For over a
year, across the four parishes of the North Cheltenham Team Ministry, we have
been growing a common vision1. As this process has gone on it
has become increasingly clear that, as each of the churches serves a different
locality, so each has to work out the vision in its own way. Churches,
just like people, have their own personalities and their own ‘charism’2.
One size does not fit all. One of the tasks of the clergy, therefore, is
to ensure the structure3 we call the ‘Team’ serves this vision,
rather than being an end in itself. But the task of discerning the vision,
of listening to the Spirit of God, belongs to us all.
I remember watching a programme some years ago following the work of a famous
sculptor. I had always thought that sculpture would be a peaceful
occupation, gently chipping bits of stone away at a slow, thoughtful pace and
contemplating the emerging image. It came as quite a surprise that the
exact opposite was true. There was a sense of a titanic struggle taking
place: a wrestling and frustration, a pouring out of creative energy that
left the creator feeling drained and even at times defeated.
Have you found aspects of the vision process frustrating? Has it
sometimes confused you or felt like a waste of time? Or have you wondered
whether you have a part to play at all, that others are running ahead and
leaving you behind? Have you found it hard to grasp, and worried that you
have failed to understand something that everyone else has come to more easily?
If so you are not alone! In fact this kind of wrestling is normal, and
indeed valuable, because through it we experience the frustration of the Spirit,
who longs to re-create us and bring out the beauty that is within, and we are
not always the easiest material to work with.
We all know that God’s will for the world is a big vision that encompasses
all of creation4, but experience shows us that we only ever catch
glimpses of it, never its entirety. None of our churches will ever
completely embody the whole vision of God, but we can take two or three steps
closer to it and as we do so we experience his peace, his joy, his love and his
longing for the world. The vision process, therefore, brings us face to
face with ourselves, a desert journey that is at the heart of Lent5,
in which we will need to hold on to God’s word, to trust that God is with us and
for us, and to let God be our guide and our centre.
is not a new thing. It arises from the revelation that God has a will for
the world, a desire, even a thirst, that is an expression of his love for
humanity. When you love someone you do not only have strong feelings for
them, you want them to become the fullness of who they are. This is your
vision for them.
‘charism’ is quite different from a skill or talent. It arises from the
breath of the Holy Spirit within a person or a group of people. Far from
being about our abilities, it is often where we are weak that we see God most at
work, and what emerges is often as surprising to us as it is to others.
one of the peculiarities of the Church of England that ‘team’ is used to mean a
group of parishes rather than a group of people. Perhaps there is an
important challenge in this for us, to win back a sense of being a mixed group
of communities with a common purpose.
Gospel tells us ‘God so loved the cosmos that he sent his only Son....’
(chapter 3, verse 16)
Matthew chapter 4 verses 1 to 11
Ash Wednesday is on 9th March and it is hoped that we will all
endeavour to attend one of the services on offer that day so that we can each
make a good start to Lent. Ash Wednesday services in Prestbury are:
||10.30 in St Mary’s
||Said Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes
||19.30 in St Nicolas’
||Sung Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes
In the wider Team Ministry there will also be the following services which
all are welcome to attend:
||14.00 in All Saints
||Said Service of the Word with Imposition of Ashes
||19.00 in St Lawrence
||19.30 in All Saints
||Sung Mass with Imposition of Ashes
Technology-Free Lent Groups
Our Lent Groups begin this month and will be following a course prepared by
Bishop Michael using the Lectio Divina method of Bible study.
Details of times and venues are on the church notice boards.
If you would like to join a group please add your name to the appropriate
list or contact Deacon Jennifer on email@example.com
Compline during Lent
As part of our provision of daily prayer in Lent, this year there will be a
simple service of silent prayer followed by sung Compline at St Mary’s Prestbury
on Tuesday evenings. Silent prayer begins at 8.30pm, and Compline will
begin at 9.00pm. You are welcome to both or either.
Other Daily Prayer Opportunities
You are also welcome to join us for Morning Prayer at 9am in St Mary’s
(Mondays and Wednesdays), St Nicolas’ (Tuesdays) or All Saints’ (Thursdays) and
Evening Prayer at 5pm in St Nicolas’ (Monday to Saturday). The service
takes about twenty minutes and there is time for both spoken and silent prayer.
One of the ideas which came about early in the life of PPY was to have a
project running across the youth work. Previously we have run projects
such as Challenge 07 (encouraging young people to take on personal challenges),
Great Outdoors, Re-create (creative arts) and Dimensions (spirituality).
This encourages a depth to the work and helps to keep things fresh from year to
Our Future Focus project this year brings together film-making and
reflections on ‘the future’. A key part of this project will be our
residential (11-13 March) at Viney Hill. Past experience has shown that
film-making brings together important areas such as team work, creativity,
communication and ICT. As well as the important process there will also be
a great product. We will be showing some of the films produced at the PPY
AGM on Sunday 27th March 6-8pm at St Nicolas’.
Please do pray for this project and support the AGM/showcase – really
listening to the young people’s message and helping to shape the future of PPY
in these challenging times.
27th March 6pm – 8pm
St Nicolas’ Church
Open to young
people, parents and all supporters of PPY
Feedback, films and worship from young people
Important discussions on future work
Voting in a new committee
Please join us if
you can and help PPY to provide the very best for local young people
more info: Andy Macauly 520534
Synod met on 5th February at St Nicolas’; once again, Bishop Michael told us all
that he felt it to be a really excellent venue. The ‘Gold Cup-Trained’
coffee and parking teams swung into smooth action yet again, an enormous relief,
particularly for those who have to travel long distances and still be there for
the 9am Eucharist.
The first item after the service was reports from the inaugural meeting of
the new General Synod. Arising from this was the arrangement made by the
Diocese for all the Deaneries to discuss the very serious matters of the
Anglican Covenant and the appointment of women to the episcopate. I was
relieved to hear that the Diocese are engaging panels of speakers to be at
Deanery Synod meetings to explain the various arguments for or against these
rather contentious matters. It will then be the duty of Diocesan Synod
members to vote at the Diocesan Synod level, if I understood correctly.
The House of Laity (that’s people like me) will also have another special
meeting before the next Synod, with a panel of people to advise on any legal
points we do not understand, so when the actual Diocesan Synod meets in June we
will all be as well informed as possible. I admit I am not looking forward
to all of this a great deal. With feelings running high on all sides, I am
afraid the atmosphere could get rather unpleasant.
On more mundane things, the new Giving for Life scheme, at parish level,
seems to be coming into action well, with the Diocesan Board of Finance making
more hopeful noises. More people are using the simpler direct debiting
system and linking their donations to the level of inflation.
At parish level, the drive for effective ministry is beginning to bear fruit
as well. There are now only ten deaneries and the newly reorganised ones
are settling in. Team ministry is becoming the general thing with both lay
and ordained staff members working closely together. When you read this,
spare a thought for our clergy and church wardens. It takes a lot of
management to keep our buildings and services functioning. What we all see
is truly the tip of a very big iceberg! The work of stipendiary Clergy is
There is aways a break after coffee and biscuits for twenty minutes bible
study using the Lecto Divina system: one short passage is used, we
sit in small circular groups and each reads a sentence in turn, pause for
thought, then we go round again each of us saying what we think is the key word
of the passage, silence again, read a sentence each again, silence, then a
comment in one sentence from each of us and this then breaks into a discussion
quite spontaneously. Those who know me will know that I am absent from
bible studies, but even I thoroughly enjoy these sessions, very stimulating and
refreshing. Deacon Jennifer is organising these for us this Lent and I
definitely recommend them.
The final presentation was from Katherine Clamp from the Diocesan
Communications Office on how well we communicate: as a parish with our
surrounding community; and between ourselves as a congregation. She is
willing to visit parishes and give similar talks and I really hope she comes to
our North Cheltenham Team because I can promise that none of us nod off during
Hodges, Diocesan Synod representative
St Matthew’s Church, Cheltenham
On the evening
of 1st February I was one of hundreds of people of all ages privileged to be
present in St Matthew’s church when Jose Henriquez, the twenty-fourth Chilean
miner to be brought to the surface from the San Jose mine, through his
interpreter Rev Alf Cooper, told of some of his experiences.
The first thing that struck me was his calm composure and sincere and
dedicated belief in the living God. He told of the silence for several
hours after the rock fall which blocked the passage and their way out. It
was followed after the dust had settled, which was several hours later, by the
different reactions to the situation: some shouted, others cried and some
suffered severe shock.
After a while it was decided they must organise themselves, firstly by
checking their stock; this revealed they only had sufficient water for one day
and food for three. The next thing was to allocate jobs according to each
man’s skill. He himself said they should pray, but only if they believed
in the Living God: it was no use believing in a dead God. It was
agreed that he, being an evangelical preacher, should lead the prayers, which
happened every day; also from memory he told them Bible stories, and later in
the two months they were trapped, they held Bible quizzes. After their
rescue twenty-two miners accepted Christ as their Saviour, and as he had taught
the sacrament of marriage five men married their partners.
It was seventeen days before the second drill from above ground by a miracle
went off at an angle and broke through to let those on the surface know they
were all thirty-three alive. President Pinera ordered all the best brains
and skilled engineers to be deployed in the rescue of the miners, and ordered a
day of prayer and thanksgiving at the palace.
With a small shaft now open food and drink was able to be passed to the
miners, also a small bible. During the seventeen days when there was no
contact with the outside world they had survived by drinking the industrial
water, which of course was contaminated, and were rationed at one stage to one
teaspoon each of tuna a day.
Later in the talk it was open to questions from the floor, one of which was
‘Did he think it had been a miracle?’. His reply was that it had joined
the whole world together in prayer, but that Christ was the miracle.
Another question was ‘Had the accident made any difference to the safety in the
mines?’. He said the safety at level one had always been excellent, but
that at level two where they were trapped was a different matter, due to greed
and expense, but was due to be changed now. Someone asked ‘Would you ever
go down the mine again?’. The reply caused much laughter when he said ‘I
was first to go back down; I had left something in my box’.
I could write much more of what proved to be a wonderful evening. I
left in wonder at the resilience of the human spirit to come through so much,
and it humbled me and left me in awe at such strength of faith.
It is good to welcome David Whale to the North Cheltenham Team Ministry on a
placement which runs until Easter Day. David is exploring the possibility
of ordination and is worshipping with us and joining in with other events across
the Team. David is accompanied by his wife Jo, so please introduce
yourselves to them. We hope that David will be able to visit all the
churches in our Team, but you may not get to meet him for a while!
John Fogarty RIP
It was with great sadness
that we learned of the death of John Fogarty. John had been a significant
figure in the village for over fifty years, and it was only just over a year ago
that he sold the Bakery Stores (now Prestbury Village Stores) and retired.
This photograph was taken at the presentation to him on 30th January 2010.
The One who eats with sinners and turns the tables in the temple.
The One who washes feet and wears the crown of thorns.
The One who is torn from the Father for the sake of the whole world and who
makes sure Thomas feels the wounds and could believe.
The One who speaks the words ‘Peace be with you’ and who stills the storm
with his voice.
The One who welcomes street children and speaks in parables so people have to
search, seek, knock for him.
The One who throws the biggest party in eternity and who comes to my door to
knock for me.
The One who cuts himself off for forty days and provides gallons of wine to
keep the wedding celebration going.
The One who stands and fights all that is evil and who changes his plans to
respond to the touch of a ‘nobody’.
The One who has a burning purpose which keeps him moving on and who escapes
to be with the ones he loves.
The One who heals all ten even though only one comes back to praise.
The One who preaches to thousands and who sits for hours with his friends.
The One who embraces terrorists and collaborators.
The One who plans a global rescue and who bends down to put the pieces of a
single shattered life back together.
The One who looks in the eyes – in the eyes of the rulers, in the eyes of the
hypocrites, in the eyes of the adulteress, in the eyes of the betrayer, in the
eyes of death itself
and still loves
and still loves
and still loves.
Macauly, written during his sabbatical
Wanted – Old Glasses (Spectacles)
Regular readers of this parish magazine will remember that last summer I
helped our son Paul and two of his friends raise money for mosquito nets for
Malawi. I have now been invited to join a party of twelve who each year in
July visit the projects and help with some DIY. I have offered, with my
medical background, to try to collect medical instruments etc which are no
longer needed here but still will have a good life in a Malawi hospital.
They asked for help in improving their eye clinics and the doctors have asked
for old glasses. This is where I feel that you can help by searching in
your drawers and cupboards for all those old pairs of glasses that you no longer
use. It does not matter how old they are so long as both the lenses are
intact and the frames are usable. If you have a card with the prescription
this will help but I can have the glasses checked and measured so this is not a
If you have any contributions please leave them on the box which will be by
the main display table inside St Mary’s Church. For those interested in
the Charity their website is
www.malawimacs.org where you can see the work done and the outline of
the 2011 visit.
Thank you in anticipation of a good response.
A capable wife who
can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her
husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him
good, and not harm, all the days of her life… She rises while it is still
night and provides food for her household… She considers a field and buys
it… she plants a vineyard… She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her
hands to the needy… She makes linen garments and sells them… She opens her
mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue… Her
children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her:
‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’
Proverbs 31:10-31 (abridged) NRSV
In Hebrew this poem is an acrostic of twenty-two verses starting with
successive letters of the alphabet, which might explain the randomness of the
achievements and qualities listed. We could produce a similar effect by
translating it thus:
A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
By her husband she is trusted,
and he will have no lack of gain.
Continually she does him good,
and not harm…
An astute business woman, this wife is adept at multi-tasking and presumably
also at delegating and monitoring. But she does not work for her own ends;
she is not trying to prove herself. She is doing it because this is her
role. Her husband takes his seat with the elders at the city gate (v23)
and is respected there because of her. This does not sit easily with our
notion today of equality, when we might expect her also to have a place with the
This, though, is something more: it is the ‘equality’ of mutual
respect, where each complements the other, recognising and acknowledging their
different abilities and different roles. Whether in the husband-wife
partnership of marriage, a business partnership in an office or the working
together of members of a church or a football team, it is in complementing each
other’s abilities that we achieve most.
Now link this with a passage which is sometimes hard to reconcile with the
freedom women expect in society today: ‘Wives, be subject to your husbands…’
(Ephesians 5:22). This is balanced by ‘Husbands, love your wives…’
(v25), indicating mutual respect.
A closer reading of this passage (5:22-33), however, shows us the deeper
analogy of ‘wives’ representing the church, which is subject to Christ, and
‘husbands’ representing Christ, who ‘loved the church and gave himself up for
her’. Who is the ‘church’ today? It is all of us, women and men
alike, who call ourselves Christians. We are members of Christ’s body here
in St Nicolas’ or St Mary’s; we are members of the Church of England; of the
whole of Christendom, regardless of denomination. And as such, how should
we behave? We have already answered that question in Proverbs 31.
We can all emulate this wife by ensuring that members of our church ‘family’
are fed and clothed, both physically and spiritually. We can use our
artistic abilities or business skills to spread the gospel of Christ. We
can be generous in giving to charity, both worldwide and to those on our
doorstep. We can be wise and kind.
And then perhaps our ‘husband’, Christ, will be honoured and respected at the
‘city gate’: in society, in politics, in business, in education, in healthcare,
in the law courts. Our lives and behaviour will point people to the living