.
Peter recognises the Divinity of Christ the King, revealed in the
miraculous transformation of the ordinary, but his experience and
understanding are still incomplete. If he limits his perception of Jesus to
what he has learned so far, he might well come to the wrong conclusions.
For the Magi brought another gift, with darker undertones – myrrh
pointing to suffering and death, the inescapable counterparts of Kingship
and Divinity in the Kingdom revealed by Jesus. Peter’s Keys of the Kingdom
will be the teachings and example of Jesus’ whole life, his living,
dying and rising. Only by continuing to the end of the story will we (and
Peter) be able to appreciate it completely.
Then we need be silent no longer. Jesus instructs us, ‘Go and make
disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you.’ (Matthew 28:19-20)