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
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
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!
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’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’
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.
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
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
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
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
- aged 16 years or over on the date of the meeting
- a lay member of the Church of England
- either resident in the parish or habitually attend public worship in the
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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
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)
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.
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.
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
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!
continued next month
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.