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  Revd. Kimberley Mannings writes …... AUGUST 2018 Magazine,

Dear all,
My name’s Kim/Kimberley (take your pick!) and I’m the new curate at Prescot Parish Church and St Paul’s. I have been overwhelmed over the past few weeks by the incredibly warm welcome I have received and the kindness shown to my husband Stephen and I. Thank you so much for your hospitality, the fantastic cake, the beautiful Pentecost stole which I will treasure forever, and for being so lovely and welcoming to the two of us.
A little bit about me: I’m 28 years old (although still get asked for ID when buying paracetamol!) and am originally from Huyton but moved around a bit for university and teacher training before eventually returning to Liverpool to begin a teaching post in 2012. I was a secondary school RE teacher and spent many happy years working in a Catholic all-girls school in Liverpool before beginning ordination training in 2015 (and getting married in the same week!). Towards the end of my training I moved back to my home town of Huyton where I now live with my husband Stephen along with our pride and joy – Philly, our seven-year-old rescue greyhound!
I have had a wonderful three weeks of getting to know people and attempting to learn the geography of Prescot (including the very important ‘which hill leads to which place!’). I can scarcely believe that it was only three weeks ago that I was ordained Deacon at Liverpool Cathedral (on 24 June).
Someone asked me recently whether or not there was one particular moment within the ordination service that impacted me most profoundly, and immediately my mind transported me back to one instant. I had just been ordained and was kneeling at the altar rails while a cantor from the cathedral choir sang over us, invoking the Holy Spirit to come. In that moment I looked up at the East window above the High Altar and noticed that at the top of this magnificent stained-glass window is a smaller, round window bearing an image of the risen Christ. In all of the hours I have spent in the cathedral prior to that day I had never noticed that window.
So, why was this precise moment so significant? For me, it was the great reminder that Christ goes before us, always. That, whatever situations in life we may ever find ourselves in, He stands above them all, and we are never, ever alone. A reminder that we cannot bear the weight of His calling upon each of our lives in our own strength, but can rest safely in the knowledge that when we fix our eyes on Him, He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Kimberley Mannings

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes …...July 2018

Dear Friends,
On the last Sunday of last month, we went to the cathedral to attend the Ordination Service in which our new Curate the Revd Kimberley Manning was made a Deacon in the Church of God. Ten years ago, on the last Sunday of June 2008, on St Peter’s Day, I too was made a Deacon, so it brought back many happy memories for me of my own ordination.
It is the culmination for a person of many years of discernment and of testing the vocation of someone to be ordained. Then comes a lot of study and placements and thinking through all that it means to be ordained it seems to go on forever with no end.
Calling and vocation is something that all of us should think about and we should ask ourselves what God is calling me to do for him; what is my vocation to be and how should I develop it for his service to others in love.
I cannot talk about other people’s vocation it is up to them and God to see the way forward for them. I know that my own vocation began from when I was 19 years old and first felt called to be a candidate for the Church Army. Thus began my journey which led to my ordination thirty years later and my coming to Prescot twenty-one years ago last month.
I have to say that people tend not to understand the way ordination is; and the process of being a Deacon is one that is, in a way, lost in the folklore of being a Vicar. A Vicar is an office, or post, that someone holds e.g. Vicar of Prescot, Vicar of Huyton etc. But most people think all of us with clerical collars are vicars – we are not!
A Deacon is defined as: ‘Deacons are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes in love…. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.’ (Ordination of Deacons: The Greeting. Common Worship).
Let us all pray for Kimberley as she begins her new life as a Deacon and also her husband. We are all called by God and the Deacon’s Greeting could also apply to all of us for what God wants us to do in spreading the good news of love to the people we are in touch with and who we have to serve.
Yours in Christ

 Yours in Christ Peter Cowley

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Revd. John Taylor writes …...June 2018

The seasons of the year are moving on apace and I suppose we are now in late spring and rapidly approaching early summer.
The Church’s seasons are also moving rapidly, and are now in what someone described (possibly Sir John Betjeman) as the long green days of Trinity. Unless there is a festival or a saint’s day, the coloured hangings and altar frontals are green and we remain green until the Kingdom Season in November.
Green is the colour of hope, life and growth. It is easily identified with the natural world around us, which is springing back into the fullness of life.
This time of the Church’s year is also known as ‘ordinary time’. Personally I don’t think that is a good name, as no day is ordinary. Every day is someone’s birthday or anniversary and most importantly, every day is a gift. We don’t have tomorrow as a right.
The following prayer is used at the start of the service of Morning Prayer each day:

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever. Amen

If we can learn to rejoice in each new day and have our hearts on fire with love for God and each other, what a difference it would make to our lives.
Perhaps we should all have a go at using this prayer and let’s see what happens!

John Taylor

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Revd. Jeff Engel writes …... May 2018 Magazine,

CHURCH OF ENGLAND CALLING? CHURCH OF ENGLAND CALLING? …..
Have you ever wondered if God might be calling you to new or special work in His Service? Vocation Sunday on 22 April may have stirred you to give some thought and prayer to your calling as a Christian. Now Bishop Paul is hosting a day on Tuesday 8 May to help people discern what is their calling. It will be a daytime meeting when you can ask questions and talk with others who are also thinking about where God is leading them. Being an ordained minister isn’t just one type of thing. As well as ‘full-time vicars’ there are people, full-time and part-time, serving God in a wide variety of different roles. And there are a lot of different ways you can train for ordination!
This letter is not only addressed directly to those whom God may be calling, it is addressed to our whole Church family. I speak from personal experience! Years ago I was quite content counselling and working with students. I had lots of opportunities to travel, at home and abroad, as a trainer and as an External Examiner. It was members of the congregation where I worshipped in Southport who spoilt it all! Several times parishioners asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a Vicar. Reluctantly, I went to a Church of England Selection Board. It was then I really realised that I just had to work more directly for the Church and for God. People round me could see more clearly what I could not discern myself! Do get your thinking cap on and look prayerfully not only at yourself but also at the people around you in our Church Family.
If ordained ministry is not for you, do not forget that Prescot Church offers lots of ways in which you could serve both church and the community. Perhaps you could steward as a Sidesperson, contribute through the PCC, Sunday school, or by welcoming people through the Church Office or Baptisms, catering or guiding, singing or serving, reading or interceding in church, knitting Prayer Shawls, home visiting or running organisations like the Mothers’ Union.
Have I missed out some of the many church activities in which parishioners are working to bring God’s love and hope to others? I am sure I have! (after all what about the Church Shop and all who produce this Magazine and the Newsletter!!). But we all need to be thinking both “inside the box” and “outside the box”. Any ideas – for yourself or for others? All contributions will be gratefully received! Nurturing our individual calls to service is vital if we want to share the Good News of the Gospel and sustain our church in the future.
Love and God bless,

Jeff Engle

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes …... APRIL 2018 Magazine,

Dear Friends,
Easter is upon us and we are celebrating the core of the Christian Faith, the death and resurrection of our dear Saviour Jesus.
Each year we go through the desert of Lent to the Festival of Easter and we greet each other with:


“The Lord is Risen!
He is Risen indeed!
Alleluia!!!”

But do we know, and reason, with what we are doing? Do you and I have the faith to believe that it is so?
I love the pilgrimage of Lent and I always buy a Lent book, this year it was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book on prayer called ‘Say it to God’ by Luigi Gioia. He says that prayer is all about us having, not only an asking and thanking prayer, but also a prayer that is a relationship with God that is two ways and that we need to be able to be with God in Jesus Christ.
Easter is all about the heart of the relationship that we each have with God in Christ. Good Friday was not an easy time for Jesus as we see from what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when he talked to his Father and asked for the cup to be taken away from him, but that he would do God’s will and go on the cross and all the humiliation that went with the Passion.
All the various elements of the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus are, in reality, about a relationship and relationships of Jesus to God, Jesus and the disciples, his followers and his mother who had her heart pierced at the foot of the cross. But Jesus still had a relationship with her and looked after her on the cross when he asked John to care for her and her to care for John as if they were mother and son. That speaks volumes about relationships.
So we need to - if we can - have a relationship with Jesus; prayer is that communication base of being able to be with him and to have a two way communication with him in order to have a deeper and a normal relationship.
Easter shows the wonderful love of God in Jesus and we need to respond!!


Will you?
Happy and Blessed Easter to you all.

Peter Cowley

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Revd. John Taylor writes …... March 2018 Magazine,

I was very sad to hear the news that the Local Authority is considering selling Brown’s Field in Prescot. At this point I must declare an interest, in that I often walk my dog there.
In the summer the playing field is used by many sections of the community. It is one of the few open spaces left for recreation. Given the new large housing development off Manchester Road, I would have thought that the large open space which is Brown’s Field would be needed all the more.
Places for free physical recreation are very important. Many people – myself included – spend too much time sitting behind the wheel of a car or in front of a computer screen. The government is forever telling us we need more physical exercise in order to stay healthy. This also applies to young people. Given Knowsley’s poor health statistics, selling Brown’s field seems a retrograde step.
In the summer it is good to see families enjoying themselves, playing football, walking their dogs, or just sitting in the open air enjoying the sunshine. Let’s hope that this valuable asset to our town and our wellbeing will not be lost.
On the back cover of this month’s Magazine you will find the services for Holy Week and Easter. Please do your best to support these services. Keeping a good Holy Week makes for a deeper and more joyful celebration of Easter.
I am very sorry to inform everyone that our Missional Leader at St Paul’s, Barbara Mercer, has died. Barbara was taken ill on Thursday 8 February and died a week later never having regained consciousness. Barbara’s death will leave a huge void in our parish life.
Please keep Barbara, Ray and their family in your prayers.

John Taylor

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Revd. Jeff Engel writes …... February 2018 Magazine,

On January 28th we celebrated Candlemas in church. Although there was lots of light - and one of the most powerful Gospel readings of the Christmas Season (the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple) there is a bitter-sweet thread running through the Service as Mary is confronted with the sad ending to her Son’s earthly life. This festival, when people used to bring candles to church to be blessed so they could light their homes for the rest of the year, is the turning point from Christmas to Easter as we look back to the day of His Nativity and forward to His death and resurrection – Easter. Our journey to Easter begins with Lent which is very early this year. (Ash Wednesday is on 14 February).
‘A small boy was looking round the church after the Sunday morning eucharist. Standing in front of the War Memorial he asked a Sidesperson near him, “What are all those names?” “Those are the names of people who died in the Services” came the reply “Which Services? This Holy Communion Service? Or tonight’s Evensong?” asked the boy anxiously!’
I hope that question could never be asked of our services! They have a twofold purpose. First to worship God and offer Him the service which is due since he is our Creator, Redeemer and Father in heaven, and second, to equip us for our walk through life with our God as our Friend and Brother. I was once asked to look after a church which had had a bad time for some years with a Vicar who was ill. At times it was a hard journey together, but they were a marvellous, faithful people whose lives journeyed with me though the happy ‘Christmas’ times and some hard ‘Passiontide’ experiences to a joyful ‘Easter’ over a couple of years. Our life’s journey is one of both laughter and tears, but we must thank God that He experienced both and came out triumphant – and He holds out his hand to offer us that same hope for our lives.
After the Morning Service I used to ask people to tell me if they felt better, ready to face the new week. “If you don’t, it may be that I am doing something wrong, or you may be doing something wrong!” I would say. Our worship is both for God and for ourselves that we may live more fully and fruitfully. There are many different ways of worship which can help us in our journey together. We shall be exploring a few of these in our ecumenical Lent Course this year. Details are in this magazine – do see if you can join in any, or all, of them, I think you will find them both interesting and useful.
Meantime, may God bless you as our thoughts turn from the celebration of Christmas to the Passion of the Lord Jesus and His triumph over pain, suffering, and death on Easter Day.

Jeff Engle

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   Revd. Peter Cowley writes ….. January 2018 Magazine,

Dear Friends,
I don’t know about you, but the years seem to be getting shorter all the time. It does not seem a year since last New Years’ day. I also seem to be less inclined to want to party like I did when I was a lot younger.
Time seems to be a thing that we are all short of, I seem to be rushing here there and all over the place for meetings, visits, appointments and even pleasure, the number of events you must go to seems to grow day by day, month by month,
Yet the thing about the New Year is that we are bombarded in the media with all sorts of adverts for everything under the sun for holidays, gifts and New Year’s resolutions.
Then you get the predictions from various celebrities or experts then there are the stars that tell you what the year holds for you - astrologers predicting stuff you never even thought about.
Yet the Christian faith is about a journey that in the end we believe is outside of time as we know it for ourselves – eternity is what I am thinking about. The thing that is so mind blowing to even contemplate at times and yet in Jesus we have the new life of being born again in him to be given the gift of grace to be with him in heaven for ever.
If you do make a new year resolution write it down and look at it in a months’ time to see if you have kept it. It is also a good time to have a think about your faith and relationship to Jesus. Perhaps you could read the bible using notes to help you which can be purchased from Brenda Burgess. Or perhaps you want to pray in a deeper more meaningful way there are some methods that you could try, contemplation, meditation or just plain silence, as well as the liturgy of the church, morning prayer, evening prayer and night prayer to name three. You could ask John, Jeff or even myself if you want help.
I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2018.

Peter Cowley

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Revd. John Taylor writes …. December 2017 Magazine,

What's new this year in the Christmas story? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!! The story will be the same as last year and the year before that. It will be the same as it has been since the Gospels were written nearly two thousand years ago. The message is quite clear, God is with us. The Christmas story remains the same, but we will have changed since last year. We are all a year older; some of the changes in our lives will be slight, for some people there will be major changes. There may have been times of great rejoicing; exams passed, family weddings, the birth of children. For others there will have been times of sadness and loss, but the message of reassurance remains, God is with us. For those affected by terrorism in Manchester and London and those suffering because of violence nearer home, life will never be the same. Christmas is like a bright star in the dark winter sky, shining all the brighter because of the darkness around it. I often tell the children in school, that if we stood in church in complete darkness, and we lit one candle, that candle would be seen. The vast amount of darkness would be pierced by that one small light. The darkness will never overcome the light. That is the message of the Christmas story, God is with us. 'The light which enlightens everyone is coming into the world'. (1 John v9). May the light of Christ bring you hope and peace this Christmastime.


A Happy and Peaceful Christmas to you all.
John Taylor

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Revd. Jeff Engel writes...... November 2017 Magazine,

Sunday, 12 November, is Remembrance Sunday when we shall remember the supreme sacrifices made by those who died in time of war in the cause of peace. We remember not only those who fought in the two World Wars but also our own forces deployed now in conflicts in dangerous parts of the world. All those who, in the prime of life, have served faithfully. Some have lost their lives, others have returned wounded and maimed. We remember them – and their families. We pray that remembering their sacrifices will spur us all on to give full and proper care for those who have served our country faithfully and also to be active ourselves in working for peace, justice and fairness in our own community and in the world.
There are two ways in remembering. We can remember with a growing sense of bitterness, or we can follow Christ’s example of the forgiveness which leads to a new hope and new life. Then those dreadful sacrifices of the past can generate a just world which so many have fought for.
On Thursday, 2 November there will be a Service in Prescot Methodist Church when all the churches of Prescot gather to remember those who have died in the last twelve months or so. As usual, this is in addition to our own evening Eucharist in Prescot Church at 7pm on Monday, 6 November when we shall also bring before God those of our family and friends who have died over years past: those we love, but no longer see. Do try to get to as many of these Services as you can, so we all can receive comfort from our faith and pray together as the Family of God. A Family which cannot be broken – even by death.
Bishop Brent put some thoughts on paper which capture, for me at least, a helpful way of thinking about dying. When he was a missionary bishop in the Philippines, Brent had to make several sea journeys back to Headquarters in the U.S.A. He used these long sea-voyages to think and write. One thought which has helped many was how similar a journey like this was to the process of dying. He ministered to many people at a time of death in his parochial work, but towards the end of the First World War he saw death on an unparalleled scale when he accepted a job as Chief Chaplain to the troops in the trenches of World War I. Here are his thoughts on dying. It helps me when I think of my own loved ones, and, indeed, when I think about my own last journey.
WHAT IS DYING?
I am standing on the seashore. A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says, "She is gone."
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She is gone" there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up the glad shout, "There she comes!"--and that is dying.

God bless Jeff Engle

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Revd. Peter Cowley writes ….. October 2017 Magazine,

Dear Friends,
This year has gone by so quickly for me that I am amazed that we are now in the autumn with all its colourful leaves, the nip in the air and nights closing in. It can be a time for reflection after the summer and the looking forward to the, dare I say, Christmas period ahead with the Remembrance period in November to make us stop and think of all who had lost their lives in the service of their countries.
Reflection is, and should be, a part of our own Christian discipline and it is something that helps us in our lives. Be it thinking about something in a sermon that you liked, or did not like, or one you may have even found boring you can still reflect on why and what the preacher was trying to say and get over to us. Doing, thinking, taking-in all need to be able to be processed in our minds and I have been taught and found that being able to reflect on the things that have happened or I have read, heard, and been a part of, help to make sense of what I am going through in life and faith at that time.
500 years ago, a monk in Germany, as we know it today, was doing a lot of thinking and reflection on what he saw about him in the church he was a part of and in the culture to which he belonged. He had seen others selling, as he saw it, salvation in the form of indulgences which money raised was to rebuild the basilica of St Peter in Rome which needed renovation and extension. He wrote 95 Theses about what was wrong with the Church and what needed to be reformed and changed for it to better reflect the truth of the gospel of love and salvation as he saw it with his reading of the bible. That man was Martin Luther an Augustinian monk who was a lecturer at Wittenberg University, born in 1483 he lived for 62years and married Katharina von Bora, a former nun, with whom he had six children.
He founded what has become the Reformation and the Lutheran Church. He published his 95 Theses on the 31 October 1517 which he is reputed to have fixed to the local church door in Wittenberg. The effect on the Christian church was, in hindsight, a split and a new and reformed way of looking at salvation through the grace of God in Jesus and not by buying indulgences to get into heaven. In January 1521 the Pope, Leo X, excommunicated Luther. He was then summoned to appear at the Diet of Worms, an assembly of the Holy Roman Empire. He refused to recant and Emperor Charles V declared him an outlaw and a heretic. Luther went into hiding at Wartburg Castle. He died on 18 February 1546 in Eisleben.
He was a man of conviction and a reflective man who was instrumental in how we today see our faith.
Please consider reflection on your faith and your life as you journey on your pilgrimage of faith.

Yours in Christ Peter Cowley

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Revd. John Taylor writes in September 2017 Magazine,

As usual this September we will be celebrating our Patronal Festival. We keep this on the nearest Sunday to 8 September, which is one of the feast days of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will share our celebration with friends from the Catholic and Methodist churches.
Here in Prescot we are very fortunate in that there are good relations between the Christian Churches, and we meet together on a regular basis as the Prescot Fellowship of Churches. One perennial topic which comes up at our meetings is the state of our buildings and this applies to all the denominations, with perhaps the exception of the Salvation Army as they have new premises. The danger is that buildings can become a preoccupation.
Having said this church buildings can also be symbols of God‘s presence in a community. To many in Prescot the Parish Church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, represents years of love and service. It is the place where children have been brought for baptism; a place where many have been married and the place where loved ones have been brought for their funerals.
There are times in everyone’s life when we need to acknowledge that there is more to life than we can touch or see. Occasions like birth, death and marriage, bring us into contact with forces outside of ourselves. These extra dimensions of human experience are spiritual experiences which remind us that we are part of a bigger whole and not the centre of the universe. A part of the mission of our church is to make people welcome at these pivotal moments of their lives.
The basis of our welcome and our existence as the Church, is that the Christian faith is true. There is a God who is interested in each one of us and we have seen his love revealed in the life of Jesus Christ.
Our many church buildings may give us headaches but they are a reminder to all who pass by, that there is a God who can be found in our daily living
.

John Taylor

 

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